November 07, 2011

India gets its first e-library of ancient manuscripts
Bharat Yagnik, TNN | Nov 8, 2011, 04.08AM IST

AHMEDABAD: If an elephant, lion, goddess Lakshmi or a rose garland appears in your dreams, it is an auspicious sign, says Swapna Pradipt, a 1,000-year-old treatise on interpretation of dreams. It adds that early morning dreams are more likely to fructify.

Now, Swapna Pradipt and 2,000 other such rarest of rare manuscripts and books in Ahmedabad's Lalbhai Dalpatbhai Institute of Indology, dating back around 1,200 years, are available in a digitized format. Former President Abdul Kalam will dedicate this e-library running into five lakh pages to the nation on November 11. The massive project which involved digitizing ancient books on religion, language, culture, history, maths, astrology and astronomy took three years and cost Rs 40 lakh.

"We are the first institute in the country to digitize such rare books and manuscripts on a large scale,'' said Jitendra Shah, director of the institute, adding that their aim was to reach out to the maximum number of scholars and researchers across the globe. Nearly 150 foreign scholars from countries such as the US, Japan, China and Germany visit every year.

Hailing the development, Balaji Ghanorkar, former director of B L Institute of Indology, said, "The fact that scholars will be able to easily access manuscripts from such a rich source will boost research in Indology."

The Lalbhai Dalpatbhai Institute of Indology is also a treasure trove of manuscripts relating to Jainism. In all, there are about 45,000 printed books along with 75,000 manuscripts, out of which 500 are illustrated. These documents from the past cover a wide range of subjects like Vedas, Agamas, Buddhism, Tantras, Jain darshana, system of Indian philosophy, Jain philoshopy, and grammar.

The institute, housed in an aesthetically designed building, now plans to take up the project of digitizing close to 75,000 manuscripts that they have gathered and preserved over the past four decades. Some of these manuscripts are written in gold. The institute is developing an electronic register and setting up a well-equipped preservation and restoration laboratory as well. "This project will take at least five years to complete," said Shah.

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