Prasnavali, a less-known yet important treatise, ascribed to Jadabharata, poses fifty-two fundamental questions on Monistic Philosophy. Novelty of this book lies in its question-answer technique provided for both teaching and propagation of Advaita Vedanta in an easy way. In spite of being small in size, the work covers almost all the important topics expected to be known by a devotee or a learner. There may be different group of scholars and students of Vedanta affiliated to various mathas who long for finding proper answer to the queries that arise in this field from time to time. Jadabharata earnestly took up this uphill task through this treatise. Thus he deserves a special credit for creating interest in Advaitism among the people belonging to the community of both the learners and devotees.
Dr. Pranati Ghosal (b. 1956-), M.A., M.Phil., Ph.D., is a promising scholar in the field of Sanskrit and in Vedic Studies in particular and is presently engaged in the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, Varanasi. She is the co-editor of the Annual Bulletin and Proceedings of number of seminars organized at Jnana-Pravaha. She has co-edited the recently published volume on Buddhism and Gandhara Art and also the Interaction Between the Brahmanical and Buddhist Art, presently in press. Her book on everyday life in Vedic India is to see the light of the day soon. Dr. Ghosal has authored several research papers which have been highly rated for their academic value and have found place in important journals and bulletins. The present work Prasnavali reflects her in depth study of rare original scripture.
A SMALL tract, styled Prasnavali, ascribed to Bharata or Jada Bharata figures in the catalogues of Sanskrit manuscripts Anufrecht also notes it and informs that one copy of the work lies in the Bodelian Library at Oxford. In India the manuscript is found in the libraries of the Asiatic Society, Kolkata and the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, Pune.
Dr. Pranati Ghosal of the IGNCA, Varanasi centre, had selected this tract for editing, while working for M.Phill. course at the Rabindra Bharati University, Kolkata. She edited the work with the help of all the available mss., after collating the reading of all of them. The carefully edited text was lying with her all these years. The publication of the same in book-form is a commendable decision for which Dr. Ghosal deserves congratulation.
The author of the tract is shrouded in mystery. Jada-Bharata or Yadu Bharata or simply Bharata is rather untraceable. Dr. Ghosal has examined the authorship and the date of the composition of the work from all angles and has come to the conclusion that the work must belong to eighteen century AD. Her conclusion, on the basis of information available till date, appears sound and logical.
So far as the contents of the tract is concerned, Bharata, the author appears to be a Vedantist preacher. His only aim is to provide answers to some fundamental questions regarding the standpoint of the Vedanta, which may serve as a ready reference book. It may be conjectured that at the time of Bharata, there had been groups of vedantist attached to different mathas, for whose use these questions were conceived and answered in order to help propagate the typical views of the Vedanta School.
The linguistic and grammatical irregularities of the treatise are the natural reflection of age when Sanskrit was losing its luster. Dr. Ghosal has carefully edited the work, pointing out the drawbacks at all places, of course maintaining the original character of the work.
I congratulate her on her academic sincerity and hope that the work will be appreciated by scholars in general and those, in particular, who want to study the course of development of the Vedanta School over the centuries. Dr. Ghosal, however, might have done well, had she provided a fully corrected text.
The present is the critical edition of a dissertation on Prasnavali of Jada-Bharata submitted to Rebindra Bharati University. Kolkata for M. Phill examination. This important but less known short treatise of Monistic Vedanta still remains confined in the bundles of mss., lying in different mss. libraries of India and abroad.
During my course of study I was able to lay hand only on five copies of this work- two from Asiatic Society, Kolkata and three from Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, Pune. Theodor Aufrecht informs about two more copies one in the possession of Punjab University, Lahore and other in Bodelian Library, Oxford. It has not been possible for me to consult either of the two. I regret my inability.
The study reveals that there are some common errors of textual and grammatical nature and the same has been highlighted and discussed. Yet at the time of preparing text instead of giving a better and correct reading effort has been made to follow editing principles laid down in The Introduction to the Indian Textual Criticism by Prof. S.M. Katre. To what extent it has been successful is left to the scholars.
Ceremonial thanks giving is not befitting in the Indian tradition. But I must express my sense of gratitude to the scholars whose works I have utilized to my benefit. I am indebted to the Head of the Department of Sanskrit, Rabindra Bharati who has been pleased to allow me to carry out this work. I shall remain ever grateful to my esteemed guide guide Sri S.C. Goswami whose guidance and valuable instructions helped me to reach the goal. My gratitude knows no bound to all my teachers who taught me carefully and affectionately throughout the entire course. Regards of Prof. Biswanath Bhattacharya who has kindly written a foreword of this book before publication. I am indebted to the administration, the manuscript section and library of Asiatic Society Kolkata, as well as BORI who helped me generously by supplying Xerox copies of Mss., and books my sincere regards are credited to Prof. R.C. Sharma Hony. Co-ordinator IGNCA, without whose initiation this dissertation would never come to the light of day. And last of all I cannot feel content without referring to the names of my loving parents Dr. Sri Sachindra Nath Ghosal and Smt. Kanchan Mala Ghosal and my another esteemed teacher Dr. Sri Chakrabarti, Professor and Director, School of Vedic Studies under Rabindra Bharati University for their constant encouragement, inspiration and well wishes in every phase of my work.
(i) What is Vedanta? - Different schools of Vedanta - A brief history of Advaita Literature - Basic tenets of Advaita Vedanta.
(ii) Nature of the Work - Description of the source-materials - The Author. His personal life and date - Evaluation of the text