(the author of the following post is Gianni Pellegrini)
he akhilavidyāmūrte! śubhās te pathānaḥ santu…
It was 2002, a very humid August, perhaps near 12.00 o’clock.
I was attending my class of Nyāyabodhinī, in the glorious Nyāya-Vaiśeṣika department sitting in the old (1791) Mukhyabhavana of the Sampurnanada Sanskrita University (Varanasi). In the middle of the lesson entered a tiny aged figure, with very bright eyes and shining face.
Then, a bit fatigued, he sat down and started speaking a fluent and elegant Sanskrit.
He explained to have attended for several years, in that very room where we were sitting, the classes of the illustrious paṇḍita Badrinath Shukla.
After a short discussion on few issues related to Siddhāntalaksaṇī Jagadīśī, with our Naiyāyika ācārya, I asked in a spontaneous way to that honourable man, who awakened in me a natural feeling of respect and sympathy: “ke ’trabhavantaḥ!” He replied “kamaleśvaro bhaṭṭācāryanāmadheyo ’ham”.
Immediately, I remembered that few years before, during my BA, I had read some articles on Nyāya signed with that very name. So I replied “asmākam deśeṣu bhavatāṃ nāma atīva prasiddham! praṇāmāmy aham!”.
This was my first meeting with Professor Kamaleswar Bhattacharya and that first feeling never changed, but, conversely, in the following years grew stronger and stronger.
I could never forget his worm and patient way of conversing with students, as well as his severe critic and condemn to aśāstrīya works.
After that first encounter I met Professor Bhattacharya several times in Paris, interrogating him on many śāstric issues, sometimes calling him by phone, or writing long mails asking for some śāstrīyasamādhānas on intricate issues.
Very soon I realised that Professor Bhattacharya was a real living monument of knowledge on several branches of śāstras. I became aware that I have had the privilege to meet a real padavākyapramāṇapravīṇasarvatantrasvatantra!
The affection he demonstrated to me, and I feel with all those who had the fortune to deal with him, is something that I shall forever keep in my heart.
In front of such a human as well scholarly loss it is not easy to say something sensible. I just remember we had scheduled an appointment for the next summer in Paris.
Unfortunately I shall not be again privileged to meet him anymore!
Let me close this note in a way, I hope, he may have appreciated –
saṃyogaś ca viyogaś ca vartate na ca te na me/
nāhaṃ na tvaṃ jagan nedaṃ sarvam atmaiva kevalam//
[A short note by me: Although I have not had the priviledge of studying with him like Gianni, I also could not help admiring Kamaleswara Bhattacharya’s scholarship, especially in the fields of Nāvya Nyāya and Vedānta, his vivid curiosity, his openness to new people, his ability to challenge French with his Nāvya Nyāya translations (he overtly told me once that he tried it exactly because he knew it would have been difficult and he wanted to see whether it would have at all been possible) …and his intense eyes. If you have memories of him that you want to share, please leave a comment below EF]