Sunday, 8 July 2018

Historical Oriental Research Institute, Mysore -a legacy of Mysore Royal family

Oriental Research Institute, Mysore. university of mysore
Oriental Research Institute front facade, Mysore. en.wikipedia.org
On a visit to the heritage city of Mysore,  particularly during the Dasara holidays,  our mind is preoccupied with the colorful festival, the traditional procession of Mysore Maharajah with his retinue and the caparisoned elephants and special illumination of the magnificent Mysore palace, etc. In the recent past the government is paying special attention to heritage promotion  and tourism as the city is bestowed with countless heritage sites, each vying with the other. The'Heritage Walk.'  concept' proposed by the tourism department is an exciting one, but there are over 100 heritage 100 buildings in this place.  Balarama Gate or the North Gate of Mysore Palace and cover Old Statue Circle, Town Hall, Clock Tower, Bakshi Narayanappa Statue, K.R. Circle, Dufferin Clock Tower, Devaraja Market, K.R. Hospital, and CAVA buildings are the places covered by the heritage walk. Efforts are underway to prepare detailed information in the form of brochure  to be given to tourists who go on a structured tour covering various heritage structures in Mysore city whose charm and beauty are brought by these sites. The purpose is to highlight the historical facts of such sites so that they will be useful to the visitors. The tour will include the Oriental Research Institute that was earlier known as the Victoria Jubilee Institute.
Maharajah of Mysore ' Krishnaraja Wadiyar Mysuru today
Maharajah of Mysore ' Krishnaraja Wadiyar; The Logical Indian
The Oriental Library started in 1891 under the patronage of Maharaja Chamarajendra Wadiyar X is indeed yet another legacy of the Mysore royalty who promoted research in oriental studies. Also known as the Oriental Research Institute (ORI), the foremost work of this institution is  collection, exhibition, editing  and publication of  rare manuscripts written in various scripts like Devanagari (Sanskrit), Brahmic (Kannada), Nandinagari (Sanskrit), Grantha, Malayalam, Tigalari, etc.  Located at the northern end of Krishnaraja Boulevard (adjacently opposite to Mysore University's Crawford Hall), the institute is housed in a  nice architecturally beautiful Jubilee Hall built in 1887. It was an important occasion to  commemorate the golden jubilee of Queen Victoria's accession to the British throne. Earlier, a constituent of the Department of Education,  after 1916 it was affiliated to  the newly established University of Mysore. The Oriental Library became  Oriental Research Institute in 1943.
First public library in Mysore city for research and editing of manuscripts  since 1893, ORI has brought out about 200 titles - well researched ones, covering such subjects as religion and ethics, the Hindu epics - the Ramayana and Mahabharata, etc. Indology (study of India related subjects) was given major attention ant the famous  work published here in 1909 was that of Kautilya's Arthashastra (written in he 4th century) by  R. Shamashastri. This work drew the attention of international institutions.
Stored Palm manuscripts, Oriental Research Inst. Mysore. Justdial
inside Viwe, Oriental Research Institute, Mysore tourmet.com
The uniqueness about this work is earlier  a manuscript of Arthashastra written on dried palm leaves was made available to R. Shamashastri by a person from Thanjavur, Tamil nadu who had never seen anything like this before. His painstaking book on Arthasastra was prepared from a manuscript filled with 1500-year-old Grantha script. Indeed, a great and monumental  work. Excellency Krishnaraja Wodeyar  on a tour of Germany came to know about the  famous work of Shamashastry and upon his return made him  an Asthana Vidwan.
An inscribed palm leaf at the Oriental Research Institute (ORI) in Mysore, IAlamy
Inscribed palm leaves stored at the Oriental Research Institute  in MysoreAlamy
 The ORI has over 45,000 Palm leaf manuscript bundles and the 75,000 works on those leaves. As they are prone to silverfish attack, lemon grass oil is used on the leaves to preserve them. The advantage is  the hydrophobic nature of the oil keeps the manuscripts dry so that the text is not lost to decay due to humidity. ORI is digitizing the pretty old manuscripts for the posterity. 

Tit-Bits: 
 If you are a vintage building buff, explore the following  when  you visit Mysore: The Agrahara, the court complex, the public offices near the palace, the Jaganmohan Palace, the cluster of buildings surrounding the University of Mysore, including the Maharajah's College, the Yuvaraja's College, and Maharani's College. Besides, there are other places nea- by such as Tipu's fort, mausoleum, Sri Ranganatha Swamy temple, Srirangapatnam, etc.

https://www.thehindu.com/2004/10/05/stories/2004100501310500.htm https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oriental_Research_Institute_