[INDOLOGY] UNESCO Vimalaprabhā
David and Nancy Reigle
dnreigle at gmail.com
Sun Mar 6 18:29:27 UTC 2022
I assume that you did not get any positive results from writing to the
Unesco secretary about this manuscript of the *Vimalaprabhā*. Last month I
came across a different Unesco posting about this manuscript (
https://en.unesco.org/memoryoftheworld/registry/468), with a download
"Nomination Form" giving more information about it. That document says:
"The manuscripts have been microfilmed by the Asiatic Society, Kolkata in
1986 and 2008 (microfilm reel no. 86). Recently, the manuscript has also
been scanned by Society with new A2 Faceup scanner in 2009 and scanned
digitized copy is also available for readers."
I wrote to them about this on Feb. 2, and again on Feb. 8, at the two
different email addresses currently given on their website (
theasiaticsociety at gmail.com, gs.asiatic at gmail.com), but did not get a
reply. I am posting this here on Indology in case anyone will be going to
the Asiatic Society in Kolkata in person and can try to get these scans (or
microfilm). No doubt they will be superior to the microfilm I got from them
in 1982, the resolution of which is rather poor. If all else fails, I will
cut up my microfilm and make scans from it.
On Sun, May 24, 2020 at 9:01 AM Péter-Dániel Szántó <
szantopeterdaniel at gmail.com> wrote:
> Dear David,
> Many thanks for your email. I'm afraid the Thor bu entry is not
> independent evidence, because the blog was mine.
> There are many interesting details you provide, but I'm afraid it will
> bore our audience. It would be fantastic if you could find the way to
> digitise the microfilm (I had a very simple scanner to do this at some
> point, the only drawback was that the film had to be cut into strips of 5
> In the meantime I wrote to the Unesco secretary, let's see how this
> "Memory of the World" initiative can help people who are actually
> interested in what that 'memory' has to say.
> Once again, many thanks, and best wishes,
> On Sun, May 24, 2020 at 12:08 AM David and Nancy Reigle <
> dnreigle at gmail.com> wrote:
>> Dear Peter,
>> As far as I know, nothing came of this nomination. Possibly this is
>> because the manuscript broke in half, as you noted. Several years ago my
>> friend Robert Hutwohl found this 2006 blog post giving a little more
>> information about this situation:
>> So the breakage occurred no later than 2006, while the UNESCO nomination
>> occurred in 2010 or 2011. I do not know of any color images of it being
>> available. Certainly, the Asiatic Society of Bengal's not allowing access
>> to it any more would be all the more reason to have it photographed in
>> color and high resolution and made available.
>> In 1982, before it broke, I was able to purchase from the ASB library a
>> microfilm of this manuscript. The microfilm is not in color, and it is not
>> high resolution. But under the circumstances, it may provide the only
>> access to this important manuscript that is now possible. If I knew of a
>> good way to digitize this microfilm, I would do so.
>> The editors of the *Vimalaprabhā* edition published from Sarnath of
>> course also had a microfilm of this manuscript, and this microfilm is no
>> doubt still at Sarnath. I do not know if it is any better than my microfilm
>> or not. There is the question of how fully this edition reports the
>> readings of this manuscript (ms. ca). Jagannatha Upadhyaya, when speaking
>> of the fifth chapter, told me in 1982 that he could not read this
>> manuscript. As you know, it is written in Old Bengali script. Banarsi Lal
>> told me in 1998 at Sarnath that it was Janardan Pandey who deciphered this
>> manuscript for vol. 3 of their edition, 1994, containing the fifth chapter
>> The *Vimalaprabhā* manuscript that was reproduced by Lokesh Chandra in
>> his 2010 publication, *Sanskrit Manuscripts from Tibet*, is written in
>> the same Old Bengali script, and is apparently of about the same age. The
>> big difference is that it lacks the fifth chapter. It probably originally
>> had it, but the manuscript now ends on the leaf immediately before the
>> fifth chapter would have begun, so the very ending of chapter four is also
>> missing in this manuscript. There seems to have occurred some prohibition
>> of chapter 5 early on. No later manuscripts have it, and this manuscript
>> provides indirect evidence that it was removed from earlier manuscripts
>> that did have it. Note that the unnumbered folio sides are given out of
>> order in this 2010 publication.
>> This 2010 publication does not give information about where this
>> manuscript came from. I asked Lokesh Chandra about it, and he wrote in
>> reply on June 11, 2016:
>> "I published the Vimalaprabha manuscript as I got it from a Tibetan
>> lama. It was returned to him after publication. I have no details about his
>> whereabouts or even his name. The monastery of its origin is also unknown.
>> There is one more *Vimalaprabhā* manuscript that has the fifth chapter.
>> It was described by Hara Prasad Shastri in "Notes on Palm-leaf MSS. in the
>> Library of His Excellency the Mahārāja of Nepāl," *Journal of the
>> Asiatic Society of Bengal*, vol. 66, 1897, pp. 310-316, this manuscript
>> on pp. 315-316. The colophon that he quotes shows that it has the fifth
>> chapter. He reports that it is illustrated. This manuscript was held in the
>> Durbar Library, Kathmandu. It was borrowed by Giuseppe Tucci. It apparently
>> ended up in a vault in Italy. Francesco Sferra reports that all efforts to
>> get information about it and other manuscripts from Tucci's widow have
>> failed. We can only hope that it will be found and donated to some museum
>> in Italy by Tucci's heirs, as was another manuscript by Tucci's widow that
>> Tucci had borrowed.
>> Best regards,
>> David Reigle
>> Colorado, U.S.A.
>> On Sat, May 23, 2020 at 7:53 AM Péter-Dániel Szántó via INDOLOGY <
>> indology at list.indology.info> wrote:
>>> Dear colleagues,
>>> I noticed this nomination with some excitement:
>>> Does anybody happen to know what became of this nomination and, more
>>> importantly, whether this means that colour images are available?
>>> Some years ago I tried my luck at the ASB, but my request was refused on
>>> the grounds that "the bundle broke in half". Not sure what that meant.
>>> I'd be very grateful for any information.
>>> Best wishes,
>>> Peter Szanto
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>>> INDOLOGY at list.indology.info
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