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Dr. B. N. Pandit

Dr. B. N. Pandit

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Description: Professor Baljinath Pandit
by Mrinal Kaul

Professor Baljinath Pandit was born in the year 1916 in a village called Kulgam situated in the district of Anantnag in Kashmir. His parents were Pandit Aftabram Pandit and Srimati Amaravati. He did his primary and secondary education from a school in his native village Kulgam. He completed his high school education at an early age since he was an exceptionally intelligent boy. Thereafter, he joined Sri Raghunath Sanskrit College in Jammu and completed his traditional degrees in Sanskrit viz. Prajnaa, Visarada and Sastri. He topped the University of Punjab in Lahore to which his college was affiliated. Consequently, he also studied for his B.A. from the same university. In the year 1946 he earned his M.A. degree and later his doctoral degree in Sanskrit from the University of Punjab in Lahore. He also leant from Pandit Ananda Kak Sastri in Srinagar and Pandit Kakaram Sastri in Jammu. He was a direct disciple of Pandit Amrtavagbhavacarya of Varanasi.

In 1941 he was appointed as a teacher in the Government Oriental College (rajakiyasamskrta-pathasala) in Srinagar. He is said to have brought about major changes in the teaching methodology in the college. It had become difficult for students in the college to pass their undergraduate examinations following wrong methodology. With the ardent efforts of Professor Pandit, all the later students could qualify the examinations smoothly. He emphasized spoken Sanskrit in college and also initiated Sanskrit debating competitions.

Subsequently, he was appointed as a lecturer in Sanskrit at the prestigious Sri Pratap College in Srinagar. After three years he was transferred to the Government Degree College in Anantnag district in Kashmir. Later, he also served as a senior faculty member in the post graduate department of Sanskrit in Himachal Pradesh University. He was also a faculty member of the Muktabodha Indological Research Institute, Maharashtra. He was honored by the president of India with a certificate of honor as a Sanskrit scholar for his life time service to the cause of Indology.

Professor Pandit was the last living Kashmirian Sanskritist who had mastered the traditional expertise of Saiva schools of Kashmir. He wrote many books and learned articles in Sanskrit, Kashmiri and English. He also translated many Saiva texts into English, Kashmiri and Hindi. His remarkable work was the Svatantryadarpana which very lucidly explains the basic terminology of Kashmirian monistic Saiva school.

For more than thirty years he worked as director of the project on the Kasmira-saivadarsana-brhat-kosa which was funded by the Ministry of Education, Government of India. This encyclopedia on ‘Kashmir Saivism’ was recently published in two volumes by the Ranvira Sanskrit University in Jammu.

In him Kashmir has lost the most learned and enthusiastic scholar of Sanskrit studies. His contribution in the filed of Saivism can never be disregarded. Pandit Baljinnath Pandit passed away on September 7, 2007.
Date: 28.10.2004 15:25
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