The richness of the Jain literature has been captured in thousands of manuscripts, some over a thousand years old, that are scattered in museums, libraries, temples and private collections throughout the world.
IoJ has been involved in a number of projects to catalogue Jain manuscripts in various libraries across Europe. Indira Gandhi National Center for Arts, the main Indian Institute for the preservation and promotion of items of cultural heritage, is also participating in these projects.
Jain Manuscripts in the British Library
The project to create the catalogue was undertaken by the Institute at the instigation of British Library in 1991. Professor Chandrabhal Tripathi, of Berlin University was chosen to lead the project. Unfortunately Professor Tripathi passed away within two years of starting the project. Professor Nalini Balbir of Sorbonne University, Paris who had been assisting Professor Tripathi agreed to undertake the massive task. She was ably assisted by Dr Kanubhai Sheth and Dr Kalpnaben Sheth both from Ahemdabad, IndiaIn 2002, the Institute made a presentation of the project to the then Prime Minister of India, Shree Atal Behari Vajpayee who not only agreed to become the Patron-in-Chief of the Project but also granted a sum of Rs two crore to the project.
On 27th May 2006, the Honourable Prime Minister of India, Dr Manmohan Singh launched the three volume catalogue at the prestigious Vigyan Bhavan in New Delhi The launch ceremony was attended by of His Excellency the High Commissioner of the United Kingdom to India, Sir Michael Arthur, and the Union Minister for Tourism & Culture Smt. Ambika Soni who presided over the function. Jain dignitaries from all over India representing all Jain sects were in attendance together with some Jains from abroad. H E The High Commissioner for Uganda was also present. Institute’s Trustees from London and India had managed the event.The catalogue was printed and bound in India to the highest standard to ensure that it stood out amongst the best in its category. The Indian Union Minister for Tourism & Culture is so taken by the quality that she keeps a set to hand to demonstrate the quality of work she expects from the Indian institutes working on other manuscript catalogues.
International launch of this catalogue took place on 15th May 2007 at Buckingham Palace, London. The launching ceremony was performed by H R H The Duke of Edinburgh in the Picture Gallery of the Palace.The event was graced by H E the High Commissioner of India, Mr Kamalesh Sharma, the Chief Editor of the Catalogue, Prof. Nalini Balbir and Mr Ronald Milne, Director of Scholarship and Collections, The British Library and local and overseas representatives of the Jain community including delegates from India, Singapore, Oman, USA, Canada, Kenya, UAE as well as many Jain organisations in the United Kingdom and representatives of the Interfaith community.This catalog is available for purchase from the British Library.
Jain Manuscripts in Other Libraries
Preparatory work on cataloging of Jain Manuscripts at both the Wellcome Trust and the Oxford University’s Bodelian Library has been completed and Prof Nalini Balbir is carrying out the final editing. These catalogues are expected to be launched in Spring of 2009.
Discussions are in progress with institutions in other countries to carry out similar cataloging projects. In conjunction with IoJ, the University of Florence is currently making plans for cataloging their Jain manuscripts, commencing early 2009.
In recognition of the importance of these projects in conserving the Indian Cultural Heritage, in promoting research at institutions of higher learning, and in making manuscripts more easily accessible to the general public, the then Indian Prime Minister, Hon Atal Bihari Vajpayee, had accepted the Patronship of the projects at Wellcome Trust Library and the OU Bodelian Library.
MSS LAUNCH VIGYAN BHAVAN NEW DELHI MAY 2006
MSS LAUNCH AT BUCKINGHAM PALACE LONDON