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.
Ms Or. 2262, particular of folio 94v1. A multi-text, composite manuscript from Kashmir, containing twelve different texts. In this image,the first stanza of the Bhusuṇḍopakhyāna (Samādhivarṇana, chapter 25 from the Nirvāṇaprakaraṇa of the Mokṣopāya)
Prof. Dr Jürgen Hanneder (Philipps-Universität Marburg) will give a talk with the title “To Edit or not to Edit. Observations Based on Recent Editions of Kashmirian Sanskrit Texts”, on Thursday 17th October, 5.00 pm, room 7, Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies.
The two-day workshop held at the Faculty of Asian Middle Eastern Studies of the University of Cambridge was an attempt to analyze and look at Buddhist manuscript culture combining a more traditional philological approach with a broader perspective encompassing codicology and history of the book. The first day has been dedicated to papers dealing with the aspects of manuscript production and circulation, while the textual aspect has been the focus of the second day.
The discussions following each paper and the round table at the end of the two days were dominated by one key word: database. The urgent need for easily accessible and well structured data was felt as a priority above all for palaeographical and codicological studies—as it has been clearly pointed out in the papers by M. Delhey and C. Formigatti, as well as in the joint paper by H. Diemberger and M. Clemente.
Thanks to the contributions by H. Isaacson, F. Sferra, P. Szántó and G. Hidas, another aspect that emerged from the workshop is the importance of the Buddhist Sanskrit Manuscripts collections of the Cambridge University Library for the study of Tantric Buddhism.
Two papers were devoted to lexicography, both traditional and modern (by L. Deokar and M. Cone). The two speakers stressed the necessity of the application of a rigorous philological methodology in the examination of the data resulting by the analysis of manuscripts.
Last but by no means least, the influence of the material aspects of manuscripts (writing material, layout etc.) in shaping the text has been highlighted in three papers (by C. Scherrer-Schaub, A. Griffiths and V. Tournier), and it has been the focus of a lively debate during the round table.
Dr. Marco Franceschini (University of Bologna) is currently collaborating with the Sanskrit Manuscripts Project in the cataloguing of South Indian Sanskrit manuscripts in Grantha and Malayalam script kept in the CUL collections. On Tuesday April 16th, 2013, 5pm, rooms 8 & 9, he will give a lecture with the title The Making of a Study of Grantha Script.
Ms EO 0069, Aṣṭādhyāyī, folio 22v
Dr. Marco Franceschini’s interests span from Vedic studies to Buddhist kāvya and, in the last years, South Indian Palaeography. Among many publications,he is the author of the fundamental An Updated Vedic Concordance, Harvard Oriental Series 66 (two volumes), Cambridge (Mass.)-Milano, Harvard University Press and Mimesis Edizioni, 2007.
During the past week, Dr Audrey Truschke (Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge) has been assisting with the Sanskrit manuscript project. Audrey was brought in to catalogue a few manuscripts that mix Sanskrit and Persian texts, and she found several treasures. The two major works she examined are:
Two Persian and two Sanskrit manuscripts bound together that belonged to E.B. Cowell, the first professor of Sanskrit at Cambridge (appointed in 1867) who was also a connoisseur and translator of Persian poetry. The four texts in this particular manuscript (Or. 274) are all poetry, and three of the four works have marginal notes in Cowell’s hand. Few people know both Sanskrit and Persian today, and this manuscript attests to the immense linguistic skills of nineteenth-century Orientalists and their wide-ranging appreciation of Indian literary cultures.
A notebook of Samuel Lee, a noted Orientalist of the first half of the nineteenth century who served as professor of Arabic and later Hebrew at Cambridge. The present manuscript contains works in Persian, Arabic, and Hindustani. In addition, the backsides of a number of folios contain an unfinished Sanskrit vocabulary list (accompanied by English translations) that Lee may have been keeping as he tried to learn the language. However, the list is rather sparse and contains some odd translations, which suggests that Samuel Lee, like so many, found Sanskrit an incredibly difficult tongue.
Although such bilingual manuscripts are few in number in the Cambridge University Library manuscript collections, we hope that they will prove to be interesting for scholars working in the field of Indo-Persian studies (more about this area of research here and here).
The Sanskrit Manuscripts Team has started the work on the critical edition of a number of important texts preserved in the South Asian manuscripts holdings of the Cambridge University Library:
Add. 1409, a palm-leaf autograph of the Rāmāṅkanāṭikā, a drama written in Nepal by the Buddhist author Dharmagupta and dated Nepāla Saṃvat 480 (1360 CE). The identity of author and scribe is clearly stated in the colophon on folio 140v:
śrīdharmaguptaḥ kṛtī | pitrā putrakṛpāpareṇa nipuṇaṃ śāstrānvayaṃ śikṣita etām bhāvarasojjvalāṃ sa kṛtavān rāmāṅkitān nāṭikāṃ | śreyo’ stu | samvat 480 śuklaikadaśamyāṃ ravi vāso | tenaiva dharmaguptena śrimatā rāmadāsinā | bālavāgīśvareṇeyaṃ likhitā rāmāṅkanāṭikā || śubham astu sarvadā ||
Two more manuscripts of this work have been catalogued by the NGMCP (reel no. C 6-9/inventory no.57047 and reel no. A 351-13/inventory no. 57048). One of them (C 6-9) is dated Nepāla Saṃvat 496 (1376 CE), i.e. only 16 years after the Cambridge manuscript. The short time-span between the two witnesses is a fortunate opportunity that will allow the editors to study the earliest phases of transmission of the text and, hopefully, enable them to find traces of author’s variants.
Add.1649, probably a codex unicus (of an extremely early date, 1412 CE) of the Siddhisāra, a work on astrology and divination. According to the colophon, the author is the Nepalese king Jayajyotirmalla (1408–1428 CE).
Or. 727, a palm-leaf manuscript of the Tantrākhyāna, dated Nepāla Saṃvat 604 (1484 CE). Most probably, this is the codex unicus of the complete Sanskrit version of the Nepalese recension of the Pañcatantra. Despite an early article by C. Bendall with an analysis of the content of the manuscript and a sample edition and translation of some tales, this Nepalese recension has been always studied on the basis of manuscripts of the Newari version, in which only the subhāṣitas at the beginning of each tale are in Sanskrit.