Monday, July 6, 2009

The Great Kashi- Mithila Nexus

The city of Kashi or Varanasi inhabited on the banks of river Varuna and Assi still upholds its antiquity and flawless tradition of learning along with its deliberate assimilation to modernism. With possessing unique characteristics, it would be sheer devoid to judge this city with unanimous propositions instead the real visualization could be best materialized only with the intricate patterns which the city holding since the inception of civilization.
The city Kashi remained consistent in maintaining its fine tag as the center of excellence for Sanskrit, Vedic and ancient education; besides in modern times the city relentlessly upbeat the tradition of learning along very fine fusion with modern stream of education.

In this manner city had distinction to attract scholars and knowledge seekers from across the world which still getting momentum due to initiative taken by the great reformers like Mahamana Madan Mohan Malaviya in the early twentieth century. Establishment of great resourceful institution like Banaras Hindu University in 1916 further kept the edge of this city intact as great center of education.
Nexus between Kashi and Mithila primarily arose for imparting of scholastic ties because having many replications in characteristics including the supremacy of Sanskrit education at both the places. Further these traditional ties placed stronger with the initiation of Maithili language and literature movement from here; inclusion of Maithili in the curriculum of Banaras Hindu University was a historic move by the Mahamana Malaviya.

Such honour to Maithili could be materialized because of very intense participation by the contemporary maithil students; notably as Kanchi Nath Jha ‘Kiran, Murlidhar Jha etc. Co-incidently the first magazine in Maithili (Mithila Mod, 1934) was also published from Kashi under the editing of Murlidhar Jha, later Kanchi Nath Jha had served it for a long time. So, the rambling of Maithili languages and literature towards the organized modern usage in both the academics and journalism was started from the land of Kashi.
Institutionalization of Maithili language and literature in modern context was indeed the most prolific contribution of Banaras Hindu University to this very ancient and enriched language. Truly every honest effort made in this land reaches to the goal in well ordered pace which finally converge with its cosmic cultural tradition; Indeed Kashi is replete with great tradition.
Many great works of Maithil stalwarts like Prof Harimohan Jha and Baidya Nath Mishra ‘Yatri (Nagarjun) was emerged from the plot of this city. ‘Yatri’ had even studied Sanskrit in Kashi and later drawn dozens of his finest poem both in Maithili and Hindi from here, likewise Prof Harimohan Jha had written his magnum opus work ‘Kanyadan’ and its sequel ‘Duragman’ with heavy inferences from the city life of Kashi in early twentieth century.
Next in this series is a politician and author Chaturanan Mishra who drafted a very lucid and problem haunting novel ‘Kala’ which is based on the child widowhood and misfortune of survivor in the absence of widow remarriage system in Mithila. He profusely tried to corner and oust the ill thinking regarding this haunting malady; novel end s with very progressive end.

Plot of this novel comprehensively highlighted the plight of Hindu widows whose segregation and reclusive live was believed as destiny in contemporary orthodox social order, further the inhumanisation of their lives in city Kashi used to legitimized on religious ground; but the real plight of these widows from Mithila and across the country were much horrible above those parochial logic.
Thanks to modern reformism now these practices is getting very thin today and these change could be seen be sensed by passing through the adjacent areas of Ghats; widow house Darbhanga Sewa Griha is today stood like a mute expectator about its exploitative and heart ranching past.
Mithila shared an impractical and unusual short of relationship with Kashi in this regard which were indeed not justifiable from any corner.

Anyway Maithils had been equally contributing to this city in very profound manner; role of Sir Ganganath Jha was legendary in the foundation and development of Banras Hindu University that role later carried forwarded by his worthy son And later the vice chancellor of this prestigious university. In later phage Venishankar Jha and Chandrashekhar Jha had served highest honour of this acclaimed institution.
In the foundation of B.H.U, the royal family of Darbhanga was very active with material assistance; his portray in Bharat Kala Museum of university still reminds his generous contribution. Apart from these hundreds of faculties and thousands of students from Mithila had strengthened these ties to very high level of emotional bond and sharing.

Scholars like Prof Manoranjan Jha (Department of Political Science) had explicitly forwarded the scholaric spirits of this great institution (B.H.U); his vehement counter of Elton Mayo’s subversive work on India (Mother India. 1920’s) reflected the glorious past of this university.
An another Scholar from Mithila Subhadra Jha who held the post of librarian in B.H.U but his real charisma was lie in his meticulous expertise over the Sanskrit, Pali and German languages; his work got warm accolades in academic and literary circle.Threads of relationship between Mithila and Kashi are woven in multifaceted terms; remaining the oldest cultural platform of Banaras Hindu University, Mithila Manch has been witnessing the consistent growing of the university’s cosmic culture.

As a matter of fact Kashi has place for all the culture and ideas which it absorb and preserve with its greater profile. Indeed this city has possessing eternal concern of humanity in very true spiritual sense which doesn’t necessarily bounded with the religious identity.
In its broadness Kashi has established same deep ties from across the country… so the city still seems most livable and out of suffocation. Being alumni of Banaras Hindu University memories are still vivid in my mind about my proud Alma mater … may be I will remain spell bounded with its charm forever.

Atul Kumar Thakur
New Delhi, 6th July 2009
atul_mdb@rediffmail.com

6 comments:

  1. Nice posting. Do you know about these Sanskrit books?

    http://www.YogaVidya.com/freepdfs.html

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  2. Offcourse Kashi remains a true confluence point for different great cultures,Mithila shared a great bond of relationship with this historic city since very ancient time..superb overview on this eternal city..keep it and found some more cultural nexus in days ahead.
    With best wishes for your work-Sushil Pathak,Varanasi

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  3. Dear Atul ji,
    It was a pleasure reading all that you have sent. You have very lucid style of writing and one can read the whole article in one go. I would like to point out one fact that Subhadra Jha was not a librarian of BHU but of Sampurnanand. / And why do you call it Nexus [which is perhaps a value laden negative term] - perhaps this term is not so applicable in the context. And Kashi is not on the banks of Varuna and Asi [and not Assi, perhaps] but in between these two rivers on the banks of Ganga. / And Darbhanga Maharaja's proposal for the University should perhaps be discussed more along with the facts how Annie's Besant's proposal, Darbhanga Maharaj's proposal and Mahamana's proposal got merged./ and perhaps the expressions like'contemporary orthodox social order' and 'patriarchy' should be thought over. Some parts of your writing exhibit unconsious criticism of Indian civilisation without taking into account the contemporary factors for analysis. This is a problem with most of writing on the Indian social order [caste, position of women, importance to knowledge, importance to religious orders etc.]. Perhaps we should rethink and delve deeper into the issues and problems of widow. And even otherwise, this may not have a proper place in an article which is on the Mithila-Kashi links.
    Perhaps there are a few more dimensions which may be looked into deeply - i. the establishment of tols during the British time [Kashi had maximum no. of tols followed by Mithila in entire India] ii. vedic recensions [Lagami in Mithila still has a Vedic recension exclusive to the tradition of Mithila] and there are commonalities between the Kashi's tradition and the Mithila tradition. iii. Philosophical schools [Darsanas] as developed in Mithila and its tradition in Kashi [special references to Navya Nyaya Jagdishi tradition] iv. Even today the erstwhile dean of FAculty of ARts S.N. Mishra [if i remember the name correctly] is in that tradition of both Mithila and Kashi. v. lot of common points between textual recensions in both the places vi. also, the intellectual spirit of enquiry and importance to knowledge is important point of comparison.
    Likewise there are many other possible dimensions. And I must repeat it was pleasure reading your article.
    regards
    Sushant



    Date: Fri, 7 May 2010 19:08:47 +0530

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  4. Dear Atul ji,
    It was a pleasure reading all that you have sent. You have very lucid style of writing and one can read the whole article in one go. I would like to point out one fact that Subhadra Jha was not a librarian of BHU but of Sampurnanand. / And why do you call it Nexus [which is perhaps a value laden negative term] - perhaps this term is not so applicable in the context. And Kashi is not on the banks of Varuna and Asi [and not Assi, perhaps] but in between these two rivers on the banks of Ganga. / And Darbhanga Maharaja's proposal for the University should perhaps be discussed more along with the facts how Annie's Besant's proposal, Darbhanga Maharaj's proposal and Mahamana's proposal got merged./ and perhaps the expressions like'contemporary orthodox social order' and 'patriarchy' should be thought over. Some parts of your writing exhibit unconsious criticism of Indian civilisation without taking into account the contemporary factors for analysis. This is a problem with most of writing on the Indian social order [caste, position of women, importance to knowledge, importance to religious orders etc.]. Perhaps we should rethink and delve deeper into the issues and problems of widow. And even otherwise, this may not have a proper place in an article which is on the Mithila-Kashi links.
    Perhaps there are a few more dimensions which may be looked into deeply - i. the establishment of tols during the British time [Kashi had maximum no. of tols followed by Mithila in entire India] ii. vedic recensions [Lagami in Mithila still has a Vedic recension exclusive to the tradition of Mithila] and there are commonalities between the Kashi's tradition and the Mithila tradition. iii. Philosophical schools [Darsanas] as developed in Mithila and its tradition in Kashi [special references to Navya Nyaya Jagdishi tradition] iv. Even today the erstwhile dean of FAculty of ARts S.N. Mishra [if i remember the name correctly] is in that tradition of both Mithila and Kashi. v. lot of common points between textual recensions in both the places vi. also, the intellectual spirit of enquiry and importance to knowledge is important point of comparison.
    Likewise there are many other possible dimensions. And I must repeat it was pleasure reading your article.
    regards
    Sushant



    Date: Fri, 7 May 2010 19:08:47 +0530

    ReplyDelete
  5. Sir,
    Thanks indeed for bestowing some remarkable opinion on this article...I am agree with your remarks-notably on,the position of the city Kashi,which is placed amidst the Varuna and Assi(Ghats of Ganga).Next,I missed the mentioning of TOLA though I was aware about that but my concern was mostly devoted to the different aspects like-religious,academic than a sociological inquiry,so under my limitation,those were justifiable.I have slightly different take on the maladies of widowhood and its very negative connections with the city of Kashi-I personally delve on their plight,and found no reason to glorify that practices.Must add here that some of unfortunate cases than ended with very sad repercussions,both in ethical and puritanical standards.You are rightly pronounced the name of S.N.Mishra,a great scholar of classical Mithila tradition...heard lot about him from my teachers but couldn't met him than, so missed his place in the piece-my information about Late Subhadra Jha was based on general information that were emerged from the village folks..so,it's revelation for me.Assuring you, that I must keep in mind in next articles about those missing links albeit like to have more debate on the plights of widows in the great city of Kashi...
    Regards
    Atul Thakur,New Delhi

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  6. Sir,
    on further reading your article today, I have a query. Do you have any exact reference when and in which Department Maithili and related studies were introduced in the curriculim of BHU? If you have any reference of information on this (as you mention this in your write up), kindly share.

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