2,000 rare Sanskrit manuscripts which belong to Cambridge University Library’s South Asian manuscript collection will be studied individually and digitised and put on the library’s new online service. The Sanskrit manuscripts detailing momentous political and economic events across south
Asia are written on fragile birch bark, palm leaf and paper.
The Hindu writes
The university said the collection included “the oldest dated and illustrated Sanskrit manuscript known worldwide”.
Dr Vincenzo Vergiani of the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, who along with his colleague Dr Eivind Kahrs will study the manuscripts, described them as “an invaluable and untapped source for understanding the pre-colonial past of South Asia, and therefore its present”.
More than half of the library’s collection of south Asian manuscripts was in Sanskrit which dominated the literary culture of pre-modern
South Asiafor almost three millennia.
“The word Sanskrit means refined or perfected. From a very early stage, its speakers were obsessed with handing down their sacred texts intact. Out of this developed an attention to how the language works. A grammatical tradition arose that produced, around the 4th century BC, the work of Panini, an amazing intellectual achievement and arguably the beginning of linguistics worldwide, which made the language constant, stable and transmissible,” said Dr Vergiani.