The Saiva manuscripts of Pondicherry
Two large collections of palm-leaf and paper manuscripts that transmit mainly a large collection of Sanskrit and Tamil texts are preserved at the French Institute of Pondicherry, in the South Indian Town of Pondicherry. The major collection of the French Institute of Pondicherry (IFP) comprises 8187 palm-leaf bundles, 360 paper codices and 1144 recent paper transcripts
(i.e. copied by employees of the IFP), which are now on-line.
At the instigation of the IFP’s founder director, the manuscripts began to be collected from every area of the Tamil-speaking South of India and the collection contains texts of every branch of precolonial Indian learning. But nearly half of the material relates to Saivism, one of the major theistic traditions of India, that concerned with the worship of the God Siva. It is in fact the largest collection in the world of manuscripts of texts of the Saiva Siddhanta, a religious tradition that spread right across the Indian subcontinent and beyond, as far as Cambodia in the East in the early part of the first millennium.. This tradition long represented the mainstream of tantric doctrine and worship and appears to have influenced every Indian theistic tradition. Its surviving texts, the majority of them unpublished, range from the 6th century CE to the colonial period.
In recognition of its importance the collection of Shaiva Manuscripts of the French Institute of Pondicherry has in 2005 been deemed a UNESCO “Memory of the World” Collection
. This has given a boost to our on-going efforts to the huge task of completing a catalogue of the whole collection
The Manuscript collection is conserved in an air-conditioned chamber. Many of the publications in the field of Indology are the fruits of working over many years with our extremely rich manuscript resources.
The IFP’s collection comprises of 8187 palm-leaf bundles, 360 old paper codices and 1144 paper transcripts.
Manuscripts outside Pondicherry
The National Mission for Manuscripts (NMM) has also selected the IFP as one of its Manuscripts Resource Centres. These Centres have the task of surveying and cataloguing manuscripts in unknown collections in the regions surrounding them. Thus the IFP, in addition to maintaining its own manuscripts, is currently also surveying and cataloguing institutional and private collections around Pondicherry and in a few coastal districts of Tamilnadu.
Price of Manuscript Digital Images
All photos of manuscripts are supplied for STUDY PURPOSES only. The readings may be cited with appropriate acknowledgements but the photos themselves may not be reproduced without permission. For permission to reproduce the photographs, please refer to the Photo Copyright Form.
The price of each digital image is 10 Indian rupees. Each image will usually include the verso of one folio and the recto of the next and so the cost will usually work out to 10 rupees per folio. (In the case of manuscripts with exceptionally long leaves, this may be double.)
Procedure for supplying Manuscript Digital Images
After receiving the request for digital images of manuscripts, the Manuscript Request form / MOU will be sent to the researcher or can be downloaded from the IFP website. He / She will have to fill the form and send it back to the Archivist, French Institute of Pondicherry, along with the payment in India or in France (for payment particulars refer the copyright form). After receiving the payment, the digital images will be sent to them on a CD ROM. In addition to the cost of the images , we make a handling charge of rupees 100 in India and 500 outside India per order.
Those who come directly to Pondicherry to make their own digital photos may take the photos free of cost on the following conditions :
1) That optimal digital photos are taken with our guidance in our premises.
2) That whole bundles are photographed together (not just excerpts transmitting one text).
3) That the digital images are given to us (transferred onto a computer of the IFP and not deleted).
4) That a Manuscript Request Form is signed that cedes copyright to the IFP and in which the user undertakes to acknowledge the IFP’s manuscripts appropriately wherever their readings or other information about them is published.
5) That images of the manuscripts will not be reproduced without written permission of the IFP.