Chennai: Srirangam Ranganathaswamy temple is believed to be the foremost of the eight self manifested shrines (Swayam Vyakta Kshetras) of Lord Mahavishnu and is also considered as the most important of the 108 Mahavishnu temples.
The temple museum boasts of old palm leaf manuscripts which experts believe are 200 to 300 years old. Authorities have now decided to digitise these.
There are six sets of palm leaves kept at the Sri Ranganathananda Swami temple museum at Srirangam for public view.
The Hindu Religious and Charitable endowment (HR&CE) department officials have commenced filming the palm manuscripts at the temple museum.
The palm leaf sets are segregated under the titles of “Sundarakandam”, “Bhagavatham”, “Sri Bhagavatham”, “Periyazhwar thirumozhi vyakyanam” and “Thula Kaveri”.
While Sundarakandam speaks about Sri Ram and his life, Bhagavatham narrates about the ten incarnations of Mahavishnu; Periyazhwar thirumozhi vyakyanam is on the Vaishnava religious beliefs and Thula Kauveri is on the auspicious time to take bath in Cauvery.
Temple Executive Officer and Joint Commissioner S. Marimuthu told IANS: “The palm leaf manuscripts are brittle and we are using high resolution cameras to digitize the manuscripts. While there is a general instruction to digitize the temple properties, we are for the time being digitizing the palm leaf manuscripts which may get destroyed in the course of time.”
He adds, “The process will take time as the manuscripts are delicate and we want to ensure that the manuscripts are not damaged while taking pictures as this could also damage the contents on it.”
The manuscripts after digitizing can be read by taking the printout of the digital copy and this will help researchers wade through the content without damaging the original document.
Manuscripts are in Tamil, as well as Telugu, as the temple was under the Vijayanagar rule as well as under Nayakar rule.
Marimuthu said: “While the manuscripts are 200 to 300 years old, the contents in it are much older as during those days, according to recorded information, the palm leaf manuscripts were rewritten in new palm leaf as the set got older. Valuable information could be passed on to the next generation through such initiatives during those days.”
The Cholas, Cheras, Pandyas, Hoysalas, the Vijayanagar Kings and the Nayaks expanded and developed the temple during their successive regimes, according to the HR&CE.