The Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute (BORI), Pune has a treasure of old Kashmiri manuscripts dating back to the 16th to 18th centuries. Among them are the Persian translations of the 'Bhagavata Purana' and the 'Upanishads', which Dara Shukoh, the elder brother of Mughal emperor Aurangzeb, had got done from the original Sanskrit. The Persian Bhagavata Purana also contains coloured sketches.
The BORI has preserved over 800 Kashmiri manuscripts, which are mostly Sanskrit. The collection comprises religious scriptures as well as secular literature. There are also some old Hindi manuscripts procured from the then Central Province in this collection.
"The subjects of these Kashmiri scriptures are the Vedas, the Upanishads, the Puranas, the 'Mahabharata' and epics such as 'Rajatarangini'. These scriptures are written in the Devanagari and the Sharada scripts. Efforts are currently on to revive the latter, which was prevalent in Kashmir in the past," said Amruta Natu, the assistant curator at the institute.
"A special mention needs to be made of a copy of the Rig Veda written in the Sharada script on the birch bark. We have a collection of copies of the Rig Veda. However, this is the only copy written in the Sharada script on the birch bark," she said.