NIPSAR Shravanabelagola ►Heading Towards Becoming the World's first Prakrit University

Posted: 30.06.2010
Updated on: 30.07.2015

Jain Heritage Centres


Nitin H.P. writes about National Institute of Prakrit Studies and Research (NIPSAR), Shravanabelagola and its mission Towards Becoming the World's first Prakrit University.

Shravanabelagola occupies a unique place in the history of Jainism with its history that dates back to 2nd century B.C. with the advent of Badrabahu the Last Shrutakevali, his twelve thousand disciples and Samprathi Chandragupta. Since then Shravanabelagola has been the house of Jain Munis. It is also popular because of the presence of the twin hills - Vindyagiri and Chandragiri, the series of temples, thousands of inscriptions that are spread across the two hillocks & the town and the Bahubali statue on the Vindyagiri hillock. This is a monolithic statue that has been carved out of a stone that was stationed at the same place and was consecrated by Chavundaraya the Ganga general in the year 981 A.D.  Chavundaraya’s guru Siddanta Charukeerthi Nemichandracharya authored many works in Prakrit during his stay at Shravanabelagola around 10th century A.D. This further led towards promoting Shravanabelagola as one of the chief centres of Prakrit studies.

Establishment of Shrutakevali Education Trust ®

The Mahamasthakabhisheka of the Bahubali idol at Shravanabelagola is conducted once in every 12 years. The Mahamasthakabhisheka conducted in the year 1981 coincided with the 1000 years of installation of this idol. The event was celebrated with pomp and glory under the guidance of Elacharya 108 Muni Sri Vidyananada Maharaj and under the guidance of His Holiness Swasti Sri Charukeerthi Bhattarakaha Swamiji of the Shravanabelagola Jain Mutt. On this occasion in sacred memory of Shruthakevali Acharya Badrabahu, Sri Charukeerthiji established and inaugurated the Shrutakevali Education Trust ® (SET). The trust considered the preservation, propagation and publication of Prakrit and other literary Jain works as its chief objective.

Establishment of NIPSAR

As a part of its activity the Shrutakevali Education Trust conducted the 1st national level Prakrit conference at Bangalore under the guidance of His Holiness Swamiji. The scholars at the conference unanimously recommended establishing a national level institute for promotion of Prakrit at Shravanabelagola. To fulfill its recommendation the National Institute of Prakrit Studies and Research (NIPSAR) was established at Shravanabelagola under the guidance of Charukeerthi Swamiji in the year 1991. NIPSAR is being run by SET with financial aid from the Government of Karnataka and other donors.

Location of NIPSAR

NIPSAR is located amidst the serene atmosphere at a distance of 5 Kms from Shravanabelagola, 130 Kms from Bangalore and 80 Kms from Mysore. The campus called as Dhavalateertham is spread over an area of 25 acres. Prakrit bhavan, the main building of the institute was inaugurated by Dr.Shankar Dayal Sharma, the then President of India. It houses Shrimati Priyamvada Birla convention hall, the centre for all the major activities of the institute.

Infrastructural Expansion

In order to support the effective functioning of the institute, the management is planning to provide adequate infrastructure by expanding the existing facilities. A few of those are as below:

  • Administrative Blocks.
  • Faculty and classroom block.
  • Library Building.
  • Manuscript Museum Building with project/editing and translation wing.
  • Guest house and Staff quarters.
  • Ayurvedic Therapy and Yoga Centre.

Library

The Prakrit Bhavan houses in it a well equipped library with over 25,000 books and research journals covering various fields - indological studies, religion, philosophy, language, literature, grammar, poetry, drama, narratives, metrics, sculpture, vastu, astrology, mathematics, medicine, science etc. The books are available in different languages including Prakrit and Apabhramsa.

 

ACTIVITIES OF THE INSTITUTE

The institute has planned a series of activities for the preservation, publication and propagation of Prakrit literature. A few of these are as below:

Preservation of Manuscripts

A huge collection of thousands of palm-leaf and paper manuscripts are preserved here. It is planed to build a huge repository of manuscripts in the institute. In addition to this the institute had partnered with Government of India and had taken up the mammoth task of preparing a registry of all the manuscripts in four south Indian states. As a part of this project the institute has been successful in recording the details of about 51,000 manuscripts.

Publication of Shauraseni Siddhanta Prakrit Text Series

The critical editions of all the Shauraseni Siddhanta Prakrit Texts are being compiled, edited and published under the editorship of Prof. Bhagchand Jain Bhaskar. Of the various works:

a. Kashayapahuda of Gunadharacharya
and
b. Kundakunda Granthavali has been published in original Prakrit text.
The editing of the other books in the series is under progress.

Publishing Supporting Material for Prakrit Research

With an intention of promoting research in Prakrit language the institute plans to publish the following:

  1. Prakrit Ratnakara
  2. A short History of Prakrit Literature
  3. Prakrit-Kannada Dictionary
  4. Translation of Prakrit Swyam-Shikshaka
  5. Prakrit Sukti Sangraha (five volumes)
  6. Dhavala Nirukti Kosh

Kannada Translation of Dhavala Trilogy

Dhavala, Jaya Dhavala and Maha Dhavala - are one of the most important commentary works in Prakrit. They contain information on various aspects of indology, Indian heritage, Jainology, etc. The interpretations of these works have been translated and published in Hindi in 39 volumes. Under the able guidance of His Holiness Swamiji, the institute had taken up the Herculean task of translating the Prakrit volumes in Kannada. Around 25 scholars had been involved in the project and the institute has been successful in publishing 16 volumes and the others are in process. Dhavala Praveshika.

 

Kannada Translation of Non Dhavala Prakrit Texts

As part of its continued efforts to bring to light the Prakrit texts in local languages, the institute has taken up the project of translating the Non Dhavala Prakrit texts to Kannada Language. Renowned Jain scholar Dr.M.A.Jayachandra heads the project and it is aimed to reestablish the missing links between the two languages.

 

Commentaries and Interpretations of Prakrit Texts in Kannada

Various commentaries and interpretations of Prakrit texts have been written over the centuries by many writers, poets and researchers. The institute plans to edit and publish these commentaries in the due course. Dr.M.A.Jayachandra has consented to head the project.

 

Publications of NIPSAR

In addition to the above SET and NIPSAR have published more than 50 books, a few of them are as below:

    1. Introduction to Prakrit Literautre
    2. Prakrit Bhasha Evam Sahitya
    3. The Spirit of Non-Violence
    4. Attimabbe and Chalukyas
    5. Jainism-Ethics-Spiritual Perspective
    6. Panditji (Commemorative Volume)

Teaching and Research Programmes

In addition to the above the institute has also involved itself in conducting Praveshika (equivalent to certification course), Prathama (equivalent to certification course), Madhyam(equivalent to diploma)  and Ratna (equivalent to M.A. in Prakrit) courses. The courses conducted in Kannada have been gaining popularity. Below is given an overview of the total intake of students in the past two years:

Year

2008-09

2009-10

Praveshika

398

361

Prathama

259

148

Madhyama

97

148

Ratna

57* - 28**

35* - 35**

*Kannada Medium
**Hindi Medium

The academic staffs of the institute have involved themselves in Prakrit related research activities. Of this 5 of them have been awarded Ph.D. degree by the Dept. of Jainology and Prakrit, University of Mysore. Further, the institute has got the affiliation from the University of Mysore to register students for Ph.D. programmes in Jainology and Prakrit.

 

Proposal for Bahubali Prakrit University

NIPSAR has carved out a unique position in the academic circles in India and abroad through its remarkable contribution in the fields of Jainology and Prakrit and other oriental branches of learning. It has planed a series of expansion schemes and as a part of this initiative SET has submitted a proposal to the Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD), New Delhi and U.G.C., New Delhi, for granting the University status and to recognize NIPSAR as a Deemed University in the year 2007-08. This will further help NIPSAR to gain the much need facelift in the global arena.

 

Below is given a list of proposed departments at Bahubali Prakrit University:

    1. Dept. of Prakrit Language & Literature.
    2. Dept. of Prakrit - Apabhramsa and Hindi.
    3. Dept. of Sanskrit - Pali and Linguistic.
    4. Dept. of Jaina Philosophy, Religion and Ethics.
    5. Dept. of Kannada Literature and Jainism in South India.
    6. Dept. of History, Arts and Archeology.
    7. Dept. of Manuscriptology and Inscriptions.
    8. Dept. of Research, Editing and Translating.
    9. Dept. of Ayurveda, Yoga and Meditation.

When granted the University status, this will be the first ever Prakrit University of the world.

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