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"We Tibetans are looking for a legitimate and meaningful autonomy, an arrangement that would enable Tibetans to live within the framework of the People’s Republic of China."

Rare Tibetan documents to be deciphered and catalogued

November 18, 2013

by Pranava K. Chaudhary

November 15, 2013: Experts of Central University of Tibetan Studies, Sarnath, have agreed to take up the stupendous task of deciphering, cataloguing and classifying nearly 7,000 rare Tibetan documents brought here by famous Buddhist scholar Pandit Rahul Sankrityayan in early 1930s. The documents are displayed in Bihar Research Society (BRS), a research and publication wing of the Patna museum.

A five-member team headed by Pempa Dorjee of Central University of Tibetan Studies, Sarnath, is reaching Patna on November 19 for carrying out the preliminary cataloguing and classification of Tibetan texts. The team will stay here for nearly 10 days. The other members of the team are Banarasi Lal, associate professor, T R Shashni, research assistant (both are experts in deciphering Tibetan scripts), Lobang Dorjee, research assistant and N G Negi, a Tibetan monk and resident of Kinnaur in Himachal Pradesh.

Pandit Sankrityayan, during his visits to Tibet (between 1929 and 1938), had brought all such documents and donated a large number of rare Tibetan manuscripts and other items to the BRS. The donated items included a xylograph, film negatives, glass negatives and paintings besides books on Buddhism, philosophy, Tantra, art and culture. Most of these rare Tibetan texts have not been deciphered so far. The Sarnath-based university will do its proper cataloguing free of cost during their weeklong stay in Patna.

The decision to take up the work of classifying and documentation of Tibetan texts was a result of the recent meeting of Bihar CM Nitish Kumar with the VC of Central University of Tibetan Studies, Wang Samten. In view of the rarity of Tibetan texts, the Bihar CM had requested him to send a team of experts to undertake this work in collaboration with the state department of art and culture.

Talking to TOI over phone from Sarnath, team leader Dorjee said: "Earlier, we had visited this place in April for a few days. During our Patna visit, we will be doing cataloguing and classification work first. Thereafter, we will start deciphering work. The rarest Tibetan documents are there."

The 98-year-old BRS, state's lone internationally acclaimed Indological research institute, is located in the Patna museum building. The then lieutenant governor of Bihar and Orissa, C S Bailey, had set up the institute in 1915 to promote research work in Bihar. Till recently, the BRS was an NGO registered under an Act of 1873. The Bihar government took over this institute through a gazette notification.

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