Siribhoovalaya: Multilingual Encyclopedia of Ancient India
Siribhoovalya is a multilingual Encyclopedia of 9th Century India. The book was compiled by Kumudendoo Muni, a Jain ascetic. This is an introduction to the great and wonderful book.
Ancient Indian literature is very rich in content, subjects and wisdom. In Vedic stream, it was mainly preserved by oral tradition, and later it was written in the form of manuscripts. Same thing happened in Jain tradition.
Vedic literature was mainly written in Sanskrit language, while ancient Jain literature was written in various languages including Prakrit, Sanskrit, Tamil, Kannada etc.
Siribhoovalaya, about which I am going to discuss here, can be read in many languages.
Siribhoovalaya is a giant book. The book has 26 chapters and about 600000 stanzas. The uniqueness of this book is that there are many great books of ancient India within this single book. There are epics like Ramayana and Mahabharata in it.The book includes Vedas and Upanishidas. There are several books on mathematics, astrology, chemistry, medicine within this book.The book also includes many books about Jain philosophy
Another great wonder about this book is that you can read it in many languages. The author of this book claims that it can be read in hundreds of languages. So far the scholars have discovered some of the languages, which are Sanskrit, Prakrit, Kannada, Tamil, Marathi etc.
One can say that it is an impossible thing.... How it is possible?
Well, it is possible because it is not written in traditional way, but in numerals. Yes, the book Siribhoovalaya is written in numerals. The author has used numbers from 1 to 64 for writing this book. It depend on which set of numerals you use to read the book for reading in specific language or reading a specific book within this wonderful book.
According to the author, the book can be read in 18 scripts and 18 main languages, and 700 minor languages.
Modern scholars have succeeded to decode first three chapters of the book. Unfortunately, the book is partially available, and no one knows where is the remaining part.
Kumudendu Muni: Author of Siribhoovalaya
Siribhoovalaya was written in 9 th century, when Jainism was on its zenith. Kumudendu Muni, a Jain ascetic wrote this book. He was contemporary of Emperor Amoghvarsha of Rashtrakut Dynasty. The emperor himself was a follower of Jainism who became a Jain monk in last period of his life. He was disciple of the famous Jain Acharya and scholar Jinsen. Kumudendu Muni also was a disciple of Acharya Jinsen.
We do not know much about Kumudendu Muni.
He says in Siribhoovalaya that he was inspired by Jain text Shatkhandagam to write this book. He has dedicated the book to Gomateshwar Bahubali, a mythical and popular ascetic in Jain community..
Discovery of Siribhoovalaya
The story of the discovery of Siribhoovala is very interesting.
In medieval age, a woman Malikabbe, who was a devotee Jain, made copies of the book and donated it to Jain libraries and scholars. One of the copy was passed to a Jain-Brahmin scholar by inheritance. His name was Dharanendra Pandit.
A guy Yellappa Shastri was in search of this book because he had heard lot about the book and he was keenly interested in it. He got to know that Dharnedra Pandit possesses that rare book. Yellappa decided to get that book from Dharnedra Pandit. To go closer to the Pandit, Yellappa married Pandit's niece. But he was not able to get the book until the death of the Pandit.
After the death of Dharnedra Pandit, his sons wanted to sell all his movable belongings, including Siribhoovalaya. Of course, yellappa bought it. Like Dharanendra Pandit, Yellappa also was a poor, and he had no money to buy the book. So he gave golden bangles of his wife in exchange of the book.
History of Decoding of Siribhoovalaya
However, Yellappa Shastri was unable to decode the content in Siribhoovalaya. It took too much time to complete the task.
After many years, two scholars, namely Karalmangalam Shrikantayya and Anant Subbarao came to help Yellappa Shastri. The three scholars finally edited a part of the book and it was published in 1953 with the help of Kannada Sahitya Parishad. (Kannada Literary Conference).
Video: An English introduction to Siribhoovalaya by Satishkumar PKagwad
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