THE LARGEST COLLECTIONS OF MANUSCRIPTS IN INDIA

 
THE LARGEST COLLECTIONS OF MANUSCRIPTS IN INDIA
NAWBAHOROVA BIBISULTON
 Written Heritage of the Academy
Of Sciences of the Republic of Tajikistan
 
   India has the largest collections of manuscripts in the world scattered all across the country. Before the invention of printing, the manuscript was the only means of conveying information in India. High achievements of Indian literature and culture are known all over the world due to the preserved manuscripts.
Scientists consider that a history of the Indian manuscript started from the fifth century BC. However, ancient manuscripts did not survive, and until to the end of the nineteenth century scientists did not have at their disposal manuscript older than of the eleventh century. Only since the late of nineteenth century in the North of India, and in Central Asia have been found earlier manuscripts. According to the article of M. I. Vorobyova-Desyatovskaya the biggest discovery was a large collection of Buddhist manuscripts, immured in a mortar, which was found in 1931[1].
  The oldest preserved Indian manuscript dates from the first-second centuries. Then in chronological order followed Gilgit and Central Asian manuscripts that belong to the five-eighth centuries. Total number of manuscripts of that period found in the territory of India and abroad can be easily calculated.
As we mentioned above, all Indian manuscripts that have survived relatively late, they were written at the time of manufacture.Description journeys of Chinese pilgrims to India in five-seventhcenturies indicates that in India were a rich fiction, and manyworks on various branches. The humid and hot climate of India and wars, which often happen in the territory of the country, create great risks for survival of cultural centers and libraries. Many manuscripts have been hidden during the wars; but in case people who hid them were killed, and caches remained immured forever.
   A process of establishing of libraries and gathering collections of manuscripts apparently started in India in the first centuries of our era, but there is no reliable information about them. The earliest reports of libraries belong to the fifth century. Jetavana monastery was one of the largest centers of education in India at this time. The monastery had a special reading room and a large library. The library had texts and compositions on various branches of science and art a well.
In this short article, we mainly focus only on the Islamic heritage, particularly on Farsi, fixed in different collections of manuscripts in India.
As we know from history, Central Asia, Iran and India had strong economic and social links from pre-history. Beginning from the eleventh century time of the rule of the Ghaznavids (977-1186), these three regions began to share a common dominant Persian-Islamic culture. As a result, a great number of poets, painters, craftsmen, philosophers, and musicians all found a marketplace for their skills throughout the common area of Iran, Central Asia and India.
All successive waves of Muslim conquerors brought with them elements and artefacts of Central Asian and Persian culture, whatincreased the ever-evolving mix of South Asian society. It was under the Mughals (1555-1858) that this steady process of cultural amalgamation between Central and South Asia reached its peak, and from many aspects, this was a happy synthesis indeed. During the Mughal period an energetic efforts was made to evolve a single nation by blending the Hindi and Muslim cultural traditions. Persian language in India was spread among different classes of people.
   The sixteenth century saw the rise and flowering of three great traditions in Islamic book arts, particularity miniature painting. The Safavid, Mughal, and Bukhara styles evolved as distinct but inter-related schools sharing certain Timurid roots and influencing each other mutually in varying degrees. The Mughal rulers of India made great contributions to Indian learning and culture; they were also noted for making achievements in the different fields of education, art, literature and music. Book making and libraries made a very remarkable progress during this period of the Indian history. Particularly during the reign of Akbar the great who was by far the biggest patron of illuminated manuscripts in India. He studied painting in his youth and inherited his father’s library. After he moved his capital to FatehpurSikri he set up a school dedicated to miniature painting under the tutelage of Persian master artists.
Unfortunately, the Mughal collections were destroyed and dispersed after the revolt of 1857. Despite of that fact, a plenty of manuscripts conserved from this period.
 Eminent Muslim scholar of India and a great reference Librarian Omar Khalidi emphasize: «When scholars of Islamic studies think of manuscripts in Arabic and related languages, they almost invariably turn to the great library holdings in the Middle East and Europe, forgetting that there are huge collections elsewhere, for example in India. It is estimate that in 2003, India possesses nearly one hundred thousand manuscripts in Arabic script spread over a number of libraries in various parts of the country. This number is in addition to what may be available in undocumented private collections. The Indian collections are renowned for the importance of many individual items, from some of the finest calligraphic and illustrated manuscripts of the Quran to autograph and other high-quality copies of major legal, literary, scientific, andhistorical works».[2]
   Doctor Omar Khalidi also noting with regret that manuscripts produced in India taken away illegally to Europe and another countries. Indeed, most of the Arabic, Persian, and Urdu collections in the British Library and Persian collection National Library of France are of Indian origin.In 1997 750 volumes of Ismai’li manuscripts of Indian origin were transferred to the Institute of Ismai’li Studiesin London. It should be noted, that not only of the Muslim heritage, but manuscripts in Sanskrit, Pali, Bengali, Gujarati, Prakrit, and other languages of Indian origin are stored in various libraries of the world. According to published reports and directories, Indian manuscripts are currently stored in 354 collection of manuscripts and private collections. In Europe and America, Indian manuscripts mainly concentrated in 30 libraries[3].
In Central Asia manuscripts of Indian origin stored in the Republic of Uzbekistan[4]and the Republic of Tajikistan.The Republic of Tajikistan has some collections of manuscripts in Farsi, Arabic, Turkic, Urdu and Hindi. In the collection of manuscripts of Institute of linguistic, literature, oriental studies and written heritage of the Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Tajikistan hold more than 6000 manuscripts of XIII-XIX centuries created in Central Asia, Iran and India[5].
Today a plenty numbers of them are in specific libraries in various parts of the country. The most important libraries of India are listed below:
 
n
STATE AND SITY
Library
Number of Islamic                    manuscripts
I
ANDHRA PRADESH
 
 
1.
Hyderabad
Oriental Manuscripts Library and Research Institute (OMLRI)
OsmaniaUniversityCampus
23,000
2.
Hyderabad
AndhraPradeshStateArchives
 
 
3.
Hyderabad
AndhraPradeshStateMuseum
 
117
4.
Hyderabad
GovernmentNizamiyaTibbiCollege
 
 
5.
Hyderabad
Idarah-yiIhya al-Ma,arif al-Numaniya
 
6.
Hyderabad
Idarah-i Adabiyat-i Urdu
1,426
7.
Hyderabad
Institute of History of Medicine
 
8.
Hyderabad
JamiaNizamiya
1164
9.
Hyderabad
KutubKhanah-i Rawdat al-Hadith
800
10.
Hyderabad
MeccaMasjidLibrary
65
11.
Hyderabad
OsmaniaUniversityLibrary
3,418
12.
Hyderabad
SaidiyaLibrary
3,141
13.
Hyderabad
Salar  Jang Museum and Library
10,000
II.
BIHAR
 
 
 
1.
Patna
KhudaBakhsh Oriental Public Library
21,000
2.
 
KutubKhanah-yi al-IslahDasna,
 
III.
DELHI
 
 
1.
NewDelhi
Anjuman-i Tarraqi-yi Urdu Library
 
2.
NewDelhi
Dargah of Shah Abu al-Khayr
 
3.
NewDelhi
GhalibAcademy
 
4.
Near Town Hall
Near Old Delhi Railway Station
Hardayal Municipal Public Library
 
 
5.
NewDelhi
Indian Council for Cultural Relations Library
 
140
6.
Tughlaqabad, NewDelhi
Hakim Muhammad Said Central Library
 
3619
7.
Janpath, NewDelhi
NationalArchivesofIndiaLibrary
 
100
8.
NewDelhi
National Museum of India Library
 
9.
Ajmeri Gate
JawaharlalNehruRoad
Delhi
Zakir Husain College Library
 
 
10.
JamiaMilliaIslamiya
JamiaNagar
NewDelhi
Zakir Husain Library
 
2,500
IV.
GUJARAT
 
 
 
1.
Pir Muhammad Shah Road
Pankore Naka
Ahmadabad
Ahmadabad
DargahHazratPir Muhammad Shah Library
 
2000
2.
H. K. Arts College Campus
Ashram Road
Ahmadabad
Gujarat VidyaSabha& B. J. Institute of Learning
 
416
VII.
First DasturMeherjiRana Library
Navsari
 
Navsari
 
145
4.
DevdiMubarak
ZampaBazaar
Surat
Al-Jam,iat al-Sayfiyah
 
 
5.
Mazun al-Dawah al-Alawiyyah
Al-Wazaratal-Alawiyyah
BadriMahalla
Vadodara (new/old name of Baroda)
Alawi Bohra Library
 
 
V.
JAMMU AND KASHMIR
 
 
1.
Research Library
UniversityofKashmir
Center for Central Asian Studies
 
 
2.
P.O. Nowshehra
Jammu&KashmirIslamicResearchCenter
 
Several thousand
3.
Government of Jammu and Kashmir
Srinagar
Research and Publications Department
 
 
4.
Lalmandi
SirPratapSinghMuseum
 
 
VI.
KARNATAKA
 
 
 
1.
 
ArchæologicalMuseum
 
2.
Mysore
OrientalResearchInstitute
 
 
VII.
MADHYA PRADESH
 
 
 
1.
StateArchives
OldSecretariat
Maulana Azad Central Library
 
 
2.
Regional Office
CivilLines
National Archives of India
 
 
3.
Vikram University
Scindia Oriental Manuscripts Library
VikramKirtiMandir
 
 
VIII.
MAHARASHTRA
 
 
 
1.
KarimiLibrary
Anjuman-i Islam Urdu Research Institute
 
40
2.
Balapur
 
Balapur, Akola
Khanqah-i Naqshbandiyah
278
3.
 
Mumbai
TheAsiaticSociety
 
 
4.
 
Pune
BharatItihasaSamshodhakaMandala
 
 
5.
Mumbai
K. R. Cama Oriental Institute
 
 
6.
Mumbai
Forbes Gujarati Sabha
 
 
7.
Mumbai
Jama Masjid Library
 
1,200
8.
Pune
Maratha History Museum
Deccan College Postgraduate Research
18
9.
Mumbai
MumbaiUniversityLibrary
 
 
IX.
PANJAB
 
 
1.
Patiala
Punjab State Archives & Library
 
287
2.
Amritsar
Sikh History Research Department
 
 
X.
Tonk
Arabic and Persian Research Institute Library
 
3064
1.
OldCityPalace
Alwar
GovernmentMuseum
 
 
2.
Jaipur
Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II Museum
 
 
3.
Jaipur
National Archives of India
 
 
4.
Jaipur
RajasthanStateArchives
 
 
5.
Udaipur
SaravastiBhandar Library
 
 
XI.
TAMILNADU
 
 
 
1.
Chennai
Government Oriental Manuscripts Library
 
536
2.
Chennai
AmanatiKutubKhanah-i Khandan-i Sharaf al-Mulk
 
 
3.
 
Chennai
Tamilnadu Archives and Historical Research Center
 
 
 XII.
UTTAR PRADESH
 
 
 
1.
Aligarh,
Aligarh
Maulana Azad Library
 
 
2.
Aligarh,
Hakim SayyidZill al-Rahman Library
 
400
XIII.
ALLAHABAD
 
 
 
1.
Allahabad
Uttar Pradesh State Regional Archives Library
 
 
XIV.
AZAMGARH
 
 
 
 
Azamgarh
Dar al-Musannifin
 
520
XV.
DEOBAND
 
 
 
1.
Deoband
Daral-UlumLibrary
 
 
XVI.
LUCKNOW
 
 
1.
Lucknow
Amir al-Dawlah Government Public Library
 
 
2.
Lucknow
Kutubkhanah-yi Nasiriya
 
30,000
3.
 
Lucknow
Madrasatal-Waizin
 
529
4.
 
Lucknow
Nadwat al-Ulama Library
 
 
5.
Lucknow
Sultanal-Madaris
 
 
6.
Lucknow
TagoreLibrary
 
170
XVII.
RAMPUR
 
 
 
1.
Hamid Manzil
Rampur
Rampur Raza Library
 
11,993
2.
Rampur
SaulatPublicLibrary
 
 
XVIII.
VARANASI
 
 
 
1.
Varanasi
Banaras Hindu University Library
 
 
XIX.
WEST BENGAL
 
 
1.
Kolkata
The Asiatic Society Library
 
6, 591
2.
Kolkata
TheNationalLibrary
 
1,161
3.
Kolkata
Victoria Memorial Hall Library
 
 
4.
Murshidabad
Hazarduari
PalaceMuseum&Library
 
 
5.
Shantiniketan, Birbhim
VisvaBharatiUniversity
 
 
 
 
Some of these libraries are private, and not always inform on  exactnumber of manuscripts.
As show our spreadsheet, manycollections are located in the city of Hyderabad in state of Andra Pradesh. There are more than 20 collections of manuscripts. The largest among of them are Andhra Pradesh Government Oriental Manuscripts Library and Research Institute (OMLRI) Osmania University Campus,a number of manuscripts is 23,000.
The largest collection of manuscripts in India is Kutubkhanah-yi Nasiriya, which contains 30000 copies. More than 11 collections of manuscripts are kept in Delhi. The most famous of them are ZakirHusain Library, number of manuscripts - 2,500 and Hakim Muhammad Said Central Library number of manuscripts - 3619. The bulk of the manuscripts of these collections were described in catalogues, what facilitates a search of manuscripts and related information for scholars. These data are included into information for libraries worldwide, including India[6].
The manuscripts that are kept in different collections of India are of paramount importance for study of the history and literature of the Tajik people.In 1982, was organized expedition of orientalists of Tajikistan into India aimed to gather materials on these problems. They worked on collections of manuscripts in Delhi, Hyderabad, Oligarch, Patna and Rampur and found many unique samples. The results of this expedition were published by the famous Tajik scientist Mukhtarov A. He noticedin the introduction to his special book: "The aim of publishing the results of our expedition is to attract attention of the Tajik scientists to study the unique manuscripts in the collection of India in future."[7]
Actually, collectionsof manuscripts in India contain unique manuscripts, which are very important for the study of history, culture, literature and other branches of Tajik heritage. Political and scientific relations between India and Tajikistan having common culture in the past strengthened every year.We hope that these relationships enable Tajik scientists to study the unique manuscripts of different libraries in India.
 
 
[1]Vorobyova-Desyatovskaya M. I. Rukopisnayakniga v culture narodovVostoka. [Manuscript Books in Oriental Cultures]. Moscow, Nauka, 1988. –P. 7.
[2]Omar Khalidi. A Guide to Arabic, Persian, Turkish, and Urdu Manuscript  Libraries in India. 2003. –P. 1.
[3]Vorobyova-Desyatovskaya M. I. Manuscript Books in Oriental Cultures. Moscow, Nauka, 1988. –P. 65-74.
[4]SokrovishnitsavostochnichrukopiseiInstitutaVostokovedeniyaimeniAburaikhanaBiruniAkademiiNaukRespubliki Uzbekistan[A treasure trove of Oriental Manuscripts Institute of Oriental Studies named after Beruniof the Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Uzbekistan]. Tashkent, 2012. - P.21.
[5]Dodkhudoeva L. The arts of the book in Central Asia and India XVI-XIX centuries (collection of the Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Tajikistan). Dushanbe, 2001.
[6]World Survey of Islamic Manuscripts, Vol. 1, edited by Geoffrey Roper,(Leiden: Brill, 1992). - P. 395-442.
[7]Mukhtarov A. Durdonaho-I madaniyat-I TojikistondarGanjinaho-I Hinduston[Pearls of Tajik culture in the treasures of India]. Dushanbe, Nashriyot-i Irfon, 1984.- P. 4.