ANDHRA PRADESH

Rare manuscripts of Andhra Sahitya Parishat under threat

Treasure trove: One of the rare books with golden print forms part of the collection of Andhra Sahitya Parishat in Kakinada.

Treasure trove: One of the rare books with golden print forms part of the collection of Andhra Sahitya Parishat in Kakinada.  

At a time the Andhra Sahitya Parishat has entered its 100th year, its valuable collection is under threat of extinction. The collection includes over 5,000 palm scripts, over 500 manuscripts, and 10,400 titles in different languages, most of which are not available now even in the archives.

The entire trove is under the custody of the State government's Archaeology and Museum Department and placed in Andhra Sahitya Parishat Government Museum and Research Institute, located in a dilapidated building. To protect these scripts from rain and shine, they have been kept in iron safes.

Pithapuram Maharaja's patronage helped historian and writer Jayanthi Ramaiah Pantulu to establish the Parishat in the then Madras (now Chennai city) in the year1911. Besides publishing ‘Andhra Sahitya Parishat Patrika', the Parishat was also involved in collecting palm scripts and manuscripts, publishing books on various subjects. Ayurveda, mathematics, literature, and drama are some of the subjects of the contents of the scripts. One of the landmark dictionaries in Telugu ‘Sri Suryarayandhra Nighantuvu' was one of the proud publications of the Parishat.

With the initiative of the Maharaja, the Parishat had shifted its base to Pithapuram in 1921 and to Kakinada the very next year. As the Parishat remained inactive, the scripts were handed over to the Archaeology Department in June 1973. “Chemical treatment has been given to 500 palm scripts in the first phase of the project, which is moving at a snail's face owing to shortage of funds,” I.D.V. Prasad Babu, Assistant Director of the department told The Hindu . Plans are afoot to construct a permanent building with an expected outlay of Rs. 2.5 crore.

Centenary fete

A few individuals from the city are keen on celebrating the centenary of the Parishat on a grand scale so that people will come to know about its glorious past.

“It will also help the present generation know about their rich cultural heritage,” says K.S. Kameswara Rao, a retired lecturer in history from the city.

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