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scholarly opinion on siribhoovalaya

'Scholarly Opinion on Siribhoovalaya' by Dr. S. Srikanta Sastri

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Dr. S. Srikanta Sastri's review of Jaina poet's seminal work "Siribhoovalaya" - 9 September 1953

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'Scholarly Opinion on Siribhoovalaya' by Dr. S. Srikanta Sastri

Dear Sirs,

I have received the first part of your publication "Siri Bhuvalaya", with thanks, and I have gone carefully through the introduction by Sri Karlamangalam Srikantayya, who was also kind enough to show me the photo of the first page of the original manuscript, giving the square of numbers. I am informed that the whole manuscript consists of many pages, which are in an, extremely frail condition, so that it is very difficult to handle them. I had also several talks with Sri Srikantayya about the complicated problems raised by this astonishing work.

From the clues, laboriously worked out by the editors, I myself have verified that the readings given by the editors, are substantially correct as far as published and I can say that, however astonishing the results are, there is no proof of deliberate forgery by any modern author. A dispassionate scholar, with no preconceived opinions, should be prepared to accept heuristic method of evaluating historical document until and unless substantial evidence is produced to the contrary.


Jaina Digambara (Shravanabelagola)
"Bhuvalaya" claims to be the work of Kumudendu, who says that he was the guru of Amoghavarsha of Manya kheta and a disciple of Virasena and Jinasena of Dhavala. The recent discovery and publication of the 'Dhavala Tikar’ constitutes a landmark in Indological studies, essentially for Jainology. Kumudendu's Kannada Bhuvalaya is professedly based on Virasena's work, but is more extensive and perhaps more important. I have scrutinised carefully for any evidence of a later date than 9th century A. D. but in the published portion nothing has been discovered to my knowledge, nor have others been able to point out such evidence, excepting the seemingly modern form of Kannada. Whatever the explanation for this might be it alone cannot outweigh other Considerations.

The importance of this work may be briefly analysed under the following heads:-

1. For the history of Kannada language and literature, it is one of the earliest works, however much it may upset our present notions of the development of Kannada language, unless it can be proved to be modern.


2. For the history of Sanskrit, Prakrit, Tamil and Telugu literatures of the 9th century it is an eye-opener.


3. For the study of Jainism in particular and all other schools of Indian Philosophy and religions, it provides new material which may revolutionise our present concepts of the development of Indian thought.


4. For the political history of India and Karnataka, it provides fresh material as it mentions Amoghavarsha and Ganga rulers of Mysore.


5. For the history of Indian mathematics, it is an important document. The recent studies in Virasensa's Dhavala Tika show that Indians even in the 9th century, if not centuries earlier were conversant with the theory of place-values, laws of indices, the theory of logarithms, special methods to deal with fractions, theories of transformations, geometrical and mensuration formulae, infinite processes and theories of infinity anticipating Cantor and other Western mathematicians, correct value of pi (π), permutation and combination etc., Kumudendu's work seems to be far more advanced than even Virasena's and therefore not easy of comprehension.

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S. Srikanta Sastri, a respected name in the study of Indian history and culture, has commented on the work thus:

"This work is of great importance in the study of Kannada language and Literature and the literatures of Sanskrit, Prakritha, Tamil and Telugu. It throws light on the history of India and the history of Karnataka. This is an important source for the study of Indian Mathematics. It is helpful in the study of the development of Physics, Chemistry and the Life Sciences in India. It helps in the study of sculpture and iconography. If the versions of the Ramayana, the Mahabharatha, the Bhagavadgita, the Rig Veda and other ancient texts can be decoded, a comparison of those versions with the present day versions would be rewarding. Some Jain works which have been lost may be recovered from this work."

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