The AHRC-funded project “The intellectual and religious traditions of South Asia as seen through the Sanskrit manuscript collections of the University Library, Cambridge”, directed by Dr Vincenzo Vergiani (P.I) with the collaboration of Dr Daniele Cuneo and Dr Camillo Formigatti (Research Associates), was completed in November 2014. Its main outcome was the online catalogue the South Asian manuscript collections in the UL, accessible through the Cambridge Digital Library.
Dr Vergiani and Dr Formigatti, in collaboration with Dr Cuneo (who is now lecturer in Sanskrit at the University of Leiden, Netherlands), are now doing preparatory work for a follow-up of the Sanskrit Manuscripts Project, provisionally called “The Malla Renaissance: Towards a Cultural History of Nepal in the 14th-18th Centuries”. The research will consist in a preliminary survey of manuscript materials from mediaeval Nepal, many of them belonging to the UL collections in Cambridge. It aims to lay the ground for the preparation of a grant application for a large-scale research project focussing on a crucial but understudied period in the history of Nepal, between the 14th and the 17th century, which saw the creation of a centralised polity under the Malla dynasty. This will be done through the study of the literary production of the time in Sanskrit and Newar (the local vernacular), in connection with the creation of a court culture and the reformation of Nepalese Buddhism.
The research project ‘Towards a Critical Edition of the Kāśikāvṛtti’ is a collaborative project involving Dr Eivind Kahrs, Dr Anuja Ajotikar, Dr Tanuja Ajotikar, and Malhar Kulkarni, Professor of Sanskrit in the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences at the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, Mumbai, India. From 2011 to 2014 the project was funded by a research grant from the British Academy. It is currently supported by funds from the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, University of Cambridge.
The project aims at preparing a critical edition of the Kāśikāvṛtti, the oldest extant complete commentary on the Aṣṭādhyāyī, Pāṇini’s famous grammar of Sanskrit, probably dating from around 500 BCE. Composed in the 7th century CE, the Kāśikāvṛtti is our earliest testimony for all those rules of Pāṇini’s grammar that are not cited, used or referred to in Patañjali’s ‘Great Commentary’, the Mahābhāṣya (ca. 150 BCE). Being the earliest text of its kind that has survived, the Kāśikāvṛtti is an indispensable tool for all historical research into indigenous Sanskrit linguistics, Pāṇinian and non-Pāṇinian.
Building on the fruits of earlier efforts (particularly from the University of Lausanne in the mid-1990s), the project has succeeded in obtaining copies of more than 300 original manuscripts of the text, from all over India and Europe, in all possible scripts used on the Indian subcontinent. Not all cover the entire text. For section 1.1, for example, there are 67 manuscripts. Since its inception in 2010, the project has made good progress and it is envisaged that it will be kept going long-term.
“Doing things another way”: Śabarasvāmin and Bhartṛhari on the use of "substitutes" (pratinidhi)
Dr Vincenzo Vergiani, Dr Hugo David (formerly Newton International Fellow at FAMES, now at the French School of Asian Studies, Paris)