Manth[a.bar]nabhairavatantram Kum[a.bar]rik[a.bar]khandah: The Section Concerning the Virgin Goddess of the Tantra of the Churning Bhairava. By MARK S. G. DYCZKOWSKI. Varanasi: INDICA BOOKS, 2009. 14 vols. $775.00, Rs. 15500.
This prodigious work of scholarship, two decades in the making, is an essential contribution to the study of Hindu tantra, and specifically to the cult of the goddess Kubjika, of which the Manth[a.bar]nabhairavatantra (MBhT) is a primary scripture. In terms of its sheer volume, this work is unprecedented in the field of Indology: the sole comparable scholarly productions are the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute's critical edition of the Mah[a.bar]bh[a.bar]rata (1927-1966) and the Baroda Oriental Institute's edition of the R[a.bar]m[a.bar]yana (1960-1975). However, whereas these are simply critical editions, Dyczkowski's work also comprises a translation and a massive introductory study. While these are entirely the fruits of his own labors, the work of establishing both the present edition--as well as editions of several other unedited tantras and texts used for the purpose of translating and exegeting the MBhT itself--was carried out in concert with a team of five assistants, whom Dyczkowski acknowledges (1: xxviii).
While the early ninth-century Kubjik[a.bar]mata is considered its "root text," the later, far more massive 24,000-verse MBhT is an exponentially richer source for the Kubjik[a.bar] cult and traditions. The present fourteen-volume work treats only of the Kurn[a.bar]rik[a.bar] Khanda (KK), the first of the three divisions of this work (the others are the Yoga Khanda and Siddha Khanda). Dyczkowski's 1735-page introduction to the text comprises the first three volumes, which are broadly divided into discussions of Kubjik[a.bar]'s mythology, cultus, and canon. The Sanskrit text (in Devanagari script), English translation, and notes are presented in volumes four through thirteen, and volume fourteen is devoted to bibliography and indexes. Volumes containing text and translation alternate with volumes devoted to notes: so, for example, volume four is composed of the text and translation of chapters one to seven of the KK, while volume five contains notes to the same chapters, with each chapter's notes divided into Sankrit text (for alternate readings and discussions of grammar, etc.) and English translation (presented as commentary on the verses themselves).
While Dyczkowski rarely refers to this as a...