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Survey of the Pāli Manuscript Collection in the Royal Asiatic Society1

  • Jacqueline Filliozat


We do not know a lot about the exact sources of the Pāli manuscript collection kept today in the Royal Asiatic Society. Records are very few and scattered here and there in the publications of the Society. Mentions of donors or vendors of the Pāli MSS. collected since 1825 are not at all detailed: most of the time there are no titles, no sufficient material description, no measurements, not even naming the exact language or the script, no register numbers or shelfmarks; we are just told about the name of the donor, or conditions of the sale, the date of acquisition (but not the date of the MS.), sometimes place or circumstances of acquisition.



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2 According to Hawkins, R. E., Common Indian words in English, Kuala Lumpur, 1984, “document on palm-leaf (Malay)”.

3 Pargiter, F.E. compiled and edited by, Centenary Volume of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland 1823–1923, London 1923.

4 Most probably the finely decorated Pāli MS. from Siam in Kham script wrongly classified in the Burmese collection, see under RAS BURMESE 30, 31, 32, 33, 34. We do not know the reason why the single original ms. has been divided into five parts under different shelfrnarks; the complete MS. formerly comprised the Bhikkhupātimokkha, the Bhikkhunipātimokkha, the Mohavicchedanī, the Pāṭha Abhidhammavatāra and the Abhidhammatthasangaha. The MS. looks new, fine and accurate as befits a royal presentation copy. I have seen some other MS. of this style at the British Library (BL, OR. 12524, Paññāsajātaka fragments Cf. Ginsburg 1989 p. 87, official insignia decorating a MS. belonging to a Royal Library and Wellcome Institute (Wms Thai—Pali 11(1) Tepiṭakaganthī Sihala). See also: Griswold, A. B.King Mongkut of Siam, The Asia Society, New York, 1961 (RAS shelfmark 65 c).

5 See RAS Morris 37 and compare with the notes published in JPTS between 1884–93 for “Notes and Queries”. Index to the journals of the PTS (1882–1927) in JPTS 1973, pp. 3754Alphabetical Index to words discussed by R. Morris in “Notes and Queries”.

6 BN PALI 634 Saṃyuttanikāya CPD. 2.3: “ôles 1 à 2, bl. ole 3a, au crayon: This ms. of the Saṃyuttanikâya was copied at Galle in 1883 for the Pâli Text Society and purchased from the Society by Dr. Morris. Début, ôle 3b, marge gauche: svasti siddham; au centre: namo tassa … evam me sutaṃ ekaṃ samayaṃ bhagavā sāvatthiyaṃ viharati jetavane … Fin de colophon, ôle 413a (yo) 3 – uddānaṃ – khettakayavikkayanca dūteyyaṃ tulākūṭaṃ vadhena ca alopa sahasākāraṃ apakā virataṃ atha kho eteva bahutarā sattāgatiyo pancakā so vaggo tena pavuccati ti – saccasaṃyuttaṃ samattaṃ – maggabojjhangaṃ sati ca indriyaṃ … pakāsayi – (Ici s'arrête la concordance avec l'éd. de L. Feer vols. I p. 1 à V p. 478.) Ce ms. ajoute: saṃyuttanikāyavare gambhire sāgarūpame maggādisacca suvibhatto mahāvaggo ti vissuto – … moggallāno va hessāmi chajabhiñño mahiddhiko – siddhir asm – subham astu – arogyam astu – ôle 413b, bl. ôle 414a gravée avec un autre texte, ôle réutilisée comme ôle de garde? Ce ms. a servi à l'éd. de la PTS par L. Feer; v. Papiers Feer 4 à 11. D'après l'introd. p. XI, part I … “I came back from London with a Singhalese manuscript belonging to Dr. Morris who very kindly lent to me this precious volume. It is the one Singhalese manuscript of which I have been able to make continual (though) late use …” Doit-on en conclure que ce ms. n'aurait jamais été rendu à son propriétaire? Mais d'après le cat. ms. de Feer cote BN PALI 740 p. 230 on lit: acquis du Dr. Morris de Londres. L. Feer l'aurait alors acheté pour la BN? Aucune trace de cette acquisition n'apparaît dans les livres d'inventaire de la BN. 414 ôles entre 2 ais de bois blond, 695 X 55 mm, 9 lignes, environ 120 car. – Ecr. singh. – Num. lettres singh. Date: 1883 A.D. – Prov. Galle, copié pour le Dr. Morris et la Pali Text Society.

7 I only know of the MS. in The British Library Add. 23939, Upasampadakammavācā, on black lacquer inlaid with mother-of-pearl in Burmese large tamarind script.

8 Cf. in preparation by J. Filliozat, ed. Sahassavatthuppakarana giving this manuscript's variant readings, and transcripts of fragments of the Dasavatthuppakarana according to three new MSS. recently discovered, including the collation of this MS.

1 Royal Asiatic Society, 60 Queen's Gardens, London W23AF.

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Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society
  • ISSN: 1356-1863
  • EISSN: 1474-0591
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