South Asian manuscripts


The South Asian collection encompasses around 2,600 (predominantly Indian) manuscripts in the languages Bengali (Cod.beng.), Chakma (Cod.Chakma), Gujarati (Cod.guj.), Hindi (Cod.hind.), Kannada (Cod.Kann.), Lepcha (Codex Lepcha), Malayalam (Cod.Malayal.), Marathi (Codex Marathi), Nepali (Cod.nepal.), Oriya (Cod.Oriya), Pali (Cod.pal.), Punjabi (Cod.panj.), Rajastani (Cod.Raj.), Sanskrit (Cod.sanscr.), Sindhi (Cod.Sindhi), Singhalese (Cod.singh.), Tamil (Cod.tam.), Telugu (Cod.Telugu) and Urdu (Cod.Urdu).

Scope of collection

Among these manuscripts, the largest groups are constituted by those in Sanskrit (662 – in 2015), Singhalese (536), Tamil (486) and Malayalam (353). The collections of manuscripts in Oriya (143), Nepali (119), Urdu (107), Hindi (78) and Rajasthani (44) are also of considerable size. Smaller numbers of manuscripts are present in the languages Bengali (21), Kannada (19), Punjabi (17), Sindhi (14), Chakma (5), Gujarati, Pali and Telugu (3 in each language) and some individual specimens in Lepcha and Marathi.

Writing systems and materials

These manuscripts coming from India, Sri Lanka and Nepal were written on different materials in a multiplicity of South-Asian writing systems which developed from the Brahmi script. In addition to paper manuscripts, the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek holds a large number of palm leaf manuscripts carved with metallic styluses, among them several hundred specimens in the Dravidian languages of southern India. Forming part of the collection of Sanskrit manuscripts, a collection of copper plates should be mentioned as well (i.a. Cod.sanscr. 647 – 650).

Temporal emphasis

The majority of these manuscripts go back to the 18th and 19th century.

Examples for South Asian manuscripts available in digital form

Texts of the Sikh religion  (Cod.panj. 2)
Sākhīs (legends) of the ten gurus – Rahit-nāmā (frema Śumār)  (Cod.panj. 11)
Trumpp, Ernst: Janam Sākhī of Guru Govind (Biography of the last guru of the Sikh)  (Cod.panj. 9)
Copper plate  (Cod.sanscr. 647)
Bhāgavatapurāna  (Cod.sanscr. 655)
Guruśiṣyasaṃvāda  (Cod.tam. 6)

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