Hoshiarpur houses heritage Vedic Studies Centre

Desh Bir | April 18, 2020 05:43 PM

The Vishveshwaranand Vedic Research Institute, Sadhu Ashram, Hoshiarpur (Punjab) has been the biggest centre of Vedic and Indological studies in North India. While the apathy of the successive governments has allowed Sanskrit to languish as a language confined to books, this institute nurtured and nursed by enthusiastic scholars of Sanskrit and  Indian Culture has been doing a great service to the learning and propagation of Sanskrit and Sanskriti by digging deep into the ancient wisdom contained in India’s scriptures and classic sanskrit literature including rare manuscripts salvaged from the ravages of time.

Way back in 1903 , by providential design, on a summer day , two sanyasis , Nityanand and Vishveshwaranand ,met each other at Ghaziabad in a train compartment during their journey to Delhi. This first meeting immediately brought them so close because of shared love for Sanskriti and Sanskrit that they never parted company till Nityanand left for his heavenly abode in 1914. Meanwhile they had founded a Vedic Research institute at Shimla at ‘ Shantkutee’. For this they had been able to seek patronage from Gaekwads of Baroda, Gopi Chand Bhargava and Maharajas of several states. The mission was to prepare a Vedic Kosh to compile all possible meanings in different contexts for the words of Sanskrit used in the Vedas which were being interpreted variously by various scholars as there was a danger of deriving from the Vedas such meanings as might never have been intended. Distortion and misinterpretation of the Vedas was the apprehension which led to the founding of this institute which was later shifted to Lahore. Swami Vishveshwaranand was looking for a scholar who could measure up to that level of scholarship , and here,   through Mahatma Hans Raj , he met young Achrya Vishwa Bandhu , a soul already divinely earmarked for this task.

After Swami Vishveshwaranand’s passing away, Acharya Vishav bandhu carried on the work on Vedic Kosh along with teaching and raising of Sanskrit scholars at Dayanand Divine College and then in the Research Department of DAV College , Lahore. Swami Vishveshwaranand had set up a trust and left an amount of Rs. 1.5 lakh through his will for the Vedic Research Institute. In 1947 when the country faced partition , Acharya Vishav Bandhu faced the impossible task of shifting 4000 maunds of books , documents and manuscripts to Punjab inspite of a ban by the Pakistan government. While loading the treasure of rare books packed in bags into trucks leaving for India , he hoped to retrieve these later.

In Independent India Pandit Madanmohan Malviya persuaded Acharya Vishav  Bandhu to shift the institute to Banaras Hindu University and promised a grant of rupees twenty lac , but Achrya Vishav Bandhu declined. K.M. Munshi wanted Vishav Bandhu to let the Institute become a part of Bhariya Vidya Bhawan. The government of India offered a five acre piece of land in Delhi at the place where now stands Hans Raj College , but Achrya Vushav Bandhu did not approve of the noisy neighbourhood. This offer was also declined. Finally Acharya Vishav Bandhu was able to find a suitable , quiet and idyllic spot in Hoshiarpur which was offered by Dhani Ram Bhalla a devout Arya Samajist of Bajwara and was  known as Sadhu Ashram. From 1947 onwards till his death in 1973, Achrya Vishav Bandhu served this institute as Director and made it the hub of Sanskrit learning which drew scholars from all parts of the world. Meanwhile , Ludwik Sternbach of Poland met Achrya  Bandhu. He had complied some 40000 maxims from Sanskrit literature on cards and wanted these to be annotated and referenced correctly through a scholarly interpretation. The work was to be published in 20 volumes and was to be known as Maha Subhasitani Samgrah. Ludwik Sternbach bequeathed all his property to the VVRI for completing this dream project of his. So far 8 volumes of Maha Subhasitani Samgrah have been published and the work on the 9th volume is in progress.

In 1965 ,  with the concurrence of Acharya Vishav Bandhu , the Panjab University set up in the same institute at Sandhu Ashram another teaching –cum- research institute called Vishaveshwaranand Vishav Bandhu Institute of Sanskrit and Indological Studies which  runs  Shastri, M. A. in Sanskrit and M. Phil courses besides guiding scholars of Sanskrit for the doctoral degree. So far the institute has helped 103 scholars in completing their Ph. D. degree. Besides, the faculty is carrying forward the mammoth task of working on the Vedic Kosh--A Critical and Comparative Dictionary of Vedic Interpretationswhich is a very long time arduous undertaking. Besides this, 55  titles of Critical Edition of Sanskrit texts particularly Vedic literature have been brought out by the institute so far. The VVBIS&IS has a very enviable library with 83000 rare books and 2675 manuscripts besides nearly 36000 journals, national and international. A biennial Research journal is also brought out and 52 volumes have been published so far.

The VVRI has a dedicated printing press. The institute brings out a monthly magazine titled Vishwajyoti which commenced Publication in 1952. Besides a quarterly magazine called Vishwasanskritam has been publishing since 1963. A research Bulletin in English was started in 2002. So far VVRI has written, edited or published nearly 1000 books on Vedic literature. Among these, the most distinguished Vedic Word Concordance edited by Padmashri Acharya Vishav Bandhu runs into 11000 pages and is divided into 16 volumes. All this account goes to prove beyond doubt that the VVRI and VVBIS & IS at Hoshiarpur are an ‘oasis of plenty’ for Vedic learning and Sanskrit, surrounded by a world of general apathy for the language of ancient Indian scriptures. Governments, social organisations and philanthropists need to fulfil their obligation and extend liberal financial aid to these institutions in order to let the torch of a rich heritage stay high above all storms.

(The writer is a retd Principal, Govt, College, Hoshiarpur)

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