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Oriental Research Institute and Manuscripts Library (Established in : 1982)

Library details of Oriental Research Institute and Manuscripts Library


The Documents Library present inside the ORI & MSS Library was established along with the parent Institute and having the printed document collection of more than Fifteen thousand (15,305) including the gifts.

The aim of this library is to provide study and research facilities to the M.Phil students, teachers and research scholars of our Institute as well as the post-graduate students and scholars of the other departments under the Kerala University. The students and scholars from other Universities and Institutions abroad may also be allowed to use the resources of this library. Average of 10-15 users' visit and use at least 25-30 documents per day. The working hours of the library is from 10.30 am to 4.30 pm (no lunch break) in all government working days.


The Library gets financial support to purchase the books and periodicals from the University out of its own funds and through grants from the UGC. The details regarding the funds allocated to the library for the previous seven years is as follows;

2003-04 2004-05 2005-06 2006-07 2007-08 2008-09
1 Pt.I-Non-Plan 2,000 2,000 5,000 5,000 5,000 5,000
2 Pt.II- Plan (State) Nil Nil Nil Nil Nil Nil
3 Pt.II- Plan (UGC) Nil Nil 1,50,000 Nil Nil 20,000


The documents are kept in three collections in separate three rooms comprising of total area of approximately 1100 sq/ft. They are,

1. The 'Reference Library' collection (Ist Floor) consists of very old and rare documents printed in Malayalam & documents printed in English, Tamil and others;

2. The 'Sanskrit Library' collection (Ground Floor) consists of very old and rare documents printed in Sanskrit;

3. The 'General Library' collection (Ground Floor) consists of new documents printed in Malayalam language and literature.

The number of documents present in the:

1. Reference Library - 4621 2. Sanskrit Library - 5458 3. General Library - 522

The number of books purchased during the past seven years for these collections are as follows;

2003-042004-052005-06 2006-07 2007-08 2008-09
1 Reference Library 3 8 223 1 3 23
2 Sanskrit Library4 42 8 4 8
3 General Library 15 2 156 5 12 23

At present the library is having only the book materials and no non-book materials. The collection include books of common interest of the students, teachers and scholars such as those prescribed in the curriculum of text books and lots of supplementary reading book for research and development, teaching and research etc., It includes:

1. recent editions of specialize subject books in manuscripts and its related areas.
2. recent editions of books in history, religion, philosophy, psychology and social science
3. old & rarest collections in Sanskrit literature and language
4. old & rare-book collections in Malayalam literature and language
5. old & rare-book collections in Tamil literature and language (vols. 197)
6. recent editions of books in English literature and language (vols. 2621)
7. encyclopedias, dictionaries etc.
8. periodicals (general & subject)
9. newspapers
10. government publications
11. University publications etc.

The Library is subscribing the following journals & newspapers


1. Journal of Sukritindra Oriental Research Institute
2. Kriti Rakshana
3. Journal of Manuscripts Studies
4. Mathrubhumi Weekly
5. Malayalam varika
6. Piravi
7. Prachina Kairali

News papers

1. The Hindu (Eng.)
2. Mathrubhumi (Mal)

Our Treasured Possessions

At present, we have around 65,000 works spread in around 40,000 codices, most of them being palm leaf manuscripts. Our collections are found to be unique for their vastness in number, variety in subject, script, language and writing materials. Though majority of the manuscripts are in the form of palm-leaves, paper, agarutvak (the bark of Amyris agallocha) birch bark, (bhurja patra), copper plates etc. can also be found.

These collections cover almost every field of human wisdom like Philosophy, Mimamsa, Nyaya and creative fields such as Kavya, Roopaka, Chambu etc. The number of technical works dealing with Tantra, Astronomy, Astrology, Medicine and other allied departments of knowledge, is also very large. These subjects vary from science and technology to pure forms of literature like Itihasas, Puranas, Kavyas, Tantra, Mantra Vastuvidya (Traditional architecture), Srauta, Smritis, Vaidya, Jyotisha, Shilpa, Vedanta, Ganita, Nyaya etc. Different art forms like Music, Attakatha, Thullal, Folklores etc. are also found.

The languages found in these collections are Sanskrit, Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Hindi, Oriya, Burmese, Indonesian etc. The scripts here vary from Grantha, Nadinagari, Vattezhuttu, Kolezhuttu, Malayanma, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Assamese, Devanagari, Burmese, Bengali, Marathi and so on.

Some of our Rare Collections

Srimad Bhagavatam (Reg.No.19218): Complete Bhagavata written in Malayalam Script. The planks have been made in ivory, with beautiful carving of the Tutelary diety on both sides and the inner side of the ivory plank has been beautifully coloured using natural colours, the technique is unknown to the present generation.

Samudrika Lakshanam (Reg.No.11247)This work is in Tamil, written by Kamalamuni very carefully. In most of the leaves upto 30-40 lines can be seen. Almost 300 years old.

Rudrakshamala (Reg.No.11104) Palm-leaf has been cut in round and strung like beeds (Rudraksha). Very rare work.

Sivalingangasasanam (Reg.No.L 622) Tantra work, written in Kannada Script, contains pictures also.

Ramacaritam (Reg.No.19005) Only one Ramacarita work which is in vattezhuthu Script and a very old work.

Lakshnamritam (Reg.No.15124) Very rare work on toxicology. Medicines for almost every kind of toxins and treatment has also been dealt within the work. 300 years old.

Navaratnamalika (Reg.No.T.1950) It is written by H.H.Swati Tirunal and is the description of festival of the Tutelary Diety Lord Sri Padmanabha.

Oohaganam (Reg.No.T.1750) Rare work on Samaveda. This Sanskrit work, which is very old is believed to be written in North India.

Anumodana patrika (Reg.No. 6122) At the Temple Proclamation by Amma Maharani, this work has been written & submitted in praise of Her Highness by Prof. Balarama Panicker.

Kautaliya Arthasastra (Reg.No.C.1874) Contains Bhasha Vyakhyanam or interpretation. This work was recovered & printed by Mahamahopadhyaya Shri.T.Ganapati Sastri, the first Curator of this Library.

Mayoora sandesam (Reg.No.4504) A famous Sandesa kavya in Malayalam, submitted before H.H. the Maharaja of Travancore by the author Kerala Varma Valiya Koil Thampuran himself, on 1894.

SyanandurapuraVarnana Prabandham (Reg.No.1062) Very rare work which has been written in the glory of Trivandrum city the then Capital of the Kingdom of Travancore by H.H.Swati Tirunal, the King of Travancore, In Malayalam script.

Geernasreya vakyangal (Reg.No.22976) The 'Samkhyadyodaka' methods of Jyotisa has been written in Devanagari Script in this small work.

Cheppedu (copper plate) Written in AD 1820 (ME 945). Letters are engraved using chisel, in Malayalam script. A very rare work, obtained from Munchira Madhom Palace.

Daivagamom Bhasha (Reg.No.C.1703) Tantrik work written in Malayalam Script in 1521 AD (ME 696).

Aryamanjusrimoolakalpa (Reg.No.C.2388) A tantrik work written in Newari Script of Nepal which deals with Mahayana Buddhism. Declared as 'Vijnana Nidhi' by Ministry of Culture, Government of India as one of the Manuscript Treasures of India.

Narayaneeyam (Reg.No.21093) Written in praise of Lord Vishnu by Melputtur Narayana Bhattathiri. Received as a gift from the granthappura attached to the Royal Palace of the King. Written in AD 1738 (ME 913). Pictorial Paper Manuscripts Recovered from North India. Very rare work where pictures can be seen drawn using leaf extracts & natural colours. Almost 200 years old. Even gold powder has been used for painting.

Citraramayana (Reg.No.12308) A rare & prestigious possession, where the whole story of Adhyatma Ramayana is conceived into 318 pictorial sequences in 98 leaves which is a true example of the perfect mastery of the artist since nowhere in the work is seen a line left unwanted & it is impossible to alter, erase or correct even a line. This work is 555 years old.


The Library as such is working by old concepts on conservation of knowledge, extension of knowledge (research), and transmission of knowledge (teaching). And thus we are providing only the lending or circulation and reference services to our members. The dynamic library facilities like reprographic service, abstracting & indexing service, bibliographic service, modern information technologies like Internet, e-mail etc are not providing here due to the lack of adequate finance and staff.


We have completed the computerization work of the whole documents in the library. The work was started in February; 2008 and ended only in January, 2009. It helps us to quick and accurate storing, handling, processing and retrieving of documents. Now we can efficiently entertain the users in bibliographic searches from any angles like author/s, editor/s, title, subtitle, series, keyword/s, accession numbers, publisher etc.

As part of the automation, we have created separate bibliographic databases for the documents available in three sections of the library. Since this work was manual and time consuming, it was made with the help of the outside agency, M/s Volks Enterprises Ltd., Thiruvananthapuram at a cost of Rs. 43,000/-. The cost include the price of the library management software, LiBmas@ and the cost of automation work, i.e., data entry of the full bibliographic details, classification of books with DDC-21st Ed., printing and pasting of the spine tag, and the rearrangement of book according to the new class number.


1. DIGITIZATION: The library has a rare and valuable collection of documents in Sanskrit Language. The shrinking budget, lack of space and poor maintenance are some of the hurdles faced by the library in building the digitization of one of the rarest collection in India. This will be stored in the GIF format, each page of the document scanned and indexed through Adobe Acrobat Photoshop. After final touch up these will be written in CDs. The CD writer has helped to preserve these documents of high demand, which were in the worst condition (in the original form). The databases of these digitized documents then can be shared via Internet or by CDs. Our prime efforts should be in this direction thus we have to convince the importance of the digitization of such collection before the University authority as well as the external funding agencies.

2. CAS (Computer Assisted Learning): Each member in our department should know how to use the computers. He or she should be encouraged to earn computer knowledge to work on his own. It is otherwise called the computer-based instruction / education. It equips the students with profitable browsing or systematic searching capability in this era of information explosion. It provides valuable IT experiences to our students and users. This will help the students to learn, to use the computer and its accessories for their own benefits and to find the 'real' information for them-selves.

3. NON-BOOK MATERIALS: The relevant texts, reference books (i.e., encyclopedias, dictionaries, handbooks, manuals, yearbooks etc.) and searchable full-text databases in our subject field in the form of CD-ROM format will be purchased for the use of our members.

4. REPROGRAPHIC SERVICES: The Library as such is working now by old concepts library with only lending and reference services to our members. We will provide the photocopying service to our members in the near future if the University authorities provide adequate fund assistance.

5. INTERNET & E-MAIL: The backbone of the information superhighway is the Internet. It is actually an international network of networks. With the introduction of Internet e-mail has become very popular by which we can create a letter electronically and send it over to any part of the world within a matter of seconds or minutes. Internet has now become the viable complement to the library. Information sources on the Internet supplement the collections in the library. Now we do not have the internet facilities in the library. If investments in infrastructure, equipment and staff training are provided by the University then we will provide Internet access to our students.

6. NET WORKING: Searches from any angles like author/s, editor/s, title, subtitle, series, keyword/s, accession numbers, publisher etc. are efficiently entertained. And also these searches (OPAC) will be made possible even through the PCs at the teachers’ room or at the labs and computer room through a LAN system.

7. E-LEARNING: We have to be proactive and must exploit the full potential of internet to enrich their resources and improve services to satisfy the changing needs of users in the context of shrinking library budgets and escalating document prices. There are many books, guides and other publications that can give internet users a complete list of hints and tips. Training courses will be conducted periodically for the students on how to work on Internet and its various resources.

8. E-JOURNALS: Online access to full-text e-journals eliminates the usual constraints of the traditional libraries. Delay in postal transit, misplacement of issues, non-receipt of issues, storage space and the like. Steps will be taken in future to achieve the access of e-journals via internet and UGC-CCC INFONET.

9. DIGITAL LIBRARY: Digital library can be housed in a very small room and can house a large amount of data. One CD can store 600-700MB data and a DVD 4 to 6 GB. It means the complete collection in this library can be placed on 20-25 DVDs and can kept in a small cupboard, and it will be much more maintained in days to come. The future of this library is also closely linked to the electronic age, and we will have to prepare for a step forward and make our information access systems fully capable of functioning as technological gateways. The new technologies will create, collect, store, process and retrieve information and deliver across the globe.

10. PRESERVATION OF MATERIALS: The destructive agencies or enemies of library materials are (a) Dust and dirt (b) Bacteria and fungi (c) Insects (d) moisture (e) climate (f) atmospheric conditions (g) sunlight (h) white ants/ termites (i) rats (j) mice (k) moths (l) cockroaches and (m) silver fishes etc. Protective measures will be taken against these enemies. The Curable methods for the affected books or the whole collections are to be treated with insecticides, chemicals and fumigation.