I’m frequently visiting manuscript repositories in Pune and Chennai. Some of these are Government funded, while some are not.
Government controlled ones have not seen any appointment in near past and are struggling for manpower. Non-government repositories are struggling for funding.
Irrespective of controller of these organizations, scanning of manuscript is not completed in many of these repositories.
Libraries where people from Government went to scan manuscripts, it was seen that they were handling manuscripts carelessly in unprofessional way and hence damaging manuscripts. So, some organizations stopped scanning. Scanners were also putting scans 1
Some manuscript libraries don’t have any option to allow independent scholars like me, a monk of-course. They only allow PhD 1
students, which I’m not.
Some libraries have rate cards so absurd that you can only laugh on them and then cry on your lack of money.
I think that these repositories took these manuscripts from our ancestors and maTha-s(मठ , आश्रम), etc. assuring that they will be saved from moths, etc. and will be provided to scholars easily, so that they could study and research.
I can’t see any trait of this idea in many curators/rules of libraries.
I’ve seen that many palm-leaves are decaying from decades, and people sitting in libraries are not even trying to transcribe to paper.
I’ve seen paper manuscripts falling from hand and turning to dust, while people handling them don’t seem to have any shame/pain.
I’ve seen ink of paper manuscripts fading to extent of illegibility, and people who are there to save it do not care to transcribe/scan it.
I’ve seen that after damaging them or losing them, libraries just mark them misplaced, so that they could use it as eternal excuse for future generation of researchers/ scholars.
It must be noted that many manuscripts have/may have a single copy left in this world. In that condition, any type of damage/decay is just ensuring that it will be lost for ever.
Palm-leaf manuscript give you very small chance to recover any work in it’s entirety.
And, about every manuscript has been missing a page or two or two hundred of them.
So, you can never recover a work with manuscript in many cases.
So, I request all people to go to manuscript libraries you know, use your camera/scanner, use your money to take pictures/scan of these manuscripts or get a xerox copy of them.
These libraries are themselves poor or lack manpower/or have irresponsible persons in power; so let us try to get most important/most interesting/most decayed manuscripts first.
Some libraries have scanned manuscripts, but they sell them on such a high price that only an art-collector could buy them.
Government has them scanned, but it doesn’t appear that it will be sharing with us easily.
Please, help us get our thing back from these libraries and save them.