The Bhaktivedanta Research Centre in Kolkata, India has added some new treasures to its vast library of over 16,000 works that includes all the major Puranas and Vedas and many important and rare works by Vaishnava acharyas.
Amongst the recent acquisitions are seven hand-written manuscripts donated by Sri Sanjay Goswami of Vrindavan, a 14th generation descendent from Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s intimate associate Sri Advaita Acharya.
They include copies of Jayadeva's Gita Govinda, Raghunath Das Goswami’s Mukta Charita, and Gopala Guru's Bhajana Paddhati, and a complete copy of Chaitanya Charitamrita from 1760.
Sanjay Goswami’s family is currently still taking care of Advaita Acharya’s personal Deities at the Sri Sri Radha Madan Gopal temple near Loi Bazaar in Vrindavan.
Meanwhile Sri Swarup Mitra of the Sura Mitra family, one of Kolkata’s oldest aristocratic lines, invited the Bhaktivedanta Research team to scan his collection of over seventy valuable Vaishnava manuscripts for their digital library, with access promised to another private library in the near future.
The manuscripts include Rupa Goswami's Lalita Madhava and Uddhava Sandesa, Sanatana Goswami's Danakeli Kaumudi, Gopal Bhatta Goswami's Hari-Bhakti Vilasa, the Ramayana and Mahabharata and many more.
Swarup Mitra’s ancestor Raja Pitambar Mitra moved to Kolkata from Ayodhya over 250 years ago, and the family still worships their ishta-deva (personal Deity) Sri Sri Revati Balaram in their temple at Beliaghat in Kolkata.
“We were naturally delighted to receive the manuscripts,” says BRC co-director Hari Sauri Das. “There are many families who have authentic and ancient manuscripts but do not know what to do with them any more, and the Sura Mitra and Sanjay Goswami families are two such Vaishnava families who know the value of their heritage and are now looking to the BRC for help in preserving it.”
He adds: “It is perhaps significant that these two families approached us after hearing about the work that we’re doing. There was no soliciting on our part and so that means that the reputation of the BRC is increasing. The word is getting out and we hope that many more private collections will be made available to us in the future.”
Now in its fifth year, the BRC has seen its staff double in size and has recently added well-lit individualized study sections for the benefit of visiting scholars and devotees; a restricted area where rare manuscripts are kept under lock and key; and a high-quality air conditioning unit to provide ideal temperature around the clock and extend the manuscripts’ life.
Thanks to a kind donation by Raghunath Priya Das of Slovakia, it will also soon add a laser engraver, which recreates the exact image of handwriting from ancient manuscripts by burning it into professional grade aluminium, thus preserving texts for thousands of years.
The BRC has also just begun renovating two newly-acquired flats on the ground floor of its building for its new Translations and Publications department, which will make Sanskrit and Bengali books and manuscripts available to the English-speaking world for the first time.
The department’s first publication will be Sri Saraswati Jai Sri, a two-volume compilation of lectures and diary entries by Srila Prabhupada’s guru Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur. The first volume was first published in 1934 in Bengali, while the second volume -- a series of Bengali-language interviews with the Thakura in which he recollects his early life until the age of eighteen – has never been published before in any language.
Devotees worldwide eagerly anticipate Sri Saraswati Jai Sri’s publication, as well as that of all the other rare Vaishnava works that the BRC will make available in the future.
To donate towards establishing the BRC’s new Translation and Publications department, please contact BRC Co-Director Hari Sauri das at firstname.lastname@example.org.[ bhaktivedanta-research-center ] [ kolkata ] [ manuscripts ] [ research ] [ science ] [ scripture ]