Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

South Asian Studies: Manuscript Studies

Guides for utlizing resources from Penn's South Asian Studies collections.

undefined

Digitized Manuscript Collections

Asiatic Society of Mumbai

The Society's online platform, Granth Sanjeevani, hosts approximately 2000 manuscripts in Sanskrit, Arabic, Persian, and Prakrit from various regions of India and Nepal. Access requires membership at a cost of Rs.2400 (a little more than $30) for a one year subscription.    

 

British Library

A limited selection of digitized manuscripts from the British Library's impressive collection. The available South Asian materials focus on Persian works and botany in British India. 

 

Cambridge Digital Library

This online platform provides detailed descriptions of Cambridge's South Asian manuscripts as well as complete digital facsimiles for a limited number of items. The collection comprises more than 1600 manuscripts in Sanskrit, Prakrit, Pali, and Tamil written in a dozen scripts on paper, palm leaf, or birchbark. 

 

Chunilal Gandhi Vidyabhavan

A collection of more than 2500 Sanskrit manuscripts covering a wide range of traditional subjects, with particular strengths in Purāṇa, Dharmaśāstra, Nyāya, Veda, and Vyākaraṇa.   

 

Endangered Archives Programme, British Library

The EAP facilitates the digitization of archives around the world that are in danger of destruction, neglect, or physical deterioration. South Asian manuscripts are particularly well represented, covering a wide regional and linguistic range. 

 

Gujarat Ayurved University

Hundreds of manuscripts in Sanskrit, Gujarati, and Hindi, with emphasis on Āyurveda, Dhātuvāda, Tantra, and Rasaśāstra. 

 

Indian Manuscripts

A wide variety of manuscripts on a range of topics, mostly in Sanskrit. 

 

JAINpedia

Nearly 100 Jain manuscripts, many vividly illustrated. Languages include Sanskrit, Prakrit, Rajasthani, Gujarati, and Hindi. 

 

Lalchand Research Library

Nearly 6000 Sanskrit manuscripts focused on traditional Hindu texts. 

 

Muktabodha Indological Research Institute

A collection of more than 2600 Sanskrit manuscripts. Offerings include more than 2000 Śaiva Siddhānta texts from the French Institute of Pondicherry, as well as a substantial number of Vedic texts from the private collections of families in the temple town of Gokarna, Karnataka. 

 

Myanmar Manuscript Digital Library

An ongoing project to digitize resources from Myanmar, with emphasis on palm leaf Buddhist manuscripts composed in Pali. 

 

National Digital Library of India

Collection of nearly 6000 manuscripts on a wide range of topics, with emphasis on Sanskrit, Prakrit, and Gujarati. 

 

Panjab Digital Library

Nearly 2000 manuscripts, largely in Panjabi. 

 

Penn Libraries

Approximately 3000 manuscripts on a wide range of topics, largely in Sanskrit. See the South Asian Manuscript Collection page for more details. 

 

Raghunath Temple Library

Collection of more than 3500 Sanskrit manuscripts. 

 

Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland

Nearly 400 manuscripts in Sanskrit, Pali, Sinhala, Tamil, Burmese, Malayalam, Thai, and Telugu. 

 

Sanskrit Manuscripts

An assortment of more than 500 miscellaneous Sanskrit manuscripts. 

 

Uttar Pradesh Sanskrit Sansthan, Lucknow

More than 150 Sanskrit manuscripts, with emphasis on Kashmir Śaivism. 

 

Vidya Prasarak Mandal

Small collection of 115 Sanskrit manuscripts on a variety of topics, with emphasis on Tantra, Jyotiṣa, and Vyākaraṇa. 

 

World Digital Library, Library of Congress

A number of Persian and Arabic manuscripts from India. 

 

Prominent Manuscript Collections

Adyar Library and Research Centre, Chennai, India

Contains a substantial collection of palm leaf manuscripts from India and Sri Lanka. Lists of Sanskrit, Pali, and Prakrit manuscripts are available in Franklin. 

 

Āśā Archives, Kathmandu, Nepal

A collection of more than 7000 manuscripts, primarily in Sanskrit, Newari, and Maithili. Emphasis on ritual texts, medical treatises, Tantra, Jyotiṣa, Purāṇa, and architectural works. 

 

The Asiatic Society, Kolkata, India

A large, rich collection of manuscripts comprising four sections: 1) Sanskritic, 2) Islamicate, 3) Sino-Tibetan and Southeast Asian, and 4) English. The Sanskritic collection includes approximately 30,000 manuscripts in Sanskrit and Sanskrit-derived languages extending back as far as the 7th century. The Islamicate section holds more than 7,000 manuscripts in Arabic, Persian, Turkish, Pushto, and Urdu, many of which are delicately illustrated. Sino-Tibetan and Southeast Asian works are largely Buddhist in content. The English documents relate to the founding and history of the society. Refer to this selection of catalogs in Franklin.   

 

The Asiatic Society, Mumbai, India

The Society's holdings include over 3,000 manuscripts in Sanskrit, Prakrit, Arabic, Persian, Urdu, Gujarati, Hindi and Marathi from all over India and Nepal. Topics include linguistics, medicine, astronomy, and religion. Three catalogs are listed in Franklin. 

 

Bangiya Sahitya Parishat, Kolkata, India

The archive holds a collection of approximately 9500 manuscripts in Bangla, Sanskrit, Hindi, Assamese, Oriya, Tibetan, Persian, and Sinhala. 

 

Deccan College, Pune, India

More than 11,000 paper and palm leaf manuscripts, with emphasis on Sanskrit works including Veda, Kāvya, and Dhārmaśāstra. Catalogs include a late 19th century assessment as well as a subsequent multi-volume set

 

Dhaka University Library, Dhaka, Bangladesh

A collection of more than 30,000 manuscripts in a variety of languages, with emphasis on Sanskrit and Bangla. Several catalogs are listed in Franklin. 

 

Government Oriental Manuscripts Library and Research Centre, Chennai, India

An extensive collection of more than 50,000 palm leaf and 20,000 paper manuscripts, with emphasis on Sanskrit, Tamil, Telugu, Persian, and Marathi materials. Covers a broad range of subjects and time periods. Catalogs are numerous; please see this list in Franklin.  

 

India Office Library Collection at the British Library, London, UK

More than 80,000 manuscripts from South Asia, comprehensive both topically and linguistically. Notable features of the collection are some of the earliest known Buddhist manuscripts on birch bark scrolls, an impressive collection of accented Vedic manuscripts, contents of the Mughal Imperial Library, and Malayalam grants issued to the Dutch East India company in the late 17th century. A selection of manuscript catalogs may be found in Franklin; relevant reference materials are also outlined on the BL's collection guides for KannadaMalayalamSanskrit, Prakrit, & Pali; Perso-Arabic; Tamil; and Telugu.  

 

Khuda Bakhsh Oriental Public Library, Patna, India

Opened to the public in 1891 by Khan Bahadur Khuda Bakhsh and now serving as a national library, the collection boasts more than 21,000 manuscripts in Arabic, Persian, Urdu, Turkish, and Pashto. A number of catalogs are listed in Franklin.  

 

National Archives, Kathmandu, Nepal

An important collection of more than 35,000 manuscripts in a variety of languages, scripts, and formats. Subject areas are comprehensive, though particular strengths include Tantra, Ayurveda, and some of the oldest Buddhist works. Two catalogs for the collection's Newari manuscripts are listed in Franklin. 

 

National Library, Colombo, Sri Lanka

A good collection of palm leaf manuscripts in Sinhala, Pali, and Sanskrit. Subjects include Buddhism, Ayurvedic medicine, Sinhala literature, history, astrology, and the occult. 

 

National Museum, Karachi, Pakistan

A collection of more than 10,000 manuscripts, largely in Persian and Arabic, but also including Urdu, Punjabi, Sindhi, and Pashto. Three catalogs are listed in Franklin related to the collection's holdings of Persian and Urdu manuscripts as well as the collection of Qur'ans. 

 

National Museum, New Delhi, India

A collection of nearly 14,000 manuscripts in a wide variety of scripts and languages, with emphasis on Sanskrit, Pali, Persian, and numerous Hindi dialects. Covering 1400 years and a broad range of topics, manuscripts are rendered on parchment, birch bark, palm leaf, paper, cloth, wood, and metals. In addition to this Descriptive Catalog of Manuscripts, search Franklin for studies about the museum's manuscript collection.  

 

Oriental Institute of Baroda, Vadodara, India

A large collection of manuscripts in Sanskrit, Prakrit, Gujarati, Marathi, and Persian. Includes more than 10,000 manuscripts from the collection of Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad III, who founded the institute in 1927. Refer to this selection of catalogs in Franklin.   

 

Oriental Research Institute of Mysore, Mysuru, India

Founded by Maharaja Chamarajendra Wadiyar X in 1891, the ORI holds more than 30,000 palm leaf and paper manuscripts, mostly in Sanskrit and Kannada. You may reference these two series of catalogs listed in Franklin.

 

Osmania University Library, Hyderabad, India

The library holds approximately 6500 manuscripts in a number of languages on a wide variety of subjects. Refer to these four catalogs covering Marathi, Kannada, Sanskrit, and Urdu holdings. 

 

Punjab University Library, Lahore, Pakistan

Comprising more than 24,000 manuscripts, this collection is the largest of its kind in Pakistan. Languages include Arabic, Persian, Urdu, Turkish, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Hindi, and more. A number of catalogs are listed in Franklin.    

 

Rāmamālā Library, Comilla, Bangladesh

More than 9,000 manuscripts, largely in Sanskrit and Bangla. Subjects focus on scientific and legal materials, Sanskrit literature, and Bangla regional works. 

 

Rajasthan Arabic and Persian Research Institute, Tonk, India

A substantial collection of Arabic, Persian, and Urdu manuscripts from and/or about Rajasthan. Several catalogs are listed in Franklin. 

 

Rampur Raza Library, Rampur, India

Established by Nawab Faizullah Khan in the late 18th century, the library holds a rich collection of manuscripts in Arabic, Persian, Sanskrit, Hindi, Urdu, Turkish, and Pashto. Numerous catalogs are listed in Franklin. 

 

Saraswati Bhawan Library, Sampurnanand Sanskrit University, Varanasi, India

A significant collection of more than 100,000 Sanskrit manuscripts, largely written in Devanagari but also including Bangla, Maithili, and Grantha scripts. Several catalogs are listed in Franklin. 

 

Tanjore Saraswathi Mahal Library, Thanjavur, India

A substantial collection of manuscripts in Sanskrit, Tamil, Marathi, and Telugu, focused on topics of literature, music, and medicine. A number of catalogs are listed in Franklin. 

 

Telangana (formerly Andhra Pradesh) Government Oriental Manuscripts Library & Research Institute, Hyderabad, India

A rich collection of more than 24,000 manuscripts in sixteen languages. You'll find a selection of catalogs listed in Franklin.  

 

Select Manuscript Catalogs


 

Afghanistan


 

Bangladesh


 

India


 

Nepal


 

Pakistan


 

Sri Lanka


 

Europe & North America

Other Resources