Article: Studying Jainism

Contributed by Nalini Balbir

North America

A rough survey of H. I. Poleman’s 1938 A Census of Indic Manuscripts in the United States and Canada yields about 415 Jain manuscripts in present-day North America. Between 7,500 and 8,000 manuscripts are listed in this catalogue, mainly in Harvard University.

Especially in the USA, there are many illustrated Jain manuscripts or pages of Jain manuscripts in private collections or museum catalogues and on websites. Private collectors have often bought illustrated manuscripts of some value, which they may show in temporary exhibitions. Granoff 2009 has details of some items that have been publicly exhibited but usually the only information publicly available is in the exhibition catalogues.

Elsewhere

The Institute of Oriental Manuscripts, formerly part of the Institute of Oriental Studies, holds around 150 Jain manuscripts. The St Petersburg collection does not yet have a published catalogue

Russian Institute of Oriental Studies
Image by Mahury © CC BY-SA 3.0

In Russia there is a collection of 150 Jain manuscripts in the Asiatic Museum and Russian National Library in St Petersburg. However, no proper catalogue is available at this point.

In Australia there are isolated Jain artefacts in some museums and an important collection of Jain publications at the University of Canberra.

Print books and internet resources

Important collections of Jain printed books are found in several institutions in India and outside, especially in centres or institutes specifically dealing with Jainism. One of the most recently gathered collections in Germany is the Pianarosa Library, housed in the University of Bonn.

Internet resources have become very crucial in recent years. The most systematic and comprehensive one is the Jain eLibrary, which regularly expands its holdings and has printed books in English or Indian languages, as well as manuscripts. But Jainism has become very much present on the Internet, and important resources are found in many places, sometimes unexpected.

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