(Last Updated on : 06/08/2011)
Indian Manuscripts are the richest collection of written documents, texts and scripts. These written documents provide information on the existence of different civilisations and emphasise the importance of their survival. India possesses over five million manuscripts and is considered to own probably the largest collection in the world. The manuscripts are vital Sources of History of India. The manuscripts are available in different types. They comprise various themes, textures and aesthetics, scripts, languages, calligraphies, illuminations and illustrations. The manuscripts are considered precious as a source of history in the recent times.
A manuscript is a handwritten composition on paper, bark, cloth, metal, palm leaf or any other material. They reflect the magnificence of the Indian civilisation including languages, philosophy, art and architecture. Indian Manuscripts were written in various languages and the scripts form the historical records. The major manuscripts are written in Sanskrit language
. There are 39,300 scripts and are written in Grantha, Devanagari, Nandinagari, Telugu scripts. The Sanskrit Collection of the Sarasvati Mahal is largest manuscripts of India containing the major works of Sanskrit literature beginning with the Vedas. These manuscripts are available in palm leaf and paper form. In addition to that the scripts come in languages including Tamil, Marathi and Telugu. The Marathi Paper Manuscripts existed during the reign of Marathas of Thanjavur from 1676 to 1855 A.D. These scripts include the works of the saint poets of Ramadasi and Dattatreya
Mutts. On the other hand Marathi Manuscripts from Pandits and Scholars are also available. The total number of Marathi Manuscripts is 3076 Marathi Paper and they are written in palm leaf. These manuscripts deal with Marathi musical dance dramas.
There are several manuscripts found through out India which are considered as Vijnananidhi, the Treasures of India. Few of them can be mentioned as Kalachakravatara, Shaivagamatantra, Maiteryavyakaranam , Astasahasrikaprajnaparamita, Kubjikamata, Samputatika, Mahabhashya, Upmitibhavaprapanchakatha, Kurbararattamala, Chikitsasarasangraha, Basavapurana, Shunya Sampadane, Natyashastra, Dhul wa, Sarvarogaharanagunagambhirata, Gitagovinda, Arsharamayana, Ramayana
, Kalila-wa-Dimna, Al-Quran-al-Majid, Tuzuk-i-Jahangiri, Gilgit Manuscripts, Baburnama, Tarikh-i-Khandan-i-Timuria, Ratnamalavyakarana, Kitab al-Tasrif, Chitra Bhagavat, Aryabhadra-kalapika-nama-mahayana-sutra, Tuzuk-i-Jahangiri, Aryamanjushreemulakalpam and many others.
The ancient manuscript from the mughal era, named Ain-i-Akbari, which means Institutes of Akbar
, scripted by Abul-Fazl
ibn Mubarak, is also a rather precious manuscript. This is the third volume in the Akbarnama which contains several administrative and statistical reports and information related to the reign of Akbar.
The Indian Manuscripts found in India are in various types including Palm Leaf Manuscripts and the Paper Manuscripts. In ancient India the Palm leaves were commonly used as writing material and were known as Tada Patra, Tala Patra or Panna. The leaves of the palm tree were used after being dried out and were used by tying the leaves together. Paper came to India during the period of Ekoji I. It was made by hand from cellulose vegetable material and Masi or Mela was the ink used for writing. These inks were available in red, black, Gold and silver. The manuscripts also existed in the form of epigraphs on rocks, Firmans, and revenue records; these in turn provide direct information on events or processes in history.
In the 7th century, Hiuen Tsang, Chinese pilgrim, carried back numerous manuscripts from India. Moreover, in the 18th century, the Nawab of Awadh gifted King George III, the manuscript of the Padshahnama. The heritage, history and culture of the country are aptly depicted in the manuscripts of India. Indian Manuscripts have an affluent history too; these scripts have always been a source of admiration for the rest of the world.