The major portion of the Gilgit Manuscripts is in the possession of the National Archives of India.

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1 Nomination form International Memory of the World Register GILGIT MANUSCRIPTS ID Code [ ] 1.0 Summary (max 200 words) Give a brief description of the documentary heritage being nominated and the reasons for proposing it. This is the shop window of your nomination and is best written last! It should contain all the essential points you want to make, so that anyone reading it can understand your case even if they do not read the rest of your nomination. The birch bark and clay coated Gilgit manuscripts counted amongst the oldest manuscripts in the world, are the oldest surviving manuscripts available in India. These manuscripts include both canonical and non-canonical Buddhist works that throw light on the evolution of Sanskrit, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Mongolian, Manchu and Tibetan religio-philosophical literature. Their significance and value for the study of the history and development of Buddhist thought and writing is invaluable. The Gilgit manuscripts contain inter alia Sutras (aphorism) from the Buddhist canon, Samadhirajasutra and the Saddharmapundarikasutra ( the Lotus Sutra) form part of the corpus that covers a wide range of subjects including religion, ritual, philosophy, iconometry, folk tales, medicine and many other areas of human life and knowledge. Palaeographically these manuscripts can be dated back to the 5 th to 6 th Century A.D. and are written in Buddhist hybrid Sanskrit language of the Gupta Brahmi and Post Gupta Brahmi script of that period. The manuscripts were discovered in three instalments in the Gilgit region of Kashmir, thus the name. While the major portions of manuscripts are housed in the National Archives of India, New Delhi, the rest of the collection is at Sri Pratap Singh Museum, Jammu and Kashmir. 2.0 Nominator 2.1 Name of nominator (person or organization) Shri Pankaj Rag Director General National Archives of India Janpath New Delhi Tel: ; Fax: Relationship to the nominated documentary heritage The major portion of the Gilgit Manuscripts is in the possession of the National Archives of India. The National Archives of India is the repository of the non-current records of the Government of India and is holding them in trust for the use of administrators and scholars. It is an Attached Office of the Ministry of Culture. It was set up in March 1891 in Calcutta (Kolkata) as the Imperial Record

2 Department and subsequent to the transfer of the National Capital from Calcutta to New Delhi in It was shifted to its present building in New Delhi in Contact person(s) (to provide information on nomination) Shri Pankaj Rag, Director General, National Archives of India is in charge of the nomination process. 2.4 Contact details Name Shri Pankaj Rag Director General National Archives of India Address National Archives of India Janpath New Delhi Telephone Facsimile Identity and description of the documentary heritage 3.1 Name and identification details of the items being nominated If inscribed, the exact title and institution(s) to appear on the certificate should be given In this part of the form you must describe the document or collection in sufficient detail to make clear precisely what you are nominating. Any collection must be finite (with beginning and end dates) and closed. Name of the item: Gilgit Manuscripts Identification details of the item being nominated: The major portion of the Gilgit manuscripts is housed in the National Archives, which is an Attached Office of the Ministry of Culture, Government of India. The Gilgit manuscripts are corpus of texts dealing with Buddhism, written between the 5 th and 6 th Century AD and are on birch Bark and clay coated paper. They are called Gilgit manuscripts because they were discovered in 1931 in the place called Gilgit in Kashmir. A group of cattle grazers discovered a box containing these precious manuscripts which they took to the erstwhile Maharaja (King) of Jammu and Kashmir. The importance of these manuscripts is justified by the fact that the Gilgit manuscripts are perhaps the only corpus of Buddhist manuscripts discovered in India. The language of the manuscripts is similar to those of the early Mahayana texts and is really a mixed Sanskrit of peculiar type, using largely Sanskrit words with Prakrit inflexions and Prakrit words with Sanskrit inflexion.

3 3.4 History/provenance Describe what you know of the history of the collection or document. Your knowledge may not be complete, but give the best description you can. The Gilgit Manuscripts have been discovered in three stages. The major portion, as mentioned earlier, was discovered by cattle grazers in 1931 and sent to Srinagar. These were examined by archaeologist Sir Aurel Stein and most of them are now housed in National Archives of India. The second lot was discovered by Pandit Madhusudan Kaul in 1938 and a third lot was mentioned by Prof. Giuseppe Tucci in The National Mission for Manuscripts, Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Government of India published a catalogue called Vijnananidhi, Manuscripts treasure of India in the year 2007 to highlight the Indian intellectual traditions and its multiplicity. The catalogue compiled and identified the best manuscripts in India and the Vijnananidhi selected and declared the Gilgit manuscripts for their outstanding value to the whole of humanity, and for their contribution to Indian life, significance to the development of Indian thought, or the preservation of its culture. The National Archives of India underwent a preliminary conservation process followed by lamination and since had been kept with highly restricted access The National Archives of India attached to Ministry of Culture is the repository of non-current records of Government of India holding them in trust for the use of administrators and scholars. 4.0 Legal information 4.1 Owner of the documentary heritage (name and contact details) Name Shri Pankaj Rag Address Director General, National Archives of India, Janpath, New Delhi Telephone Facsimile Custodian of the documentary heritage (name and contact details if different from the owner) Name Address Telephone Facsimile The custodians and owners in this case are categorically the same repository. The Director till his period of appointment is the owner of the heritage to be succeeded by the next person who takes charge after he leaves/ retires from the job. 4.3 Legal status

4 Provide details of legal and administrative responsibility for the preservation of the documentary heritage The Director-General, National Archives, New Delhi is legally responsible for safekeeping of the material. These manuscripts collections are in safe custody. 4.4 Accessibility Describe how the item(s) / collection may be accessed All access restrictions should be explicitly stated below: Encouraging accessibility is a basic objective of Memory of World Programme. Accordingly, digitization for access purposes is encouraged and you should comment on whether this has been done or is planned. You should also note if there are legal or cultural factors that restrict access. Presently access is given to the manuscripts only with the permission of the concerned authority (Director General, National Archives of India). This practice is adopted because of the antiquity, rarity and vulnerability of the material. For their safekeeping and longevity they have been digitized and DVD s have been created for consultation by scholars and researchers at National Archives of India. 4.5 Copyright status Describe the copyright status of the item(s) / collection Where copyright status is known, it should be stated. However, the copyright status of a document or collection has no bearing on its significance and is not taken into account in determining whether it meets the criteria for inscription. Copyright case rests with the National Archives of India under Ministry of Culture, Government of India. 5.0 Assessment against the selection criteria 5.1 Authenticity Is the documentary heritage what it appears to be? Have identity and provenance been reliably established? The Gilgit manuscripts are corpus of texts dealing with Buddhism belonging to the 5 th or 6 th Century A.D. The authenticity of the texts is established beyond doubt, by The antiquity of the texts, as established by experts on manuscripts across the world and by the specialized Buddhist scholar community, by examining the language and script contained in the text. Multiplicity of the subjects dealt in the texts (most of which are yet un-deciphered) ranging from monastic discipline to medicine, culinary art and folk tales.

5 Examination of the antiquity of the material, i.e., birch bark, in which these manuscripts were found. References to the text from other sources, for example, experts say that a Buddhist monk, Narendrayasa of the Northern Tshi Dynasty translated it to Chinese in 557 A.D. Subsequently, there are references to other translations as well. 5.2 World significance Is the heritage unique and irreplaceable? Would its disappearance constitute and harmful impoverishment of the heritage of humanity? Has it created great impact over time and/or within a particular cultural area of the world? Has it had great influence (positive or negative) on the course of history? Needless to say, the consequence of the loss of one of the oldest testimonies of written text is an irreparable loss to the culture, faith, countries of its influence and to humanity as well. The significance of these priceless manuscripts is self-evident, for experts feel that when the full text is deciphered a common thread will be found in the language and people of countries like India, China, Japan, Thailand, Tibet and Korea which would have the potential of altering the very geo-political map of the region. Though the grammatical and literary aspects of the text are gradually becoming more of historical interest in the contemporary world, what is of interest is the social relevance of some of the sutras mentioned in the manuscripts. The interest of international scholars in Gilgit manuscripts is evident from the fact that many researchers across the world have shown interest in these texts and that eminent scholars like Prof. Guisseppe Tucci and Prof. Raniero Gnoli have worked on them. 5.3 Comparative criteria: Does the heritage meet any of the following tests? (It must meet at least one of them.) 1. Time Is the document evocative of its time (which may have been a time of crisis, or significant social or cultural change? Does it represent a new discovery? Or is it the first of its kind? From scholarly analysis and interpretation, it is surmised that the time of composition of these texts may be from the 5 th to the 6 th centuries A.D.

6 2. Place Does the document contain crucial information about a locality important in world history and culture? For example, was the location itself an important influence on the events or phenomena represented by the document? Does it describe physical environments, cities or institutions that have since vanished? The larger portion of the manuscripts was discovered in Gilgit in Kashmir, by cattle grazers, which was then taken to the erstwhile Maharaja (King) of Jammu and Kashmir and later transferred to the National Archives of India. The subsequent lots (second and third) were also found in Gilgit region. 3. People Does the cultural context of the document s creation reflect significant aspects of human behaviour, or of social, industrial, artistic or political development? Or does it capture the essence of great movements, transitions, advances or regression? Does it illustrate the lives of prominent individuals in the above fields? The Gilgit manuscripts would be of immense significance to the scholarly community and to practicing Buddhists, as a complete access would unravel many areas of such interest. It would also benefit historians and linguists who could throw light on aspects concerning the history of that period. 4. Subject and theme Does the subject matter of the document represent particular historical or intellectual developments in the natural, social and human sciences? Or in politics, ideology, sport or the arts? The manuscripts deal with a variety of Buddhist canonical literature chiefly of the Mulasarvastivada canonical text and a few of Mahayana and other schools of Hinayana. These texts deal with monastic disciplines, discourses of the Buddha for lay people, and some narratives. 5. Form and style Does the document have outstanding aesthetic, stylistic or linguistic value? Or is it a typical exemplar of a type of presentation, custom or medium? Is it an example of a disappeared or disappearing carrier or format? The manuscripts are written on birch bark on separate folios. The language of the manuscripts is similar to those of the early Mahayana texts, which use a special style of Prakrit, using largely Prakrit words with Sanskrit inflexion and Sanskrit words with Prakrit inflexion. Originally written in Buddhist Sanskrit with some traces of Prakrit, the Gilgit manuscripts contain four sutras. The Lotus Sutra which even today is an important scripture in Buddhism, pervading most of the regions in South and South East Asia, forms a part of this corpus.

7 6. Social/ spiritual/ community significance: Application of this criterion must reflect living significance does documentary heritage have an emotional hold on people who are alive today? Is it venerated as holy or for its mystical qualities, or reverenced for its association with significant people and events? (Once those who have revered the documentary heritage for its social/ spiritual/ community significance no longer do so, or are no longer living, it loses this specific significance and may eventually acquire historical significance.) The collection has unmatched significance in the area of Buddhist Studies and an important milestone in the history of Buddhist writing in India. This manuscript collection helped in the evolution of Sanskrit, Chinese, Korean, Japenese and Tibetan religio-philosophical literature and it covers a wide range of subjects such as religion, ritual, philosophy, iconometry, folktales and medicines etc. 6.0 Contextual information 6.1 Rarity The Gilgit manuscripts are unique because they are single texts available to the world today, and are the only manuscripts of their kind. Therefore the damage or loss of these manuscripts would mean the loss of memory and knowledge contained in these particular texts. 6.2 Integrity The veracity and integrity of the Gilgit documents have been proven in a time-tested manner. After their discovery more than eighty years ago a large portion of the manuscripts are housed in National Archives of India. These manuscripts have been subjected to scholarly analysis and interpretation and have been found to be of immense value to the world.

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