MIRI at the French Institute of Pondicherry

The identification, preservation, and dissemination of the treasure-house of knowledge preserved in the ancient manuscripts of India require urgent attention. The Muktabodha Indological Research Institute (MIRI), in its mission to safeguard and digitize sacred Sanskrit manuscripts, has proactively worked in collaboration with other institutions similarly involved in the conservation of India’s great philosophical inheritance. Two such eminent organizations are the French Institute of Pondicherry (IFP) and Ecole Française d’Extrême-Orient (EFEO), Pondicherry.

Both these institutes were set-up through a co-operation between the French and Indian governments, and focus on Indological studies. The IFP’s large collection of 8,500 palm-leaf Śaiva manuscripts is included in the UNESCO “Memory of the World” Register and is acknowledged as a prominent source of material on the Śaiva Agamas.

In the mid-2000s, a collaboration between Muktabodha and the IFP and EFEO resulted in the digitization of the complete collection of photographic facsimiles comprising 1,144 paper transcripts (containing over 2,000 mostly Śaiva texts and over 200,000 pages) of the IFP, which were made freely available to scholars across the globe on Muktabodha’s Digital Library.

To celebrate this decade-long partnership, and to explore further potential collaborative opportunities, Aditya Mavillapalli, Trustee of Muktabodha India, visited the IFP and EFEO in October 2020. He met the new leadership of these institutions for a discussion on their shared vision for preserving and disseminating the ancient scriptural heritage of India.

Dr. Hugo David, Head of the Indology Department at the IFP and an expert on Indian philosophy, was delighted to acknowledge that, “thanks to previous collaboration with the Muktabodha Indological Research Institute, scans of all IFP transcripts are now available online in the Muktabodha Digital Library. This has constituted, for the last 20 years, one of the major resources for scholars of Śaivism worldwide.”

At the EFEO, Mr. Mavillapalli met Dr. Dominic Goodall, the current Head of its Pondicherry Centre. Dr Goodall, who was a Project Manager during the previous collaboration, fondly remembered how “the digitization efforts made by the three institutes during that time resulted in the sharing of content on the Muktabodha Digital Library, and the Library was well ahead its time.”

At both institutes, Mr. Mavillapalli was greeted with great warmth, and the goodwill shared with Muktabodha was very apparent.  He was also presented with two publications authored by the research scholars of IFP.