Recently we were privileged to have Hari Sauri das visiting New Govardhana and share his knowledge with us.
Hari Sauri prabhu, who spent nearly two years as Srila Prabhupada’s personal servant, was requested in 2008 to start a Vedic Cosmology library for the Mayapur TOVP. A large room was located in a building in Kolkata which had been donated to ISKCON Maypur by Mr. MC Shamsukha in 2000. This proved to be the nucleus of what is now the Bhaktivedanta Research Centre (WWW.BRCINDIA.COM).
Shortly afterwards Hari Sauri met Pranava das from Sweden. Pranava prabhu has has a PhD on Bhaktisiddhanta Saravati’s life and teachings, is fluent in seven languages and is a Fellow of the Oxford Center for Hindi Studies. He told Hari Sauri that he had located the private library collection of Sundarananda Vidyavinode (SVV) a disciple of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati. It consisted of 2,500 books and handwritten documents, mainly written in Bengali and Sanskrit, which he was going to export to Oxford, because he didn’t know of anywhere in Kolkata where he could safely store them.
Hari Sauri suggested that they combine their two projects and use the books and documents to start the library in the BRC. With funds from the MVT Hari Sauri immediately began to refurbish the building and create a first class library. It was completed in six months and started in June 2009 with a core of about 4000 books and other publications.
The SVV collection contains many rare handwritten documents, among them some from Srila Prabhupada, Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur and even some from Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur.
After the opening of the library several other collections have been added including 16,000 titles owned by Acyuta dasa as well as the personal archive of Sadaputa das (Dr. Richard L. Thompson), and recently a scanned collection of the entire library at Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s birth place in Birnagar, including his auto-biography Svalikhita Jivani.
The Library has purchased a specialised library scanner, which is designed not to damage sensitive old documents. They have now begun the painstaking task of scanning every page of every book, document and handwritten items in the Library. This will ensure that there is an electronic record of every page.
Five rooms in the building have been renovated into a comfortable guest facility, where students and visitors can stay while studying subjects in the Library such as the Vedas, Vedic Astrology, Vaishnavism and many others.