SARIT texts available in online repository

Dominik Wujastyk wujastyk at GMAIL.COM
Wed Jun 1 16:12:17 UTC 2011

Dear colleagues,

Further to Patrick's announcement, I should like to add a word on the
background of this initiative.

The work Patrick has done here on the SARIT collection is conceptually very
important. I consider it a move in a direction that will become an essential
component of the way we all work in the longer-term future, and it will help
us all to be better indologists.  But at the moment, the interfaces are
pretty hard for people who are not into computing, or who haven't thought
about Revision Control Systems (RCS) before.

A glance at the Wikipedia page, Revision
shows an image that will be familiar to those engaged in critical editing: a
stemma.  And that's what this is all about.  Textual criticism is all about
reconstructing a stemma of descent from an archetype in the past.  What
Revision Control programs do is to capture the stemma of texts *as they
evolve* from the present into the future.  Effectively, they make the stemma
explicit as a text is written, rewritten, expanded, edited, and so forth.

In the SARIT case, we have been concerned about how to capture version
information.  Let's say we put up a text of the Bhagavadgītā.  We type it
from the Pune edition, and we try hard to be accurate, and we put a nice fat
TEI header at the top of the file saying exactly what edition we've used,
what we've done to the text, who we are, what the date is, and so forth.
It's a new edition, and electronic one, properly documented, with a

Lets say you download it, and add markup
naturally) to all the dialogues, so that it is explicit whether Kṛṣṇa or
Arjuna is speaking, because you want to study whether their speech patterns
are different (or whatever).  Now your personal copy of the e-gita is
enriched.  You want to deposit your enriched copy back with SARIT.   We want
to receive it.

Let's say a third person also takes a copy of the Gītā from SARIT, the
original un-marked-up one.  That person finds lots of typos, and corrects
them.  Version 3 of the text now has a better-quality Sanskrit text.  The
corrector wants to deposit this new differently-enriched version back with
SARIT too.   We want to receive it.  And wouldn't it be nice if the
corrected Sanskrit could be merged back into the interlocutor-marked-up

Now you see the problem.  We have two derivative e-texts of the same
underlying "work."  Both are accurate, both deserve to be in SARIT.  It
could easily become a nightmare of colliding versions, all good but in
different ways.

What Patrick has put in place is a system that elegantly copes with this
problem.  Versions of e-texts are stored in the
system.  The powerful and complex GIT software makes it
possible to see exactly what has happened to the e-text, and to check out
particular versions, merge or separate versions, and so forth.   Versions
can be viewed simply as parallel colour-coded texts (like
or in more complicated graphical ways, when one wants to get an overview of
complex changes (like this <> or
There are numerous front-ends to GIT that display the underlying textual
variations in different ways.

We are just at the beginning with this, and we know that the systems have to
get more user-friendly if they are to be widely adopted by scholars who
focus on philological matters first and foremost.  The goal is to provide
the kind of textual security that a traditional critical edition gives, but
in the electronic world.  Texts from SARIT will be well-defined textual
objects whose identity and sources are explicitly documented and whose
evolution - for evolution is inevitable - is also explicitly documented and
made transparent.   When someone needs to cite an e-text in their research,
they can look forward in the future to having something clearly defined to
which they can refer in concrete terms, and that is worthy of a dignified


On 1 June 2011 13:26, patrick mc allister <pma at> wrote:

> Dear colleagues,
> the e-texts included in SARIT (Search and Retrieval of Indic Texts,
>, are now available in an online
> repository that, so the hope of Dominik Wujastyk and myself, will make
> the collaboration on the existing files and the addition of new files
> to SARIT easier.
> Please see
> for a description of what this repository is and how it might be used.
> Yours,
> --
> patrick mc allister
> long term email: pma at
> *current* office email: patrick.mcallister at
> homepage:
> Version: GnuPG v1.4.10 (GNU/Linux)
> iEYEARECAAYFAk3mIdMACgkQN5RlYmr8acQRygCgku9aRSN8QLvJJQSfhjn2pFfe
> 35YAn11KT1wN95YVVYv0sJs5ft23/i9n
> =O5jJ

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