The collection of essays “Vinayatoshini” combines in itself every flower from every
meadow plucked for the pleasure of Dr. Benoytosh Bhattacharyya, the doyen of Buddhist Iconographic and Esoteric studies in India and the inventor of modern Hollistic medicines.The valuable contributions of this volume are some important writings of Benoytosh and a few noteworthy correspondence which he received from the contemporary historians, archaeologists and even more from his own father Mahamahopadhyaya Haraprasad Shastri.We have been able to restore from the old documents preserved in the Shastri Villa,Naihati, a hitherto un-published treatise on Buddhism which Dr. Benoytosh Bhattacharya kept in his note-book. This is possibly a draft frame work for writing a volume on ‘Premitive Buddhism to Mahayana’ which Dr. Bhattacharya could not complete during his life time,
but in a sketchy history of the subject it incorporates much valuable data for the reconstruction and development of Buddhism in its early stages.We have particularly chosen to reprint the article ‘Untouchability through Sanskrit eyes’
first published in the Aryan Path, Vol. XIV in the year 1943 where he quotes from
Acharasara saying, ‘There is no necessity of taking a bath of purification if bodily contact takes place with a chandala, or chamar when they are in the proximity of a Vishnu temple for the purpose of worshipping the deity.”The other essay by Benoytosh is his unique appreciation of the great poet Rabindranath Tagore which was a radio-script for a talk delivered in May, 1949 from Baroda Radio Station.A bunch of epistles from his well-wishers has been incorporated which will give a glimpse of important bio-profile of the scholar in-the-making. Four letters in Bengali and two in English written by his father Mm. Haraprasad Shastri have been selected from one hundred odd letters available from the archives of the Shastri Villa. The father, an erudite
scholar, is in dialogue with his equally intecllectual son asking for references, interpretation,suggestions as to old manuscripts, lost sources or peculiar Buddhist icons. As is natural the day-to-day family events and crisis crept in but gained no extraordinary significance.It is interesting to note that Benoytosh’s earlier essay on ‘Vindhyavasini’ evoked much interest in Sir Jadu Nath Sarkar and Mm. Haraprasad Shastri. The divergent comments of these two great scholars will be available in the letters printed in this volume. From the letter of Ray Bahadur K.N. Dikshit, the then Director General of Archaeological Survey of India (1937 to 1944), we now come to know that Dr. Bhattacharya had an ardent desire to serve the Archaeological Survey of India which never materialised. Dr. N.K. Bhattasali,the Curator of Dacca Museum maintained a regular correspondence with Dr. Bhattacharya and exchanged academic information:Reminiscences have been presented in this volume from his eldest son, brother-in-law and grand daughter and one of his favourite students in Baroda.