Prof Krishnaiah : On a mission to preserve manuscripts for posterity

Daijiworld Media Network—Udupi

Udupi, Nov 2: Prof Krishnaiah, director, Oriental Archives Research Center, has been digitizing ancient palm leaf manuscripts and ancient books. He has collected 810 manuscripts since 2007 in the district, of which 60 percent are written in Malayalam, Tulu, and Hale Kannada, along with copper plate inscriptions and traditional paintings including ‘Kavi-Kale’ miniatures.

His aim is to contribute to the future generation and to help researchers across the world. The center is located in his building ‘Sumukhapriya’, near Kunjibettu. At first glance, it looks like a study center. An attractive feature is the statue of an animal that dates back to the 12th century and has been named ‘Haya-gaja-nandi’ by the Professor due to its uniqueness.

According to him, one of the Greek scientists has described this creature in history. He started digitization as a hobby 35 years ago. This year, his dream came true with the opening of the Center. With his team of more than eight members, he hopes to “cultivate sharp heritage citizens”

Prof Krishnaiah’s collection has art forms from Orissa made on Ganzifa leaves. A person of many passions and a theatre artiste, he has managed to gather a few like-minded people and has formed a Trust.

He has collected scripts from Dharmasthala, Mysore, Mangalore, Kasargod, and from Brahmin priests. His team utilizes the 3D PageFlip Professional software to digitize the manuscripts and these are preserved in an air-conditioned room to control humidity.

Prof Krishnaiah is a resource person in Karnataka folk theater and puppetry and is known as a writer and scholar emeritus in the field of folklore. He is armed with a Masters degree from Mysore University, post graduate diploma in epigraphy, training in Pali language, skill Iin Bharathanatyam and marital arts, string puppetry, shadow puppetry and Eastern style of
Yakshagana (South India)

A recipient of various honours, Prof Krishnaiah runs the Manukula Ashrama. Being a theatre artiste he has worked with Umashri and Nagabhushan, besides having shared a close bond with Belagal Veeranna.

Unfortunately, even now he has not received any grants from the government to support his effort . As a result, he has invested heavily from his own pocket.

District-in-charge minister Vinay Kumar Sorake inaugurated the center. Prof Krishnaiah is working under the Archival Conservation Act and hopes that each house becomes an archive.

His lab has the Tulu Ramayana (19th CA, pages: 250), variety of nibs and palm leafs belonging to the Aluppa Dyanasty (16th century), bronze bangles, earrings made from palm leaves and the like. Many valuable scripts are awaiting their turn to join the collection.

Speaking to Daijiworld, Prof Krishnaiah says, “There is need for will power on the part of the
government to promote and motivate such services.” With a smile, he claims he has lots of planning to do leaving no time for rest.

“The core objective of this project is to digitize rare manuscripts in unicode characters and make them available on the internet. Any interested persons and researchers in the country or abroad can utilize this,” he said adding that the process was underway.

He appeals to people in possession of such old, valuable copper plate or palm leaf scripts to contact him and terms it a great contribution towards cultivating our rich heritage.

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