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Sanchi manuscript conservation centre in city
AJIT PATOWARY
 GUWAHATI, June 14 - city-based voluntary conservation group Heritage Conservation Society, Assam (HeCSA) has decided to open a centre here in September next for conservation of invaluable traditional sanchi manuscripts. The centre will also impart training to interested youths on heritage tourism. The HeCSA has already signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the National Manuscript Mission of the Union government with this aim in view.

Moreover, the Society has also decided to take up the State's key Neo-Vaishnavite sattras, built by Srimanta Sankaradeva and his apostle Madhavadeva, for preserving their infrastructure, manuscripts and other property and promoting their culture.

Disclosing this, HeCSA general secretary Jayanta Sarma told this correspondent that the drive for conserving sanchi manuscripts has been re-launched by the Union government after a gap of ten years. The mission needs overwhelming support from the State's people to become successful in conserving the valuable sanchi manuscripts, which are proud possessions of the State.

Assam is known for its treasure trove of invaluable manuscripts written and illustrated on the sanchi barks. The richness of the State’s illustrated manuscripts first came to light with the printed version of the Chitra Bhagawat, which was brought out by late Sahityaratna Harinarayan Dutta Baruah in 1948. Publication of this book created huge academic curiosity among the scholars world over.

Following this, renowned orientalist late Prof Maheswar Neog took the initiative to publish the illustrated sanchi manuscript of the Hastividyarnava of Sukumar Barkaith. Prof Neog also edited, together with noted scholar Kapila Vatsayan, another illustrated manuscript, which was based on the original Sanskrit lyrics of the Gita Govinda composed by the 12th century Oriya poet Jayadeva. It was titled Gita Govinda in the Assam School of Painting. Publication Board, Assam published both the manuscripts in book form.

Sanchi manuscripts are unique to Assam. The Assamese people had presumably from the seventh century AD developed a culture of recording information of their respective times using the sanchi barks. Many of these manuscripts were illustrated. Most of them are now available in several sattras of the State.

These manuscripts contain a lot of startling information on the society of the State. A locally developed ink called mohi was used to write on the sanchi barks. It is a chemical made by mixing cow urine and some herbal materials.

HeCSA, at its meeting held on June 8 last at the Khanapara Administrative Staff College here under the presidentship of its chief advisor and former bureaucrat Himangshu Shekhar Das, also discussed the ways and means to attract tourists to the State’s historical sites.

The speakers at the meeting urged the government to preserve and develop these sites in a scientific manner and also laid stress on proper utilisation of funds allocated for their preservation and maintenance.

HeCSA will start its campaign to preserve the sattras and to promote their culture from Barpeta Sattra. It will initially cover Madhupur, Satrasal, Baghbor (Baithamara), Jania, Mandiya, Gajia, Patbausi, Ganakkuchi and Sundaridiya sattras under the campaign.

These sattras will be developed by the HeCSA as part of a tourist circuit, Sarma said.

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