BENGALURU: Located in Basavanagudi, BM Sri Smaraka Pratistana houses several Kannada manuscripts dating back to 15th century. Apart from Kannada, the institution also has manuscripts in several other languages such as Sanskrit, Tamil, Telugu and Hindi.
It was established by MA Sitaram in 1979 in memory of his teacher Belluru Mylaraiah Srikantaiah, known popularly as B M Shri. He was an author, writer and translator of Kannada literature. The institute was officially inaugurated by poet and novelist Kuvempu in 1980.
BM Sri Smaraka Pratistana is recognised by Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India and the state government. It caters to researchers, scholars from different dispensaries by giving access to historic documents. Classes for M Phil students are also conducted here.
There close to 1,400 palm leaf manuscripts and paper manuscripts in different languages. Some are even close to 200 years old. With the help of experts, these delicate palm leaf manuscripts are periodically maintained in traditional and modern methods. They also digitise them with latest equipment and add them to their archive. These are both collected from different parts of the country and some are donated by other institutions and private owners.
Some of the subjects recorded are the ancient vedas, ayurveda scriptures, ramayana, mahabharata, bhagavad gita, slokas and record of donations by rulers.
Six months diploma is conducted in Hale Kannada (old Kannada) for students, teachers and professors who are retired. It is also open to all who are interested in Kannada literature.
The institution has a collection of over 25,000 books in its library. They conduct seminars on manuscriptology. BM Sri Smaraka Pratistana is funded by the state and central government grants apart from private donations. Run by a three-member staff, many volunteer at this institute.
Seeking technical assistance, the institution aims at making audio, video clippings on the manuscripts which can be easily distributed to researchers and archived.
How is it preserved
To prevent any damage due to germs and fungus, palm leaf manuscripts are maintained periodically by cleaning with a mixture of different ingredients such as turmeric oil, basil oil and diluted chemicals.
It is then wrapped in red cloth to prevent its exposure to sunlight. Some are cleaned every year while some once in four years.