Vijayawada

Mastering Agama Sastras through palm leaf manuscripts

Labour of love: Prof. R.V. Venugopalacharyulu looking at palm leaf sasanas on Agama Sastras.   | Photo Credit: S_RAMBABU

Agama Sastras are a manual for worship, rituals and construction of temples in Hinduism. Mastering it going through palm leaf manuscripts is said to be a Herculean task, that too in Pancharatra Agama. This task was achieved by Rejeti Venkata Venugopalacharyulu, a former professor in the Institute of Advanced Studies in Education, who has settled down in Konthamuru, on the outskirts of Rajamahendravaram.

For the last two decades, he has collected about 250 palm leaf manuscripts from different places in AP and began research, finalisation and publication of unpublished Pancharatra Agama literature. The 80-year old scholar learnt Vaishnava Pancharatra Agama Prayoga from his father Rangacharyulu, a temple priest, during his childhood. Later, he developed a passion towards collecting palm leaf manuscripts on Agama Sastra.

“I toured almost all temples, which are historically important as well as where Sasanas were inscripted on the walls. I went to Sri Kurmam, where Sri Ramanujacharya, theologian and exponent of Sri Vaishnava tradition, preached Pancharatra Agama to people during the early 12th Century and converted Sri Kurmam temple as Sri Vaishnava temple. I studied Sasanas on the walls of that temple,” Prof. Venugopalacharyulu said. His collection of palm leaf manuscripts on Pancharatra Agamas dates back from 1734 to 1912 A.D., and at present he is entrusted with publishing 11 books by the Tirumala Tirupati Devsasthanams literary wing. He has completed eight books in two phases and work of completing the remaining has just begun. He conducted research on Otto Schrader, a German scholar who worked as superintendent of The Adayar Library and Research Center, Madras, who wrote Introduction of Pancharatra Agama and Ahirbhudhnya Samhita, which speaks about how to perform different rituals in temples.

In-depth study

He also did in-depth study on H. Daniel Smith, Professor of Religion, Syracuse University, U.S., who wrote a book Descriptive Bibliography of the Printed Texts of the Pancharatra Agama. “At present I am having 75 unpublished manuscripts and want to publish ,” he said.

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Printable version | Apr 7, 2021 11:08:29 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Vijayawada/mastering-agama-sastras-through-palm-leaf-manuscripts/article24076304.ece

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