Digital palm leaf manuscripts, Pokhran's splinter Rocks handed over to St Aloysius Museum

A unique symposium on "Archives-A Repository of Knowledge in the Digital Age" - a learning, experience, and ideas organized by the St Aloysius Museum in association with Department of Kannada, St Aloysius College (Autonomous), Mangaluru on Friday, 3rd March 2023 in the Museum Hall. 

Former Vice-chancellor and Scholar, Prof. B A Vivek Rai, in his keynote address said, “Educational courses should be centres for spreading knowledge. Museums should not be dumping centres of ancient materials. They should be used for research. The museum or Museology is part of colonialism. This culture was in Europe during 1960-65. Later, it was called modern Museology, which means not gathering things from other places and conserving them but knowing how to use them. The third stage is called critical museology, which deals with ethics." 

He also said that there are 5,000 manuscripts in the manuscriptology department in Kannada University, including 3,500 palm-leaf manuscripts and 3,000 digital manuscripts. He further said that we need a digital form of archives. Digitalization is also important because physical space is very difficult in the upcoming days. The role of digital libraries is very important in the contemporary times. We should collect and conserve things that are very rare. Our educational institutions should make museums or archives of the rare items. He also said that the name Valencia is named after the city in Spain. There are many European names in the city for example like Kordel. So that we can make an archive of the places in Mangaluru.

During the programme, Kadatthilashree S A Krishnaiah, founder-director of Prachya Sanchaya (Oriental Archives) handed over the book version of palm leaf manuscripts of Drona Parva, a chapter of Gadugina Bharata written by Kumara Vyasa, and a splinter of the basement rocks of Pokhran to Rev. Fr Melwin J Pinto, the Rector of St Aloysius Institutions. He said that the splinter of the basement rock of Pokhran was handed to him by Colonel B Ramachandra Rao, who is also an alumnus of Aloysius College. The splinter belonged to the Pokhran-II nuclear test site experimented on in the year 1998.

Mr Krishnaiah in his speech explained about the palm tree which is also called 'Sritala' (Corypha umbraculifera) or Talipot palm which is on the verge of extinction. These palm leaves, which were used as manuscripts in the ancient times, are now listed in the International Union for Conservation of Nature (ICUN) Red List. There is a blind belief about the palm tree that something bad will happen if we plant the palm sapling. But palm leaves were used in manuscripts from the time of Buddha to the present time. I have witnessed people throwing the manuscripts without knowing their value; I have conserved 810 such palm-leaf manuscripts, he added. He further said that he is inspired by a Jain woman named 'Siri' who made efforts to save Sritala by donating its seeds. Till date, he saved 84200 palm trees which is a symbol of greenery, food, and hunger. Besides this, the tree has medicinal components also.

Rector of St Aloysius College Rev. Fr Melwin J Pinto presided over the programme. Staff and students of the College were present for the programme. Dr Vishwanatha Badikana welcomed the gathering. Dr Dinesh Nayak compered the programme.