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Ancient palm-leaf manuscripts of Andhra University library will soon be a click away

The manuscripts include the ‘Parashar Smriti’ authored by Sage Parashar, ‘Dasarupaka’ and ‘Rupaka Paribhasha’ of ‘Natya Sastra’ by Sage Bharata.

VISAKHAPATNAM: The Dr. V S Krishna Library of Andhra University has embarked on an ambitious project to digitise its treasure trove of ancient Indian wisdom etched in palm-leaf manuscripts. The library, which boasts of a huge collection of rare books, has 2,663 palm-leaf manuscripts in five languages by more than 300 authors.  

The topics range from Ayurveda, astronomy, medicine, agriculture, law, religion, arts to many more, which once digitised, will benefit researchers, scholars and members of the public. However, most of the manuscripts, done with stylus, are said to be illegible, except for their cover pages or titles.

The manuscripts include the ‘Parashar Smriti’ authored by Sage Parashar, ‘Dasarupaka’ and ‘Rupaka Paribhasha’ of ‘Natya Sastra’ by Sage Bharata. The palm leaf manuscripts are now being digitised by the varsity with funds from the Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan. 

Bengaluru-based e-publishing company commences digitisation work at AU library

Informatics Publishing Limited, a Bengaluru-based e-publishing company, commenced the digitisation work on Monday. The six-member team said they are aiming to complete the process within six months, earlier than the stipulated one-year timeframe. “Many of these ‘tala patras’ date back to pre-Gutenberg era (15th century). This project will help the library in conserving and disseminating knowledge and information on ancient Indian culture and arts,” M 

Jagannath, Senior Manager, Informatics, told TNIE. Jagannath’s team started the process by cleaning the brittle palm leaves and layering them with lemongrass oil before scanning and digitising the manuscripts using a high-quality production scanner to retrieve the scripts. A team of linguists and subject experts will work on transcribing and subject classification.

The digitisation project is also expected to throw light on the origins and other details of several manuscripts, Jagannath said. Once completed, the digitised manuscripts will be catalogued and uploaded onto Andhra University’s official website. Librarian Professor P Venkateswarulu opined that it will enable scholars and a wider global audience to understand Indian art, culture, and heritage better, thereby giving a push to research activities. A digital repository is also being developed to make the manuscripts available to future generations online.

The library’s collection of palm-leaf manuscripts were donated by former kings of Vizianagaram and Zamindars of Srikakulam, besides from the collections of founding Vice-Chancellor C R Reddy. It also has in its possession manuscripts featuring Sanskrit slokas and ancient traditions. The library houses a rare collection that comprises pieces such as Chanakya’s ‘Arthashastra’, ‘Mahabharata’, editions of Valmiki’s ‘Ramayana’, Kalidasa’s ‘Raghuvamsa’. Ramanuja and Adi Sankara’s commentaries and writings in Pali, Sanskrit, Tamil, Bengali, Kannada and Telugu.

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