What was happening in Indian publishing houses at the beginning of the 20th c.?

(apologies again for the lack of diacritics, I am still at home)

After several years, I could finally hold grasp of the editio princeps of Veṅkaṭanātha’s Seśvaramīmāṃsā. I found it in the University library in Kiel (too good that German Indology has managed to acquire so many important books!), in a volume collecting other works (see below), presumably because they were all parts of the same series.

The editio princeps of the SM was printed in Kanci (Conjeeveram in the English title page) in 1902 at the Sri Sudarsana Press. It is No. 16 of the series Sastramuktavali, where other works by V. have been published, namely the Mimamsapaduka (1900, No. 3 of the Series); the commentary, called Gitarthasangraharaksa, of Yamuna’s Gitarthasangraha (1901, No. 10 in the Series); the Satadusani (accompanied by the commentary Candamaruta).

The volume I have encompasses all the above, beginning with No. 10, then Satadusani, which is here incomplete, then No. 3 and then No. 16. In my volume, the Satadusani encompasses only vadas 16 to 26 and ends abruptly during the vada 26, after that there is a further portion —16 pages in total— of the Satadusani with Candamaruta in which the page numbers begin anew and which might correspond to the beginning of the Satadusani —I will check as soon as I can reach my office and my books).

The Kiel volume lacks any colophon for the Satadusani and has a Bhumika only before No. 10 (this might also have been the reason for putting it first). In it, the Venkatanatha-program of the publishing house is already clear, since the editor (sampadaka) of the Sudarsana Press explains that also the MP, SD and SM have either been already printed or are in press. He further says that he has decided to print them in devanagari (nagaralipi) in order to make it further accessible (sarvadesaprasrmaraya sarvadibhutaya nagarilipyavasyakartavyam addhyavasyadbhir asmabhih). The editor signs as Sri Sudarsana Padapadmasevi.

I am having some pain to locate this Sri Sudarsana Press, which might have been a smaller publishing house, focusing especially on Visistadvaita VeaAnta.

All these volumes have been edited by Prativadi Bhayankara Anantacarya (Ananthacharyar), which is simply presented as “Sanskrit Pandit” in the English title page (whereas academics are usually presented with their full titles, at least in my experience, around that time). A volume by Raymond Brady Williams let me ascertain that he lived from 1874 to 1936 and that he was a great Sri Vaisnava savant. Through the information about him in the yahoo group of the institute dedicated to him I could also know that “As a publisher, he is well known as the first South Indian publisher of old Sanskrit works in Devanagari-script form once that were, [sic] in Grantha or Telugu scripts”.

This information harmonises with what I read in the Bhumika mentioned above, so that one might wonder whether the two were the same person. Could “Sri Sudarsana Padapadmasevi” be just an epithet?

A further interesting detail: I acquired through Oliver Frey (University of Vienna, but I suspect that he is in fact the reincarnation of some great Bodhisattva) the photos of the Telugu transcript of a SM manuscript. The transcript is dated “December 1893” and the copyist signs (in Roman alphabet) “Gadhir Anantacharya”. At first I thought of a relative of our P.B. Ananthacharyar, who prepared the work for him. But then, again on the webpages of the P.B. Ananthacharya Institute, I found that he was also known as “Gadi”, which might perhaps be the Sanskritised version of “Gadhir”? I have only collated the first folio, but so far the transcript corresponds perfectly to the text in the editio princeps.

How is your experience with early publishing houses in India? How many books were published each year?
And, by the way, do you happen to know something else about the Sri Sudarsana Press or about Sri Sudarsana Padapadmasevi and Prativadi Bhayankar Ananthacharyar (and his family)?

For further details concerning my quest for the Sudarsana Press you can read this post.

Comments and discussions are welcome. Be sure you are making a point and contributing to the discussion.

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