City-based Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute (BORI) has collaborated with the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies, University of Oxford, for the project Bhagvata Purana under which BORI will be doing an assessment of the critical edition of Bhagvata Purana published between 1996 to 1998 in four volumes by the BJ Institute of Learning and Research, Ahmedabad.
Professor Shrikant S Bahulkar, honorary secretary of BORI, said, “We will be reviewing the methodology used by the institute. The critical edition takes into consideration various manuscripts. We will have to analyse them and judge whether they (the institute) were able to find the most genuine manuscript. We also assess what methodology was followed for preparing the critical edition and why. We will also be going through their critical notes. Assessment of the text is a lengthy and time-consuming process and might take nearly five years,” said Bahulkar, adding that BORI itself has 100 manuscripts of Bhagvata Purana and 360 related books.
The Bhagvata Purana is one of the most highly regarded and variegated of Hindu sacred texts. Although essentially a work of the Puranic genre, the Bhagvata stands out among the Puranas, or sacred histories, in several important ways. Among these are its coherent narrative structure, its high poetic quality, its philosophical sophistication and its extensive development of bhakti theology. As such, this work of over 14,000 Sanskrit verses ranks, along with the Ramayana and Mahabharata, as central to the contemporary Hindu corpus of sacred texts in Sanskrit language.
Speaking about the international collaboration, Professor Bahulkar said, “It’s a matter of pride to collaborate with Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies. The opportunity offers healthy exchange of knowledge and expertise.”
Other than Bahulkar, the core committee members who will be working on the project includes GC Tripathi and Professor Radhakrishnan, with Tripathi as the chairperson. The work will also involve study of the living tradition of the Bhagvata Purana in Maharashtra, expressed by saints and their literature, as well as creating a collection of data on the text (Bhagvata Purana) and related books.
Reasoning why the project requires an in-depth work and hence a long time, Bahulkar cites an example of another prestigious project on which BORI worked in the past. In 1966, BORI had come out with a critical edition of Mahabharata. “The project was the result of relentless hardwork that stretched up to almost 50 years – from 1918 to 1966. All the translations are based on this edition,” says Bahulkar.