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.

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  • Btw, your data quest link is not work­ing. You can delete this com­ment after fix­ing it.

  • 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! 🙁

  • I rechecked and the link is work­ing again. It was a site issue, good they fixed it! 🙂

  • Dinesh Vaidya

    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