MUSEUM - MANUSCRIPTS
of Museum | Paintings
Bronzes | Coins
of Shahnama, 15th Century
COLLECTION OF THE SOCIETY is varied and rich, and covers most
of the Indian languages and scripts and even several Asian ones,
e.g., Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Gurumukhi, Kanarese, Urdu,
Marathi, Modi, Nagari, Newari, Oriya, Rajasthani, Sarada, Armenian,
Sinhalese, Arabic, Persian, Pushto, Javanese, Turki, Burmese,
Chinese, Siamese, Tibetan etc. The materials used for the manuscripts
are also varied: palm and palmyra leaves, barks of different trees,
papers of various grades.
Sanskritic Section :
Section comprises of manuscripts in Sanskrit and Modern Indian
Languages, which range in date from the 7th Century A.D. and number
about thirty thousand. Rich and varied in textual contents the
collection is an epitome of India's achievements in diverse spheres
of life and learning. Some of the manuscripts have fine miniature
illustrations, the earliest of which belongs to the 10th Century
Islamic Section : This Section comprises of manuscripts
in Arabic, Persian, Turkish, Pushto, Urdu, etc. numbering more
than seven thousand, ranging in date from the first quarter of
the 12th Century A.D. Some of the manuscripts belonged to the
Mughal Imperial Library, Tipu Sultan's Library and Fort William
College Library. Some are extremely rare and some are rich and
varied in textual contents. They cover every branch of Islamic
history and learning. In some, the calligraphy is most excellent
while a few others bear miniature paintings of high quality and
style, some of them being autographed.
(c) Sino-Tibetan and South-East Asian
Section : This Section
comprises of manuscripts and Xylographs in Burmese, Chinese, Tibetan,
Siamese etc. Chinese manuscripts relate to Chinese translations
of the Indian Buddhist texts, while the Tibetan group includes
the entire set of the Kangyur and the Bstangyur, besides also
individual Xylographs and manuscripts. Manuscript works in Burmese,
Siamese, Javanese, etc. are interesting for studies in the history
and culture of these countries and also for study of Buddhism.
(d) English Section :
This Section comprises a few English manuscripts in the Society.
These are from Nathaniel Halhed, James Prinsep, Buchanan Hamilton,
Alexander Csoma de koros and others.
The manuscripts cover the period from 7th c. A.D. down to the
19th century. These are useful source materials to illustrate
the development of the Indian scripts (especially Bengali, Nagari
etc.). The colophons and post-colophons contain information relating
to socio-economic conditions of the people. Besides, they help
us to fix the chronology of the Royal dynasties of India. Where
the inscriptions fail to ascertain dates and chronology, the manuscripts
may throw some light, provided a thorough critical study of these
and their colophons and postcolophons were made.
of the rare Sanskrit manuscripts may be mentioned here. Brihati
(from Kavindracharya's collection), Amrita Vindu (11th c.), Kiranavali,
Charucharya, Nartaka Nirnaya, Parasika-prakasa, Sanskrita-ratnakara,
Lalitavistara, Horoscope of a muslim of the Mughal Court (1640
A.D.) A Deed of Mortgage (1639), Ramayana (Bengali) of Ramananda
Yati, Vajrayana text (11th c.), a text on Buddhist Nyaya, Rigveda
Padapatha, Laghu-Kalachakra-tika, Kalachakravetara, Kuttanimatam,
Vajravalinama mannadalopayika, Ramacharita of Sandhyakar Nandi,
Bhattikavyatika of Srinivasa, and Paragali Mahabharata.
manuscript of Kubjikamatam is of the 7th Century A.D. The manuscript
of Rigveda Padapatha, copied in 1362 A.D., is perhaps "the
oldest manuscript of the Rigveda."
Islamic : Of the many Islamic Manuscripts there
are some which are extremely rare and unique. Of these only a
few may be mentioned: Tahdhib Sharh As-Sab' at Mullaqat (early
12th c. Arabic), Qalaid al-Iquian wa Mahasin al-Ayan (12th c.),
Kharidat al-Qasr (12th c.), Al-Jam Baynas as-Sahihin abridged
version with autograph, (13th c.), A-Madkhul(13th c.), Tafsir-i-Quran
(Persian, 13th c., important also for calligraphy), Tuhfat al-Ahbar
fi usul at Hadith wa'l Akhbar (15th c.), Kitab al-I'lan (18th
c.), Saha' if-i-Shara' if or Duraral Mansur (Persian, 19th c.,
an autographed copy), and Adab-i-Alamgiri (18th c.).
Manuscripts :: There are large numbers of illuminated
and illustrated manuscripts of different schools, many of which
are unique for their calligraphy, delicacy of their lines, and
elegance of composition and charming colour schemes. These miniatures
still afford glimpses of India's past achievements, Of these unique
manuscripts (earliest belonging to the 10th Century A.D.) mention
may be made of a few: Astasahasrika Prajnaparamita, Aparimitayurnama
Mahayana sutra, Pancharaksha, Paramarthanama Sangati, Devimahatmya,
Viveka Panchamrita, Bhagavatgita, Shahnama, Kullayat-i-Saadi,
Suwaru'l aqalim, Farang-i-Aurang Shahi, Ain-i-Akbari, Diwan-i-Makhfi,
Qissa-i-Nush-Afarin, Jamiut-Twarikh, Amir nama Tutinama, Iyar-i-Danesh,
Bihar-i-Danesh, Tarjuma Mahabharata, Tafribul-Imarah (by Silchand,
dedicated to J. H. Lushington), and Imaratut-Akbar (by Chitarmal
for James Duncan).
Many scholars are using the collection for editing their texts
and for translation in modern languages.
Manuscripts : In the Library there are preserved
a large number of old letters some of which date back to1784,
just after the Society was founded. These letters were received
by the Society from persons belonging to different walks of life,
requesting information on such subjects as old and rare manuscripts,
ancient monuments, coins etc. Some among the writers of these
letters were persons well known for their literary, scientific
and other cultural accomplishments. These old files constitute
important documents relating to the history of the Society, as
also of many other scientific and humanistic organisations that
were established in India either in the 19th or in the 20th century.
and Conservation There is a Conservation Unit for
repair of fragile books and manuscripts.
The Reprographic Section provides microfilms, microfische and
photocopies of Society's manuscripts and printed materials to
the readers, members, researchers and institutions.
: The Society has a fine collection of about 234
Urdu manuscripts many of which were received as a gift from the
Fort William College (founded in 1800), Fort William College decided
to award prizes, at the instance of J. S. Gilchrist, for standard
original and translated works in the Hindusthani language, produced
in the College.
and Burmese : The Society has a complete set of
Kanjur and Tanjur texts of the Buddhist scriptures and some extra-canonical
works. These were collected by B. H. Hodgson and A. Csoma de koros.
A section of the collection has been catalogued. There are over
one hundred titles of Chinese books, some of which are rare and
valuable for Chinese studies. These cover almost all the subjects
relating to Chinese Culture, Civilization and Science and Buddhism.
Subjects covered include Classical Literature, Language. History,
Geography, Topography, Philosophy, Religion, manners and customs,
biography of scholars, sciences (Botanical, Astronimical, Zoological).
The Society has a valuable collection of about 162 Burmese manuscript
written on parabaikes and palm leaf. The manuscripts deal with
Buddhistic texts, Religion, History of the world and also of Burmja
and Arakan, works on Gramour (including that of kaccayana) and
Rhetoric, Buddhist cosmography, Astrology, Medicine etc.
Manuscripts : Other than Sanskrit, a few Bengali
manuscripts have been found written by Bengali Brahmins residing
in Varanasi. Parageli Mahabharat, Chuti Khan'sAsvamedha Parva,
and many other important manuscripts were purchased. Mss. donated
by Justice Ramaprosad Mukherjee and Sri A Roy enriched the collection.
Now we have 703 Bengali Mss. and 12 Assamese manuscripts in the
collection of the Asiatic Society. It comprises Asiatic Society's
own collection, Government collection, Indian Museum collection
and donors' collection. At present, the collection of Bengali
manuscripts in the possession of Asiatic Society is rich in respect
of number and rarity. The Society has manuscripts on Ramayana,
Mahabharata, Srimadbhagavat, Mangala Kavyas, treatises on Vaisnava
faith and its allied subjects. Folk literature, erotic verses
and Vaisnaba Sahajiya Cult etc.
: The Society possesses very rare, valuable and
important Rajasthani Manuscripts which date the pre-middle and
middle years under the guidance of Dr. Sukumar Sen, the Society
prepared and brought out a descriptive catalogue, Part I, of the
same in 1957, comprising 114 manuscripts, now we have total 636
Rajasthani manuscripts, recently Society published the second
part (Part II) of descriptive catalogue of Rajasthani manuscripts
comprising remaining 522 manuscripts.