On Air 5: Almost Running Out of Funny Titles

The fifth release of the Cambridge Digital Library includes eight new descriptions of Sanskrit manuscripts.

In this release, the cataloguing of the Mīmāṃsā manuscripts continues with three new descriptions (Add.1034, Add.1714 and Add.2485). Two of these manuscripts are particularly important. Add.1034 is a fairly old, but very well preserved manuscript of Someśvara’s Nyāyasudhā commentary on the “section on Smṛti” (smṛtipāda) of Kumārila Bhaṭṭa’s Tantravārttika (1.3), dealing with the authority of non-Vedic Scriptures and focusing most of the Mīmāṃsaka polemics with rival religious traditions (Buddhism, Jainism, etc.). This important text was edited only once in 1901-02 on a very limited manuscript basis, and was hardly studied ever since. Add.2485 is one of the few manuscripts available worldwide of Ananta Bhaṭṭa’s Mīmāṃsārahasya (17th century?), an unpublished “Garland of Chapters” (adhikaraṇamāla) by the son of the famous Mīmāṃsaka and Dharmaśāstrin Dādu Bhaṭṭa, active in the beginning of the 17th century. The manuscript, which unfortunately covers only the first two adhyāyas of the Mīmāṃsā­sūtras, also has abundant annotations, and constitutes in itself an important document for the history of the late exegetical school.

Add. 1714 “is a manuscript of the Nyāyasudhā (sometimes named Rāṇaka), one of the most important commentaries on Kumārila Bhaṭṭa’s Tantravārttika. The author, Someśvara Bhaṭṭa, son of Mādhava Bhaṭṭa, might have lived in the 12th century (Mishra 1964: 42, Verpoorten 1987: 38). The manuscript covers the whole of the second chapter (pāda) of the third book (adhyāya) of the Mīmāṃsāsūtras. […] Important parts of the text are missing, especially towards the end of the manuscript, which looks globally inaccurate”.[1] However, this manuscript proves to be interesting from another viewpoint, since it was most probably part of a collection of manuscripts commissioned by Ralph T. H. Griffith of the Benares Sanskrit College on behalf of Prof. Edward Byles Cowell. It shares many common features with Add.1709, Add.1710 and Add.1711 (script, paper and layout are identical, and a catch number has been added also on the first folio of the present manuscript), and thanks to this fact the date of its production can be narrowed to 1873-78.[2]

This release is enriched by the descriptions of three manuscripts of the Śivadharma corpus, Add.1599, Add.1694.1 and Add.2102. The CUL collections hold six manuscripts of texts belonging to this corpus, “whose earlier works possibly originated around the 6th century, and which usually contains from six to eight texts and deals with religious practices and doctrinal issues of the lay śaiva community”.[3] Add.1599 is a paper manuscript from Bengal, dated to the 17th century. It contains only the Śivadharmaśāstra and the Śivadharmottara, the two earliest texts of the corpus, and is “one of the very few instances of the presence of this text in Bengal”.[3] Add.1694.1 is a palm-leaf manuscript of a clearly early date (possibly 12th century). It is a composite manuscript consisting of two codicological units. The kernel (241 folios, with a continuous foliation) was originally arranged to form a complete corpus of eight texts (Śivadharmaśāstra, Śivadharmottara, Yogasārastava, Śivadharmasaṃgraha, Umāmaheśvarasaṃvāda, Vṛṣasārasaṃgraha, Uttarottaramahāsaṃvāda, Dharma-putrikā). The second codicological unit consists of 17 folios (foliated 126-142) containing the Śivopaniṣad (a text included, for instance, in the other manuscripts of the corpus like Add.1645 and Add.2102). Add.2102 is another palm-leaf manuscript from the 12th century. Unfortunately, the beginning and the end are lost, and now it contains only six texts, some with several significant lacunae (Śivadharmottara, Śivadharmasaṃgraha, Umāmaheśvarasaṃvāda, Śivopaniṣad, Vṛṣasārasaṃgraha and Dharmaputrikā).However, it is very likely that originally it contained seven texts, since the lacuna of 50 folios at the beginning roughly corresponds to the whole text of the Śivadharmaśāstra (for instance, the text of the Śivadharmaśāstra in Add.1694.1 covers 41 folios). The loss of an entire text in a manuscript of this corpus is easily explained, for the different parts of the corpus are often separated by leaving the verso of the last leaf of a text blank, and by beginning the following text in the corpus on the verso of a new leaf. Thus, each text could be easily removed from the manuscript, and put back after the reading—but unfortunately, one reader forgot to do it for this manuscript!

For the fans of kāvya, we included the description of a manuscript belonging to the Bendall collection,[4] Add. 2266, a finely written Jain manuscript of Kālidāsa’s Kumārasaṃbhava, dated 1668 CE.

Last but not least, in this release we included the first description of a manuscript from the CUL collection of South Indian manuscripts. Or. 2338 belongs to a set of manuscripts in Grantha script acquired by the CUL from the book dealer Robert E. Stolper in 1990-1. It is a modern multi-text manuscript containing the first two sargas of the Sarvaṃkaṣā, Mallinātha‘s commentary on Māgha’s Śiśupālavadha, and a part of “the Āśaucanirṇaya by Veṅkaṭanātha, a treatise (nibandha) on impurities and on the rituals that should be performed to remove them”.[5]

1. This passage is from the description of the manuscript written by our external collaborator Hugo David.

2. On the history of this part of the collections, see the post on the third release.

3. This passage is from the description of manuscript Add. 1599, written in collaboration with Florinda de Simini.

4. On the history of this part of the collections, see the post on the fourth release.

5. We would like to acknowledge here the work of our external collaborator Marco Franceschini, who is cataloguing the whole CUL collection of Grantha manuscripts .

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 Prof. Dominic Goodall

Ms Add.1049

Two leaves from ms Add. 1049, Pārameśvaratantra

Monday 5 December, 3 pm, room 7, Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, Cambridge

Palaeography and the Oldest Surviving Śaiva Tantra, the Niśvāsatattvasaṃhitā

Professor Goodall (Ecole Francaise d’Extreme Orient, Paris) will discuss relative chronology of early Tantric texts, for which MS Add. 1049 (early 9th c.) in the UL collections is a crucial piece of evidence.

Handout