Successfully reported this slideshow.

Preservation of Indian Manuscripts


Published on

The glorious past of Indian culture lies in the ancient manuscripts. These are the basic historical evidence and have great research value. It is estimated that India possesses more than five million manuscripts, making her the largest repository of manuscript wealth in the world.

Published in: Education, Spiritual, Travel
  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

Preservation of Indian Manuscripts

  1. 1. 90 ICAL 2009 – VISION AND ROLES OF THE FUTURE ACADEMIC LIBRARIES Preservation and Access to Indian Manuscripts : A Knowledge Base of Indian Cultural Heritage Resources for Academic Libraries Dr. Ramesh C Gaur PGDCA, MLISc, Ph.D. Fulbright Scholar (Virginia Tech, USA) Librarian & Head-Kala Nidhi Division Director, National Mission for Manuscripts Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts(IGNCA), New Delhi, India; Mrinmoy Chakraborty Assistant Editor National Mission for Manusripts Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts(IGNCA), New Delhi, India mrinmoychak@indiatimes.comAbstract Treasures Act, 1972 lays down the legal frameworkThe glorious past of Indian culture lies in the ancient for custody of manuscripts. Antiquities, defined undermanuscripts. These are the basic historical evidence and the Act include “any manuscript, record or otherhave great research value. It is estimated that India document which is of scientific, historical, literary orpossesses more than five million manuscripts, making aesthetic value and which has been in existence forher the largest repository of manuscript wealth in the not less than seventy-five years.” If this definition isworld. Though our ancestors had tried to preserve these taken into consideration in phase value, a manuscriptmanuscripts, thousands of such valued unpublishedIndian manuscripts on varied subjects are lying scattered meansor fragmented in India and foreign collections and some 1. a hand written documentof these are no longer accessible to research scholars.This invaluable and unique pool of knowledge is under 2. which has scientific, historical, literary or aestheticthreat and manuscripts are disappearing at an alarming value andrate. 3. which is at least seventy-five year old.The Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA)was established in 1987. Kala Nidhi, a NationalInformation System and Data Bank, consists of the Tradition of Preservation and Access in Indiareference library of print collections, a large library of In one of the surveys made by Dr. S. C. Biswas andMicrofilms/Microfiches, collection of slides, cultural Mr. M. K. Prajapati on behalf of INTACH during 1988-archives and photo documentation in the disciplines of 90 and on the basis of scrutiny of about 1100 printedArts and Archaeology. Recognizing the need to catalogues and hand lists belonging to 70 libraries,encompass and preserve this knowledge resource and institutions and individuals, the following estimatesto make these accessible to scholars and researchers, were made:IGNCA had initiated the most important manuscript-microfilming programme in 1989. 1. Total number of manuscripts in 5,000,000 IndiaThe National Mission for Manuscripts (NMM) wasestablished in February 2003, by the Ministry of Tourism 2. Indian manuscripts available inand Culture, Government of India. A unique project in its European countries 60,000programme and mandate, the Mission seeks to unearthand preserve the vast manuscript wealth of India. In this 3. Indian manuscripts in South Asia 150,000paper the following topics have been discussed: and Asian Countries(1) Definition of manuscript, (2) tradition of preservation 4. Number of manuscripts recorded 1,000,000and access in India, (3) institutional and individual efforts in cataloguesin the fields of preservation and access in India, (4)Initiatives taken by IGNCA and NMM, and (5) emerging 5. Percentage of manuscriptsscenario in the 21st Century: prospects and challenges languages wise Sanskrit 67%What is a Manuscript?Etymologically, manuscript means something that is Other Indian Languages 25%hand written. Here the term manuscript is related to Arabic/Persian/Tibetan 8%antiquity not necessarily means the write up submittedby an author to a publisher. The Antiquities and Art (Source: Project Document, NMM, 2003)
  2. 2. STATUS OF ACADEMIC LIBRARIES – RAMESH C. GAUR AND MRINMOY CHAKRABORTY 91To meet the twin objective of preservation and access, The credit of compiling the earliest known catalogueIndians resorted to a comprehensive policy of of manuscripts in India goes to the Jains. As per thepreparing manuscript, starting with seasoning and available information, the earliest catalogue ofprocessing of the material and treating the material manuscripts was compiled under the title,with eco-friendly insecticides to careful storage. It may Brihattipanika, as early as 1383 by a Jain monk, whosebe followed that the life of a palm leaf manuscript is name is not known. The Brihattipanik, covers somefar longer than a modern day device like CD or manuscripts in the collections in several places, suchmicrofilm. The tradition of manuscript preparation, as Patan, Cambey and Bharauch. It furnishes data ofpreservation and coping continued in full strength till authors’ names, time and grantha-parimana (extentthe end of the 19th Century. The downfall started since of texts). The manuscript of this catalogue is stillthe beginning of the 20th Century when printed books preserved in the Shaninatha Bhandara. Next Thestarted to gain popularity. After Independence, i.e. the celebrated name of the monastic Kavindracharya of Varanasi (Kashi) . comes Kavindracharya built up asecond half of the 20th Century, the old tradition ceased good library of manuscripts. He compiled his subject-to be practiced and it took a long time to adopt and wise classified catalogue of 2192 manuscripts betweenutilize a new practice to preserve manuscripts. It is 1628 and 1688.primarily because of this vacuum or otherwise in thistransitory period after Tndependence that the half of Collecting manuscripts from various regions andthe manuscript reserve in the country was lost. traditions and collating them for the purpose of fixing a particular text or writing commentaries were notModern Concept of Preservation and unknown in ancient and medieval India. Since the lateAccess medieval period, the emperors of Delhi and rulers ofAwakened by the alarming rate of destruction of different states all over India took keen interest inmanuscripts, modern devices and techniques are collecting and preserving manuscripts. Among thebeing developed and utilized. In IGNCA, for example, independent rulers, Tippu Sultan of Mysore (18th cent.there is a conservation wing to provide preventive and C.E.) built up a library of oriental manuscripts in Arabic, Persian and Hindustani languages. After his defeatcurative conservation treatment to original manuscript and death, while fighting with the British forces, hisor source. Again, IGNCA resorts to microfilming to library was taken over by the Britishers. Thepreserve the content of a manuscript. For access, manuscripts from Tippu’s library were studied anddigitized copy of a manuscript is more convenient, catalogued by General Charles Stewart; the Catalogueand the NMM has launched digitization project in a was published from Cambridge (A Descriptivemassive way; the culmination of which can be seen Catalogue of the Oriental Library of the Late Tippuin the establishment of the National Digital Library in Sultan of Mysore……Cambridge: University Press,IGNCA. It may be relevant here to mention that as the 1809). Native rulers under the paramountcy of the Eastmicrofilm ensures durability, it is better than the digital India Company and subsequently of the British Royalcopy so far as the preservation aspect is concerned. Government, collected manuscripts and built upOn the other hand, digital copy proves to be handy to libraries. Enlightened rulers of Travancore, Cochin andprovide efficient access. Therefore it can be followed Mysore are celebrated names in this field. Thethat to ensure the preservation and access to Travancore Palace Library collection was started bymanuscripts techniques and devises like preventive Maharaja Vishakham Tirunal (1880-1885). Theand curative treatment of original manuscript, manuscripts collected and preserved in this Librarymicrofilming and digitization are resorted to. Besides were subsequently catalogued by eminent traditionalthese, publication of the facsimile copy of the Sanskrit scholars, such as K. Sambasiva Sastri andmanuscript, with or without translation/and K. Mahadeva Sastri, and a catalogue in 8 volumestransliteration is another important medium that was published (A Descriptive Catalogue of the Sanskritensures preservation and access. Realizing the need Manuscripts in H.H. the Maharajah’s Palace Library,of publication, many an institute such as IGNCA is Trivandrum. Trivandrum: V.V. Press Branch, 1937-38).coming forward to publish the unpublished In this regard, it should be mentioned that anothermanuscripts. important collection of Sanskrit manuscripts was built up by the Government of Trivancore in the Curator’s Office Library and a catalogue in ten volumes wasInstitutional and Individual Efforts in the edited by K. Sambasiva Sastri, K. Mahadeva Sastri,Fields of Preservation and Access in India P.K. Narayana Pillai and L.A. Ravi Verma (A(Historical Perspective) Descriptive Catalogue of Sanskrit Manuscripts in theWith increasing popularity of printed books the interest Curator’s Office Library, Trivandrum, V.V. Pressfor collecting and preserving of manuscripts gained Branch, 1937-1941).ground in India. Some famous bibliophiles andinstitutions built up their collections and as a result Rulers of Bikaner and Jodhpur also collectedlarge repositories of manuscripts emerged and have manuscripts which have been, however, documentedplayed a significant role in preservation and access at much later date. The contribution of the Dogra rulersto manuscripts in India. of Jammu and Kashmir in this field is also noteworthy.
  3. 3. 92 ICAL 2009 – VISION AND ROLES OF THE FUTURE ACADEMIC LIBRARIESThe British rulers who took upon themselves the cause Manuscripts in the Bombay Presidency, 1881-of education and patronizing Indian traditional 1901.knowledge systems, directed their attention towards 11. A Catalogue of the Collections of Manuscriptsthe Indian literary heritage preserved in the deposited in the Deccan College, Poona, frommanuscripts. Since the inception of the Asiatic 1868 to 1884….compiled by S.R. BhandarkarSociety in Calcutta, in 1785, systematic search, (Pub. Bombay: Govt. Central Press, 1888).survey, collection and documentation of manuscriptswere started. Several government collections gradually 12. Reports on search of Sanskritcame into existence, in Calcutta, Varanasi, Pune and Manuscripts…..through Central India, CentralMadras. Provinces and Rajputana by S.R. Bhandarkar during 1904 and 1905.Extensive survey of and search for manuscripts werecarried on by Indian and European experts in various 13. Report on Sanskrit Manuscripts in six privateregions of the country in 19th and 20th Century. Survey libraries (in the Delhi District) by Kashinath Kunteand search were carried in Bengal, western, central (1882).and northern regions. In Eastern Region, Raja Rajendralala Mitra andIn Western Region, G. Buehlar, F. Kielhorn, Peter Mahamohapadhyaya Haraprasada Sastri are the mostPeterson, R.G. Bhandarkar, S.R. Bhandarkar were the celebrated names in the field of search, survey andpioneers in the field. Their tour reports contain cataloguing of manuscripts in the eastern zone. Wedescription of manuscripts. A few of these reports are have already mentioned the earliest catalogue ofmentioned below: manuscripts from Calcutta (i.e. Ramagovinda Tarkaratna’s Suchipatram, 1838). Rajendralala Mitra1. Report of Georg Buehler’s tour in Southern started working in this field in the early second half of Maratha in search of Sanskrit manuscripts for the the 19th Century. Govt. of Bombay, 12th Feb. 1867, contains the description of 200 mss. (Pub. in ZDMG); 14. Mitra published as early as 1877, A Descriptive Catalogue of Sanskrit Manuscripts in the Library2. Detailed Report of a tour (by G. Buehler) in search of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, Part-1: Grammar of Sanskrit mss. made in Kashmir, Rajputana and (Pub. Calcutta: Baptist Mission Press). Central India (Pub. in two parts, 1877) 15. B. H. Hodgson of the British Residency in3. F. Keilhorn published in 1874, Supplimentary Kathmandu (Nepal) brought a collection of Catalogue of Sanskrit works in the Saraswati Manuscripts of Sanskrit Buddhist Literature which Bhandaram Library of the Maharaja of Mysore. he presented to the Asiatic Society of Bengal. Mitra compiled a detailed descriptive work on this4. His two lists of Sanskrit Manuscripts purchased collection, under the title, The Sanskrit Buddhist for the Government (of Bombay), during the years Literature of Nepal (Pub. Calcutta: Baptist Mission 1877/78, 1879/80 (Pub. 1881) are very important. Press, 1882).5. A Catalogue of Sanskrit Manuscripts existing in 16. Most outstanding work of Raja Rajendralala Mitra the Central Provinces; prepared by order of E. is the Notices of Sanskrit Manuscripts (deposited Willmot, edited by F. Kielhorn (Pub. Nagpur: in the Library of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, Government Book Depot, 1874) Calcutta or in other collections). First series: Vols.The Deccan College of Poona gradually developed a 1-11. Published under order of Govt. of Bengalveritable repository of Indic manuscripts. The (Calcutta: Baptist Mission Press, 1871-1895). Onpreliminary cataloguing of the Deccan College was the demise of Rajendralala Mitra, Mm.done by G. Buehler and F. Kielhorn, as for example: Haraprasada Sastri took up the Project and published the Second series in four volumes (1898-6. Three lists of Mss. in the Deccan College and the 1911) Elphinston College collections by G. Buehler (Pub. 1874/1875). 17. The Asiatic Society of Calcutta (earlier known as Asiatic Society of Bengal) started compiling and7. Peter Peterson’s Report of operations in search publishing excellent descriptive catalogues of of Sanskrit Manuscripts in the Bombay circle: Sanskrit, vernacular and Arabic, Persian and Urdu Four Reports – 1883, 1884, 1887, 1894 (Pub. in manuscripts preserved under the Society’s care book form in 1899). since the last quarter of the 19th century. Mitra’s8. R.G. Bhandarkar. Report to K.M. first catalogue, published in 1877 was followed Chatfield….Poona as regards the search of by a long series of catalogues of manuscripts. Sanskrit Manuscripts (1880). The catalogues published by the Society are the best specimens of descriptive cataloguing in India.9. R.G. Bhandarkar. List of Sanskrit Manuscripts in The first volume in this series appeared as early private libraries in the Bombay Presidency, (1883). as 1895 (the volume number was changed and10. R.G. Bhandarkar. Another Report on Sanskrit the contents revised later on). The Series
  4. 4. STATUS OF ACADEMIC LIBRARIES – RAMESH C. GAUR AND MRINMOY CHAKRABORTY 93 continued till recently. The Sanskrit manuscripts prepared by Arthur Coke Burnell (Pub. A Classified have been described in 14 volumes, the latest Index to Sanskrit Manuscripts in the Palace at Tanjore. fasc. having been published in 1887. Scholars London: Truebner, 1880). In 1918, the Royal family such as Mm. Haraprasada Sastri, Hrishikesh made it a public library which became known as Sastri, Sivachandra Guin, Nilamani Chakravarti, Thanjavur Maharaja Serfoji’s Saraswati Mahal Library. Bhavabhuti Vidyaratna, Ashutosh Tarkatirtha, The Library possesses very valuable and some very Nanigopal Banerji, Jogendranath Gupta, Narendra rare manuscripts collected since the medieval period. Chandra Vedantatirtha, Chintaharan Chakravarti, Between 1928 and 1952, twenty seven volumes of Satyaranjan Banerji, et al. have been the descriptive catalogues (29 vols. Sanskrit, 3 vols. compilers and editors of different volumes. Tamil, 4 vols. Marathi, 2 vols. Telugu and 1 vol. Modi). Besides, the Society has brought out quite a few volumes of catalogues of Rajasthani, Bengali, The former princely State of Mysore, now Karnataka, Assamese, Tibetan, Arabic, Persian and Urdu has rich heritage of manuscripts in government and manuscripts. private collections. Tippu Sultan’s collection has already been mentioned. The first known catalogue18. Government Sanskrit College in Kolkata has been, from Mysore is Catalogue of Sanskrit Manuscripts in since its inception, a rich repository of Sanskrit several private collections in Mysore and Coorg; manuscripts and published a series of catalogues compiled by Lewis Rice (Pub. Bangalore: Mysore in ten volumes between 1895 and 1909, and again Govt. Press, 1884). Then come the Catalogue of started a revised series since 1956. Sanskrit works in the Saraswati Bhandaram LibraryIn Southern Region, the most important and rich already described. The richest repository ofrepository of manuscripts is the Government Oriental Manuscripts in the state is the Oriental ResearchManuscripts Library in Chennai.The nucleus of the Institute, now under the University of Mysore. Thevast collection of manuscripts in this Library is formed Library was established by Chamaraja Wodeyar, theby three collections of Colonel Colin Mackenzie (1754- then Maharaja of Mysore, in 1891, then named as the1821), Dr. Leyden and C.P. Brown (1798-1855). Government Oriental Library, and later on renamedMackenzie took his collection to Calcutta and went as the Oriental Research Institute in 1916. Theon adding to it till his death in 1821. This collection manuscripts preserved in the Institute have beenwas examined by H.H. Wilson, the then Secretary to collected during the last one hundred years fromthe Asiatic Society, who compiled a descriptive different parts of the State. The Institute has publishedcatalogue of the collection which was published by Descriptive Catalogue of Sanskrit manuscripts in 16the Society in Calcutta in 1828. Subsequently a part volumes (1978-1990). Besides, the Institute has toof this collection was brought to Madras by the East its credit more than two hundred works, mostlyIndia Company. Dr. Leyden collected some published for the first time, edited from the manuscriptsmanuscripts between 1803 and 1811 which was preserved in the Institute.deposited in the India House Library of London. C.P. The Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute of PuneBrown noticed this collection in 1837 and thanks to possesses one of the most important and valuablehis efforts it was brought to India. Brown’s own collections of manuscripts in India. The total numbercollection of Sanskrit, Tamil and Telugu manuscripts, of manuscripts in this collection is estimated to bewhich was presented to the East India Company was 28,000. In 1868 the then Government of Bombaybrought to India in 1855. All these three collections Presidency appointed George Buehler and Franzwere first deposited in the College Library, Madras Kielhorn to search for and collect manuscripts fromand then shifted to the Government Oriental Manuscript the Presidency and other areas. The work wasLibrary when it was founded in 1869. The collection continued by other scholars such as R.G. Bhandarkar,grew rapidly during the last 140 years. The present Peter Peterson, Kathawate, S.R. Bhandarkar, K.B.holding of Sanskrit, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Marathi, Pathak and V.S. Ghate till 1915. The scholarsUrdu, Arabic, Persian, Sinhalese and other mentioned above prepared and published reports onmanuscripts comprises 72,000 manuscripts. The first their activities and acquisitions from time to time, somecatalogue of manuscripts in Madras Mackenzie of which have been detailed above. The manuscriptscollection was compiled by Gustav Opert in 1878. had been initially deposited in the Elphinstone CollegeSince then, almost a hundred volumes of catalogues of Bombay, and subsequently the whole collectionhave been published by the Library. was shifted to the Deccan College, Pune in 1878.Next to GOML, Chennai, mention must be made of When the Bhandarkar Oriental Institute of Pune wasthe Thanjavur Maharaja Serfoji’s Saraswati Mahal established the collection of some 20,000Library. The Nayaka and Maratha rulers of Thanjavur manuscripts, known as the Government Collectionhad always been great patrons of art and literature. was shifted to the Institute and placed under theThe Library was first conceived by the Nayaka kings supervision of Prof. P.K. Gode, the first curator. In(1535-1676) and further developed by the Maratha kings course of time about 8,000 were added. Cataloguing(1676-1855). It was known as the Royal Palace Library of the manuscripts was undertaken in early 19thof Tanjore. The first Index of Sanskrit manuscripts was century by various professors and curators and the
  5. 5. 94 ICAL 2009 – VISION AND ROLES OF THE FUTURE ACADEMIC LIBRARIESfirst volume of the Descriptive Catalogue appeared in 34,000 entries. The volumes contain lists of1916. Till 1957, ninteen volumes of subject-wise documents from Rajasthan, Karnataka, Orissa,classified catalogues have been published by the Punjab, Tamilnadu, Bihar, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh,Institute. Uttar Pradesh, Assam, Maharashtra, Jammu and Kashmir, Delhi, Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, ArunanchalIn Kerala, the biggest collection of manuscripts is Pradesh and West Bengal. However, this database ishoused in the Oriental Manuscripts Library and neither a comprehensive reference guide aboutResearch Institute in which earlier collections of manuscripts nor does it provide the necessary levelSanskrit and Malayalam manuscripts have been of details about the nature of manuscripts or theirmerged. The uniqueness of this collection lies in the preservation status. Apart from the publication ofworks on continued literary compositions of Kerala, National Register of Private Records, NAI implementsMusicology, Performing arts such as Kathakali and the following two schemes:Kutiyattam, etc. 1. Scheme of Financial Assistance to State/UnionThe writer of these lines is aware of the fact he could Territories Archival Repositories, Governmenttouch only the tip of the iceberg. He looks forward to Libraries and Museum andan opportunity to describe the history of survey andcataloguing of manuscripts in other regions, 2. Scheme of Financial Assistance for preservationparticularly Jain Bhandaras, Libraries of Arabic, of Manuscripts/Rare Books.Persian and Urdu manuscripts, and microfilm projects Under these schemes funds are provided to the stateof Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts covering governments’ archival repositories, museums,important manuscript collections in India and outside. libraries, voluntary organizations, educational institutions, Temples, Mutts and individuals onAvailability and Cataloguing of Indian matching basis. While the institutions of the stateManuscripts outside India governments are eligible for a grant of Rs. one million,Outside India, Sanskrit, Pali and Prakrit manuscripts the maximum grant to individuals and private institutions is limited to Rs. 0.2 million per annum.are available in almost all the famous libraries inEurope, Japan, Srilanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural HeritageThailand, Myanmar, et al. At Bibliotheque Nationale, (INTACH)France cataloguing of manuscripts started in In 2001 INTACH has launched project for theEighteenth Century and the first catalogue, Catalogus conservation of manuscripts. The aim of the survey isCodicum Manuscriptorum Bibliothecae regiae, was also to enhance awareness amongst owners aboutpublished under the supervision of Stephen Fourmont the deteriorating condition of manuscripts and thein 1739.This series continued for a long time and need for preventive conservation. Under this project,Department des Manuscripts Catalogue Somaire des a surveyor of temples and granthagars is beingManuscrits Sanskrits et Palis published catalogues undertaken along with the preparation of ain 1806, 1844, 1854, 1880, 1882 and 1907-08. conservation status report for each manuscript in their collection. Some institutions and temples surveyedTuebingen University (Germany), St. Petersbourg under this project are Dwarkadheesh SanskritAcademy and Bodleian Library were in forefront in Academy, Dwarka, Sandipani Vidya Niketan,publishing catalogues of Indian manuscripts. A large Porbandar, Somnath Temple, N.C.Mehta Gallery,number of Indian manuscripts are there in the custody Ahemdabad, L.D. Institute of Indology, Ahemdabadof various institutes and libraries in Germany, England and Jain temples at Gwalior and Shivpuri. Besidesand France. this, INTACH is also implementing a project to document manuscripts dispersed in villages and townsMajor Initiatives in Independent India of Orissa in collaboration with the Government of Orissa. INTACH has already surveyed more than 300National Archives of India (NAI) sites in three districts and prepared an inventory ofThe core mandate of NAI is to function as a central about 47,000 palm leaf and paper manuscripts.repository of pubic records. However, NAI has alsotaken some initiatives for preservation and cataloging Museums and Libraries under Department ofof manuscripts. NAI has been implementing a project Culturecalled National Register of Private records since 1957. The Manuscripts available with some of followingUnder this project NAI undertakes surveys and listing organizations under Ministry of Culture, Governmentof private papers, manuscripts and historical of India are as indicated below:documents in the possession of individuals, NGO’s, Organization Number ofchurches, temples and mutts in collaboration with ManuscriptsState Archives Departments. The information socollected is published on a regular basis. National 1. Rampur Raza Library 15,000Archives has published 19 volumes of the National 2. Khuda Baksh Oriental Public Library 20,060Register of Private Records till date, containing over 3. Asiatic Society, Kolkata 32,000
  6. 6. STATUS OF ACADEMIC LIBRARIES – RAMESH C. GAUR AND MRINMOY CHAKRABORTY 954. National Library, Kolkata 3,258 collections of manuscripts. These universities receive limited funding and are unable to commit the regular5. Central Institute of Buddhist Studies, Leh10,000 funds required for cataloguing, preservation and6. Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies, dissemination. Equally, potential readers from a non- Sarnath 1,028 university environment are often unaware of the nature and accessibility of universities collections for7. Salar Jung Museum, Hydrabad 10,000 research. Some of the major universities withThough the resource base and information about substantial collections of manuscripts are indicatedmanuscript with autonomous organization funded by below:the Department of Culture is quite vast, there has been Organization Number ofno systematic attempt by these organizations to Manuscriptsconsolidate the database into subject catalogues. Aligarh Muslim University (UP) 12,000State Archives, State Libraries and State MuseumsAccording to information compiled by IGNCA, the Andhra University Library (AP) 3,000holdings of some of the major state-administered Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi (UP) 10,500institutions are as follows: Bhanderkar Oriental Research Institute 20,000Organization Number of (Pune) Manuscripts Gauwhati University (Assam) 3,248Adyar Library and Research Centre, 40,000Chennai Kameshwr Singh Darbhanga Sanskrit 13,000 University (Bihar)Andhra Pradesh Oriental Manuscripts 23,115Library and Research Institute’(Shifted Kurukshetra University (Haryana) 5,500to Osmania University Campus) GOML, University of Madras (Tamil Nadu) 72,620Delhi Archives 171 Osmania University Library (Andhra Pradesh) 6,428Goa Central Library 50 Patan University (Gujarat) 3,700Government Manuscript Library, Allahabad 11,000 Poona University (Maharashtra) 4,416Manipur State Archives 334 Punjab University (Punjab) 18,395Manipur State Kala Academy 1636 Sampurnanda Sanskrit University, 1,40,000Oriental Institute and Manuscript Library, 56,000 Varanasi (UP)Thiruvananthpuram (Kerala) Sanskrit Academy, Osmania University 3,000Orissa State Archives 5,000 (Andhra Pradesh)Orissa State Museum 37,000 Shivaji University Library, Kolhapur 5,673 (Maharashtra)Rajasthan State Archives, Bikaner 14,000 Tamil University, Thanjavur (Tamil Nadu) 3,365Rajasthan Oriental Research Institute 1,16,123(Jodhpur with 8 branches) University of Calcutta (West Benbal) 42,000State Archives, J & K 1,000 Utkal University (Orissa) 3,053State – Central Library, Hyderabad 17,000 Vishwabharati University (West Bengal) 15,354The State Archives of Andhra Pradesh 6,209 Voluntary Bodies, Trusts, Temples and Individuals Hundreds of societies, trusts and voluntary bodiesTMSSM Library, Thanjavur (Tamil Nadu) 47,625 throughout the country, often with no permanent staff or premises, have a substantial number of manuscriptsManuscript holdings with State Government run in their possession. While many of them, are relativelyinstitutions are widely distributed. However, information well organized, many more are, unaware of the basicis not readily available regarding the extent to which need for record management and professional care.these manuscripts are catalogued, scientifically In most cases where such organizations need (orpreserved and made accessible to scholars. choose) to retain their archives, grant-aid for suchUniversities purpose is hard to come by. Nonetheless, the NationalUniversities are key players in the overall strategy for Archives of India/National Mission for Manuscriptsprotecting the nation’s written heritage. A number of endeavors to meet their minimal requirement and toold universities are known to have substantial ensure reasonable standards of care through its
  7. 7. 96 ICAL 2009 – VISION AND ROLES OF THE FUTURE ACADEMIC LIBRARIESschemes. There are a number of religious agency. The major objectives of the Mission areorganizations such as churches, mutts and templesthat have traditionally been in possession of Survey, document and catalogue Indianmanuscripts. Many of them receive grants from the manuscripts, in India and abroad, and compile aNational Archives/National Mission for Manuscripts for National Databasepreservation activities. There is another category of Facilitate conservation and preservation ofprivately owned records and manuscripts about which, manuscripts through training, awareness buildingnot much information was available till recent past. and financial supportThe owners of private collections need advice andguidance about the care of their records in situ if they Provide ready access to these manuscriptsdesire to retain them. through digitization and publication Promote scholarship and research in the studyInitiatives at Indira Gandhi National Centre for the of Indian languages and manuscriptologyArts (IGNCA)Recognizing the need to encompass and preserve this Set up a National Manuscripts Library at the Indiraknowledge resource and to make these accessible Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, New Delhito scholars and researchers, Indira Gandhi National The Mission functions through different types of centresCentre for the Arts (IGNCA) initiated the most established throughout the country to materializeimportant manuscript-microfilming programme in 1989. these objectives. There are 46 Manuscript ResourceIt has approached many of the private and public Centres (MRC-s), 33 Manuscript Conservation Centresinstitutions and individuals who are in possession of (MCC-s), 42 Manuscript Partner Centres (MPC-s) andvaluable manuscripts preferably in Sanskrit Language 300 Manuscript Conservation Partner Centres (MCPC-and has signed Memorandum of Understanding with s)each of them for microfilming of their manuscripts.IGNCA has, so far, microfilmed over 2.5 lakhmanuscripts. Out of the total of over 20,600 microfilm Documentationrolls, 17087 rolls have been digitized and 13803 rolls One of the major objectives of the NMM is to unearthduplicated. Some of the reprographic material of information about manuscripts, where, whichvarious primary and secondary texts has also been manuscript is and in what condition. The Nationalobtained from many foreign institutions including Mission for Manuscripts engaged itself with theBibliotheque Nationale (Paris), Cambridge University detailed documentation of the manuscripts in India,Library (Cambridge, UK), Staatsbibliothek (Berlin), by creating a National Catalogue of ManuscriptsINION (Russia), Wellcome Institute for the History of known as Kritisampada: the National Database ofMedicine (London), and India Office Library & Records Manuscripts provides information of manuscripts from(London). institutions – religious, cultural and educational, as well as private collections across the country, andAccess to IGNCA Manuscripts Collection also from Indian collections abroad. Survey is conducted to gather information about repositories,Scholars and researchers can access the microfilm/ Post Survey exercises are designed to documentmicrofiche collection at the IGNCA and they can also information about every individual manuscript. Theobtain copies, subject to copyright restrictions, and Mission endeavors to provide complete and validindeed the conditions spelt out in the MoU signed information about each manuscript. This database canbetween IGNCA and concerned manuscript Library. be searched at a general practice, one needs to seek permission pdatabase.aspxof concerned library to obtain a copy of the manuscriptfrom IGNCA Collection. Copies are being madeavailable in digital / microfilm / print formats on charge Documentation through digitizationbasis. The consultation to all above manuscripts at Digitization of manuscripts as means of protectingIGNCA Reference Library is open to all without any and documenting textual heritage has emergedcharges. Online catalogue of these manuscripts in as an important field in recent times. With theMARC 21 will be made available soon. More details advancement of information technology,regarding above collection and its access can be had digitization promises documentation andfrom preservation of original texts, facilitating at theNational Mission for Manuscripts, IGNCA, New same time, greater access for scholars andDelhi researchers. In 2004, the Mission had initiated aThe National Mission for Manuscripts (NMM) is the Pilot Project of Digitization, aiming at digitizingfirst consolidated national effort for reclaiming India’s several caches of manuscripts across the country.inheritance of knowledge contained in the vast treasure In 2006, the Pilot Project has been completed,of manuscripts. The Mission was established in 2003 with the Mission setting standards and guidelinesby the Ministry of Tourism and Culture with Indira for digitization. New projects have beenGandhi National Centre for the Arts as its nodal undertaken up, targeting some of the most
  8. 8. STATUS OF ACADEMIC LIBRARIES – RAMESH C. GAUR AND MRINMOY CHAKRABORTY 97 important manuscript collections of the country. Besides these, a number of institutes and Universities So far NMM has digitized more than 26000 have introduced Manuscriptology as a subject in manuscripts from different manuscripts degree and masters level and also started diploma repositories in India. course with cooperation from NMM. Digitization of New Catalogus Catalogorum volumes The Mission, in collaboration with Emerging Scenario in the 21 st Century: University of Madras, Chennai is currently Prospects and Challenges digitizing the existing volumes of New Catalogus “One of our major misfortunes is that we have lost so Catalogorum (NCC). We have already digitized 5 much of the world’s ancient literature – in Greece, in books and the project is expected to be complete India and elsewhere….Probably an organized search by the end of the year. In the next phase, for old manuscripts in the libraries of religious institutions, monasteries and private persons would The Mission plans to digitize 500 manuscripts yield rich results. That, and the critical examination each in 50 important repositories across the of these manuscripts and, where considered desirable, country. their publication and translation, are among the many The ‘Manuscript Treasures of India’ The Mission things we have to do in India when we succeed in also plans to digitize 45 most valuable and rare breaking through our shackles and can function for manuscripts in the country. ourselves. Such a study is bound to through light on many phases of Indian history and especially on theManuscriptology and Paleography social background behind historic events and changingAs a significant part of the Mission’s initiatives to ideas”. This was the dream of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehrugenerate skilled researchers in manuscript studies, which is enshrined in his Discovery of India.workshops are organized all across the country, Manuscripts, which contain centuries of accruedpromoting the knowledge and expertise in regional knowledge in such areas as philosophy, sciences,scripts as well as the classical ones. The MRCs of literature, arts and the pluralistic faith systems of Indiathe regions are taken as coordinating bodies for the are more than just historical records. They representworkshops at the state level. In other instances, the collective wisdom and experience of generationsinstitutions of repute in the states are brought in within of thinkers. In fact the entire gamut of history is leftthe fold, organize the workshops. Practically each unexplored or partially explored in manuscripts. Soaspect of manuscript studies are dealt with in these what is badly needed is that:workshops, spanning reading of scripts, classical andvernacular, collation, editing, preparation of indices as 1. The information about the Indian manuscriptswell as aspects of conservation and preservation. The available in institutions and libraries must be madeMission conducts two types of courses - Basic Level available in India along with digital copies andand Advanced Level courses. microfilms of the contentBasic level courses are organised for a period of two 2. Conservation treatment should be given on warto three weeks at different parts of the country in footing to the manuscripts available in the custodycollaboration with an MRC or other institutions of of the individuals and institutions in remote areas.repute. The course familiarises students with local 3. To speed up digitization of manuscriptsscript prevalent in their area as well as ancient scriptslike Modi, Grantha, Gaudi, Tilagari and Persian. In 4. To give emphasis on the publication of unpublishedaddition, the course covers aspects of critically editing manuscripts and launch effective researchtexts and their cataloguing, history of writing, basic projects and bring the knowledge content of theconservation and storage of manuscripts and use of manuscripts in the knowledge cycleinformation technology in manuscript preservation and 5. Find out the way and explore the knowledgeresearch. available in manuscripts to utilize the same forThe Mission conducts Advanced Level courses on sustainable development of the mankind.Manuscriptology and Palaeography of one and half to 6. Indian manuscript Libraries/Archives both thosetwo months’ duration. In these Advanced Level in public and those in private domain contain verycourses, about 30 to 35 best students from among valuable knowledge base, it is unique,the participants in the Basic Level Manuscriptology irreplaceable and superior in quantity and qualitycourses are given intensive training on select scripts, to any other archival source. The recentlyas well as grounding and practical training in developed technologies of digitization, if wiselytranscription, collation and critical editing. Various combined with scholarship are offering cheap andaspects of conservation and preservation of efficient methods of preservation, which wouldmanuscripts are also included. The faculty consists permit India to collect this documentation in aof the senior scholars in the country representing central database and provide this material to thedifferent disciplines in Manuscriptology and interested scholars worldwide in an easilyPalaeography. accessible format.
  9. 9. 98 ICAL 2009 – VISION AND ROLES OF THE FUTURE ACADEMIC LIBRARIES7. In India a large number of digitization of manuscript the resulting catalogues. Metadata collection and projects undertaken by various institutions such cataloguing are essentially scholarly activities and as Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts need excellent skills. So no digitized images (IGNCA), Khuda Baksh Oriental Public Library, without appropriate metadata and catalogues Patna etc have not delivered desired results should be produced during the project. because of lack of appropriate archiving system. Digital data are vulnerable, much more so than Indian National Manuscripts Library at the originals. Digitization Projects often start with IGNCA: A Proposal temporary grants and focus upon collecting the To achieve various challenges as mentioned above maximum data possible. However, at the end of Indian National Manuscripts Library at IGNCA has been the project, when a great quantity of precious data proposed. With all manuscript resources compiled at are collected often there is no institution to properly IGNCA under Kala Nidhi and NMM projects, a care for these data and look after the post- centralized repository of manuscripts will be available collection activities. This is why, for any to the users worldwide. This is going to the first such digitization project a background institution that library in the world, and of course the foremost, to can take responsibility for archiving the data and among all other institutions to fulfill the twin objectives preserving them for at least 50, if not 100, years of preservation and access to Indian manuscripts. The is a necessary condition. National Manuscript Library is being designed to8. A general pitfall for digitizing projects is an attempt inspire research on and ensure recycling of the to maximize the quantity of the collected data knowledge content in the manuscripts. Indeed a without providing the appropriate metadata and revolutionary concept. In d ia n N a tio n a l M a n u s c r ip ts L ib r a r y C o lle c tio n s a c q u ir e d b y K a la n id h i C o lle c tio n s a c q u ir e d by NM M M a n u s c r ip ts in M a n u s c r ip ts in M a n u s c r ip ts M ic r o film s fr o m M ic r o film s fr o m r e c e iv e d a s In d ia A b o a rd d o n a tio n s D ig it iz e d O r ig in a l M a n u s c r ip ts M a n u s c r ip ts D ig itiz a tio n o f M ic r o film M a n u s c r ip ts in M a n u s c r ip ts R e p o s ito ry M ic r o film s D ig ita l M a n u s c r ip t L ib ra r y L ib ra r y O n lin e C a ta lo g u e o f M a n u s c r ip ts a t IG N C A K a la N i dhi N a tio n a l O n lin e O n lin e C a ta lo g u e o f M a n u s c rip ts O th e r C a ta lo C a ta lo g u e M a n u s c r ip t s gue D a ta b a s e R e p o s ito r ie s in In d iaReferences 6. Project Document, National Mission for Manuscripts, 1. Annual Report, NMM, 2007 -08 2002. 2. Chandra, Lokesh (2006). Rare Indian Manuscripts 7. in Asian Countries, Tattvabodha, Vol - I, NMM 8. 3. Gaur, Ramesh C (2009), Preservation and Access 9. Mukhopadhyaya, Pt. Satkari, History of Survey and to Indian Manuscripts. AAMES Newsletter, 6(2). Cataloguing of Manuscripts in India, Vol-2, No.- 3, 4. Mandal, Sudhendu & Maiti Sanjay Kumar (2006). Kriti Rakshana, bi-monthly publication of the NMM. Scientific Analysis of Traditional Indigenous Methods 10. Shukla, Vijayshankar, Chronological History of of Manuscript Preservation. Samrakshika, Series - Cataloguing of Sanskrit Manuscripts, Vol-1, No.-1, I, NMM. Kalâkalpa, Journal of the Indira Gandhi National 5. Centre for the Arts, New Delhi.