Shakya Book SigningRosemead – Calif., Oct. 21, 2010 – University of the West researcher Miroj Shakya announced on Thursday, Oct. 21, 2010 the landmark publication of a new catalog of rare Sanskrit manuscripts during a news conference held on campus.

Shakya, a Ph.D. student in University of the West’s Buddhist Studies program, has been working on the transliteration of Sanskrit manuscripts in the UWest library for several years. The project goes back to 2003 when UWest and the Nagarjuna Institute of Exact Sciences (where Shakya’s father is a professor) launched the research effort.

Since that time, the Digital Sanskrit Project has made tens of thousands of pages of rare and endangered Sanskrit texts available for free on the Internet to a global audience of scholars.  

The catalog is the outcome of this pioneering effort to conserve the endangered literary heritage of the Kathmandu Valley of Nepal.

The two universities have set up a system whereby the original manuscripts are digitally photographed in Nepal and transliterated in Rosemead. The resulting high-definition images were the basis for preparing the catalog, which lists the first 200 manuscript titles, fully indexed along with color reproductions of selected Sanskrit manuscripts.

Many of the manuscripts were previously unavailable to scholars, and some are in danger of complete disintegration due to their more than 2,000 years of existence. Among the newly available titles is a unique biography of the Buddha, which may be the largest found so far. The digitized collections contain other valuable information for scholars on the mainstream South Asian Buddhist tradition transmitted in Nepal. Several texts belonging to the non-Buddhist Sanskrit tradition were also digitized.

This project was funded by a grant from University of the West.