CONTRIBUTION OF MM. Dr. V.V. MIRASHI TO ORIENTAL STUDIES

Dr. Manjusha Gokhale

Ex. Asso. Prof. & Head of Sanskrit Dept.

Ramnarain Ruia Autonomous College, Mumbai.

B 402, Vastushree Pearl,

Lane no. 8A, Kinara hotel road,

Off Paud Road, Kothrud,

Pune, 411038

mdgokhale@yahoo.com

 

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मिराशीकुलदीपाय विदुषे विष्णुसूनवे |

वासुदेवाय वन्द्याय निबन्धोऽयं श्रद्धयार्पितः||

Among the scholars wholeheartedly devoted to the pursuit of indological studies, Mm. Dr. V. V. Mirashi`s name stands very high. He has been well-known for his monumental work in the field of literary, epigraphical, numismatic, and historical studies.

 

Dr. Mirashi was born in Kivale, Ratnagiri district of then Bombay presidency (now Maharashtra state) on 13th March, 1893. He had a very brilliant academic career. He had his school education with flying colors in Kolhapur. Then he acquired his graduation and post-graduation from Deccan College, Pune bagging all prestigious prizes and scholarships. He actually wished to opt for Mathematics for his graduation, but as per the rules governing VarjeevandasMathavdas Sanskrit scholarship, which he acquired in Intermediate exam, he could not opt for Mathematics. Thanks to that scholarship because of which he had to opt for Sanskrit and the field of Sanskrit and Indology was blessed to have such a stalwart scholar and researcher.

 

The soil of the then Ratnagiri district was fertile and blessed due to begetting scholars, social reformers and patriots. Even Kolhapur was well-known as hub of “rashtriyashikshana”   as well as that of progressive thoughts and activities. Pune was the Centre of education, culture and patriotism. The period in which the upbringing and education of young Vāsudeva was taking place, was known as “Tilak Era.” The atmosphere was enchanted with the wave of western method of education on the one hand and with the urge of researching our own heritage on the other. The former must have imparted to him an aptitude for analytical thought-process, critical attitude and penetrating insight; and the later must have inspired him to bring the buried resources of Indian history into light. Among the contemporaries during the student life of Vāsudeva, there were H. D.Velankar, N. G. Damle, R. D. Karmarkar, A. B. Gajendragadkar etc. who also have made valuable contribution to the Oriental Studies. The impressions of this surrounding must have contributed to the development of the personality of the young brilliant student like Mirashi. Indeed, Kauṭilya has rightly stated, ‘kriyā hi dravyamvinayatinādravyam.’

 

Dr. Mirashi chose teaching as his profession. He was associated to Morris College, King Edward College and Nagpur university department of Sanskrit, Pali and Prakrit as well as department of Ancient Indian History and Culture.  This long career of teaching enabled him to create generations of able researchers on the one hand and to develop the section of indologyin the Nagpur university library on the other. Indian as well as western scholars have really been obliged to him for developing this section in quantity as well as in quality. His close and long association with Vidarbha, graced the field of oriental studies in many ways.Though he was an institution by himself, he created and established a center of research ‘VidarbhaSamshodhanaMandal’ which has been internationally reputed center for indological research by bringing into light ample and valuable research works. Dr. Mirashi devoted all his life to study and research mostly in the field of ancient history of Vidarbha. He read, edited and published number of inscriptions, copperplates and coins related to Vidarbha province.

 

Research has been the life-breath of Dr. Mirashi. Vast circumference of his research encompasses various fields such as Sanskrit literature, Prakrit literature, art, architecture, epigraphy, numismatics, etc. thusliterally each and every aspect of ancient Indian history and culture. As he himself has stated, his writing aims towards putting forth new information that is made available by research and with the help of that information solving various problems in Indology.[1]Thus his research possesses two major purposes -1. to bring into light new information,and 2. to solve problems in the field of Indology. He has been successfully achieved these aims through his qualities such as selfless dedication, clear thinking, precise judgment and many more.

 

Historical findings are never certain and they can and ought to be challenged time and again due to unearthing of new data. Dr.Mirashi was aware of this. In fact he always tried to get new data through inscriptions and coins. Moreover, he used to welcome new findings by other scholars, examine them thoroughly and incorporate them in his constructive research. On the other hand, he was frank and fearless in refuting the opinions of reputed scholars which, according to him were baseless or misguiding.

Dr.Mirashi had developed his own theories regarding the attitude of the researcher towards the research, and he himself strictly followed them throughout in his career.[2] Dr. Mirashi adopted the method of coming to conclusions only after a critical and most searching examination of available material from every possible point of view and in the true spirit of a pilgrim in quest of the truth and nothing but the truth. Most scientific approach to the problems of history and unbiased approach to any problem. ‘nāmūlamlikhyatekiñcinnānapekṣitamucyate’ was an unwritten rule he followed. He has said that inscriptions and coins are the most reliable sources of our knowledge of ancient Indian history. His expertise in reading and editing inscriptions and copperplates was undisputable.

 

Dr. Mirashi possessed aptitude for constructive research. He has not only published them as and when discovered, but arranged them systematically and developed continuous history based on them. His treatises on Kalacuri, Vākāṭaka, Śilāhāra and Sātavāhana are evident of the fact. He has proclaimed in his treatise on Sātavāhana and Western Kṣatrapa-s as follows –

“An attempt has been made to give the reader as complete and clear an idea of the Sātavāhana age as possible.”[3]

 

He was aware of the problems regarding certain points in history and of the necessity to solve them before attempting to write the history. Hence he used to study those problems and the writings of several scholars advocating different views. Then he published his own views in research journals to evoke criticism if any. Thereafter he took up the work of editing the resources and writing the history. .”[4]Welcoming the criticism and being ready to modify one`s own views are great values of him which should always be followed bythe researchers.

Dr. Mirashi`s disciplined, precise and systematic work rewarded him as he was the first Indian who was assigned to write a volume of the Corpus Inscriptionum Indicarum on the inscriptions of Kalacuri-Cedi era.[5]

 

Dr. Mirashi has written four treatises on the history of Calacuri, Vākāṭaka, Sātavāhana and Śilāhāra dynasties. All these four dynasties occupy important place in the history of ancient India. Calacuri was the longest ruling dynasty in ancient India. The era of Vākāṭaka is well-known as the Golden Era. Sātavāhana is the first known historical dynasty well-known for its achievements in art, literature and architecture. Śilāhāra is well-known as the main dynasty ruling in Konkan. The task of constructing history of these four dynasties was surmounting a daunting challenge and demanded not only intelligence, but also perseverance and sustained efforts. M. S. Ane has rightly stated that these treatises are as worthy as the ‘Early History of the Deccan’ written by Dr. R. G.Bhandarkar.[6] All these treatises consist of two parts- part I contains comprehensive history, and part II contains all available inscriptional data. By that Dr. Mirashihas himself contributed to the historical studies, and at the same time,dthe researchers for further studies. These treatises bring into light not only the history of the dynasties, but also the history of the people living under their sovereignty. They consider various aspects such as polity, religion, society, economy, literature, art, architecture etc. in the particular regime. In his treatise ‘Meghadootatil Ramgiri Arthat Ramtek’, he gives all available data- inscriptional and literary- for the curious researchers. In his treatise on Vākāṭaka dynasty, he has included all available inscriptions in the appendix; moreover, he precisely informs about one more copperplate found while printing of the treatise was going on.

 

As Bhavani Shankar Niyogi has stated, the essence of  Dr. Mirashi`s writing lies in the precise and objective research methodology.[7]He made full use of all that has so far been written on a particular subject. As he himself has proclaimed, he never merely reproduced other`s views, examined them critically and stated his own conclusions on all of them. He always has kept his promise given to the reader that his work would be found to contain much new research almost in every chapter of his work.[8]Kālidāsa and Bhavabhūti are the brilliant stars in the galaxy of Sanskrit literature. Dr. Mirashi loved both no doubt because they are master poets, besides that because they belong to Vidartha region.  There were problems regarding their date, life and works. Several scholars had dealt with these problems, but there was lot of confusion created by diverse opinions. Dr. Mirashi felt the need of a comprehensive work dealing with those problems and providing definite logical solutions. Hence he composed the treatises on Kālidāsa and Bhavabhūti which have fulfilled the need. They consist of the determination regarding the dates, identification of birthplaces, the situation in respective period, life-sketches, chronological order of their works, special features of their works, their impact on later writers etc. Along with this, a detailed account of the plots of their compositions with numerous citations from them together with their English or Marathi renderings are also added to make the lay reader able to appreciate poet`s genius and talent.

 

There are scholars who insist on writing only in English to reach to the scholars of all over India and abroad. Dr.Mirashi was never satisfied by being acknowledged only by scholars. He wanted common Indian people to read and know the history of their motherland, and language should not be a hurdle. That is why he never wanted his writing be restrained in English. Hence he wrote almost all his books in English and Marathi. Some of them are translated even in Hindi, Oriya and Gujarathi too. He presented serious subjects in simple and attractive style. His works are endowed with originality of thought and lucid, well-reasoned presentation of it.

 

He keeps in mind that a common reader should first get interest in the subject, then only he would be prepared to acquire historical or technical information. With this thought, he has given information regarding temples, holly places, sculptures at Ramtek in the opening chapter of this treatise ‘Meghadootatil Ramgiri Arthat Ramtek’. He is so caring for common readers that in his treatise on Vākāṭaka-s, he adds photographs of the paintings and sculptures in their era, so that the readers should be able to grasp the paintings in Ajanta with the help of this book. Keeping in mind the interest of common readers, he has written research articles on various topics such as great women in ancient India, Mahālakṣmī temple at Kolhapur, ancient personalities in Maharastra, ancient history of Nevase etc. In his historical treatises on Kālidāsa and Bhavabhūti, he elaborates their literature also in lucidand pleasant style. It proves that Dr. Mirashi was never a dry historian or indologist. He loved literature, no doubt, but while reading and enjoying literature, the hard core researcher is always attentive. For him, literature reflects and helps history. One of his works is titled as ‘Literary and Indological Studies’. His works on Kālidāsa and Bhavabhūti are the results of his penance for four decades. Moreover, he has written ample research articles on various literary works from historical point of view. For example, date of Harivaṁśa, author and date of Kundamālā, location of Rāvaṇa`sLaṅkā, date of Maābhārata war, date of Śūdraka, authorship of Cārudatta, Rāghavapāṇḍavīya, polity in Viddhaśālabhaṅjikā, Trivikramabhaṭṭa- a poet of Vidarbha, Udayanasundarīkathā, date of Gāthāsaptaśatī, birthplace of Guṇāḍhya, Hariviyaya- a poetry by Vākāṭaka king Sarvasenaetc. All his work is the feast enjoyable for intelligence as well as for heart.

 

Dr.Mirashi hated corruption in the field of research and took efforts to throw light on it. He respected the framework of historical research prepared by stalwarts in   India and abroad. He protested the fake researchers who misguide students and scholars. He tears such false evidences and warns their authors- “Sanskrit Pandits would be well advised not to mislead people by composing such spurious works. The truth will be out sooner or later.”[9]There is no other purpose than the discovery of truth. He feels that “though this is not a favorable task, somebody has to do it; otherwise the flow of research would not remain pure.”  He trusts in ‘satyamevajayatenānṛtam.’

 

Dr. Mirashi was the scholar of international repute and achiever of numerous prestigious awards including the title Mahāmahopādhyaya.  In spite of that humbleness and gratefulness are the major characteristics of Dr. Mirashi. Similar to his favorite poet Kālidāsa, he was humble to his readers. It is evident by his quoting the subhāṣita- ‘mārmikaḥkomarandānāmantareṇamadhuvratam’ in the preface of Samshodhanamuktavali (Vol. 10). He was grateful to his motherland Konkan and the land of Vidarbha where his carrier developed. By writing history of Śilāhāra and Vākāṭaka dynasties, he felt that he was trying to repay the debt he owes to Konkan and Vidarbha respectively.

 

Thus fathomless scholarship, intense longing for knowledge, analytical intellect are the major characteristics of this great personality that can be noticed in his monumental work. A tribute has aptly paid to him in the following words –

 

नानाशास्त्रविचारदक्षधिषणो विद्याव्रतामग्रणीः

विद्वत्सु प्रथितो मिराशिरिति यो राशिर्गुणानां यः|

गैर्वाणीं समधीत्य यः क्षपितवानायुस्तदध्यापने

सोऽयं विष्णुसुतः सुधीर्विजयते श्रीवासुदेवाह्वयः||

 

 

[1]Mirashi V. V., Samshodhanamuktavali, vol. X, VidarbhaSamshodhanmandal, Nagpur, 1981, Preface, p. 9

[2] Ane M. S., Samshodhanamuktavali, Vol. II, Nagpur, 1957, Forward, p.5

[3]Mirashi V. V., The History and Inscriptions of the Sātavāhanas and Western Kṣatrapas, Mh. State Board for Literature and Culture, Bombay, 1981, Preface, p. X

[4]Mirashi V. V., The History and Inscriptions of the Sātavāhanas and Western Kṣatrapas, Mh. State Board for Literature and Culture, Bombay, 1981, Preface, p. IX

[5]Mirashi V. V., The History and Inscriptions of the Sātavāhanas and Western Kṣatrapas, Mh. State Board for Literature and Culture, Bombay, 1981, Forward, p. VI

C. F. Deshpande Y. K., ‘Dr. Mirashi`s Scholarship’, Mm. Dr. Mirashi Felicitation Volume, VidarbhaSamshodhanaMandal, Nagpur, 1965, p. XXXVI

[6]Samshoshanamuktavali, Vol. IV, Nagpur, 1961, Forward, p. 5

[7]Samshodhanamuktavali, Vol. I, Nagpur, 1954, forward, p. 7

[8]Mirashi V. V., Bhavabhūti,MLBD, Deldi, 1974, Preface, p. VII-VIII

[9]Mirashi V. V., ‘The Ayyaṇavaṁśacarita- A Fake Sanskrit Historical Kāvya’, “Literary And Historical Stadies In Indology”, MLBD, Delhi, 1975, p. 267