KATHMANDU: Two rare manuscripts-- Niśvāsattatvasamhitā, the earliest surviving tantric manuscript, and Susrutasamhita, the oldest document in the field of Ayurveda -- from Nepal have been added to the prestigious list recognising documentary heritage of outstanding value of UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register.
This is the maiden inscriptions of manuscripts from Nepal in the world-renowned register of UNESCO, UNESCO'S Kathmandu Office said.
Axel Plathe, UNESCO representative to Nepal, congratulated Nepal for the feat through a press release on Wednesday.
“I am confident that their inclusion in the register contributes to creating greater awareness of the need to preserve Nepal’s memory held in the country’s archives and libraries,” he said.
The Niśvāsattatvasamhitā is considered as an important source for the early history of tantrism which had a great influence is shaping other tantric texts.
Moreover, tantrism has had impact on many major Asian religions and even influenced Islam practiced in India
The two manuscripts are among 54 new additions to the Memory of the World Register, approved yesterday by UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova.
The Niśvāsattatvasamhitā Manuscript, which is deposited at the National Archives, is said to be the earliest surviving tantric manuscript and as such it is important source for the early history of tantrism. It has had a great influence in shaping other tantric texts. Tantrism has had impact on many major Asian
religions and even influenced Islam practiced in India. The Western World has been influenced by tantras through the practice of yoga, which has its roots in tantrism (Bjonnes) as well as through the New Age groups in America.
The 1134 year old palm leaf manuscript of the Susrutasamhita (Sahottartantra), held by the Keshar Library in Kathmandu, is considered as the oldest document in the field of Ayurveda medicine, a systematic and formal tradition of healing that became South Asia's principal medical system and has profoundly influenced all cultures surrounding South Asia including Tibet, Central Asia, China, South-East Asia and the Middle East. The manuscript focuses especially on surgery and discusses various kinds of diseases related to heart, skin, gynecology, etc. It also describes various methods and use of herbs in curing diseases.
The Memory of the World Register now includes a total of 299 documents and document collections from the five continents, safeguarded on various supports from stone to celluloid and parchment to sound recordings.
UNESCO established the Memory of the World Programme in 1992. Impetus came originally from a growing awareness of the parlous state of preservation of, and access to, documentary heritage in many parts of the world.