Rare, restored ‘Sarth Dnyaneshwari’ gets new cover: Memorial dedicated to former SP College principal - Hindustan Times
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Rare, restored ‘Sarth Dnyaneshwari’ gets new cover: Memorial dedicated to former SP College principal

Jan 21, 2024 06:18 AM IST

The memorial and the restored “Dnyaneshwari” was dedicated to people by chairman advocate SK Jain of Shikshan Prasarak Mandali that runs the college on January 15

The city’s Sir Parshurambhau (SP) College now has a memorial dedicated to its former principal Shankar Vaman (Sonumama) Dandekar, remembered by warkaris (pilgrims) for “Sartha Dnyaneshwari” published in 1953. A copy of the volume Dandekar frequently perused during his lifetime, untraceable since past 10 years, has been found, restored and converted into a memorial.

The restored version of the Sarth Dnyaneshwari authored and edited by former SP College principal Shankar Vaman (Sonumama) Dandekar. (HT PHOTO)
The restored version of the Sarth Dnyaneshwari authored and edited by former SP College principal Shankar Vaman (Sonumama) Dandekar. (HT PHOTO)

The memorial and the restored “Dnyaneshwari” was dedicated to people by chairman advocate SK Jain of Shikshan Prasarak Mandali that runs the college on January 15.

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The 856-page volume authored and edited by Dandekar was published by Prasad Prakashan and revered by warkaris who march from Alandi to Pandharpur during their annual pilgrimage. The volume is an authentic version of the “Sartha Dnyaneshwari”, authored by Sant Dnyaneshwar Maharaj (1275-96), the Marathi philosopher and poet who led the foundation of “Bhagwat Dharma”. A copy of the volume was available at the college library from 1953, before it went ‘missing’ around 10 years back.

Professor Kiran Thakur, a BSc student of the 1963-67 batch of SP College and former head of journalism department at the Savitribai Phule Pune University (SPPU), got to know that the volume was in a bad shape and lying unattended at the college campus. Thakur traced the copy of the volume found in the possession of an elderly woman family member of a college teacher.

Thakur procured permission from the Mandali chairperson, to restore the volume. Jain responded to his plea considering that the old book was a holy script authored by Dandekar, a respected figure in the warkari sect during his stint as principal of the SP College.

Dandekar had institutionalised teachings of bhajans and kirtans when he taught philosophy at the college during 1945-1950, and later till his death in 1968.

“I followed up with the librarian, who checked old records to discover the copy of ‘Sartha Dnyaneshwari’ was with one of the professors. We managed to procure the original volume and decided to restore it with the permission from the college management,” said Thakur.

The over-74-year-old book was found in wear and tear, with pages yellowed with age, loose binding, fragmented papers and frayed edges.

Professor Nachiket Kiran Thakur, director, MIT Institute of Design and MIT AD University, restored the volume using modem book binding techniques. The memorial is encased in a glass panelled wooden box which will house the “Sartha Dnyaneshwari” volume. Nachiket has also digitally archived the book.

“It was in a poor shape as it was not managed well. We restored the copy with right kind of binding and placed it inside a separately created case, besides providing a QR code to enable visitors to read the digitally archived copy of the book,” said Nachiket.

A part of the section of the SP College Library will be dedicated to volumes authored by Dandekar and other Marathi sants, said librarian Prathibha Sakhare.

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