Ambassador of Epic Dimensions: Prof. Rasik Vihari Joshi

 

Prof.Joshi with the author in Udaipur

 

The age of sages and Rishis is not over yet. If one looks around and tries to find out, the rich tradition of selfless learning and scholarship continues in various forms. From President Abdul Kalam to Baba Amte and Mahashweta Devi the tradition lives in all its glory which would make every Indian proud. One such luminary in the annals of Indian literature and Indology is Prof. Rasik Vihari Joshi, a creator of fifteen epics in Sanskrit and a scholar of ten different languages of the world including Ancient Greek, Latin, Spanish, French, English and Sanskrit. A resident of Beawer in Rajasthan, Professor Joshi is working as a professor of Sanskrit and Comparative Literature in EL Colegio de Mexico, Mexico. At the age of 83, he is the only Professor for whom the University has waived the rules of the age of superannuation. Recently, in the month of December, 2010 on the occasion of the completion of 70 years of Colegio de Mexico, the President of Mexico awarded him a Gold Medal to honour him.

Dr. Rasik Vihari Joshi, the eldest son of Late Prof. Ram Pratap Shastri of Beawer was born on Sep.12, 1927. He says that his father was his Guru who initiated him into scholarship and meditation. Prof. Ram Pratap Shastri was a seer whom Dr. Rasik Vihari Joshi describes as Trikaaldarshi. He was a professor of Sanskrit at Nagpur. After getting early education in Beawer, Rasik Vihari ji went to Banaras from where he obtained the degrees of Shastri and Doctor of Philosophy in Sanskrit. He earned the Indo-French scholarship grant and went to Paris, France and obtained his D.Litt. from Sorbonne University. In France he learnt French, Latin and Ancient Greek. He wrote his thesis for D.Litt. in French. His visit to France gave him the opportunity to come in contact with eminent scholars like Prof. Louis Renou, Prof. Lacombe and Prof. Filliozat. They wanted him to continue to serve in the University but he decided to come back to India where he was appointed directly as an Associate Professor in the department of Sanskrit in 1957. The fragrance of his scholarship and acumen to work with novel ideas spread soon.

Prof. Joshi came to Udaipur in December 2010. His sister lives in Udaipur who herself is a scholar of Sanskrit with a Ph.D. earned under the supervision of another eminent Sanskrit scholar late Pdt. Ram Chandra Dwivedi. Meeting Prof. Joshi is in itself a spiritual experience which would make anyone humble in the presence of such a great scholar who is so affectionate, pious and soft hearted. A believer in the principle of “Simple living and high thinking” Prof. Joshi lives all alone in Mexico, cooks his own pure vegetarian food and devotes six to eight hours daily to  reading and writing. He teaches Post Graduate and research students for which he has to travel for an hour in Metro and bus. He engages three hours classes twice a week and guides the students of his institution, gives seminars and goes for lectures in other universities as well. He believes that meditation helps in controlling the mind which in turn controls the body.

His immensely striking career includes an assignment as a founder expert member for the establishment of Tirupati Sanskrit University for which he was chosen by the Ministry of Education, Government of India in 1961 for a term of five years. In 1964 he was invited by the Government of Czechoslovakia, Poland and Hungry to reorganise departments of Sanskrit in the Universities of these countries. After the death of Dr. Lasney, he went to Czechoslovakia as a visiting Professor and delivered a series of lectures in Prague, Warsaw and Budapest. There he was awarded a gold medal for his contribution to Sanskrit language and literature.

In 1965 he became Professor and Head, Department of Sanskrit, University of Delhi. The same year he was invited to Thailand and Combodia where he delivered a series of lectures on Indian Philosophy and Metaphysics. He was invited by “Ecole Francaise Extreme Orient, Paris” to organise research projects regarding “Ankor Wat Temple Groups”. In Combodia he was accompanied by Prof. Barot and Prof. Demain who have been recognised as great scholars of Indology of the century. In 1968 he went to Columbia University, USA as a visiting Professor.

While in Delhi Prof. Rasik Vihari Joshi came in contact with the Nobel Laureate Octavio Paz, the then ambassador of Mexico in India. His wife was a French lady. Since Prof. Joshi had done his D.Litt. from France and wielded a good command over French, they became friends. He was invited to Mexico in 1969 as a visiting Professor. On his return he was invited by Prof. V. V. John the then Vice Chancellor of Jodhpur University to work as Professor and Head, Department of Sanskrit. Prof. John had the eye for selecting eminent scholars for the university. He invited Agyeya and Dr. Namvar Singh in Hindi department as well. He accepted this offer because his mother, who had grown very old, stayed at Beawer. After the passing away of his mother, he was again invited to University of Delhi where he served as Professor and Head for sixteen years.

All this while Joshiji kept his literary creativity going on which flowered into numerous works of poetry, translation and editing of classical texts. His poetic work Karuna Kataksha Lahari won him three awards from Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh Sanskrit Akadamies in 1979. The same year he was invited by UNESCO as a visiting Professor of Indology for a period of four years where he prepared a long term project of one hundred volumes to translate with introduction and critical notes basic texts of Sanskrit and Pali into Spanish language. He was appointed Director General of this Project.

On completion of the term he returned to India. The Government of India offered him to be the Director of Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan but he declined due to some personal reasons.          The then education Minister of the Government of India insisted. Finally he accepted the offer. He was nominated as the President of the delegation to participate in the International Congress of the Orientalists at Vienna. Dr. Joshi presented his paper on “The origin and Development of Swastik” which was widely acclaimed. In 1981 he was awarded Uttar Pradesh Sahitya Akadami award for his epic “Mohbhangam” published by the University of Jodhpur. In 1984 he was again nominated as a member of the official delegation of the Government of India to attend the International Congress of the Orientalists at Philadelphia, U.S.A. In 1986 a felicitation volume was published in his honour in which authors from all over the world contributed. In 1987 he was awarded life-long Certificate of honour by the President of India. In 1994 he was again invited to Mexico as a Professor of Sanskrit and Philosophy where he is still working. In 1996 he was awarded Sahitya Akadami Award for his Sanskrit Kavya Radha Panchshati. The list of honours and felicitations is almost unending. In 2000 he was awarded Birla Foundation Award for best Sanskrit poetry and in 2001 Dalmia Award for best Sanskrit poetry.

The special feature of the creative strength of Prof. Joshi is his ability to compose with equal ease in Hindi, Sanskrit, French, Spanish and Latin. He has published books and articles in all these languages in USA, Europe and India. He has composed fifteen epics in Sanskrit and edited with translation, introduction and critical notes scores of others. In all he has published thirty eight books and hundreds of scholarly articles world over. Some of his major works are Satyam-The Eternal  Truth, Radha Panchshati, Upasana Cintamani (A book in eight volumes consisting of 400pages), Swarnamala-An Encyclopaedia in four volumes,  Bhakti Mimansa in four volumes, Shivlinga Rahasya, an epic Ram Pratapcaritam in two volumes, Yogsutra Patanjali (In Spanish), Laxmi-Nrsimha-Sahsra-Nama Stotras, Vide di un Saggio Parma, Italia etc. Prof. Joshi plans to write a treatise on Indian Philosophy running into one thousand shlokas.

Devoted single-mindedly to the worship of the muse, Prof. Joshi comes to India twice a year. He is deeply rooted in Indian culture and has contributed immensely to its propagation the world over through his scholarship best evident in his writings.

 

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