A Survey of Bhāsa's Manuscripts

For the last three decades, scholars dealing with the Bhasa con­troversy were assessing the material, mainly made available by T. Ganapati 8astri. To the thirty-seven manuscripts used by him, later scholars added ten more, making a total of forty-seven. Those who opposed the views of the Trivandrum Curator could not lay their hands on any fresh manuscript as evidence. What little they could achieve in regard to the problem was in the form of providing some information about the staging of these plays. Even in this respect the information presented was meagre and it was not enough to convince the schol­arly world.

An attempt was made to trace the original codex, discovered and used by Shri Ganapati 8astri, but it was found missing. The possibility of splitting up the codex was also carefully looked into, though it could not be satisfactorily established. It was against this background, that a survey of the so-called `Bhasa's manuscripts', was conducted and as a result it was known that quite a number of fresh manuscripts were there to be utilized by scholars. A verification with the printed texts showed that most of them were not utilized for editorial purposes.

The survey revealed that there are at least two hundred and thirty-three manuscripts of these plays, at present. Leaving aside the forty-seven manuscripts already made use of, there were one hundred and eighty-six fresh manuscripts. The peculiar feature is that almost all of them (with exception of one or two recent Devanagari copies pre­pared on them) are on palm leaves and in the Malayalam script. They are generally believed to be 300 years old. At present these manu­scripts are deposited in different parts of India and abroad. The largest number of manuscripts is found in the Kerala University, Manuscripts Library, Trivandrum. Other institutions where they are preserved in­clude: Sanskrit College Library, Trippunithura, Kochi; Government Oriental Manuscripts library, Chennai; Vishveshwarananda Vedic Research Institute Collection, Sadhu Ashram, Hosiarpur, Punjab; Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, Pune; Brahmasvam Vatakke

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