Chakra Announcements

Sanskrit texts site refurbished:
Gaudiya Grantha Mandira online

by Jagadananda das

Posted August 2, 2003

The website is back online after much work at refurbishment. It is now much easier to find and download texts and the website permits more fluid interaction amongst users.

The Gaudiya Grantha Mandira is an online repository of Sanskrit and Bengali texts in a variety of formats (MS-Word, ASCII text, PDF and PostScript) centering around the rich textual tradition of Chaitanya Vaishnavism. It grew out of a need felt by founders of the Mandira to share rare and important texts as an aid in their respective research and writing projects.

As such a collection would be useful both to the scholarly and devotional community in general and to non-scholars and students interested in various aspects of the Chaitanya tradition, we decided to create a text repository that would make otherwise difficult-to-get texts freely available in finely edited and carefully checked editions. Moreover, we decided to make them available in a variety of formats that can be easily printed or incorporated into other documents. One of our goals is to make the entire Gaudiya canon available on CD.

We began about two years ago by keying in texts from our collections and posting them on the website. Though at first clunky and hard to use, the website began to grow with the help of a few interested volunteers. After a while we were joined by Oskari Loponen, an excellent web-page designer and database management programmer, who redesigned and reorganized the website and made it searchable by title and author, much more user-friendly and much more esthetically pleasing.

Last year, the main editors of the GGM began to realize that segregating Chaitanyite texts from the rest of the Sanskritic cultural tradition was short-sighted and unnatural. The Chaitanyite texts did not appear out of thin air, but are deeply indebted to and dependent upon texts from many other Sanskrit disciplines of knowledge: disciplines like literary criticism (alankara-shastra) from which the Chaitanya tradition derived its ideas of rasa and the other powerful philosophical and theological traditions (such as Nyaya, Sankhya, Vedanta, Yoga, Kama-sastra, and Saivism) from which it derived many of its theological and philosophical insights.

Anyone wishing to deepen his or her knowledge of Gaudiya Vaishnavism will be aided immensely by the easy availability of books that had a direct or indirect influence on Rupa, Sanatan and Jiva Goswamis. We thus decided to expand the boundaries of the collection and include works from literary criticism and from other major theological, philosophical and aesthetic traditions.

While other online sites offer versions of philosophical and theological texts, the GGM is the only one trying to make available the great texts of literary criticism. Literary criticism and literature are areas in which the brilliance of the Indic civilization shines forth brightly and the GGM is proud to be able to make these texts available. We already have much of the Kavyadarsa of Dandin and the entire Sringara-tilaka of Rudra Bhatta. We hope to add the texts of some of the other great literary critics in the near future.

Furthermore, we do not intend to restrict ourselves to works of the Gaudiya tradition, but shall try to fill gaps in the availability of works from other traditions where we see the need. For instance, Yamunacharya's Gitartha-sangraha and Stotra-ratnam, Ramanuja's Saranagati-gadyam and Gita-bhashya, and Vallabha's Sodasa-grantha have all been uploaded onto the site.

The collection now contains 429 files and amounts to about 55 megabytes of data. Those files in some cases consist of small individual texts, but in most cases are chapters or sections of much larger texts, many of which are not yet completely posted. Nevertheless, the GGM has about fifty visitors a day on average, who download around 600 files a day.

The amount of work in progress is large, with nearly every one of the Gaudiya Vaishnava Goswamis' granthas at some stage of preparation for availability, but there is much left to do. We are still looking for more volunteers who may wish to contribute by keying in texts, editing, converting files into different formats, making financial donations, etc. Devotees or scholars who have worked in this field are also invited to donate Sanskrit e-texts they may have in their possession.

Some may ask why it is important to make texts in Sanskrit available, when so few people actually know this venerable tongue. The fact is that these texts are the cornerstone of the Vaishnava tradition. Making them available in their original languages, as a testimonial to the original words in which they were written, is a sacred act in itself. It is an encouragement to others to interact with that language and can only be a positive effort.

The greatest accomplishments of the last centuries, which played a primordial role in the revival and growth of the Gaudiya sampradaya -- Berhampore Press, Bhaktivinode Thakur, Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur, Haridas Das, Kusumasarovarawala Krishnadas Babaji, Puri Das, Haridas Shastri--have all centered around the discovery, recovery, translation and publication of the Gaudiya Vaishnava canon.

This project will be of use to devotees and scholars for centuries -- to those who will want to study the texts in depth, to critically compare the use of ideas, language and vocabulary from one text to the next. It will also facilitate the publication of these books in other forms.

May Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu's blessings shine on all who enter the Gaudiya Grantha Mandira!