US diplomat visits ORI Examines rare manuscripts, digitisation
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US diplomat visits ORI Examines rare manuscripts, digitisation

January 5, 2024

Mysore/Mysuru: US Consul General Christopher W. Hodges, present in the city yesterday to announce the US-funded conservation initiatives at the Folklore Museum in Jayalakshmi Vilas Mansion, took the opportunity to visit the Oriental Research Institute (ORI) and acquaint himself with its extensive collection of palm leaf manuscripts and ongoing digitisation endeavours.

Spending over 30 minutes at the ORI, Hodges explored various sections, closely observing the rare manuscripts that span over 700 years and are inscribed in languages such as Sanskrit, Kannada, Tamil and Telugu. The institute also safeguards rare printed and other manuscript types, encompassing literary works and treatises on diverse subjects.

Dr. D.P. Madhusudhanacharya, the Director of ORI, conveyed to Hodges that the manuscripts cover a broad spectrum of subjects including philosophy, religion, literature, linguistics, astrology, medicine and various branches of knowledge. 

To enhance the preservation and accessibility of these invaluable manuscripts, the University of Mysore entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Bengaluru’s Mythic Society in 2022 for digitisation, currently in progress.

Madhusudhanacharya shared that Hodges, displaying keen interest, learned about the ongoing digitisation efforts and the unique conservation methods employed. Hodges, intrigued by economics and ancient Indian texts, also examined the Kautilya’s Arthashastra manuscript. 

Madhusudhanacharya explained, “We informed the Consul General that Dr. R. Shamashastri, a renowned scholar, discovered and edited the complete palm-leaf manuscript of Arthashastra in Granta script for the first time in 1909. Hodges expressed deep interest in understanding ancient Indian polity and economy.”

During his visit, Hodges also viewed an ancient Tamil Lipi treatise on economics preserved at the ORI. ORI Deputy Director Parvathi and Assistant Professor of the Department of Ancient History and Archaeology and Museology Dr. Rohitha Eswer were present during the visit.

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Beyond the manuscript collection, Hodges admired the architecture of ORI building, built in 1887 to commemorate the golden jubilee of Queen Victoria’s ascension to the British throne. In 2012, the US Consulate General in Chennai sanctioned grants for the conservation of this historic structure.

As a gesture of gratitude, Dr. Madhusudhanacharya presented the Consul General with a copy of the English version of Volume 4 of Sritattvanidhi, authored by the 19th-century ruler Mummadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar, who had written nine volumes of Sritattvanidhi.

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