Om Namah Shivaya

Om Namah Shivaya

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Jun 24, 2010

THE READER : Rahul Sānkrityāyana

Rahul Sānkrityāyana (1893-1963) was one of the most widely traveled scholars of India, who spent forty-five years of his life on travel and away from home. He became a buddhist monk(Bauddh Bhikkhu) and eventually drew towards Marxist Socialism. He was also an Indian nationalist, having been arrested and jailed for three years for creating anti-British writings and speeches. Sankrityayan was given the title of Mahapandit, meaning great scholar.

He was born Kedarnath Pande on 9 April 1893 to an Orthodox Hindu Bhumihar family in Azamgarh district[citation needed], in Eastern Uttar Pradesh. As his mother died at the age of twenty-eight and his father at the age of forty-five, he was brought up by his grandmother. His earliest memories as recorded by him were of the terrible famine in 1897. At age 9, he ran away from home in order to see the world, but later returned.

Sankrityayan only ever received formal schooling at a local primary school, though he later studied and mastered numerous languages independently, as well as learned photography.

His travels took him to different parts of India, including Ladakh, Kinnaur, and Kashmir. He also covered several other countries including Nepal, Tibet, Sri Lanka, Iran, China, and the former Soviet Union. While traveling, he mostly used surface transport, and he went to certain countries clandestinely, like Tibet where he went disguised as a Buddhist monk. He made several trips to Tibet and brought from there valuable manuscripts of Pali and Sanskrit, several books and paintings. Most of these formed a part of the libraries of Vikramshila and Nalanda Universities and were taken to Tibet by fleeing Buddhist monks during 12th century and onwards when the invading armies had destroyed these universities. Some accounts state that Rahul Sankrityayan employed twenty-two mules to bring back the loads of part of these materials, from Tibet to India.
In honour of him, Patna Museum, Patna, has a special section, where a number of these and other items have been displayed.

Personal life
Sankrityayan was married when very young and never came to know anything of his child-wife. Accepting an invitation for teaching Buddhism at Leningrad University during his stay in Soviet Russia a second time, he came in contact with a Mongolian scholar Lola (Ellena Narvertovna Kozerovskaya). She could speak French, English, and Russian and write Sanskrit. She helped him in working on Tibetan- Sanskrit dictionary. Their attachment ended in marriage and birth of son Igor. Mother and son were not allowed to accompany Rahul to India after completion of his assignment.
Late in life, he married Dr. Kamala, an Indian Nepali lady and had a daughter (Jaya) and a son (Jeta). He accepted a teaching job at a Sri Lankan University, where he fell seriously ill. Memory loss, diabetes, high blood pressure and a mild stroke struck him. He died in Darjeeling in 1963.

Sankrityayan was a multilingual linguist, well versed in several languages and dialects, including Hindi, Sanskrit, Pali, Bhojpuri, Urdu, Persian, Arabic, Tamil, Kannada, Tibetan, Sinhalese, French and Russian. He was also an Indologist, a Marxist theoretician, and a creative writer. He started writing during his twenties and had written around 150 books and dissertations.

One of his most famous books in Hindi is named Volga se Ganga, meaning “(A journey) from Volga to Ganga” and is an attempt to present a fictional account of migration of Aryans from the steppes of the Eurasia to regions around the Volga river; then their movements across the Hindukush and the Himalayas and the sub-Himalayan regions; and their spread to the Indo-Gangetic plains of the subcontinent of India. The book begins from 6000 BC and ends in 1942, the year when Mahatma Gandhi, the Indian nationalist leader has given a call for quit India movement. The book is remarkable for its historical elements interwoven with fiction.

Stay in Soviet Union
Although he did not have any formal education, in view of his knowledge and command over the subject, University of Leningrad appointed him Professor of Indology in 1937-38 and again in 1947-48. His book also published in bengali language. more than ten books have been published in bengali.
Rahul Ji's Tomb Stone in Darjeeling
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