Miscellaneous Sanskrit manuscripts in the Bodleian Library

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

Many of the manuscripts are relatively modern, and written on paper, though the collection does contain earlier material on different writing surfaces. Examples include two birch-bark manuscripts: the Bakhshali manuscript (MS. Sansk. d. 14), an early Indian mathematical manuscript dating from the 10th-12th century; and a 5th century manuscript (MS. Sansk. c. 17), with portions of works on medicine and divination, named the Bower manuscript after its discoverer Lieutenant H. Bower. The collection also contains a number of palm-leaf manuscripts, including an 11th century illustrated philosophical text (MS. Sansk. a. 7 (R)), which is one of only three manuscripts known to have survived from the Indian Buddhist monastic University of Nalanda.

The full shelfmarks of the collection are: MSS. Sansk. a. 1, 2 (R), 3-6, 7-15 (R), b. 1, 3-4, 5-6 (R), 8-11 (R), 12, 28, 29 (R), 31 (R), 32, 34-7 (R), 38, c. 1-12, 13-16 (R), 17 (P), 18-23, 24-31 (R), 32, 33 (R), 34, 35-6 (R), 37, 38-9 (R), 40-1, 42 (R), 43-60, 61 (R), 62-70, 71 (R), 72-121, 122-3 (R), 124, 125 (R), 126-8, 129-32 (R), 133, 134-6 (R), 137-44, 145-6 (R),147-8, d. 1-11, 12 (R), 13-16, 17-18 (R), 19-20, 21-2 (R), 23-5, 26-30, 31-2 (R), 34-6, 37-41 (R), 42-9, 51-124, 126-8, 130-208, 210-28, 230, 232, 238, 250-1, 253-6, 259-61, 263-5, 267, 270-2, 274-6, 278, 280-1, 283-90, 292-7, 299-306, 310-11, 315-21, 323-4, 326-40, 341 (R), 342-5, 346 (R), e. 1-12, 13 (R), 14-19, 20-3 (R), 28, 41-88, 89 (R), 90-1, 92 (R), f. 1 (R), 11-12, 14-21, g. 1 (R), 3-6.

Administrative / Biographical History

Nearly 400 of the manuscripts are those which the Library bought from epigraphist Eugen Hultzsch (1857-1927), see the Neue Deutsche Biographie, in 1887. These are described separately with Hultzsch's manuscripts in other languages.

The collection also contains a significant number of manuscripts formerly belonging to the German orientalists Dr A.F.R. Hoernle (1841-1918) and Professor Max Mller (1823-1900), and manuscripts purchased through George Thibaut of Benares College (1848-1914). See Who Was Who for details.

Conditions Governing Access

Entry to read in the Library is permitted only on presentation of a valid reader's card (for admissions procedures see http://www.bodley.ox.ac.uk).

Acquisition Information

The manuscripts were acquired between 1666 and 1992, though most of the acquisitions were made in the late nineteenth to early twentieth century. Eugen Hultzsch's manuscripts were purchased in 1887, Professor Max Mller gave 14 manuscripts between 1881 and 1894, and 45 manuscripts of Dr A.F.R. Hoernle were acquired, by purchase and gift, between 1900 and 1931.

Note

Collection level description created by Susan Thomas, Department of Special Collections and Western Manuscripts.

Other Finding Aids

Some of the manuscripts are in Falconer Madan, et al., A summary catalogue of western manuscripts in the Bodleian Library at Oxford which have not hitherto been catalogued in the Quarto series, with references to the oriental and other manuscripts (7 vols. in 8 [vol. II in 2 parts], Oxford, 1895-1953; reprinted, with corrections in vols. I and VII, Munich, 1980), vols. II, V-VI, nos. 2862, 24680-3, 26327, 27120-253, 27255-9, 27261-411, 27413-46, 27448, 27450, 27456, 27468-9, 27473-6, 27479-81, 27483-5, 27488-9, 27492, 27494-5, 27497-500, 27502, 27504-5, 27507-14, 27516-21, 27523-30, 27534-5, 27539-44, 27546-7, 27549-56, 27578, 27582, 28236, 28352-4, 28729-36, 28818-20, 28881, 28911-16, 28991-2, 29056, 29199, 29223, 29381, 29615, 29680, 30122, 30931-41, 30943-9, 31292-3, 31487-8, 32372, 32602, 33036-54, 33056-70, 33179, 33524-8, 33619, 36359-60.

The manuscripts are also summarily described in the card catalogue, arranged by language, located in the Oriental Reading Room.

Theodor Aufrecht, Moriz Winternitz, A.B. Keith Codices Sanscriticos complectens, 2 vols. (Oxford, 1864-1909), vol. 2.

A. Keith Catalogue of Prakrit manuscripts in the Bodleian library (Oxford, 1911).

B. Nanjio A catalogue of Japanese and Chinese books and manuscripts lately added the the Bodleian library (Oxford, 1881).

Related Material

Further Sanskrit manuscripts may be found in the collections of Maharajah Sir Chandra Shum Shere (MSS. Chandra Shum Shere), Archbishop William Laud (MSS. Laud Or.), William Hodge Mill (MSS. Mill), Sir Marc Aurel Stein (MSS. Stein Or.), Alexander Walker (MSS. A. Walker), Horace Hayman Wilson (MSS. Wilson), and in the manuscripts formerly held at the Indian Institute which were transferred to the Bodleian in 1927 (MSS. Ind. Inst.).

Bibliography

Edward Conz 'Remarks on a Pala manuscript in the Bodleian Library', Oriental Art (1948), pp. 5-8.

A. Hoernle 'On the Bakhshali manuscript', Verhandlungen des VII Internationalen Orientalisten Congresses, Arische Section (1888), pp. 127-47.

Takao Hayashi The Bakhshali manuscript: An Ancient Indian Mathematical Treatise (Groningen, 1999).

H.J. Stooke 'An XIth century illuminated palm leaf manuscript', Oriental Art (1948), pp. 9-12.