The South Asian Manuscript Book: Workshop Programme

Workshop at the Faculty of Asian Middle Eastern Studies, Cambridge
25th-27th September 2014
Rooms 8 & 9


25th September

The Cambridge Collections

Chairperson: Harunaga Isaacson
9.30–10.10 Vincenzo Vergiani
The Sanskrit Manuscripts Project: Past, Present, and Future
10.10–10.50 Camillo A. Formigatti
The Day After: A Survival Manual for Catalogers of Sanskrit Manuscripts
10.50–11.30 Daniele Cuneo
The Seven Indic Gems Churned from the Cambridge University Library Ocean (केम्ब्रिजविश्वविद्यालयपुस्तकालयरत्नाकरमंथितभारतीयरत्नसप्तकं)
11.30–11.50 Coffee Break
11.50–12.30 Nalini Balbir
The Cambridge Jain Manuscripts: Highlights, Colophons and Provenance
12.30–13.10 Hugo David
Manuscripts of Sanskrit Philosophical Works in the CUL Collection: a Brief Overview
13.10–14.30 Lunch Break
Chairperson: Dominic Goodall
14.30–15.10 Marco Franceschini
The Grantha Manuscripts in the Cambridge University Library Collections: a Survey
15.10–15.50 Elisa Ganser
An Overview of the Sanskrit Manuscripts in Malayāḷam Script in the Cambridge University Library Collections
15.50–16.30 Eva Wilden
Tamil Satellite Stanzas II
16.30–16.50 Tea Break
16.50–17.30 Gergely Hidas
Dhāraṇī Collection: Mapping a Genre
17.30–18.10 Nina Mirnig
Śaiva Gleanings from the Cambridge University Library Collection

26th September

Manuscript and Textual Traditions in North India, Nepal and Central Asia

Chairperson: Vincenzo Vergiani
9.30–10.10 Mahesh Deokar
A Journey of Ideas: The study of the Candravyākaraṇapañjikā and the
Moggallānapañjikā with special reference to CV II.2.1
10.10–10.50 Vincent Tournier
The Canonical Transmissions of the Mahāsāṃghika and Mahāsāṃghika-Lokottaravādin Schools in North and North-West South Asia: Remarks on Three Fragments from Nepal and Afghanistan
10.50–11.30 Cristina Scherrer-Schaub
Questioning the Manuscript Tradition of the Prajñāpāramitā
11.30–11.50 Coffee Break
11.50-12.30 Lata Deokar
Subhūticandra: A Journey Across Borders
12.30–13.10 Hildegard Diemberger
Buddha’s Word: Curating an Exhibition of Buddhist Manuscripts and Prints between Research and Outreach
13.10–14.30 Lunch Break
Chairperson: Camillo Formigatti
14.30–15.10 Harunaga Isaacson
Title t.b.a.
15.10–15.50 Francesco Sferra
A Propos of a Recently Rediscovered Buddhist Manuscript
15.50–16.30 Péter-Dániel Szántó
The Book in Late Tantric Buddhist Lore
16.30-16.50 Tea Break
16.50–17.30 Jürgen Hanneder
Pre-modern Sanskrit Editors and Readers
17.30–18.10 Anett Krause
Sanskrit Letters from Kashmir in the Private Archive of Johannes Hertel

27th September

Editorial Practices in South India and South East Asia

Chairperson: Daniele Cuneo
9.30–10.10 Kengo Harimoto
Title t.b.a
10.10–10.50 Giovanni Ciotti
Multilingualism and Material Culture: A Few Rare (?) Colophons from Tamil Nadu
10.50–11.30 Dominic Goodall
What information can be gleaned from Cambodian inscriptions about practices relating to the transmission of Sanskrit literature?
10.30-11.50 Coffee Break
11.50–12.30 Emmanuel Francis
The Other Way Round: From Print to Manuscript
12.30–13.15 Conclusion
13.15–14.30 Lunch
15.00–16.00 Visit to the Exhibition Buddha’s Word at the Museum for Archeology and Anthropology
19.30 Final Dinner at the Riverside Restaurant

The South Asian Manuscript Book: Material, Textual and Historical Investigations

Programme (online version)

Programme (print version)

Following the workshop on “Buddhist Manuscript Culture: Textuality and Materiality” held in April 2013, this workshop will once again mainly focus on books as cultural artefacts, but it will broaden its scope to encompass all the major religious and intellectual traditions that constituted the South Asian manuscript culture, many of which are well represented in the collections of the University Library at Cambridge. Particular attention will be paid to aspects of the history of manuscripts in pre-modern South Asia such as their production, physical characteristics, decoration, use, circulation, preservation and accessibility in relation to broader dimensions of cultural practice, religious affiliation, patronage and locality. Its echoes and parallels in other parts of Asia, such as Tibet and Southeast Asia, will also be part of the picture.

On Air 3: Like a Tigress with her Cubs

yathā vyāghrī haret putrān daṃṣṭrābhir na ca pīḍayet |
bhītā patanabhedābhyāṃ tadvad varṇān prayojayet ||

Like a tigress who carries her cubs without gritting her fangs excessively, frightened both by a possible fall or by leaving wounds: this is how one should utter speech-sounds!
(Pāṇinīyaśikṣā 25)

The third release of the Cambridge Digital Library includes thirty-five new descriptions of Sanskrit manuscripts.

The bulk of the manuscripts catalogued consists of a collection of texts belonging to the Vedalakṣaṇa branch of knowledge (a total of twenty-eight manuscripts).[1] Twelve manuscripts contain śikṣā texts, works on phonetics and phonology dealing with the pronunciation and recitation of both Vedic and Classical Sanskrit, and other theoretical topics such as the accent-bearing unit, or providing list of Vedic words to be memorised on account of the ambiguity of their articulatory features. Another class of Vedalakṣaṇa texts, the Anukramaṇīs (lists of various features of the Vedic collection, for instance number and attribution of meters to different deities, indexes of titles of works about the Vedas etc.) are represented by seven manuscripts. Furthermore, a smaller group of four manuscripts of pariśiṣṭa texts has also been catalogued, as well as one multi-text manuscript containing the Vargadvayavṛtti and the Ṛgvedaprātiśākhyabhāṣya, and one manuscript of a texts on vedavikṛti[2], the Jaṭāpaṭaladīpikā.

All these manuscripts belong to the Cowell collection. Edward Byles Cowell was the first Professor for Sanskrit at the University of Cambridge. In 1873, he instructed Ralph T. H. Griffith of the Benares Sanskrit College to procure manuscripts of texts belonging to specific literary genres for his personal study, as well as for the Cambridge University Library. Until 1878 Griffith continued to send manuscripts to Cambridge.[3] The majority of these manuscripts belonged to Prof. Cowell, and after his death in 1903 they were all bequeathed to the University library. Many of these manuscripts are modern copies commissioned by Griffith, and thus they share many common features. For instance, it is possible to distinguish a series of three manuscripts all written in 1877: one manuscript of the Lomaśīśikṣā (Add. 1709), one of the Keśavīśikṣā (Add. 1710) and one of the Laghvamoghanandinīśikṣā (Add. 1711). Although only the first manuscript is dated, it is clear from the script that all three have been written by the same scribe. Moreover, most probably they were thought of as a single collection, since they share many common features: paper and layout are identical, and at the end of Add. 1709 the catch number 18 is written, which is repeated on the first folio of Add. 1710 and on the verso of Add. 1711 (a one-folio manuscript).

The release is rounded up by three Jaina manuscripts (Add. 2140, Anaṅgaraṅga; Add. 2286, Jñātādharmakathā; Add. 2377, Kālakācāryakathā), and four Nepalese manuscripts (Add. 1386, Avadānaśataka; Add.1396.2, Naiṣadhaprakāśa; Add. 1645, Śivadharma corpus; Or. 146.1, Raghuvaṃśa).

Add. 2286 “is especially valuable because it belongs to a set of the 45 Śvetāmbara āgamas commissioned by the members of the same family. This set is now scattered among different libraries. Some items have been traced in Berlin and in India. […] In this case, the colophon also gives the name of the donor, Jayakaraṇa, a resident of Khambhat; he and his family members systematically collected manuscripts of the Śvetāmbara canonical works […] The Cambridge University Library has two items belonging to this collection: this one and Add. 2252, the Antakr̥ddaśāvivaraṇa, the eighth Aṅga of the Śvetāmbara canon.”[4]

Among the Nepalese manuscripts, noteworthy is Add. 1645, a palm-leaf manuscript of the Śivadharma corpus from a very early date (1139 CE). As sometimes is the case in Nepalese manuscripts used also for ritual purposes,[5] its wood covers display illuminations (of both śaiva and vaiṣṇava inspiration!) in the internal parts.

Add. 1396.2, even if fragmentary, is still important, since it is one of the few witnesses of the Naiṣadhaprakāśa, a yet unpublished commentary by Śrīnātha on Śrīharṣa’s Naiṣadhacarita.

1. We would like to acknowledge the fundamental help provided by our external collaborator Dr Giovanni Ciotti for the cataloguing of these manuscripts.

2. Lit. “[textual] modifications of the Vedic texts”, i.e. recombinations of the words for mnemonic purposes.

3. To these should be added manuscripts Add. 1934-50, bought in 1878 from J.C. Nesfield, also based at the Benares Sanskrit College.

4. This passage is from the description of the manuscript written by our external collaborator N. Balbir, whose invaluable help is here acknowledged.

5. As suggested by the traces of oblatory materials smeared on the external part of the covers.


Lecture by Dr Elisa Freschi

Dr Elisa Freschi (Institute for the Cultural and Intellectual History of Asia, Centre for Studies in Asian Cultures and Social Anthropology, Austrian Academy of Sciences) will give a talk on “Rule-extension strategies in Mīmāṃsā, Śrautasūtra (and Vyākaraṇa): tantra and prasaṅga”, on Thursday 1 November 2012, 11.30 am, room 313, Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies.

An Ogre Howling in a Meditation Cell

śūnyagṛhe piśācas tu garjate na ca dṛśyate,
evaṃ yakārā vaktavyā dhi-y-agnir jma nidarśanam

MS Add. 1709, Lomaśīśikṣā

Giovanni Ciotti, PhD candidate at the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, University of Cambridge, has helped the project team to catalogue eleven manuscripts containing śikṣā texts. These little-studied works on phonetics and phonology deal with the pronunciation and recitation of both Vedic and Classical Sanskrit, exploring thorny theoretical topics such as the accent-bearing unit (is it the syllable, the vowel or the combination vowel-consonant?) or enumerating Vedic words that one should memorise on account of the ambiguity of their articulatory features.