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Prof. Jagaddhar Zadoo

One of the Last Titans

Prof. Jagaddhar Zadoo
Prof. Jagaddhar Zadoo

[He was a titan among scholars of Kashmir -- that is alone how Prof. Jagaddhar Zadoo (JDZ) can he described for his immense contribution to Sanskrit scholarship. But a very shy and unassuming titan, wearing his great erudition with utmost humility. Be it the first critical edition of the Nilamata Purana which he brought out together with Prof. Kanji Lal, or a part of the Gilgit Manuscripts which he edited with Dr. J. C. Dutt, the Lokaprakasha of Kshemendra or the Udamareshwara Tantra, the works that JDZ took up for study opened a whole world of discovery about life in ancient and medieval Kashmir. He translated profusely from Sanskrit and English and Kashmiri, and even Urdu, edited a number of Shaiva texts, worked with Japanese and Russian scholars, yet preferred to remain away from the glare and glitter of publicity. Mahamahopadhyaya, Vidya Martanda, Doctor of Indology, were some of the titles conferred upon him which could have turned any Sanskrit scholar's head cram, but not JDZ's. His gravitation towards learning was natural to him, for he belonged to a family that has produced some of the most illustrious Sanskrit scholars of Kashmir.]

Soft-spoken, mild-mannered and humble, Prof. Jagaddhar Zadoo (JDZ) never raised his voice to make a point, but he was head and shoulders above many prone to beating their own drums in the world of academics in Kashmir. Even after a lifetime of achievements in the field he chose to adopt, he never thought much of them. Born in November 1890, he came from a family where Sanskrit scholarship was something that flowed in the veins. The great Pandit Keshav Bhatt Shastri who adored the court of Maharaja Ranbir Singh as head astrologer, was his grandfather. The most celebrated scholar of Shaiva lore Pandit Harbhatta Shastri was his uncle. And Mahamahopadhyaya Pandit Mukund Ram Shastri whose unusual brilliance and outstanding erudition won him tremendous respect in academic circles in India and Europe, was his father-in-law. No wonder, therefore, that JDZ took to Sanskrit learning as naturally as fish take to water.

The Zadoos originally belonged to Zadipur, a village near Brijbehara, Kashmir from where they migrated to Srinagar in the beginning of the 18th century. JDZ's grandfather Pandit Keshav Bhatt, was chosen by Maharaja Ranbir Singh as his Raja Jyotishi and was consulted by George Buhler for his work on the Pippalada Shakha of Atharvaveda. Young JD took his first examination in Sanskrit, Pragya, from the Punjab University, Lahore, in 1904 when he was just 14. In 1915 he obtained the degree of Shastri from the same university following it with M.A. in Sanskrit in 1920 and MOL (Master of Oriental Languages) in 1921. It was in 1921 that he joined the Jammu and Kashmir Research Department as Head Pandit and worked on that post till 1924. From 1924 to 1927, JDZ taught Sanskrit at the Prince of Wales College, Jammu in place of the legendary Dr. Siddheshwar Verma, who had gone to Oxford for his D. Litt. Eventually JDZ became Professor of Sanskrit at Sri Pratap College, Srinagar in 1931 after completing his second stint as Head Pandit in the Research Department from 1928 to 1931, a post he held till 1946. He taught Sanskrit again at the Government College for Women, Srinagar from 1951 to 1953. In 1953 he became the founder Principal of the Mahila Mahavidyalaya at Srinagar and worked there till 1975 when he retired from active life.

When, in 1924, JDZ brought out the first critical edition of the Nilmata Purana working jointly with Prof. R.K. Kanjilal, it was hailed as a momentous work in academic circles. For the first time that rich treasure house of information about religious, cultural and social life of ancient Kashmir as well as traditions, customs and beliefs of its people was made accessible to researchers and scholars. Yet, sadly enough, this valuable edition of the Nilamata Purana for which alone JDZ's name could have been remembered by generations to come, is unavailable today, not even the nearest kin of the scholar having a copy of it, not to speak of the manuscript prepared by him. Another work of great importance that JDZ edited and brought to light by translating into English was the Loka Prakasha of Kshemendra, the polyglot who used satire for the first time in Sanskrit literature as an effective social weapon. The work contains curious specimen of sale and mortgage deeds and interesting cases of litigation of the times in which he lived. The text of Lokaprakasha was full of interpolations upto the 17th century, written in a curious blend of Sanskrit and Persian words.

JDZ also edited jointly with Dr. J.C. Dutt, Manuscript Number 7/E of the famous Gilgit Manuscripts which throw much light on Kashmir's Buddhist past. Bodha Panchadashaka and Parmartha Charcha are other philosophical works edited by him besides Panchastavi Tika, Paratrimshika Laghu Vritti, Paratrimshika Vivritti and Paratrimshika Tatparya Dipika (an abstruse presentation in Snaskrit verse of a highly abstract idea of anutiara). In all sixteen Sanskrit texts were edited by him during his tenure as Head Pandit of the Research and Publications Department of Jammu and Kashmir. These include, besides the above mentioned works, 'Prasada Mandapam (a brief treatise on Hindu architecture and sculpture), Prakashavati Pradyumna Natakam, Chitta Pradipa, Alankara Kutuhala and Soma Shambhu's Karmakanda Kramavali (which outlines briefly the principles and procedures of Shaivistic Sandhya Diksha and other rituals).

JDZ was the first Kashrniri scholar to work with Japanese and Russian Sanskrit scholars. In 1913, when he was only in his early twenties, he worked on Shaiva texts with the Japanese scholar Momo Moto Kora. About the same period his English translation of Bhasa's Swapana Vasavdattam guided Victor and Luydmil Mierworth in their Russian translation of the famous Sanskrit play. Together with Prof. Nityanand Shastri, JDZ translated Don Quixote, the famous Spanish classic by Cervantes, into the Kashmiri language as far back as 1936. It was the first translation of any European literary work in Kashmiri, although literary historians of the language have never made any mention of it. The translation was part of the project of Prof. Carl T. Keller of Harvard University to have 'Don Quixote' translated into various languages of the world. The duo, JDZ and NS translated the classic into Sanskrit also, and their translations probably are still lying at Harvard JDZ passed on his copy of the translation to "a loved friend" for publications but nothing followed it. The NSKRI is now going to take up publication of the work in view of its historical importance in the development of Kashmiri prose.

JDZ also translated the 'Radha Swayamvara' and 'Sudama Charita' of Parmananda, the famous Kashmir devotional poet of the 19th century, into Hindi.

In recognition of his outstanding contribution to Sanskrit scholarship, His Holiness Jagadguru Shankarcharya of Dwarkapitha conferred upon him the title of Vidya Martand in 1955. He was honoured with the title of Mahamahopadhyaya by the Prayag Vidvat Parishad in 1973, the last of Kashmiri scholars on which this honour was conferred. The Sharadapitha Research Institute, Srinagar, chose to recognise his outstanding work in the field of Indology by awarding the honorary degree of Doctor of Indology to him in 1974, while in 1976 the Pradeshik Snaskrit Parishad of Jarnmu honoured him for his profound Sanskrit scholarship.

There are many more details and dimensions of JDZ's profile as a scholar, glimpses of which can be had in his unpublished two-volume autobiography in Hindi. It was written a few years before his death in 1981, after prolonged illness. The autobiography, which gives many important details of the erudite scholar's life and times, is replete with his numerous comments and observations on Kashmiri society, culture, religion, literature, language, tradition, customs and even political events of the years in which he lived --- informative, interesting and revealing.

It reveals that his two sons were in the active service of the INA of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose. One of them, Kanti Chandra Zadoo was Bose's Personal Secretary. He is believed to have been on board the same air craft which mysteriously crashed in 1945, resulting in the death of Subhash Chandra Bose and Kanti Chandra both. By the time JDZ started writing his autobiography, he was already a forgotten man, partly due to his tendency to stay away from limelight and partly due to the deliberate indifference of the self-appointed cultural czars of post- independence Kashmir.

Source: Unmesh - Monthly Newsletter of  N.S. Kashmir Research Institute

 

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