Article: Studying Jainism

Contributed by Nalini Balbir


James Tod (1782–1835) of the British East India Company authored several books and articles on Indian topics in the early 19th century. Though not a scholar, he carried out research over his 23 years in India and joined the Royal Asiatic Society

James Tod
Image by unknown © public domain

Most of the first Westerners to study Jainism systematically were Indologists from Germany and the United Kingdom. French and Italian scholars were also active in the 19th century. These university academics or private scholars acquired manuscripts and artefacts on their travels in India and through commercial dealers. These items form the basis of the large collections of Jain materials in Europe.

United Kingdom

The four most important repositories of Jain manuscripts are the partners of the JAINpedia project. They are the source institutions for all the digitised images of manuscripts on the JAINpedia website. The JAINpedia project hopes to add materials from all the major collections in the UK in due course.

Repositories of Jain artefacts in the UK


Collection details


British Library, London

1100 manuscripts

Catalogue of the Jain Manuscripts at the British Library
The British Library and the Institute of Jainology
3 volumes + CD, London, 2006

Victoria and Albert Museum, London

illustrated manuscripts

Included in Catalogue of the Jain Manuscripts at the British Library

Wellcome Institute, London

catalogue in preparation

Bodleian Library, and Indian Institute, University of Oxford

catalogue in preparation

British Museum, London

a few illustrated manuscripts

Included in Catalogue of the Jain Manuscripts at the British Library

Royal Asiatic Society, London – Tod Collection

53 manuscripts acquired from 1799 to 1823

L. D. Barnett
'Catalogue of the Tod Collection of Indian Manuscripts of the Royal Asiatic Society'
Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society
April 1940, Part II, pages 129 to 178

Cambridge University Library – Bendall Collection

210 manuscripts acquired from 1884 to 1885 with the help of Bhagavandas Kevaldas

partial lists in C. Bendall
A Journey of Literary and Archaeological Research in Nepal and Northern India during the winter of 1884–5
Cambridge, 1886

Repositories of Jain artefacts in Germany


Collection details


Königliche Bibliothek (Royal Library), Berlin

259 manuscripts acquired from 1873 to 1878 and from 1886 to 1889

Albrecht Weber
Verzeichnis (Directory) 2.1 (1886)
2.2 (1888) and 2.3 (1892)

Preussische Staatsbibliothek (Prussian State Library), Berlin

770 manuscripts acquired from 1892 to 1944

Walter Schubring
Die Jaina-Handschriften der Preussischen Staatsbibliothek (Jain Manuscripts in the Prussian State Library)
Leipzig, 1944

Göttingen University Library – Kielhorn Collection

14 manuscripts acquired from 1866 to 1881

R. Fick
‘Kielhorns Handschriften-Sammlung’
Nachrichten von der Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften zu Göttingen aus dem Jahre (Annual News from the Society of Sciences and Humanities)
1930, pages 65 to 94 and
Nachrichten 1941, pages 115 to 119

Leipzig University Library

119 manuscripts acquired in the late 19th century

Anett Krause
Die Jaina-Handschriften sowie weitere indische Handschriften in den Sprachen Avadhi, Bengali, Braj, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Prakrit, Sanskrit und die tibetischen Handschriften und Blockdrucke der Universitätsbibliothek Leipzig (A 1500-A 1502, K 1-K 169, Ms Gabelentz 97:3,4,6,7,21), Otto Harrassowitz, 2013 (Katalog der Handschriften der Universitäts-Bibliothek Leipzig, Neue Folge Band III)

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