On Hotee Vidyalankar and other learned brAhmaNa ladies

Copying from Halley Gowami because some things deserve a more permanent media than a Facebook post


” Some ladies recieved higher education and managed to rise to great hieghts ! Amongst such rare women , Hotee Vidyalankar , Hotu Vidyalankar , Anandamayee Devi (1752 — 1772) and Priyamvada Devi (16th cent–17th cent) stands out .
Hotee Vidyalankar was the most famous of them all . Born to ‘kulin’ brahmin family she was a widow from childhood . She became an authority on Sanskrit grammer , poetry , Smriti , Navya-nyay and established her own ‘chatuspathi’ ( centers of higher learning ) at Varanasi ! Brahman Pandits bestowed her with the title of Vidyalankar . She died at an advanced age in the year 1810 .

Hotu Vidyalankar’s real name was Rupamanjari . She was not a brahmin , but her father , Narayan Das noticed her exceptional intellgence and sent her at the ‘chatuspaathi’ of a brahmin pandit . There Rupamanjari mastered Ayurved , Grammer and other branches of studies . Her fame spread far and wide and students used to come from far off places to learn or get opinions on Ayurved , charak samhita and grammer . Ayurvedic doctors of the age used to consult her on matters of medicine ! Rupamanjari never married and kept her head shaven with a ‘shikha’ ( Chuda / tuft of hair ) and dressed as a man . She died 100 years of age at 1875 . ”

Someone in the comments mentions that Narayan Sanyal wrote a book রূপমঞ্জরী on haTI vidyAla~Nkara.


A friend’s remarks on Sanskrit being taught at schools-its current state,with my remarks from personal experience at the end

School Sanskrit curriculum was not a shot of encouragement but an inoculation against ever being interested Sanskrit.

Vapid, uncool content. Completely unnatural language teaching methodology. Not even a viva voce requirement.

Leaves the student with zero skills, no feeling that this could have any juice in today’s world, and no interest and, if anything, disdain after getting away with an easy score.

Pseudo ‘Sanskrit’ subject was merely a way for the Nehruvian Ganga-Jamni tehzeeb walas to cheat the 3 language formula system – the same tehzeeb gang who opposed the proposal for Sanskrit as national link language and voted for Hindi. Most other Indians had to actually learn another Indian language (Hindi) as part of the 3 language formula, but these guys cheated and got away with a high scoring zero-skills cop out.

Those tehzeeb walas choose Urdu via Bollywood to give them cultural juice in today’s world.

From personal experience,having learned Sanskrit from classes VI to X(including both the classes),you basically get the level of a sloppy version of just only the vākya vyavahāra book of the first level(as taught by Sri Vempati Kutumba Shastri) and that itself will get you more than 90% in the Sanskrit CBSE exam of class X. And that too will get lost/eroded to nothing within a year of non practice. This is the state of Sanskrit teaching as I have seen and experienced it. If you want people to actually like and respect Sanskrit at schools,the methodology must change a lot.

A note on Candragomīn and his tradition

On reading this note by manasataramgini,the following note from Tārānātha came to my mind

Candragomīn had travelled to the South,in the temple of the brāhmaṇa Vararuci,where he came across an image of Vararuci acquiring the śāstra of vyākāraṇa from Śeṣa-nāga. He then thought that a commentary should be brief,profound in significance,with no repititions and complete,which Śeṣa-nāga’s commentary was not. He then composed his Candra-vyākāraṇa ,following Pāṇini’s grammar and remarked ‘This work,though brief,is clear and complete’.(Tārānātha remarks that even this remārk was a harsh criticism of the Nāga).

Some trivial points to note here

  • The identification of Pātāñjali as the incarnation of Śeṣa(implicitly),and his commentary(the fact that it’s referred to as lengthy gives it away)
  • The identification of the Varttikakara Vararuci/Katyayana and his linkage to the tradition of Pātañjali in vyākāraṇa-śāstra.


That debate of Candragomī and the nāstika mahāpaṇḍita Candrakīrti lasted for 7 years,and the debate ended after Candrakīrti discovered Avalokiteśvara teaching Candragomī.

Also,the tradition of the Bauddhas recognizes a vyākāraṇa of Candrakīrti’s in the same(Bauddha) tradition that was superior to Candragomī’s,named the Samantabhadra. It was  bhaṭṭārikā āryā Tārā who said that this vyākāraṇa of Candragomī’s would survive,while the one of Candrakīrti’s would be lost because of his pride in his scholarship. And Tārānātha notes that the well in which Candragomī threw his book in(and later pulled it out of)-those who drank water from that well were immediately filled with great wisdom.