Pune: About 40,000 manuscripts from archives of the century-old Bharat Itihas Sanshodhak Mandal (BISM) have been digitised as part of a drive to preserve historical documents.
The gigantic work relating to age-old manuscripts and Sanskrit texts from the Ramayana, Mahabharata, Puranas and Vedas was undertaken by the Centrally-funded National Manuscripts Mission (NMM).
Its completion means that the ancient literature, which could have been lost with the ravages of time, will now be preserved for posterity and available at national libraries for relevant academic research activity.
"Most of the digitisation work involving about 40,000 bundles (one bundle contains a large number of loose pages) of ancient manuscripts -`Pothis` - in Sanskrit, Persian, Tamil, Kannda and Marathi is now over and the remainder will be finished shortly by the experts who have spent months together," said Shrkrishna Bhave, Director, BISM.
"Academicians from within the country as well as from America, Russia and Belgium have been visiting the Mandal to pursue their research as the documents offer a rare insight into ancient history," he added.
Among the BISM archives is a 14th century poetic composition written in Persian titled `Gulistan` in addition to a number of treatises and commentaries on topics pertaining, among others, to ayurveda, horoscope, `krishi shastra` (agriculture science) and vigyan
"There is a `pothi` in Sanskrit which even describes `viman-vidya` or the science of aeronautics in today`s parlance," Bhave noted.
A team of researchers from BISM has undertaken a descriptive cataloguing programme which involves indexing (`suchi`) of the documents simultaneously.
The catalogues currently being written by hand too will be subsequently digitised.
Interestingly, some of the documents in the archives bear letters written in ink with gold content for preservation while a few have colourful paintings.
The treasure trove of the BISM archives is expected to aid and take forward many of the ongoing academic researches pertaining to Indian scriptures and ancient literature.
Set up in 1910, BISM provides resources and training for historical researchers.