Friday, June 22, 2012

Possession dispute between Sri Nagar and Delhi over Gilgit manuscripts

2000 years old Gilgit Manuscripts
SRINAGAR: The National Archives of India has declined to transfer more than 2000-year-old Gilgit manuscripts to J&K government, sources said. An official handout on Wednesday confirmed this while stating that NAI has agreed to share a duplicate copy of one of the world’s oldest manuscripts to the state authorities.

“Facsimile version of these Gilgit manuscripts entitled Lotus Sutra manuscript [series 12: Gilgit Lotus Sutra manuscripts] from the National Archives of India, facsimile edition, has been printed recently in collaboration with the Institute of Oriental Philosophy and Soka Gakkai, Japan,” the official spokesman said in a statement.

“The National Archives of India in its communication has assured the State Government that original manuscripts of Gilgit are being preserved with utmost care in the National archive Museum.”

It is pertinent to mention that State Tourism and Culture Ministry had some time back written to Union Minister for Culture, Kumari Selji for retrieving back culture treasure of Gilgit manuscripts (5th -6th Cent A.D), considered among the oldest manuscripts in the world to the State Government, with the motive to display these in the museums for culture lovers besides general public.

The scholars would afford an opportunity of access to the treasures to widen knowledge about the horizons of cultural past and to foster further research.

The Gilgit manuscripts were nominated in 2006 to be included on the UNESCO Memory of the World register, but without success.

The Gilgit manuscripts are among the oldest manuscripts in the world, and the oldest manuscript collection surviving in the Indian sub-continent, having major significance in the areas of Buddhist studies and the evolution of Asian and Sanskrit literature. The manuscripts are believed to have been written in the 5th to 6th Century AD, though some more manuscripts were discovered in the succeeding centuries, which were also classified as Gilgit manuscripts.

This corpus of manuscripts was discovered in 1931 in Gilgit, containing many Buddhist texts such as four sutras from the Buddhist canon, including the famous Lotus Sutra. The manuscripts were written on birch bark in the Buddhist form of Sanskrit in the Sharada script. The Gilgit manuscripts cover a wide range of themes such as iconometry, folk tales, philosophy, medicine and several related areas of life and general knowledge. Observer News Service

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