Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Daughter of Rahul Sankrityayan protests transfer of artifacts and manuscripts from Patna Museum to Bihar Museum

Note: According to the audit report of CAG, “The Bihar Heritage Development Society established to acquire/collect, conserve and preserve the archaeological remains and artifacts could not achieve its objectives. The conservation and documentation of antiquities, digitisation and publication of collected manuscript/books in the museums were not according to the standards prescribed in the International Council of Museums (ICOM) code of ethics. Tibbati manuscript brought by Rahul Sanskrityayan in Patna Museum could not be translated/published. The Directorate of Museum did not have database or inventory of antiquities in its possessions.” 

The audit report observes: "Scrutiny of records of Patna Museum, Patna revealed that six thousand Tibbati Manuscripts were handed over to Patna Museum in the year 1929 by Rahul was found that 20 of them were torn and no steps of conservation were taken despite availability of funds (10 lakh) since March 2008. The funds were kept in fixed deposits of bank." It further observes that "As per  'Practical Handbook on 'Inventories and Documentation of ICOM, Running a Museum" the museum should maintain an Accession Register, with a checklist of all the acquisitions. It should have columns for accession number, date, source, method and brief description of the group, number of objects making up the group and the name or initials of the Museum Curator." CAG's performance audit states that "During audit of test checked museums, it was found that the Accession Register was not maintained in museums except Patna Museum, Patna where the Register was not properly maintained. Five out of 41 Accession Registers were test checked in Patna Museum and it was found that 9570 antiquities were entered in the Registers. Out of these, 2031 antiquities had no date of accession, 773 antiquities had no date of provenance, 1213 antiquities had no date of donation, 2496 antiquities had no date of receipt and 7597 antiquities had no information about the placement.        


Shri Nitish Kumarji,
Chief Minister of Bihar
Honourable Sir, 
I have recently come to know that your government plans to change the authority to manage the above institute, giving the responsibility to Bihar Museum. I, as the daughter of Mahapandit Rahul Sankrityayana strongly protest this proposal. 
I had written to you on 12th September 2017 when a similar proposal was made,and protested on the grounds that the Rahul Collection is a provisional donation to the Patna Museum, made without any remuneration and as the family and heirs of Rahulji we should be consulted and notified before any such change is made as regards my Father’s invaluable donation and the Bihar Government’s ideas regarding it. At that time you had agreed to allow the Rahul Collection to remain in Patna Museum and for this I thank you.
Today I find that a similar proposal is being made again.
You must be well aware that Rahul Sankrityayana is an internationally known name.A freedom fighter, a linguist, a Buddhist and Sanskrit scholar, social thinker and author whose reputation has not faded, rather it has increased even after his passing. Scholars from many universities not just in India but also Europe, Japan and America have devoted years to studying his contributions in the fields of Buddhist studies, history, archaeology, literature, socio-politics, travel writing, indeed all the disciplines he touched and wrote about. His life’s trajectory took him to Bihar in the 1920s and he lived and worked there through the years of the Freedom Struggle, working tirelessly among peasants and the depressed classes. He endured six years in jail terms in Bihar prisons of Buxar, Chhapra and Hazaribagh. Yet his erudition placed him among the most respected scholars of his time. The title of “MAHAPANDIT” is not merely an honorific: it was bestowed on him by the Kashi Pandit Sabha Varanasi in 1933 in recognition of his contribution to the progress of Sanskrit studies subsequent to his discovery of the rare ancient texts that were lost in India after the destruction of the monasteries of Nalanda, Vikramshila, and Odantapuri. The title was given after his first journey to Tibet in 1929-1930.  These texts were invaluable at that time. The Thangka paintings he brought back are also priceless. These were housed in Patna Museum. He made three more journeys to Tibet and came back with many more originals and photo plates of important texts and paintings. Coins, garments and other significant objects he collected on his travels in India and abroad were also added to the Rahul Collection to which he made further additions up to 1956. The idea was for all these objects to be easily accessible for study by students and scholars in context and close to the places where they had originated. Over 6400 texts and photos he brought are housed in the Bihar Research Society

I strongly oppose this proposal by the Bihar Government. The integrity and the physical safety of the Rahul Collection is threatened by being split up and removed for transport or display by private entities. This proposal is an insult to the memory of my Father and his vision for our country and its intellectual heritage. 
If the Bihar Government is not able to look after the Rahul Collection any longer, the family should be consulted about forming a committee of serious scholars from all over India to decide its future. It should definitely not be handed over, out of government control, on the whim of the State Government. Despite his significant contribution to Bihar, Rahulji has not been given the honour which was due to him. It will be a way of righting this neglect by creating a dedicated centre for higher studies in his name, housed in the historic premises of the Patna Museum to which he devoted so much effort. 
I trust that you will give this matter serious consideration and inform me of the outcome. 
Thanking you, 
Jaya Sankrityayan Parhawk

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