[INDOLOGY] UNESCO Vimalaprabhā

David and Nancy Reigle dnreigle at gmail.com
Sat May 23 18:08:18 EDT 2020


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:

http://tibetica.blogspot.com/2006_12_01_archive.html

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:
> http://www.unesco.org/new/en/communication-and-information/memory-of-the-world/register/full-list-of-registered-heritage/registered-heritage-page-5/laghukalacakratantrarajatika-vimalaprabha/
>
> 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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