[INDOLOGY] Manuscripts in India

Allen Thrasher alanus1216 at yahoo.com
Fri Jan 9 00:02:24 UTC 2015

On Thursday, January 8, 2015 3:32 PM, Elliot M. Stern <emstern at verizon.net> wrote:

If this is the right reference, it is the University of Mysore.  

Sent from my iPhone:267-240-8418
Elliot Stern

On Jan 8, 2015, at 10:15, Harry Spier <hspier.muktabodha at gmail.com> wrote:

I vaguely recall seeing some article a few years back (maybe on the Indology list) that Google or Microsoft were partnering with a large manuscript library in India to digitize their collection.  Does anyone remember which institute this was and what became of the project.

Harry Spier
On Tue, Jan 6, 2015 at 10:53 PM, Matthew Kapstein <mkapstei at uchicago.edu> wrote:


Though I have had many of the same types of frustrations some of you have had in
accessing manuscripts in India, I do not by any means regard this as a particularly Indian problem.
Take my recent experience with the Société Asiatique in Paris:

In March last year, I approached the librarians to request access to the collection of Tibetan
manuscripts acquired in the early 20th century by Jacques Bacot. I was told that the collection
was off-limits, except to one Parisian scholar who had been engaged by the Société to catalogue it.
The sole way to access the Bacot materials, they said, was through that person.

After several months, the individual in question and I succeeded in fixing a time to visit the Bacot collection
together. All seemed fine. However, the evening before our appointment, I received a message from
that person stating that the board of the Société had decided to exclude me personally because I am
not a member of the Société! And the person who delivered this message, who has access to the
Bacot collection, is not, it turns out, a member.

When I then complained directly to the board of the SA, I received a rather insulting message to the
effect that, because the collection will have to be closed in 2016, owing to planned renovations, they
thought it best to exclude me now (!!!)

I could add stories about a number of other European collections, not to mention conditions for
accessing manuscripts in China.

All in all, though far from perfect, the situation in India seems not half bad.

Matthew Kapstein
Directeur d'études,
Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes

Numata Visiting Professor of Buddhist Studies,
The University of Chicago

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    Wasn't the GOI publicizing an immense program of digitizing mss of Ayurveda a few years ago, in part to establish that the field was knowledge both ancient and public so as forestall attempts by multinationals to patent traditional uses?  If so, is this corpus available to all?

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