Sanskrit varsity on a mission to preserve palm leaf manuscripts
Palm leaf manuscripts are a treasure trove of ancient knowledge.
KOCHI: Palm leaf manuscripts are a treasure trove of ancient knowledge. However, improper storing and neglect have led to the destruction of a lot of valuable manuscripts. However, in what can be termed a huge relief, the Sree Sankaracharya University of Sanskrit at Kalady has launched an initiative to collect, conserve and preserve these rare manuscripts.
"Work is on to digitally document the inscriptions on the palm leaf manuscripts. Our research scholars, with the help of experts, are working to digitise the inscriptions from manuscripts that can't be salvaged," said K V Ajithkumar, Sanskrit Pracharana Kendra
co-ordinator, Sree Sankaracharya University of Sanskrit.
According to him, a lot of valuable and rare manuscripts were lost in the flood that wreaked devastation in the state.
"So, we decided to initiate a project to collect manuscripts from private parties and salvage them. To date, we have received around 28 manuscripts. The university today has over 400 palm leaf manuscripts preserved at its library. However, a lot of rare manuscripts are owned by private parties and we don't know their condition," he said.
According to him, the first set of manuscripts were received from Mani Maimbilli.
"Maimbilli Illom at Paliyam Nada at Chendamangalam was completely destroyed in the flood. Among the manuscripts which he handed over to the university, Mahabharatham, Sakandapuranam, Narayaneeyam and Devimahatmayam," said Ajithkumar.
Besides, the manuscripts handed over by Maimbilli Illom, the university also received rare manuscripts on treatments for poison from A V Paulose Vaidyar from Thuravur in Angamaly, he added.
"The project to recover and conserve palm leaf manuscripts began a year ago. We have just begun documenting the manuscripts. We have submitted a proposal before the government seeking funds to set up a research centre that will help scholars delve deep into the knowledge stored in these manuscripts," said Ajithkumar, the nodal officer of the project.
The university is in talks with Nilambur Kovilakam regarding the conservation of around 88 rare manuscripts in their possession. "However, they didn't want to donate the manuscripts. They have agreed to let us document them digitally," he said. We will be visiting the kovilakam again since the owners needed time to collect the manuscripts, he added.
According to him, an even larger collection is available with the Sanskrit College at Tripunithura.