Gilgit Manuscripts

Current Affairs, Art & Culture

Why in News An exhibition titled “Hamari Bhasha, Hamari Virasat” was recently inaugurated by the Minister of State for Culture as part of the Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav (AKAM). The exhibition was held at the National Archives of India in New Delhi to mark the 75th International Archives Day.

Gilgit Manuscripts:

  • The Gilgit Manuscripts, written between the 5th and 6th centuries CE, constitute the oldest surviving manuscript collection in India.
  • These ancient manuscripts, composed on birchbark and coated with clay, are the oldest of their kind in the country.
  • They encompass both canonical and non-canonical Buddhist works, providing valuable insights into the development of Sanskrit, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Mongolian, Manchu, and Tibetan religious and philosophical literature.
  • The study of these manuscripts is crucial for understanding the history and evolution of Buddhist thought and writing.
  • These ancient texts are written in the Buddhist hybrid Sanskrit language using the Gupta Brahmi and Post-Gupta Brahmi scripts from that era.
  • Discovered in the Gilgit region of Kashmir, the manuscripts have been found in three separate installments.

Hamari Bhasha, Hamari Virasat Conclave:

  • The Hamari Bhasha, Hamari Virasat Conclave was organized to commemorate India’s cherished linguistic diversity as a nation.
  • During the conclave, the National Archives of India showcased the Gilgit Manuscripts.
  • India is endowed with an extraordinary range of languages, with approximately 788 languages spoken within its borders out of the 7,111 languages spoken globally.
  • This linguistic diversity places India among the four most linguistically diverse countries in the world, along with Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, and Nigeria.

What are Manuscripts?

  • Manuscripts are handwritten compositions on materials such as paper, bark, cloth, metal, or palm leaf that date back at least seventy-five years and hold significant scientific, historical, or aesthetic value.
  • These ancient texts are found in a multitude of languages and scripts, often being written in various different scripts for a single language.
  • For instance, Sanskrit can be written in scripts such as Oriya, Grantha, Devanagari, and others.
  • Manuscripts differ from historical records like epigraphs on rocks, farmans, and revenue records, which directly provide information about historical events or processes. Instead, manuscripts contain valuable knowledge content.

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