[INDOLOGY] MSS in Sarasvati Bhavan Library

Michael Witzel witzel at fas.harvard.edu
Mon Feb 3 08:41:46 EST 2014

No tips but a story or two.

I have visited the Sarasvati Bhavan Library 3 times (from Kathmandu)  in 1973 and 1974, and have ordered the microfilm of a Vedic text (Kapisthala), paid the fee, gave them a roll of unexposed microfilm and even the developer.  I am still waiting for the film ordered in March 1974 --  for 40 years now.

Two or three years ago their Vice-Chancellor wrote to me asking whether he could publish a text that we had slated for publication in the Harvard Oriental Series.  I answered, well yes -- but first please deliver my microfilm.  No answer.

To quote the then (1974) vice-director of the National Archives in New Delhi: 
"You European scholars always are in a hurry. We are not in hurry--- we have many lives."  --  
To which I answered: "I have only one, so please give me (the film)." 
Then she gave...

Apparently one life is not be long enough to get anything out of the Sarasvati Bhavan Library.



PS, fed up with this situation, I wrote to the Göttingen Library, who have a copy of the Benares Kapisthala Samhita made for Kielhorn, and asked them for a film/scan. They said they were very busy and it may take some time.  Three weeks later the copy was in my mail. 
One life, indeed.

On Feb 3, 2014, at 3:46 AM, Martin Gansten wrote:

> I recently found out that a number of MSS of texts for which I have been searching for several years are present in Sarasvati Bhavan Library, Varanasi. Moreover, I was told that they have all been digitized; but I have been given rather conflicting accounts of their availability.
> According to one informant, the digitized texts can be accessed and copied at a cost (but only piecemeal, no more than 25% of a text at a time) from within the IGNCA in Delhi. A catalogue of Sarasvati Bhavan Library MSS is found on the IGNCA website:
> http://ignca.nic.in/
> According to another informant, however, although the manuscripts have been digitized, there is no facility for getting digital copies; and the written permission of the Vice Chancellor of Sampoornanand Sanskrit University in Varanasi is needed for either reading or gettting a photocopy of any manuscript. Even with such a permission, I was told, I am unlikely to be allowed to view more than a few MSS.
> In view of these conflicting and not very encouraging reports, I wonder if any colleagues on the list have practical experience of accessing Sarasvati Bhavan Library MSS, and have any advice to offer. All tips and other forms of assistance would be most gratefully received!
> Martin Gansten
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> INDOLOGY mailing list
> INDOLOGY at list.indology.info
> http://listinfo.indology.info

> ============
> Michael Witzel
> witzel at fas.harvard.edu
> <www.fas.harvard.edu/~witzel/mwpage.htm>
> Wales Prof. of Sanskrit &
> Director of Graduate Studies,
> Dept. of South Asian Studies, Harvard University
> 1 Bow Street,
> Cambridge MA 02138, USA
> phone: 1- 617 - 495 3295, fax 617 - 496 8571;
> my direct line:  617- 496 2990

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