The "Sangita-Damodara", written by Subhankara is a highly popular text on Indian music and dramaturgy but until 1958, it was known in name only. For many years, the scholars in the eastern part of the country were in search of a manuscript copy of 'Sangita Damodara' but they could not succeed and in utter despair, one of the scholars went upto the limit to remark that due to the self-forgetfulness of the Bengali race by nature and their apathy towards their past glory and academic achievements, the work was irrevocably lost to us. The late Professor D.C. Bhattacharya wrote an article published in Pravasi, a Bengali monthly in which he gave an information that only three manuscript copies of 'Sangita Damodara' were known upto the year 1947. Of these, two were kept preserved in the library of the Maharaja of Nadia and another was discovered by Rajendra Lal Mitra; but all these copies were no longer available. Professor Bhattacharya also had the information that one complete manuscript of the work was kept preserved at one time in the Sanskrit College library but he remarked with grief that not only the said copy but other rare mss. copies were also removed from time to time from the Sanskrit College library causing an irrevocable loss of such a priceless treasure from a Government institution.
In 1958, two manuscripts of Sangita Damodara discovered by Pandit Jagadish Tarktirtha during search for valuable manuscripts in the sock of Sanskrit College library Calcutta. This discovery was immediately reported in news papers with an announcement that a critical edition of 'Sangita Damodara' would soon be brought out by the board of editors of the Research series of the Sanskrit college, Calcutta. After proper collation with two other microfilm copies of manuscripts lent by the India Office library, London and the Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris, a manuscripts copy was carefully prepared for the Press by Shri Gaurinath Shastri and Shri Govind Gopal Mukhopadhyaya. While editing the text, they took help from yet another manuscript copy of 'Sangita Damodara' lent by Suresh Chandra Chakravarti which he had got through Brajendra Kishore Roy Chaudhari, the late Maharaja of Gourepore, though the manuscript was full of corrupt readings. This edited version of Sangita Damodara with the original text and an introduction supplemented by sources and references, was publication, Calcutta and thus a known treatise on Indian music and Dramaturgy was presented to the academic world in print for the first time.
About The Author
Subhankara, the author of the Sangita Damodara has divided his work into five chapters which are named as 'Stavakas'. At the end of each 'Stavaka' there is a reference to the author's father 'Sridhara' (Kavicakravarti) and mother SUbhadra. In the last Stavaka the author gives rather elaborate description of his family. His great grandfather was Narayana and his grandfather was Aniruddha. Subhankara himself had four sons. Devakinandana and Raj Sekhara as well as their real brothers SUsena and Damodara. The manner is which these four sons are referred tends to suggest that the author married twice and that he had two sons through each of his wives. The word Damodara in the title of the book could be taken as an indirect suggestion that among all the sons of Subhankara, Damodara the youngest one was the dearest to him.
Professor D.D. Bhattacharya in his article tried to identify the author on the basis of these internal evidences as well as some external such as the 'kulpanji', the genealogical lists of Bengali Lahadi Brahmins in which it is stated that Vallabhacharya was the first ancestor of the Lahadi family who married Lilavati, the daughter of Udayana Bhaduri, a contemporary of Kulluka Bhatta, the famous-commentator of Manu Samhita. The family table of Lahadi family given in the kulpanji is; Vallabhacarya – Keshava-Narayana-Aniruddha-Sridhara. It further presumes that Subhadra, the mother of her only son Subhankara happened to be the third wife of Sridhara who had four wives. The Kulpanji mentions only three sons of Subhankara of whom two Sekhara (Rajsekhara?) and Damodara have been metioned by Subhankara. The name of his third son is Durlabha according to kulpanji and Subhankara has not mentioned him. Hence Subhankara mentioned in the kulpanji seems to by a mere namesake and he cannot be assumed as the writer of Sangita Damodara.
The other assumption made by Professor D.C. Bhattacharya about the identity of Subhankara is based on the striking similarity in the styles of Pragalbhacarya, the great Nyaya-Vaisesika scholar and Subhankara. As recorded in the kulpanji, Pragalbhacharya' father was Mahamisra and Madhai, the father of Mahamisra was the younger brother of Subhankara's grandfather Aniruddha. Pragalbhacarya's mother Jahnavi-seems to be the second or third wife of Mahamisra. According to these calculations, Subhankara appears to be the contemporary of Pragalbhacharya. Professor Bhattacharya, on this point, fixed 1500 A.D. as the date of Subhankara. After discussing both these contentions of Professor Bhattacharya i.e. the references of kulpanji and (ii) similarity in the style of two contemporary writers, Sri Gaurinath Shastri remarked that the deduction drawn by Professor Bhattacharya regarding the identity and date of the author are not convincing.