Tribute to scholarship

 thehindu.com  02/14/2020 20:50:40 

Krishna Venkateswara Sarma was born in Chenagnnur, Kerala in December 1919. Graduating in Physics and Chemistry, he did his Masters in Sanskrit. He worked for some years in the Manuscripts section of the Kerala University Oriental Research Institute. Later he worked in Madras Universitys Sanskrit department, Visveshvarananand Institute of Indological studies, Hoshiarpur, and Adyar library. In 1997, he established the Sree Sarada Education Society and Research centre. He published a survey of Sanskrit manuscripts on sciences found in repositories in Kerala and Tamil Nadu, where he listed over 450 Sanskrit works on Mathematics and Astronomy from Kerala. Sarmas grandson  Dr. S.A.S. Sarma is continuing the work on surveying manuscript repositories.

Sarma copied out manuscripts in the possession of various families in Kerala. His monumental efforts resulted in a collection of 900 manuscripts, of which about 400 are on astronomy. Some of his early publications were Grahacaranibandhana of Haridatta, Siddhantadarpana of Nilakantha, Venvaaroha of Madhava, Goladipika and Grahanashtaka of Parameswara. While at Hoshiarpur, he published more than 50 books, mostly on Kerala astronomy, like Parameswaras Digganita, Golasara of Nilakantha, Tantrasangraha of Nilakantha with the commentaries Yuktidipika and Laghuvivritti of Sankara, says Dr. M.S. Sriram, retired Professor of Physics, Madras University, and President of K.V. Sarma Research Foundation. Sarma published more than 20 important source works of Kerala mathematicians and astronomers. He brought out 104 books and 450 research papers.

K.V. Sarma Research Foundation was established in 2010, in memory of Sarmas scholarship, and it houses his manuscripts collection. Prof. Siniruddha Dash, former Head of the department of Sanskrit, Madras University, is the director of the Foundation. Dash has edited two volumes of articles by K.V. Sarma, who had translated Jyesthadevas mathematical and astronomical treatise in Malayalam  Ganita Yuktibahsa (1530 CE). Sarma wanted the translation to be supplemented by explanations, diagrams and notations. So, he roped in Dr. M.S. Sriram. Dr. K. Ramasubramanian of IIT Bombay and Dr. M.D. Srinivas. The book, published in 2008, has a foreword by mathematician Dr. C. S. Seshadri and was released at the Chennai Mathematical Institute, and Fields medallist Dr. Mumford was present during the release.

Prof. Siniruddha Dash.

Dr. Mamata, secretary and managing trustee of the Foundation, is working on Laghumanasa, a commentary by Suryadevayajvan on Munjalas Laghumanasa. Dr. Rama Kalyani is doing an English translation of Buddhivilasini, a commentary on Lilavati. Dash is guiding Prabha Rajagopal, with a Survey of Lexicons on different subjects available in Pali, Prakrit and Sanskrit. All three projects are funded by the TATA Trust. Awaiting publication are some translations and explanatory books  Lagnaprakarana of Madhava, Panchabodha with Sankara Variars commentary, Drkkarana, Selected Works of Parameswara, and Selected Works of Puthumana Somayaji. Aditya Kolachana, K.Mahesh, Venkateswara Pai, Veena Bhat and Dinesh Mohan Joshi, have collaborated with Sriram and Ramasubramanian on these texts.

Stressing the importance of preservation of manuscripts, Dash says, The more manuscripts of a work a scholar refers to, the more authentic is his research. Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute in Pune collected 4,500 manuscripts of the Mahabharata from all over India. Of these, they used 734 to come up with a critical edition. The TV serial Mahabharata was based on this edition, and may therefore said to be an authentic version of the Itihasa.

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