What will happen if we acquire the knowledge reserves of Nalanda and Taxila in some way? Is there any use of that knowledge in today’s world?

By Sunil Kumar

Hypothetical answer to a hypothetical question. If there had been no invasions of India; no partition and the entire library of Nalanda and Taxila was retrieved intact; then classical scholars and researchers would be able to determine the relevance of those texts to contemporary society.

I remember attending a wonderful discussion on Sanskrit with the Director of India’s National Mission of Manuscripts Sudha Gopalakrishnan, Senior Lecturer in Sanskrit and Classical Indian Studies(University of London) James Mallinson, S.R Bhatt Chairman, Indian Council of Philosophical Research and the author Vikram Chandra.

All of them; especially James Mallinson mentioned that even though many classical (old) European manuscripts have been retrieved; they are a measly fraction(only thousands in total) compared to the (literally) millions of manuscripts in Indian classical languages; most of which are lost due to three reasons: many invasions, apathy/no interest and public funding.

It is very easy to speculate about the use of ancient manuscripts today. But unless you have capable people in the present day combined with interest and funding plus total ignorance of what was actually in those manuscripts that were tragically burned by religious zealots and ignorant barbarians; no answer to your question is easily obtained.

It could all have been usual metaphysical speculation or some interesting scientific concepts and ideas. For example; the Kerala School of Mathematics “supposedly” knew about calculus long before Newton and Leibnitz. Also; the perception of “use” is relative. To some people; philosophical texts are of profound value compared to “materialistic” science. Anyways; it is sad to note that we don’t have any texts from the time period. Probably; some recensions or adaptations may have survived to influence contemporary thought in an oblique way.

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