Sankaradeva's Bhakti Ratnakara

The Bhakti Ratnākara is the product of Srimanta Sankaradeva's wide-ranging and deep-digging philosophical studies. There is, in this rare classical endeavour, a collection of 573 Sanskrit slokas from a good number of devotional Sanskrit scriptures, which are systematically arranged in order of subject-matter. Explanatory notes in Sanskrit have also been incorporated by the collator (Sankaradeva) with a view to making the thoughts in the poetic slokas plain in prose to drive home the inherent philosophical intricacies. And it has been specifically done for the benefit of the advanced Sanskrit scholars and students of theology in general and the devotional process in particular. The prime devotional philosophy of the Bhagavata has been supplemented by apt quotations from many other Vaisnavite scriptures.

Later on, this book was rendered into Assamese by Ramacaran Thakur.

The Source-books

Maheswar Neog, an eminent authority on Assam Vaisnavism, presents an exhaustive list of the number of verses (slokas) along with the names of the source-books:

1. Bhagavata Purana 456
2. Bhagavata-Bhavartha-Dipika of Sridhara Svami 19
3. Brhannaradiya Purana 13
4. Vaisnavanandalahari 11
5. Bhagavad Gita 11
6. Subodhini tika of Sridhara Svami 1
7. Sridhara Svami (Text not mentioned) 1
8. Visnu Purana 7
9. Yogasara 6
10. Padma Purana
[ Svarga Khanda (3)
Uttara Khanda (2)
Section Not Mentioned (1) ]
6
11. Narasimha Purana 6
12. Santi Sataka of Sihlana Misra 4
13. Matsya Purana 3
14. Bhujanga Prayata Stotra 2
15. Pandavi Gita 2
16. Visnudharmottara 1
17. Kurma Purana 1
18. Brahmanda Purana 1
19. Garuda Purana 1
20. Prabodha Candrodaya 1
21. Some other Puranas 8
22. Unnamed sources 7

This analysis makes it crystal-clear that Sankaradeva has gone through almost all the available scriptures of Vaisnavism. Such a wide-ranging study of original Sanskrit scriptures, their collection and comprehension reflects the exceptional intellectual power of Sankaradeva.

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