Posted On Tuesday, April 03, 2012 at 08:21:58 PM
More than 2,000 volumes of palm leaf manuscripts belonging to Sode Vadiraja Mutt of Udupi, which are between two and three
centuries old, are in the process of being digitised.
The process was inaugurated by Shri Vishwa Vallabhateertha Swamiji and Shri P. R. Mukund of the Bangalore-based Tara Prakashana, a non profit trust, on the occasion of Guru Raghavendra Jayanthi on Feb 29 in Udupi.
At a formal function organised on March 29, the first CD comprising 11 volumes that have been digitised was handed over to the pontiff.
Gururaj Murthy, who is monitoring the project, told Bangalore Mirror, "Tara Prakashana is involved in digitising palm leaf
manuscript bundles at the Mutt. The project is being undertaken under Sri Vrindavana Acharya Research And Publishing House of
the Sode Mutt, while the required software is provided by the Nanoark Corporation, USA."
In 2005, Dr P R Mukund, founder trustee of Tara Prakashana and professor of electronics at Rochester University in New York, had met the previous pontiff of Sode Mutt and suggested use of advanced technology to preserve the manuscripts.
In 2006, Tara Prakashana was established in Bangalore. The first book it digitised was Palimar Matha's 'Sarvamoola Grantha' of Madhwacharya written by Hrishikesh Teertha of the Mutt. A team of imaging scientists from USA assisted in the project.
Following this, several projects of different Mutts were taken up.
Murthy said, "One volume may contain about 100-150 palm leaves written on both sides. In this case, the language used is Tulu,
but script is mostly Sanskrit and Kannada. The volumes are based on religion and literature.
Since the volumes are in large number, an office has been set up on the premises of the mutt to handle the work.
Four persons are working on the project. The cataloguing is being done by the mutt officials".
How it is done
The juice of basil (Tulasi) leaves is applied to each palm leaf before scanning. Besides improving the scan quality,
the process protects the palm leaves from being damaged by moths for many years. If the palm leaf is more than 20 inches in length,
multiple images are captured and then stitched using software.
The processed images are then stored in gold plated DVDs and on NanoArk's image management application
called Almirah which is customised to store the palm leaf images along with its metadata, all at one place. Metadata like source, number of pages, author, scribe, language, condition and other details are indexed.
The software also helps to search for palm leaves and metadata quickly. This feature is extremely helpful to scholars.