number of Sanskrit mss. and number of texts

Dominik Wujastyk wujastyk at GMAIL.COM
Sun Jan 20 12:20:14 EST 2013


As far as I know, nobody has counted how many Indian MSS have been
catalogued.  However, it should be possible to do some kind of
back-of-an-envelope
calculation for this, as follows.

There's a publication by Madras University called the *New Catalogus
Catalogorum *(NCC)*.  *Its current editor is the energetic Professor
Siniruddha Dash <dash_sans at yahoo.co.uk>.  The NCC is a digest of all
published MS catalogues.  Well, not all, but most.  At least, up to the
late 70s, and some later ones.  So, in NCC you can look up an author or the
title of a Sanskrit or Prakrit work, and you'll get a list of the known MSS
of that work, culled from the published manuscript catalogues.

The NCC isn't finished.  Only nineteen volumes have been published,
bringing it up to the end of ma (म), 37th letter of the alphabet.  There
are 8 more letters of the alphabet to go, so NCC is about 37/45x100=82%
done.   Each volume is about 350 pages.  Each page has about 50 MSS
mentioned (this is *very* rough! - per-page counts vary wildly).  So each
volume mentions 17,500 catalogued MSS, and there are 19 vols, so that comes
out at 332,500 MSS mentioned so far.  And that's 82%.  So the total would
be 405,487.  Say half a million.

There are *lots* of rough edges to this figure.  It's very, very crude.
But it does give one at least something to hold on to.  Half a million
catalogued manuscripts out of a minimum total of 7,000,000.  That's 7%.

But if the Koba people have put their MSS into a database - which they're
doing at quite a rate, that could quite soon add 250,000 MSS to the total
catalogued.  And there are other projects like that (though none so big, or
well-funded).   So the total catalogued could be higher.  Say it's double.
A million.  That's 14% of the seven-million figure.  But the seven-million
figure is probably very conservative.  So we're still hovering in the
5%-15% range, I'd say.

Improvements to the above argument and result are welcomed!

Best,
Dominik Wujastyk
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