Tuesday, February 08, 2005

BPHS various editions by Dr Satya Prakash Choudhary

BPHS various editions

by Dr Satya Prakash Choudhary
I will give a quick history of BPHS in modern times (its published
history), without going into other things. I don't know which
*Varanasi* edition Sri K. N. Rao is referring to. It has to be
either the second or third in my list. I will not refer to the
English translations or other regional ones because most of these
texts follow one or more of the following as these are among the
first published ones in any language.

1. The earliest *published* edition of BPHS
is 'BrihatParasaraHoraSaramsa' with Sridhara pandita's Sanskrit and
Hindi commentary. Published by Venkateswara Steam Press, Bombay.
(don't know its first publication date. I could procure a xerox copy
of the second edition dated 1951)

Subsequently three editions with Hindi commentary were published.

2. Sri Sitaram Jhoo's Hindi commentary ('Brihat Parasara Hora')
published by Master Kheladilal & Sons, Varanasi (published 1946)

3. Sri Devachandra Jhoo's Hindi commentary ('Brihat Parasara Hora')
published by Chowkamba Vidya Bhavan, Varanasi

4. Sri Ganesadatta Pathak's Hindi commentary published by Thakur
Prasad Pustak Bhandar.

These four are generally the main editions used by scholars in
comparing various editions.

Of these Sridhara's and Ganesadatta's versions are nearly similar
while the other two are similar in meaning, though there are
differences in the words used here and there.

Number of chapters in various editions:

While Sridhara Pandita's edition refers to 100 chapters (80 in
Poorvabhaga and 20 in Uttarabhaga) in the chapter 'Adhyayana krama'
(70th chapter in this edition) , the actual text itself has only
51+20= 71.

The Sitaram Jhoo edition has 91 chapters while Devachandra Jhoo
edition has 98 chapters.

It goes without saying that the order of chapters as well as content
to some extent, differ in these various editions. Discounting the
differences in words as long as the meaning/content remains similar,
I could say that Devachandra Jhoo edition has three additional

a. Grahadisadhanadhyaya
b. Sutikadhyaya
c. Prasnadhyaya

The above three figure as chapters 4,9 and 84 in this edition.

The 'Avatarakathanadhyaya' is not part of both Sridharapandita's and
Ganesadatta's editions as also quite a few chapters. As you know,
this chapter deals with the ten avatars of Lord Vishnu and the

Good news is that the so called Jaimini topics are part of all four
editions. Either Jaimini principles were already integrated into
Parasara's texts or they have always been part and parcel of what
goes by Parasara's name (I know that Narasimha strongly supports the
latter case). Unless an older version of the BPHS surfaces and this
version doesn't have the so called Jaimini topics, the ground for
the latter contention (that Jaimini is part of Parasara) shall
remain reasonably strong.

Inspite of the other differences, one thing might be possible (my
own speculation). The versions with 71 and 60 chapters are largely
similar in their contents and could perhaps be based on *older*
versions. The other two versions might have more
interpolations/alterations. This apart, all four could (in all
probability) probably be surviving traditions of BPHS with
alterations. One thing seems to be sure. There definetely is NO way
of concluding anything as Parasara's own words in HIS own language
as all editions have differences in language (words) at times.

I am deliberately refraining from writing more so as to avoid
unnecessary controversies. I am not against a scholarly debate on
this topic, but recognize the limitations of a group like this. All
debate/discussion can occur only between individuals who have gone
through all the editions and also have a good idea of the historical
rise and fal of various religious, cultural and intellectual
movements in Indian history as one can infer these indirectly in the
language used. For instance what does the Pancaratra agama leaning
of the author(s) (in certain chapters) suggest? That these versions
are post-pancaratra agama rise?

What are the possible inferences of certain Greek terms in the texts
such as Kendra, Panaphara, Apoklima, Sunapha, Anaphara, Dauradhura,
Kemadruma suggest? (esp against the background that it is hard to
find the Sanskrit root for some of these words!)Quite a few
possibilities exist here. Either the surviving versions are all
altered after the Yavanas exerted their influence on Hindu Jataka?
Or does one have to take this to even older times? Did Parasara
write anything at all? Or did Parasara's teachings survive through
successions of disciples who compiled the BPHS after considerable
time gaps? And has this original version been changed over a period
of time and hence none of the contents can be used for QUOTING
Parasara's opinion? It is good to explore various possibilities as
long as one remains intellectually honest and is willing to give up
favourite prejudices. This is the hardest one to overcome as
personal prejudices (religious, regional, intellectual,etc) can work
both consciously and unconsciously at an emotional level.

Perhaps it is good to take the ESSENCE of the text and not
everything literally. Afterall we are not dealing with the Veda
Samhita or Sruti. We are dealing with sastra.

Though there are knowledgeable people/scholars here, this list is
certainly not the place to have a major discussion/debate as there
are people at all levels.

Satya Prakash

Post-script: Isn't it amusing when people quote a verse from
Parasara giving the chapter and sloka to support themselves (as if
only one edition/version existed)? Which edition are they referring
to? Most often it is the English translation published by either
Ranjan or Sagar. And then how many are aware that the two parts of
Ranjan publications BPHS in English have been translated by two
different people? The first part has been translated by Sri
Santhanam and the second one by one Gowri Shankar Kapoor (which I
think has been lifted from an earlier edition in Hindi). The Sagar
publications edition in English has been translated by Sri Girish
Chandra Sarma

Brihaspati Gayatri, Vishwamitra/Gaathina Rishi Rig Veda 6.62.6