National Database of Manuscripts, Kriti Sampada

National Mission for Manuscript's biggest and most ambitious project is to create a database of all Indian manuscripts in the country and abroad. The National Database of Manuscripts, Kriti Sampada, is available on the internet through the Mission's website. We aim to document, as far as possible, each manuscript, whether in a museum, library, temple, madrassa or a private collection. Institutions like Rampur Raza Library, Rampur and Khuda Bakhsh Library, Patna are world renowned for their manuscript collections. Still, thousands of manuscripts lie scattered in unknown collections with individuals and institutions in remote places. The Mission's biggest objective is to discover and document such manuscripts for posterity.

The Mission receives data on manuscripts from three different sources
  • Excellence as heritage
  • Contribution to India’s intellectual history
  • Vulnerability
  • Belonging to ancient or medieval past

In addition to this, some electronic data available with Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA) and National Informatics Centre (NIC) was also transferred to the Mission's database. We are also in the process of networking with foreign institutions with collections of Indian manuscripts and hope to start cataloguing these soon.

The Mission has developed a new software (based on IGNCA's electronic format) called Manus Granthavali. Manus Granthavali is based on Dublin Core Metadata Standards that are universally accepted.

Information on manuscripts is collected in three formats:
  • Manus Data- Each Manus data sheet is used to document a single manuscript. It includes details like the title, author, scribe and commentator of the manuscript, the material it is written on, its condition and where it can be found.
Manus Data sheet with instructions
  • Questionnaire – Questionnaire form is used to document a collection of manuscripts in an institution/private collection. It provides an overview of the total number of manuscripts available in a collection.
Questionnaire form with instructions
  • CAT-CAT – The Mission is also compiling a database of all printed catalogues of Indian manuscripts. So far, more than 2500 catalogues have been documented. At the moment, its format is being updated and the process of documentation will resume shortly.

Thus, the electronic database will have information on individual manuscripts,manuscript collections and printed catalogues.

The documentation unit at the Mission's head office in New Delhi receives data in both electronic form as well as filled-in data sheets. Before making an entry in the National Database of Manuscript , data is carefully screened and verified. Individual datasheets are sorted to remove the ones which do not provide the basic minimum information on a manuscript. After entering the information in electronic form, it is verified and corrected. Mission's documentation unit has standardised diacritical marks for Roman and Arabic/Persian scripts. We have also developed a detailed list of subjects under which manuscripts can be classified, For instance, Vedanga can be further classifed into Siksha, Tajwid, Chandas to name a few, and the respective English terms for these being Vedic literature, phonetics and prosody.

Total electronic data available till date = 23,40,000