11.06.2013 - UNESCO Office in Kathmandu

Niśvāsattatvasaṃhitā and Susrutasamhita: Two Nepali manuscripts for UNESCO’s Memory of World Register

©Keshar Library -Susrutasamhita, an ancient manuscript

A decision on whether the Niśvāsattatvasaṃhitā and the Susrutasamhita, two manuscripts nominated by Nepal, will be included in UNESCO’s Memory of the World register will be taken soon. A group of international experts will decide next week in Gwangju Metropolitan City, in Republic of Korea whether UNESCO should include them into the prestigious list recognizing documentary heritage of world significance. The Register has at present almost 200 inscriptions from more than 80 countries. For Nepal, it would be the first inscription.

The Niśvāsattatvasaṃhitā 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 inscription of these two manuscripts in the Memory of the World Register will be considered at the 11th Meeting of the International Advisory Committee of the Memory of the World Programme from 18 to 21 June 2013 in Gwangju Metropolitan City, Republic of Korea. One of the main tasks of the Committee is to make recommendations to the Director-General concerning the inscription of documentary heritage on the Memory of the World Register.

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