|THE vEDik SCINECE TEACHINGS OF SHRii shiv BHgvaan IN DEvnaagri SCRIPT AVAILABLE ON-LINE|
Posted by Vishva News Reporter on August 24, 2007
|MUKTABODHA INDOLOGICAL RESEARCH INSTITUTE
Unveils Digital Library of
200,000 PAGES OF DEVANAGARI TRANSCRIPTS OF SHAIVA TEXTS
PONDICHERRY, INDIA, August 9, 2007 From Hinduism Today:
An amazing resource to the world scholarly community through a
collaborative agreement between the Muktabodha Indological
Research Institute, the French Institute of Pondicherry
and the Ecole Francaise d'Extreme-Orient
(French School of Asian Studies) is now made available on the Internet.
These 1144 recent paper Devanagari transcripts (containing over 2000
mostly Shaiva texts and over 200,000 pages) were commissioned or copied
by scholars of the French Institute of Pondicherry (IFP) and the Ecole
Francaise d'Extreme-Orient (EFEO) over a period of more than thirty
Muktabodha has been preserving Sanskrit texts and manuscripts by
microfilm and digitization for the last ten years and since 2003 has
been disseminating core Shaiva texts both as photographic facsimiles and
as searchable e-texts to the world scholarly community via its on-line
|The combined effort, commitment, resources and
experience of these three organizations has made it possible to make
this major collection available.
The paper transcripts of the IFP are a core component of the "Shaiva
Manuscripts in Pondicherry" collection which in recognition of its
importance was deemed a UNESCO "Memory of the World"
Collection in 2005, in response to an application jointly submitted by
the IFP, the EFEO, and the National Mission for Manuscripts (NMM), an
initiative of the Indian Central Government. This is the largest
collection of Shaiva Siddhanta texts in the world. Many of these
Saiddhantika texts are among the paper transcripts.
The transcripts are clearly written in the well-known Devanagari script,
whereas many of the original manuscripts from which they have been
transcribed, many of which it would be difficult to trace today, are in
other less well-known South Indian scripts, notably Grantha.
MUKTABODHA ON-LINE by clicking on the
name hilite and explore the depths of their extensive collection.
The current cataloguing team of the IFP and
EFEO. Pandit Sambhandashivacharya (centre with beard) of the IFP has
decades of cataloguing experience
For a quick review of what is available at the MUKTABODHA
ON-LINE please click on the next line......
The catalogue and complete collection of
photographic facsimiles of the 1144 paper transcripts of the French
Institute of Pondicherry (IFP) is now made available on the internet to
the world scholarly community through a collaborative agreement between
the Muktabodha Indological Research Institute, the French Institute of
Pondicherry, and the Ecole française d'Extrême-Orient (French School of
Asian Studies). These 1144 recent paper Devanagari transcripts
(containing over 2000 mostly Shaiva texts and over 200,000 pages) were
commissioned or copied by scholars of the French Institute of
Pondicherry (IFP) and the Ecole française d'Extrême-Orient (EFEO) over a
period of more than thirty years. Muktabodha has been preserving
Sanskrit texts and manuscripts by microfilm and digitization for the
last ten years and since 2003 has been disseminating core Shaiva texts
both as photographic facsimiles and as searchable e-texts to the world
scholarly community via its on-line digital library. The combined
effort, commitment, resources and experience of these three
organisations has made it possible to make this major collection
One third of the transcripts were scanned by the staff of the IFP and
EFEO and the remaining two-thirds were digitally photographed and
processed for the internet by the staff of Muktabodha. All of these
scans and photographic images were processed for the internet by
Muktabodha. The immense job of cataloguing the collection was
accomplished by a small cataloguing staff of the IFP and EFEO never
exceeding five or six persons. Similarly the digital photography of the
collection was accomplished by a small team from Muktabodha never
exceeding four people in approximately 90 days of photography (On the
most productive day over 11,000 manuscript pages were photographed). The
offline catalogue and database was designed and developed by the staff
of the IFP and EFEO while the on-line web-based catalogue software and
database was developed and implemented by Muktabodha using open-source
software. The web-host server is managed by Muktabodha. And of course
the existence of the collection is a result of over thirty years of
scholarship of the IFP and EFEO.
The paper transcripts of the IFP are a core component of the "Shaiva
Manuscripts in Pondicherry" collection which in recognition of its
importance was deemed a UNESCO "Memory of the World" Collection in 2005,
in response to an application jointly submitted by the IFP, the EFEO,
and the National Mission for Manuscripts (NMM), an initiative of the
Indian Central Government. This is the largest collection of Shaiva
Siddhanta texts in the world. Many of these Saiddhantika texts are among
the paper transcripts. The transcripts are clearly written in the
well-known Devanagari script, whereas many of the original manuscripts
from which they have been transcribed, many of which it would be
difficult to trace today, are in other less well-known South Indian
scripts, notably Grantha.
HISTORY OF THE
COLLECTION :The EFEO and IFP and their involvement
with Shaiva Studies
by Dominic Goodall
At the time of the foundation of the Ecole
française d'Extrême-Orient (French School of Asian Studies) in 1900, its
headquarters were in Hanoi, in the Indo-Chinese peninsula, and its
members saw themselves as interpreters of the “sinicised” and “indianised”
cultures of that region. The great monuments of Vietnam and Cambodia
that were once Shaiva and Vaishnava temples, and more particularly their
Sanskrit inscriptions, inevitably led members of the EFEO to turn to the
West, to India, to find texts and practices in living Indian temples
that could help to reconstruct something of the religious history of the
long period of powerful Indian cultural influence.
Much of the literature that was most relevant to such reconstruction,
however, had not been published, for, at the beginning of the twentieth
century, this corpus, the corpus of the oldest Hindu tantric literature,
was virtually unknown.
Starting in 1911, the Kashmir Series of Texts and Studies began
gradually to unveil to scholars a number of Shaiva tantric works that
had been transmitted in Kashmir, particularly philosophical works
composed in the Kashmir valley in between the 8th and 13th centuries.
But the works of the tantric current that appears in this period to have
dominated the Shaiva religion across most of the Indian subcontinent and
beyond, namely the Shaiva Siddhanta, remained relatively neglected.
In recent centuries, the Tamil-speaking South is the only area where the
vast corpus of Sanskrit texts of the Shaiva Siddhanta has continued
being copied and so transmitted to the present day. When, therefore,
Jean Filliozat, secured a foothold on Indian soil for French indological
research, he created an ideal institutional base for setting about the
study of a forgotten chapter in the religious history of Asia.
It was Jean Filliozat, overall Director of the EFEO from 1956 to 1977,
who took the initiative of setting up in Pondicherry, which had just
become part of the new India, an interdisciplinary research centre to
study India. Thus the treaty of cession of French territories to the
Indian Union provides for the creation of the French Institute of
Pondicherry (IFP), which has since remained an organ of the French
Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The manuscript collection of the French Institute
of Pondicherry (IFP) was started in the 1950s under the auspices of its
founder-director, the polymath Jean Filliozat, with a view to collecting
all material relating to Shaiva tantras, the scriptures of a Shaiva
religious tradition called the Shaiva Siddhanta, which has flourished in
South India since the 7th century AD. Shaiva tantras (or agamas) were in
the 1950s neglected and virtually unknown to most scholars of Sanskrit
in India as well as in the West. The efforts of the IFP have brought
them to the attention of the scholarly world and seen many of them
The manuscripts were gathered, many of them by Pandit N. R. Bhatt, from
the private collections of priests and monasteries across South India.
When the manuscripts themselves could not be obtained, transcripts in
Devanagari script were made. Such transcripts were also made of
manuscripts held in other libraries, such as the Government Oriental
Manuscripts Library (Madras), the Adyar Library and Research Centre
(Madras), the Trivandrum Oriental Research Institute and Manuscripts
Library (Trivandrum), the Saraswati Mahal Library (Tanjavur), the
Oriental Research Institute (Baroda), the Sarasvati Bhavan (Varanasi),
and there are also a number of transcripts of palm-leaf manuscripts kept
in the IFP itself.
The collection of the IFP now consists of approximately 8600 palm-leaf
codices, most of which are in the Sanskrit language and written in
Grantha script (others are in Tamil, Malayalam, Telugu, Nandinagari and
Tulu scripts) and a further 1144 transcripts on paper in Devanagari
The bulk of the IFP’s collection comprises manuscripts of tantras of the
Shaiva Siddhanta, commentaries thereon, Shaiva ritual manuals, and
miscellaneous compendia, manuals, handbooks, and notes of Shaiva
priests. This collection is thus unique in that it is the largest
collection of Saiddhantika manuscripts in the world, as has been now
recognised by UNESCO.
At present there is a rudimentary handlist of the
entire collection and for about half of the collection cataloguing cards
have been filled out with more information than is available on this
handlist. Four volumes of a Descriptive Catalogue were released between
1986 and 2002 with the financial assistance of UNESCO on the
recommendation of the International Council of Philosophy and Human
Sciences; but these volumes cover only 475 codices. For the remaining
thousands, no published source of information has hitherto been
available. We began to compile a computer catalogue in 1999, of which
this on-line resource covering the 1144 transcripts of the collection is
the first large-scale result.
We hope that our project will raise awareness of those parts of India’s
rich literary heritage that are gradually rotting away unread.
Why select these transcripts?
This on-line digital library in fact serves more
than one purpose: we are of course cataloguing and making widely
available a body of important sources, but we are thereby also creating
a photographic record that will help to preserve images of them for
posterity. Why did we choose first to cover the most recent part of the
collection, the twentieth-century paper manuscripts?
Two considerations led to this choice:
- the transcripts are clearly written in ink on paper in the well-known
Devanagari script, whereas the palm-leaf manuscripts are, for the most
part, incised in minuscule Grantha lettering, a script known to far
fewer scholars world-wide.
- the transcripts, although all recent (most were produced between 1960
and 1980), used paper that is now decaying more rapidly than the
Much virtual ink has been spilt, in recent times, over the problems of
digitising as a strategy for conservation. Some are of the opinion that
digitising is only of value as a tool for rapid diffusion, that
conservation of the originals should never be neglected and that, if
"data-migration" is seen to be inevitable, what is required is
high-quality microfilm rather than digitisation. Now we are of course
committed to conserving our originals for as long as possible, but we
are aware that our manuscripts have a limited shelf-life. Well-produced
microfilm from which minuscule South Indian lettering is legible is not
only expensive and difficult to produce, but it too has a limited
shelf-life. The natural choice for us seemed clear: digital. It may be
true that the rapid evolution of digital formats put the life of all
digital images at risk, but it seems to us that this risk is something
we can handle, either by regularly updating the formats in which we
store our digital images, or, as a last resort, producing fresh
print-outs using reliable ink and good paper.
Some words about errors
It will be evident to every user that the large
quantity of meta-data contained in our database-catalogue has been
produced and corrected (and, alas, recorrected) over a long period of
time and by rather a large number of persons, all of them with somewhat
different notions of the rules of the languages involved. We have
considerably reduced the once dazzlingly various English morphology and
we have tamed some of the wilder and more muscular syntax, but some
oddities inevitably remain.
k.santum arhantu vidvaa.msa.h kasya naasti
May the learned forgive : who is there who never errs ?
Similarly, in the quotations of the beginnings and ends of texts, which
we hope will prove useful for those searching certain terms or themes,
there are a number of irregularities. Many of these, of course, are
errors of the original and have therefore been faithfully transcribed.
But we would not be so rash as to claim, as do a number of the scribes,
yaad.r"sa.m pustaka.m d.r.s.tvaa taad.r"sa.m
abaddha.m vaasubaddha.m vaa mama do.so na
I've copied this book just the way it is:
If incoherent or ill-expressed
The fault is not a fault of mine.
One area in which there is still considerable irregularity, but that
happily should not impair either searchability or intelligibility, is
that of word-splits in the Sanskrit.
hastavegajam abuddhipuurvaja.m k.santum
arhatha samiik.sya sajjanaa.h|| (T.416)
Mistakes concerning dots, poor writing,
Breathings, margins, breaks in lines,
The [shapes of] hooks, the splits of words,
-the consequence of hasty hands
And thoughtlessness-[all these], good people,
Forgive us please, if you should spot them.
We plan a few further revisions at intervals of six months and we would
of course be most grateful to users of this on-line resource for their
corrections and suggestions.
by Harry Spier
Part of the mission of Muktabodha is to preserve
and create access to selected aspects of India's religious and
philosophical traditions. A major component of Muktabodha's strategy for
fulfilling this mission is the Muktabodha Digital Library Project. This
was begun in 1995 as a microfilming project focusing mainly on palm-leaf
Vedic Shrauta ritual manuscripts from libraries and private collections.
From this phase we now have approximately 50,000 frames of microflim in
our archives still awaiting cataloguing.
Kashmir Series of Texts and Studies
Since that time the focus has shifted to the
preservation of the texts of the Tantric and Agamic traditions of India.
In 2003 as the first phase of this new focus, the core texts of Kashmir
Shaivism were made available to the scholarly community with 75 volumes
of the Kashmir Series of Texts and Studies (K.S.T.S.) as the first
collection of the Muktabodha digital library.
To date over 15,000 volumes the K.S.T.S. series have been downloaded
from the digital library by users and institutions in over 50 countries.
One of Muktabodha's goals in furthering its mission
is to encourage scholars to produce critical editions of Tantric and
Agamic texts. To further this goal, Muktabodha began adding searchable
e-texts to its digital library. It is hoped that these searchable
e-texts will be useful tools for those scholars engaged in the
production of Tantric/Agamic editions. In 2005 Dr. Mark S.G. Dyczkowski
joined Muktabodha as its Academic Advisor in India. Under his guidance
and using a team trained by him over many years in data-entrying and
collating Sanskrit manuscripts, Muktabodha began adding its first
searchable e-texts to its on-line digital library. The focus for these
searchable e-texts has been to start with Kashmir Shaivism at the center
and expand outward into the Tantric and Agamic milieu in which it grew.
These searchable e-texts are both from previously published printed
editions now out of copyright and from previously unpublished
manuscripts. At present we have approximately 90 searchable e-texts in
the library. These searchable e-texts include major texts from Kashmir
Shaiva, Kaula-Trika, Bhairava, Natha Yoga, and Pancaratra traditions.
Eleven of the searchable e-texts are from previously unpublished
manuscripts either edited or provisionally edited by Dr. Dyczkowski.
These are mainly (though not exclusively) either Kali-krama or Trika/Kaula/Bhairava
To date 87 e-texts have been added to the
Muktabodha digital library consisting of over 370,000 lines of Sanskrit.
230,000 of these lines were data-entered by our data-entry staff,
105,000 lines were converted from electronic devanagari typeset editions
created by Dr. Sudhakar Malaviya using computer programs written
in-house by Harry Spier. And perhaps most importantly there are over
35,000 lines from Tantric/Agamic manuscripts edited or partially edited
by Mark Dyczkowski.
All typed searchable e-texts are produced by teams of two, with the
first member of the team entering the text, and the second rechecking
the e-text against the original manuscript or edition. The final e-text
is then reviewed by Mark Dyczkowski. The data-entry staff all have
Devanagari as their native script and have been trained in and
data-entry from old Newari and Grantha scripts for many years.
Paper transcripts of the IFP
The latest, largest and most important addition to
our on-line digital library is of course the collection of the mostly
Shaiva paper transcripts of the IFP (the central importance of which is
explained by Dr. Dominic Goodall in "History of the Collection"). In
addition to the immense importance of the paper transcripts of the IFP
as a core component of the largest collection of Shaiva Siddhanta
manuscripts in the world, they complement Muktabodha's other Tantric/Agamic
collections which till now have not had a major Saiddhantika component.
Other collections in
Muktabodha's digital library
Muktabodha has also made available on-line a small
representative sample of our collection of digital photographs of Vedic
manuscripts from Gokarna, Maharashtra. These manuscripts are from the
private collections of the Joglekar, Koglekar and Samba Dikshita
families and are from various schools including Hiranyakesin, Baudhayana,
and Asvalayana. In the future it is planned to add the entire collection
of approximately 200 manuscripts to the digital library.
Also available in our digital library are 24 volumes of the Shaiva
Siddhanta texts of the Devikottai series published in the first quarter
of the twentieth century.
Usage of the Muktabodha on-line digital
Since the digital library was initiated in 2003,
there have been over 20,000 logins. Over 771,000 pages have been viewed
on-line and about 18,000 separate complete texts have been downloaded by
users from 75 countries. The highest usage measured by logins is from
India followed by users from American higher education institutions,
closely followed in turn by Russia, the United Kingdom, Italy,
Australia, Germany, Canada, France, the Ukraine, Romania, Brazil, Poland
For detailed reading of the above
including photos and other information please visit the
MUKTABODHA WEB SITE
by clicking on the preceding hilite
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