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Science Texts in Sanskrit in The Manuscripts Repositories of Kerala and Tamilnadu

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Item Code: NAJ152
Publisher: Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan, Janakpuri
Author: Prof. V. Kutumba Sastry
Language: English
Edition: 2002
ISBN: 8186111042
Pages: 242
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details 9.0 inch X 6.0 inch
Weight 420 gm
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Book Description

It would seem that the great wealth of Sanskrit composition on the epics, literature, grammar, philosophy and religion has overshadowed the quality impressive record of Sanskrit works on science in India. It is not often realised that a vast literature in Sanskrit still exist on such diverse subject as architecture, astronomy, chemistry , Mathematics , Medicine, physics and veterinary science in spite of the fact that a great deal has been lost or destroyed over many centuries. The loss of important works is undoubted because ancient authors such as craka and Sarngadhara refer to many earliest texts which are no longer available to us.

Unfortunately the ancient Sanskrit texts in science are scattered in Institutions and private holdings all over India and abroad . Unlike in Europe and the Unite States, the collections in India are, in general, neither fully catalogued nor preserved satisfactorily. It was against this background that the Indian national Commission on History of science support a research project by prof. K. V. Sarma to survey and classify the science texts in Sanskrit in the Manuscripts Repositories in kerala and tamil Nadu. Trough prodigious and painstaking effort which characterises all of Prof.. sarma’s studies, he has identified as many as 3473 science texts among 12244 science manuscripts from 400 repositories in kerala and Tamil Nadu. In the present monograph, he has classified the manuscripts subject – wise the author’s and other details wherever available. What is disquieting is the fact that not even 7 % of the texts are available in print, and scholars and historians often regard the printed material as the sole contribution of India to science. One must also bear in mind that Prof. sarma’s effort, when replicated, would yield a rich harvest of science texts in many other parts of India.

I have admired Prof. Sarma’s scholarly achievements and pursuit of excellence over the years and always regarded him as an exemplar of the highest scholastic tradition of our country. I hope he monograph will stimulate similar studies elsewhere in India so that we may succeed in salvaging what is being lost and reconstructing at least a part of our scientific heritage.



Scope of the Project

The Present Monograph entitled Science Texts in Sanskrit in the Manuscripts Repositories of Kerala and Tamilnadu is the outcome of a Research Project of the Indian National Commission for the History of Science, Carried out under the Auspices of the Indian National Science Academy, New Delhi, During 1995-97. The science texts identified in this volume have been classified in to eight disciplines: I Astronomy and Mathematics (Ganita-Jyotish), II. Astrology (phalita – jyotisha), III. Medicine (Ayurveda), IV. Pysics: Music theory (Nada-sastra), VII. Botany: Agriculture (Krsi-sastra) and VIII. Architecture (silpa –sastra). In using the parallel terms as above it has to be Kept in view that there is variance to some extent in the stress and scope of the disciplines as they developed in India and in the west. And, for this reason, the English and Sanskrit terms may not correspond fully and exactly to one another. Thus veterinary science in Sanskrit restrict itself to the elephant and the horse and the cow while it diversifies in to several aspect about these animals other than their illnesses and treatments. Chemistry deals with mercury and diversifies itself into the curative properties of its compounds. Theories of music correspond only to certain phenomena relating to sound e=while the art of singing is fully dealt with. While several aspects of Botany find description in certain composite texts like the Smahita –s and purana-s krsi sastra restricts itself to Agriculture and extends to Horticulture. Besides specifications on the buildings of temples and house to Horticulture. Besides specifications on the building of temples and house silpa sastra inself with architectural art designs as well.

Extent of the survey

As many as 3473 science texts in sanskrit have been identified here in from 12244 science manuscripts from more than 400 repositories, public and private, directly by personal examination or indirectly through their catalogues and hand lists. It need to be added here there exist, both in kerala and in Tamilnadu, more manuscripts repositories than have been surveyed for the present project. The only consolations is that since present survey had been pretty widespread there is not likely to be many ‘new’ texts have been identified through the present survey.


The Entries included in each of the sections are arranged alphabetically according to the titles of the texts and the information as to whether they are available in print is indicated by the addition of the symbol ‘(Ed)’ at the end of the entries. The name of the authors of the texts are also given, when known. Commentaries with the indication of their names and the names of the commentators are also noted, if known symbol ‘Anon.’ is added if the names of the commentators are not known. Alternate titles of texts are indicated by ‘see’ entries and parallel and related texts are given as ‘see also ‘entries. The entries have all been given in one sequential numbering through the entire book in order to facilitate easy reference and location. ‘See’ entries and ‘See also’ entries will not have any documentation to manuscripts and will have no serial numbers either.

The documentation of each text with its manuscripts would be noticed below preceded by abbreviations which will be arranged alphabetically, the actual documentation being given by means of manuscripts numbers, catalogue numbers or hand – list numbers, as the case may be, which later would have been mentioned in the list of numbers, as the case may be, which latter would have been mentioned in the list of abbreviations Within brackets. Later additions are added as Supplements to each section.

The Manuscript collection surveyed in kerala and in tamilnadu are set out in two lists with the indications of the place , name of the owner or of the institution and the total number of manuscripts in the collections. A perusal of these two lists would be an eye - opener on the matter of the extent of the prevalence of Sanskrit and Sanskrit learning in south India during the middle ages.

An ‘Author Index’ has been provided at the end of the end of the volume with the authors’ names arranged alphabetically and the end of the volume with the authors’ names arranged alphabetically and the writings of each author noted below with the entry numbers.

A painful Situation

The grim fact that stands out from the figure s mentioned above is all too clear. Thus out of 3473 science texts available, only less than seven percent are available in print towards facilitating their study. This is really a grand omission or , perhaps, a grave injustice on the part of modern scholarship. Now , not to know,, not to think f , not to see or even hear about let alone publish, subject to analytical study and pass on to posterity the knowledge contained in 93% of the science texts produced in the land is obviously a grave injustice that has been perpeturated on the precursors of the several scientific discipline of early India. The number of such unknown and unstudied texts will be very much more when the other regions of the country are also taken in to consideration. The current situations is that the minuscule of a few hundreds texts are repeatedly reprinted and studied, giving the impression that these from the sole and whole of the Indian contribution to the scientific disciplines.

Credit should be given to the Indian National Science Academy to have Launched upon a programme of surveying the science texts produced in India from early times and presently available. the Present survey is a precursor to such a programme . This has to be followed up by further steps including the Institution of similar surveys in others regions of India, the classification and categorisation of the materials surveyed, identification of the text, setting priorities for their edition, translation and study by competent scholar, consolidations of the result, and the other but can be taken simultaneously as the survey of each region or even part or even part of a region is completed, care being taken to avoid duplication. The prime point stressed. The Prime point stressed here is that the surveys for regions other than kerala and Tamilnadu shall also be taken up without any delay for the reason that such a survey alone can unearth and bring to the fore valuable texts secreted in private homes and public Institutions all over India, thus fulfilling one of the main objectives Which the Commission for the History of science has been established.


In the Matter of the location, identification and collection of the substantial material in the present in the material in the present monograph I am beholden to the custodians of the several Indological institution and libraries who afforded me ample facilities to examine the manuscripts collections under their governance Among them a special mention has to be made of thee Adyar library and research Centre, Madras, the Kerala University Oriental Research Institute and Manuscripts library, Trivanduram, the government Oriental Manuscripts Library, Madras the French Institute, Pondicherry, the Government sanskrit college, Trippunanithura , the Kuppuswami sastri Reserach Institute, Madras, the Departments of Sanskrit and of Malayalam of the Calicut University and, but not least, the New Colleges, Trippunanithura, the Kuppuswami sastri research Institute, Madras the Departments of Sanskrit and of Malayalam of the Calicut University and last but not least, the New Catalogorum Section of the Sanskrit department of the Madras university.

In the Present quest of science manuscripts I had occasion to work in a large number of private family collections of manuscripts, especially in kerala. In fact, in Kerala the ancestral house of every Namputiri Brahmin, local chief and Landed gentry used to have a manuscripts collections, big or small prepared and preserved for the use of the family members. Generally gentle, cooperative and helpful, most f the families also offer hospitality for the few days for a scholar who stays with them for the examination of manuscripts, of which I had also the privileges of being a recipient. A method which I put to use With benefit at many places was that I would dust the manuscripts, which would all be in palm leaf, and string those which had their trying – strings frayed or broken. They would then be numbered serially and catalogued. Title Cards would then be prepared and tried to the manuscripts. A list of the collection would then prepared in duplicate, in the place reserved for the collection. The objective aimed at by this method was that whenever I or, for that matter, anybody else, even the owner himself, desired a particular manuscript it could be retrieved with ease by looking up the list for its number and taking out the manuscripts carrying that number.

From amongst the exceedingly helpful custodians of manuscripts collections of the above type whom I came across might be mentioned: Sankaram Namutirippad and his son Paramessvaran Namaputirppad of the Kanippayyor mana Kunnamuklam; Azhvancheri Tramprakkal, Kuttipuram; Adhyan Namputirippad, Vatakkumbhagattu Mana, Eravoor; Rama Varma Maru thampuran Chalakkudi; Narayanan Namputrippad, Katalayil Mana, dr. C.M. Nilakandhan Namputiri, Pattambi; and Vatavarkkottu amana, Venkitangu.

Several scholar – friends too had extended their assistance and advice in my endeavours towards gathering the material for the present monograph. Among them the undermentioned deserve a special mention: Dr. t. Bhaskaran and Dr. K. Vijayan, Trivanduram, dr. N.V.P. Unithiri and Dr.. M.M. Purusand Dr. T. Bhaskaran and Dr. K. vijayan, Trivandrum, Dr. N.V.P. Unithiri an d dr.. M.M. Purushottaman Nair , Calicut, and Dr. K.G. Poulose, Trippunthithura.

In the actual prosecution of the work on this monograph I am much thankful to the unstinted cooperation of he four research assistant, Dr. Mamta Dash, Dr. S. Muthu, Smt. V. Lalitha and Shri T. E. Soumya Narayanan , who were attached to the project during different periods. Assistance was rendered by them primarily in the preparation, classification and coordination of the description cards relating to science manuscripts in the several repositories. Though a very substantial part of the sources, including manuscripts and manuscripts catalogues and a large quantum of any own recording were at hard in our Research Centre, the remaining material, which too was by no means small, had to be collected from manuscripts libraries, Indological institution and family collections, involving considerable time and labour. This the Research assistants managed to do exceedingly well. ‘Two of the Assistants, Dr.. Mamata Dash and Dr. S. Muthu, as also the promising young scholar Dr. S.A.S Sarma accompanied me, to several places including Varanasi , Calicut, Trippunithura and Kunnamkulam on manuscripts tours. While I am thankful to them all for the assistance which they have rendered., a special mention has to be made of the significant service rendered by Dr. Mamata Dash. As the senior Assistant she bore the brunt of such work, especially during the finalisation of the project , consisting of the final card and cross – checking them, in all of which she assisted me cheerfully and efficiently. The Painstaking labour of computerising the present monograph with precision and brone by Dr,. S.A.S. Sarma and his briother S.s.r. sarma . In regard to the above – said items of work very special credit is due to the trio, Dr. Mamata Dash and the brothers dr. S.A.S. Sarma and S.S.R.Sarma.

In Fine, it is with a sense of great pleasure that I record my gratefulness to the Indian National Commission for the History of Science and the Indian National science Academy to have prodded me to take up the present project and affording me the necessary assistance to bring the work to a satisfactory conclusion and approval for publishing it. It might be noted that this survey of nearly four hundred manuscripts repositories has revealed the existence of about 3500 science texts in Sanskrit lying secreted, without seeing the light of the day, in public and private repositories in kerala and Tamilnadu. The case cannot be different in the other states of India too. It is now for scientists and historians of science to place them too before the scholarly world, duly edited, translated and explained in terms of modern science, towards adding to the acumen of the world of science.




The Present monograph entitled Science Texts in Sanskrit in the Manuscripts Repositories of kerala and Tamilnadu is the outcome of a Research project of the Indian National Commission for the History of Science, carried out under the auspices of the Indian National Science Academy, New Delhi, during 1995 -97. It forms a classified and documented depiction of the science manuscripts available in the said two states, as identified through an extensive survey of nearly 400 repositories, both public and private. These manuscripts inscribed mostly on palmleaf in the two scripts Malyalan and Grantha, numbering about 1,50,000 were examined in suit in person partly through their catalogues or hands – lists when available. An examination of these manuscripts has revealed the existence of as many as 12,244 manuscripts besides some later addition in the different scientific disciplines.

In the body of this monograph are arranged alphabetically the science texts , with their authors and other details wherever available, documented by their manuscripts in the different repositories indicated by abbreviations. These texts have been presented as classified in the following eight section:


Section Title No. of Mss. No. of Texts No. Ed.
I Astronomy 2919 934 100
II Astrology 6794 1572 65
III Medicine 1286 586 28
IV Veterinary Science 146 31 4
V Chemistry 166 61 13
VI Physics 326 82 9
VII Botany 8 7 0
VIII Architecture 599 200 10
  Total 12244 3473 229

As the above tables shows not even 7% of the available science text have been printed.

Two other things need to be noted here. In a number of cases on account of the amorphous nature of the contents of the manuscripts and a formal title not being available in the text itself, conjectured titles had to be given to these manuscripts, like , for instance, jya-h (R- sines) , Suksuma – candranayanam (Computation of true Moon very accurately), and adhimasanirupanadi (de termination of intercalary months and others works.) the manuscripts described last containing several texts. Then again, exist there exist in kerala and Tamilnadu many more private repositories then have been examined for the present survey. For these two reason the real figures of the manuscripts secreted in these two states, the number of science manuscripts in therein and the number of independent texts therein must be much more than presented in this Survey . Towards the contribution of this important national work an alphabetical list of the places and the manuscripts repositories therein examined has been given, following this manuscripts repositories. There in examined has been given, following this Introduction, so that the repositories already examined might be dropped in any future survey while other repositories identified be examined.

The Case of the Unpublished Texts

The fact that not even 7% of the science Texts have been made available in print is a grim situation for the historian of the sciences for the reason that, ordinarily , he restrict himself to text available in print and is not aware of the manuscripts libraries or private households. It is no wonder there fore that he ignores 93% of the basic material and wallows in 7% thereof, accepting it and propagating it as the whole and sole of the contribution of India to science. This is a sorry situation from which Indian science has to be rescued and resurrected.

Place of the Manuscriptologist

It has often been stated and rightly so that investigations in the history Of Indian science is not the field of the lone modern scientist but has to be carried on jointly with an indigenous scientist. It would, however, seem that there is also a third factor, viz,., the Manuscriptsologist, and that the work has to be done by the three conjointly. The reason is simple. While the modern scientist would expound the ancient text, the reason is simple. While the modern scientist would expound the ancient text, the indigenous scholar explain it and the manuscriptsologist will discover it. In other words, the function of the manuscriptsologists is to locate hitherto unknown texts from manuscripts repositories, the indigenous expert will explain in to the modern Science. Of course, it is not impossible that two or all the three functions might converge on the same on the same scholar.

Purpose of the present Survey

It is in the context that the project launched by the National commission for the History of Science is most welcome. While the present survey is related only to the two states of Kerala and Tamilnadu, It is of utmost importance that such surveys are conducted with regard to the other Indian states as well, for unless such surveys are initiated and the findings are all put together a full picture of Indian contribution to science cannot emerge. Follow-up action towards recording the findings, analysis the recorded findings and bringing the texts to print shall be taken up simultaneously without delay in order to make a proper appraisal of the Indian contribution. These matters will be dealt in detail later in this Introduction.




  Foreword 7-8
  Preface 9-13
  Introduction 15-28
  List of mss. Repositories Surveyed 29-35
  Kerala Tamilnadu 37-42
  Abbreviations 43-51
  science Texts in Sanskrit  
I Astronomy and Mathematics (Ganita-Jyotisa) 1-889+44 55-95
II Astrology (Phalita-Jyotisa) 890-2420+40 97-165
III Medicine (Ayurveda) 2421-2969+36 167-193
IV Vetrinary Science (Mrga-sastra) 2970-3000+2 195-196
V V. Chemistry (Rasa-Satra) 3001-3056+5 197-199
VI Physics-Music Theory (Nada-sastra) 3057-3138 201-204
VII Botany: Agriculture (krsi-sastra) 3139-3145 205
VIII Architeture (Silpa-sastra) 3146+3341+4 207-215
  Author Index 217-241


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