The Manuscript collection of the French Institute of Pondicherry

It was in 1955 that Jean Filliozat took up special efforts for the setting up of an interdisciplinary research centre in Pondicherry to study indian culture. Under the treaty of cession of French territories to the Indian Union the French Institute of Pondicherry (IFP) was founded which is under the tutelage of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The manuscript collection of the French Institute of Pondicherry was initiated in 1956 under the auspices of its founder-director, the polymath Jean Filliozat, with a view to collecting all material relating to Saiva Agamas, the scriptures of one of the Saiva religious traditions known as the Saiva Siddhanta. This tradition was widespread in many parts of India since the 7th century AD and it is a flourishing one in Tamilnadu even now. Saiva Agamas were neglected in the early part of the 20th century and unknown to most scholars of Sanskrit in India as well as in the West. The efforts of the IFP in collecting these manuscripts of the Saiva Agamas, critically editing and publishing them have brought the attention of the scholarly world since then. Many of the manuscripts were gathered by Pandit N. R. Bhatt, from the private collections of priests and monasteries across Tamilnadu and parts of southern districts of Karnataka. When the manuscripts of the Saiva Agamas themselves could not be obtained, paper transcripts in Devanagari script were made. The collection of the IFP now consists of approximately 8500 palm-leaf codices, most of which are in the Sanskrit language and written in Grantha script (others are in Tamil, Malayalam, Telugu, Nandinagari and Tulu scripts).

The bulk of the IFP's collection comprises manuscripts of Saiva Agamas, commentaries thereon, Saiva ritual manuals, ritual compendia, handbooks, notes of saiva priests and Tamil texts treating the doctrines of the Saivasiddhanta tradition. The collection also includes manuscripts on legends glorifying saiva holy places (sthalapuranas), the Siddha medicine, Ayurveda and Astrology.

This collection is thus unique in that it is the largest collection of Saiva Siddhanta manuscripts in the world and it has duly been recognised by UNESCO by including it in its "Memory of the World" Register.


Digitization Project Coordinators


Cataloguing & Data Entry

Cleaning the Manuscripts and Maintenance

Database Design & Application Development