IGNCA is the nodal agency for Sanskrit under Manuscripts Mission

Manuscripts are one of the vestiges of our glorious, heritage, which have suffered indifference for too long. The Department of Culture recently set up a National Manuscripts Mission with an objective of drawing up and working out time-bound proposals to preserve the manuscripts, numbering over four million in almost all Indian languages. Some 70 per cent of them are in Sanskrit.

Culture Secretary Dr R. V. V. Ayyar inaugurated the first language meeting {Sanskrit) in IGNCA on December 18. Joint Secretary in the Ministry, Ms Chitra Chopra was also present on the occasion. Director in the Department and the officer directly dealing with the Mission Mr. Pyarelal was present throughout discussions.

Inaugurating the meeting, Dr Ayyar said the government fully supported all efforts to collect and preserve manuscripts in India. "There is a sense of urgency because of the deteriorated state of manuscripts in India," he said.

Setting tone to the conference, Member Secretary IGNCA, Dr N .R. Shetty said the Manuscripts Mission has to adopt the latest technology available to preserve manuscripts and disseminate the knowledge contained in them. The whole process of surveying, cataloguing, reading manuscripts and preserving them in appropriate form would have to be done on a mission mode, he said.

The difficult part of the mission is that the manuscripts are scattered all over all country in both institutions as well as individual hands. The mammoth task would be to identify, procure copies, catalogue and publish these manuscripts.

Since IGNCA has been nominated as the nod~ agency for Sanskrit, which forms bulk of the manuscripts, it hosted the first language meeting of the Mission to finalise guidelines. These guidelines, drawn after day- long discussion by scholars from all parts of the country would be adopted for other languages also.

Participants suggested that. possession of Manuscripts be included as one of the information to be gathered under the next Census operations in the country. Along with this, mobile survey teams would fan out to interiors of the country to gather information on the availability of Manuscripts with individuals, especially the pandas, purohits and other religious sources.

Some of the major recommendations were: setting up of a National Manuscripts Library and constituting a national committee of copyrights, to deal with all cases of intellectual property right arising out of manuscripts. After a heated debate about the technology to be adopted for copying manuscripts for preservation, the scholars suggested that digitization should be the ideal technology while the time-tested microfilming should not be abandoned.

All the recommendations are expected to be accepted by the Department of Culture. When they are accepted, the ministry would send a circular to all the state governments, NGOs and institutions right down to taluk level, placing the programme on the mission mode.

Shri Sampatnarayanan, Sanskrit scholar and acknowledged authority on temple ritual rites, steered the workshop as coordinator of the programme. The meeting also identified nodal agencies for various languages and regions. They are:

1. Vishveshwaranand Vishwabandhu Institute of Vedic Studies & Indology, Hoshiarpur for Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh

2. Saraswati, Bhadrak, Orissia -for Orissa, West Bengal and Assam

3. Oriental Research Institute, Mysore for Kamataka

4. The state Archives of Jammu & Kashmir for J& K, Leh and Ladakh

5.lndira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts for Tamil Nadu and Kerala

6. Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan for Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan

7. LD Institute of Indology, Ahmedabad and Boghilal Leharchand Institute of Indology, Delhi – for Gujarat (mainly Prakrit manuscripts)

8. Tibetan Institute of Higher Studies, Samath -for Pali and Tibetan languages


-Mangalam Swaminathan


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