Help with contacts--correct version

Jean-Michel Delire jmdelire at ULB.AC.BE
Mon Nov 16 11:17:07 UTC 2009

Dear Sir,

I have visited the Manuscript department (and Museum) of the Asiatic Society this summer. It is rather easy to have a reader card for a short period, and to see the manuscripts you are looking for. It is much more complicated to obtain copies of them. The rule is that you cannot order directly a complete copy, and even when I was wanting a copy of less than a third of one manuscript, I have been asked to send a very official letter ordering a copy. When I expressed some reservations about the answer to my letter, based on previous bad experience with other libraries in India, the librarian (a lady Dr Mukherjee), apparently shocked, retorted that this is the Asiatic Society, a very serious institution, you know. After having sent such a letter, a friend of mine living in Calcutta informed me that the librarian told him the letter was never received by the general secretary of the Asiatic Society, Dr Chakrabarty. I thus sent a registered letter two weeks ago and I am now waiting for an answer. I suspect that letters from very reputed Universities, not like mine, would be more easily answered, and I would be very interested to know if anybody in the list had such experiences with the Asiatic Society.
About the Rajasthan Oriental Research Institute, Alwar, it is even worse. I have visited this library twice in 1998, once without any recommandation, and the second time with a letter written by a famous teacher of the Zakir Hussain University in Delhi. I had never been authorized to see the manuscript I was looking for, and I am now finishing an edition-translation-explanation of the Dvarakanatha's commentary to the Baudhayana Sulbasutra without the Alwar manuscript. To my knowledge, it is the only manuscript I will be missing. Generally, Rajasthan Libraries are very reluctant to let foreigners inspect their manuscripts. Following their rules, "foreign scholars are allowed (...) provided they produce their proper identification and reference from their University, the diplomatic representant in India or a clearance from the Ministry of Human Ressources and Development, Government of India, New Delhi" before they could see manuscripts, and I am not speaking of copying them. I wish you good luck, and, if you succeed, I would like to ask you to procure a copy of the following manuscript : Baudhayanasulbasutratika (or vyakhya), 65 folios, description under serial n°836, accession n°3613, in the Catalogue of Sanskrit and Prakrit Manuscripts, part XXI (Alwar Collection), published by the Rajasthan Oriental Research Institute, Jodhpur, 1985, p.94.

Best regards,

Dr J.M.Delire
Secretary of the Altaïr Centre for History of Science, University of Brussels,
Lecturer on Mathematics and on "Science and Civilization of India".

>Dear List,
>Here is the correct request:
>I am planning a visit to various mss. libraries and would appreciate
>contact information for access to the following:
>1. Asiatic Society of Calcutta, Manuscript collection
>2. National Library, Calcutta, Manuscript collection
>3. Rajasthan Oriental Research Institute, Alwar, Manuscript collection
>4. Indira Gandhi Centre, Manuscript collection, Delhi
>Many thanks.

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