शुक्रवार, 23 सितंबर 2011

Dr. Madhukar Anant Mehendale – A biographical sketch

Dr. Madhukar Anant Mehendale – A biographical sketch
Nearly seventy years back a family legend travelled from Deccan College (DC), Pune, to Navsari, then back to DC, then two interludes – one to Germany and other to USA – and back to DC, then to Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute (BORI) Pune for nearly 25 years, and by this time the family legend had long since become a world-class legend. The Sanskrit lovers and Sanskrit scholars world over know Dr. Madhukar Anant Mehendale for his mammoth work on “Dictionary of Sanskrit on Historical Principles” and “Cultural Index of Mahabharata”, not to mention his work on Rock-Inscriptions and Avesta. A scholar in Veda & Epics, Nirukta and Historical Linguistics, he has written over a hundred articles in Sanskrit, English and Marathi and a few books.
Dr Mehendale was born on 14 Feb. 1918 in a small village Harsud in Nimar district of Madhya Pradesh where his father worked in a transferable job as a station master in GIP Railway. After he finished his primary schooling it was decided that for further education he should come to Vadodara (Baroda) to stay with his elder cousin. Here he completed his graduation from Baroda College in 1937 and came to Wilson College, Mumbai for post-graduation. He registered for his Doctoral degree at Deccan College Postgraduate and Research Institute , Pune under Prof. S.M.Katre. The topic for his thesis was “Historical Grammar of Inscriptional Prakrits” for which he obtained his doctorate in 1943. He maintained a first class record throughout. He received scholarship and Mandalik Prize while in Wilson College. His essay on a related topic for competition even won him Bhagwanlal Indraji gold-medal in 1943. His thesis was printed in book form in Deccan College Dissertation Series, in 1948 quickly followed by another book “Aśhokan inscriptions in India” also in 1948.

During this period he had also found a life-partner, Miss Kusum Kashinath Paralikar and had married on 14 Dec 1941. He was an advocate for reducing the jati-bhed and had taken a principled stand to marry outside the strict Kokanastha Brahmin community. On her part, Kusum belonged to a family following Gandhian principles, and insisted on a simple Khadi-clad ceremony without pomp and show. So this marriage had become a topic of discussion for some time. After marriage she completed her studies in Library Science and took up the job of Assistant Liabrarian in DC where she worked for nearly 20 years till her retirement in 1980. In due course of time they got 2 children who grew up to be Col. Pradip (now retired) and Dr. Ashok.
In Baroda Mehendales was a big family and known as a family of achievers but Dr. Madhukar was the first to get a doctoral degree and become the family legend. Soon he joined as Lecturer at Basaveshwar College Bagalkot (karnatak) but came in 1945 to SB Garda College Navsari (Gujrat) as a Professor in Sanskrit and worked there till 1951. He started writing scholarly articles on various topics relating to Vedas and other Sanskrit Granthas, a practice he has followed till date.
In 1951 he came back to DC as a Reader in Sanskrit and became Prof in 1958. He taught Sanskrit and Linguistics at the Pune Univ. and guided research Students. Soon thereafter he was invited as a visiting lecturer by the Goettingen University in Germany for the period 1952-54. Prof. E. Waldschmidt there was working at the instance of GOI to complete the unfinished work of the German scholar Heinrich Lüders on Prakrit Inscriptions. Prof. Waldschmidt was requested to work on the Barhut inscriptions found on the gateways of a Seventh century Buddhist stupa at Barhut, a village in Madhya Pradesh sometimes attributed to the kings of the Sunga Dynasty. These Inscriptions are in Brahmi Script. Prof Waldschmidt desired the assistance of Dr. Mehendale. Thus apart from teaching Indian Languages, Dr. Mehendale also assisted in the completion of the work of Barhut Inscriptions which was published in 1963 in the series Corpus Inscriptionum Indicarum. More editions are now published in 1998 in Multiple languages.

Coming back to DC, he continued his teaching profession, his arduous routine of self-study and his writings. In between, he received Senior Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship for 1957-58 and went to the Yale Univ in the USA where he studied “Ashwina- hymns”. Coming back once again to DC he continued to work as a teacher and published some more work. Between 1961 to 1980 he guided 12 Ph.D students. He received Maharashtra State Award for Univ. level Teachers in 1976. In 1973 he was entrusted with the additional responsibility of Joint General Editor of the Sanskrit Dictionary for which Prof. A. M. Ghatage was the chief editor. Dr. Mehendale gladly undertook the responsibility. Though he retired from his job as a professor in 1978, he continued to work on Project Dictionary till 1983 – that is till the age of 65.
“Dictionary of Sanskrit on Historical Principles” is a gigantic task. It was not just a compilation of words but had its own challenges out of which, as per the editors, two were most important. First, these words had been used over several millennia and had acquired different shades in different era. Hence the ability to go back to the Vedic period, to understand and fix the vedic meaning as a base and next to go on comparing its usage in different ages, was the challenge. Many commentaries of the old seers as well as of modern scholars had to be referred to. Only experts with a firm knowledge of Vedas and the classical Sanskrit, coupled with a vast reading of various available commentaries could guide such a work. Second, the Dictionary was being compiled in English language. How do you describe a word that has a complexity of its own in a different language and yet convey the nearest possible meaning? This was possible because of Dr Mehendale’s mastery over German and English languages too.
Working on the Dictionary Project, the Ghatage-Mehendale duo managed to get an output of nearly 300 oversized pages of text per year. They had a 40-scholar strong team who would compile the information but it had to stand to the scrutiny of Dr. Ghatage and Dr. Mehendale. Problems would be often referred to them and they would always provide an accurate insight. Publication of these Fascicules has given a definitive reputation to DC. The importance of nearly 4000 pages published by them can be understood from the fact that scholars have estimated this as only one-tenth to one-twentieth of the total work involved. Although the available manpower is now less and consequently the work has now fallen in speed, the DC has continued this prestigious project.
On retiring from Deccan College, Dr Mehendale was invited by Prof R.N. Dandekar to join Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute (BORI) as Editor, “Epilogue of the Mahabharata” and later to work on its prestigious project of “Cultural index of Mahabharat”. By this time, BORI had completed the mammoth task undertaken by it earlier namely, Compilation of the Critical Edition of Mahabharat. BORI was now ready to look back at another great work done on Mahabharata, namely, “An index to the names in the Mahabharata” by Sorensen, the first edition of which was published in 1904. This was an index of names of all persons, mythological and human, appearing in Mahabharata. What was needed was to add the relevance and the role played by that person at that event in whose context his or her name appeared. For example, if the name Dhoumya appears in Aranyaparva, then it is important to add in the index that he was, as referred in that chapter, offering himself as the Purohit of Pandavas during their vanavas. This task was taken up by BORI and the work was entrusted to Dr. Mehendale, who worked untiringly for 25 years, as the Chief Editor of the Cultural Index of the Mahabharata. Very few people would know that he worked completely voluntarily without taking any honorarium, as did many a great scholars contributing their work to BORI. He was able to prepare material for Fascicules which are now the proud publication of BORI in the form of 2 Volumes (in 1997 and 2007 respectively) and 2 more Fascicules of the 3rd Volume. The first two volumes do not have the advantage of Sorensen’s compilation as these two volumes contain the index of names of inanimate objects and non-human characters such as ‘Meru Parvat’ or ‘Gandeeva’ or ‘Takshak’ whereas Sorensen’s work is restricted to personal names. The work on the the third volume is expansion on Sorensen’s work.
The list of published works of Dr Mehendale and the awards conferred on him is quite impressive. Capping them all, in 1990 he received President’s Certificate of Honour and in 1995, Mahamahopadhyaya Dr. P. V. Kane Gold Medal of the Asiatic Society of Bombay for his lifetime work. He Gave Memorial Lectures for 9 prestigious series, including Wilson Philological Lecture. He was conferred Academic Honours as President “Indian Linguistic” Session and “Vedic” at AIOC in 1955 and 1974 and President of BORI in 2007.
His book Madhu-Vidya brought out by Lalbhai Dalpatbhai Institute of Indology is a Collection of his articles, book reviews and essays on Vedic and Classical Sanskrit literature. The compilation has 8 sections. The section on Vedas has 35 articles, the Iranian section has 12, those on Pali & Prakrit, Linguistics and Mahabharata are 14 each, book reviews are 53, Miscellaneous 8 and obituary 3. This gives a glimpse of the range of his writing. Titles like (a) Ekavit in the Vedic Literature (b) Abode of “Mitra” (c) Satyameva Jayate Nanritam (for American Journal of Oriental Society) suggest the complexity of these articles.
Another book Makaranda -- a Festschrift (Abhinandan grantha) in honor of Dr. Mehendale, comprises research papers written by great scholars in English and Sanskrit on Vedic literature. Its foreward quotes “We are happy to publish this felicitation volume for Prof Dr M.A. Mehendale, distinguished and world-famous scholar, whose contributions in the field of Sanskrit, Prakrit and Avestan studies are outstanding and whose association with the institutes of great reputation like Deccan College and Bhandarkar Institute is decades old. We hope and believe that the scholars in the fields in which he has been for many years working will welcome this publication.” Such type of felicitation is quite rare and is a testimony to the important work accomplished by him.
Most of his books have been printed in multiple editions and are held by renowned liabraries world over. Here is a list of some selective works ---
Books of Dr. M.A. Mehendale held by liabraries world-wide
Historical grammar of Inscriptional Prakrits -- 1948 , English -13 editions -57 libraries.

Aśokan inscriptions in India : a linguistic study, together with an exhaustive bibliography 1948, English-2 editions - 29 libraries .
Barhut inscriptions / Corpus inscriptionum Indicarum – ARCHAEOLOGICAL SURVEY OF INDIA
-- edited by H. Luders ; revised by E. Waldschmidt and M.A. Mehendale– 1963, English -4 editions - 65 libraries.

Nirukta notes: series I –1965, English -6 editions - 42 libraries.
Nirukta notes : series II –1978, English-3 editions - 3 libraries.

Veda manuscripts – 1964, English -1 edition - 3 libraries.

Catalogue of Sanskrit manuscripts in the Deccan College Postgraduate and Research Institute, Poona -- 1965, English and Sanskrit- 3 editions - 36 libraries.

Some Aspects of Indo-Aryan linguistics -- 1968 English -6 editions - 61 libraries.

Studies in historical Sanskrit lexicography –1973, English -7 editions - 59 libraries.

Dictionary of Sanskrit on historical principles : specimen fascicule Jointly with Dr Ghatage -- 1973 , English -2 editions - 6 libraries.

Reflections on the Mahābhārata war 1995, English- 4 editions - 43 libraries.

Mahābhārata, cultural index Vol I -- (Comprehensive subject-wise index to the cultural information available in the text of Mahābhārata.) 1997, English -8 editions - 47 libraries.

Madhu-vidyā : collected papers (-Collected articles, book reviwes and essays on Vedic and Classical Sanskrit literature) -- 2001, English -2 editions-36 libraries.

Prolegomena on metre and textual history of the Rgveda (Metrische und textgeschichtliche Prolegomena, Berlin, 1888 / Hermann Oldenberg) ; translated into English alongwith V.G. Paranjape, 2005
Marathi books –

Rigveda Samhitakara ani Father Esteler- 1976
Marāṭhīcā bhāshika abhyāsa --1979, Marathi -2 editions - 9 libraries.
Prāchīna Bhārata : samāja āṇi sãnskr̥itī (Critical articles, chiefly on the Mahābhārata, and a few on ancient Indian civilization). -- 2001, Marathi 1 edition - 7 libraries.
Vaidic vagmayantil prashnottare Compilation - 1980
Varunvishayak vichaar Based on the two volumes on Varun by Prof. Luders Rigvedsara Translation from Selective Compilation of Hymns by Vinoba Bhave -1982
Game of Dice in Ancient India -1990
Gatha Jarthushtrachya aani yasnya haptanhaiti Translation along with Saanskrit Parallels
Eka shodha svatahcha bhavanika santulana bighadalelya eka atibuddhimana mulaci hrdayasparsi katha / Vharjiniya Ema. Eksalina ; Translation alongwith Sanjaya Oka. 2006
Finally, with his accidental fall and hospitalization in 2009-10, he decided to stop his work at BORI. He now spends time for his own reading and playing with grand-children. The happiness he derives from children can be understood from the fact that he even translated the world-famous novel “The Little Prince” from French to Marathi, a subject far away from his routine of scholarly Sanskrit texts.
As the editors of Makaranda describe him – “In Prof Mehendale, we were meeting an academic of great stature, we found him not only an humble yet dignified and a pleasantly communicative scholar, but also serene, soft-spoken, and forthright as well as fearless, a rare combination of several desirable facets for any scholar of outstanding merits and distinction…….” His family members, and friends add another quality – “very considerate and taking extra efforts to maintain sweet relationship”.
After his 93rd birthday, his friends and followers only wish to have him amongst them for many more years so as to get the benefit of his scholarly words.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Special Lectures
1966. Wilson Pholological Lectures, University of Bombay
1975. Kaushik Lecture Series (no.18), S.P. College, Pune.
1789. Bhau Vishnu Ashetekar Vedic Lectures, University of Pune.
1985. Dr. P.V. Kane Memorial Lecture
1987. Dr. H.R. Divekar Memorial Lecture
1988. Padmavati Pratishthan Lecture Series
1990. Prof. G.K. Bhat Memorial Lecture
1991. Prof. A.G. Manjgrulkar Memorial Lectures
1994. Dr. R.S. Walimbe Memorial Lectures
Researches Guided
(i) for Ph.D., Poona University “:
1961. “Linguistic Analysis of Koli – A Dialect of Marathi”
(-Smt. Suhasini S. Laddu)
1962. “Indo-Aryan Elements in Cankam Literature”
(-Shri S. Vaidyanathan)
1963. “Epic Syntax” (-Shri K. Meenakshi)
1964. “Language of Yaska’s Nirukta”
(-Shri Mantrini Prasad)
1967. “Evolution of the Sanskrit Language from Panini to Patanjali (with reference to the krt of Primary Formations)” (-Shri S.D. Laddu)
1971. “The Maitrayanai Mamhita – its Ritual and Language” (-Shri T.N. Dharmadhikari)
1973. “Agastya Legends – A Historical and Cultural Study” (-Shri M.N. Boardikar)
1974. “Comparative Study of Three Gujarati Dialects;
Surti, Charotari and Kathiawadi”
1975. “Fables, Parables and Moral Tales in the Mahabharata” (-Shri Palat Raut)
1978. “The Concept of Vac in the Vedic Literature”
(-Smt. Pratibha G. Deshmukh, now Pratibha M. Pingle)
1980. “A Descriptive Study of Tarai Nepali”
(- Shri D.C. Gautam)
(ii) For Ph.D., Ravishankar University, Raipur, M.P. :
1973. “Panini sa Patanjali tak Samskrt ka Vikas
Taddhita Pratyayom ke Adhar par” (in Hindi)
(“Development of the Sanskrit Language from Panini to Patanjali, with reference to the Secondary Formations”)
(-Smt. Manisha Pathak)
(iii) For M. Phil, Tilak Maharashtra Vidyapeeth, Pune :
1996. “Oldenberg yanca Akhyana-Siddhanta” (In Marathi) (“The Akhyana Theory of Oldenberg”)
(-Smt. Usha Barve).

Academic Honours
1955. President, “Indian Linguistics” Section, 18th Session (Annamalainagar), All-India Oriental Conference
1974. President, “Vedic” Section, 27th Session
(Kurukshetra), All-India Oriental Conference
1979. President, Linguistic Society of India
1996. President, Sanskrit Literature & Linguistics” Section,
Brihanmaharashtra Prachyavidya Parishad, 1st Session, Pune.
1975. Maharashtra State Award for Teachers (University Level)
1990. President’s Certificate of Honour (Sanskrit)
1996. MM. Dr. P.V. Kane Gold Medal for 1992-95
(The Asiatic Society of Bombay)
1997. Guru Gangeshvara National Veda-Vedanga Award (Nashik)
1997. Pandit Rajaramsghastri Natekar Award (Pune)
1997. Purushottam Award (Late Mrs. Jayanti Wasudev Trust, Sangli)
1998. Prof. N.R. Phatak Memorial Award (Pune)
1999. Shreemanta Nanasaheb Peshwe Religious and Spiritual Award (Shree Devadevshwar samsthan, Pune).
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3 टिप्‍पणियां:

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