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Browsing: Ratnākara-panca-viṃśatikā (Or. 15633/197)

Image: Sanskrit hymn in 25 stanzas

Title: Sanskrit hymn in 25 stanzas

Source:
The British Library Board
Shelfmark:
Or. 15633/197
Author:
Ratnākara
Date of creation:
1856
Folio number:
3 recto
Total number of folios:
8
Place of creation:
Gujarat
Language:
Sanskrit and Gujarati
Medium:
paper
Size:
26.5 x 11.6 cms
Copyright:
CC0 1.0 (Creative Commons Public Domain)
Image copyright: Creative Commons Public Domain

Background

The Ratnākara-panca-viṃśatikā is a rather popular hymn in Sanskrit, in 25 stanzas. It is often sung and is available in recorded form, known mostly in the modern Indian form of its title as Ratnākara-pacīsī. Ratnākara is the name of the man generally believed to have written this devotional song, although the date of its composition is unknown. 

This is a rather late instance of a manuscript, since it was copied in 1876 (1913 of the Vikrama era). A Jain lay woman copied it for a nun called Candana-śrīji. In the colophon, the name of the copyist is also given. This shows the different actors involved in the manuscript production.

Although the present manuscript is not extraordinary, its format is interesting. The copyist seems to have laid it out to be as clear and pedagogical as possible. The lines are well spaced, with the Sanskrit text in larger script. The Gujarati commentary is clearly separated from it, and arranged in compartments below and above. Written in red ink and clearly marked, the numbers of the verses are easy to spot.

Glossary

Jain
Follower of the 24 Jinas or an adjective describing Jain teachings or practices. The term 'Jaina' is also used although 'Jain' is more common.
Hymn
The terms stavan, stavana, stava, stotra and stuti are all used for a prayer, song, chant or hymn to a Jina, a god or any other holy figure. Religious songs are always hymns of praise in Jainism. These devotional songs may be performed during daily rites or on special occasions, such as completion of a fast or a wedding. The hymns may be performed:
  • solo or in groups
  • as a form of meditation
  • as a rite offered as part of worship.
Vikrama-saṃvat
Often abbreviated, Vikrama-saṃvat is the calendar associated with Emperor Vikramāditya. It begins in about 56 BCE so the equivalent date in the Common Era can be calculated by subtracting 57 or 56. Based on Hindu traditions, it is a lunar calendar often used in contemporary India.
Sanskrit
A classical language of India, originally used by priests and nobility. Sanskrit has a rich literary and religious tradition. With only a few thousand native speakers nowadays, it is predominantly used in Hindu religious ceremonies and by scholars.
Gujarati
The language that developed in Gujarat, in western India. It is also spoken in neighbouring states. Also a term for someone or something associated with or coming from Gujarat.
Commentary
An essay explaining a text. Commentaries on the scriptures are common in the Jain tradition and there are various types, including the:
  • bālāvabodha
  • bhāṣya
  • cūrṇi
  • niryukti
  • ṭīkā.
Colophon
Found at the end of a Jain manuscript, a colophon is similar to the publication information at the beginning of modern books. It usually contains the title and sometimes details of the author, scribe and sponsor. The colophons of Jain manuscripts may also include the names of owners, readers and libraries where they have been stored. They frequently have decorative elements and very commonly contain a wish for good fortune for any readers. Written mainly by the scribes who copy texts, Jain colophons are often written in Sanskrit.
Scribe
Someone who copies manuscripts for a living. Scribes are common in societies where literacy is rare. In the past, however, scribes could not always read and write fluently.
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