Digitizing Ancient Indian Manuscripts

A day after I wrote about Google digitizing and indexing Mysore University’s manuscripts, I came across this in Dataquest!

India, a land of ancient knowledge, has the largest collection of manuscripts in the world dating back thousands of years, covering different areas including religion, philosophy, science, medicine, arts and literature. Composed in various ancient and contemporary Indian languages and scripts like Hindi, Sanskrit, Pali, Prakrit, and Tamil, these manuscripts were written on diverse materials such as birch bark, palm leaf, cloth, wood, stone and paper.

Unfortunately, these manuscripts are lying in various corners in utter neglect in libraries, academic institutions, museums, temples and monasteries, and private collections; and were never complied into a single repository until now. Realizing the need to restore these invaluable manuscripts, the Department of Culture took upon itself the task and established the National Manuscript Mission (NMM) in February 2003. A five-year project, NMM does not only locate and preserve manuscripts but is also engaged in spreading awareness. The mission has already created an electronic database for one million manuscripts even as it has estimated that there are five million manuscripts in India.

How serendipitous then, that this article also ends with a quote citing Google:

As N Balakrishnan, IISC professor rightly said: “Since everything today points towards an Internet-dependent world, one is not wrong when one says, you are in this world only if you are on Google.”

Heartening to see the government in action! Read the full article here.


5 thoughts on “Digitizing Ancient Indian Manuscripts

  1. Thanks. I checked and it does return an error. But a site search of http://dqindia.ciol.com returns the same link (and the same error). I tried manually browsing the “Industry Watch” section of the site, and the More link itself is giving an error, so I’m guessing it is an internal site problem, not an issue with the link as such.

    Let me wait a day or two and if they don’t fix it, will remove the link altogether! 😦

  2. Hi! there

    I read your article, we are also working in the field of manuscripts for last 3 years.
    we processed over 22000 manuscripts in Nashik, and over 2000 manuscripts we digitised in last one and half year.

    Right now we are researching manuscript data in scientific context (Shulba sutras, yadnya sanstha, ayurveda and mantra concieousness, mantra shastra)

    we are now working as Vyas Oriental Social & educational Research Centre, Nashik.

    Thanks for awarness you Build

    Dr. Dinesh

  3. Dr. Vaidya,

    You are most welcome! I have tried raising awareness about importance of manuscript preservation, stupidity of politically-backed organizations who destroyed manuscripts at Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute in Pune, and so on.

    The work you are doing should have been done by India long time ago, but it is never too late. I find it heartening to be responding to you on Independence Day! 🙂

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