Wednesday, December 7, 2016
Has this building been around for as long as the year on that small brown board over the door? It is quite likely, given that this was a locality where a lot of publications got their start. What's that? You are not able to make out the board? Well, you can click on the picture to get it to open - you will then still have to enlarge it. For all those pains, you will get to know that the board proclaims "Sastra Sanjeevini Press" and then, in even more faded letters, "ESTD 1900".
So what did the Sastra Sanjeevini Press do? As best as I have been able to find out, it published largely in two genres: Religion and Linguistics. It will take much more effort before I can hope to have more information about the history of this institution. But thanks to the Digital Library of India at the IISc, it is possible to access at least a dozen titles published by this House. The oldest of them goes back to 1901 - and that, somehow validates the founding date. The most recent is dated 1934, so that begs the question - did Sastra Sanjeevini Press continue to turn out those tomes?
Chances are that it diversified and went into some other genres - maybe ones that the Digital Library project chose to not archive. But the interesting part is that the oldest title in that list - "Bhagavan Siddhantha Saravali", by Subrahmanya Sastri can be printed on demand, and made available in the hard-bound form (US $8.93) or as a paperback (US$6.89). Wonder if any of those greenbacks get back to this building in Chennai!