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Acquire photographs of Sanskrit palm leaves in Hamburg, Germany, the greatest collection of South Indian phonology texts in the world.

The Project in Brief

My name is Dr. Peter Freund, I live in Fairfield, Iowa, U.S.A., and I'm the webmaster of the vedicreserve website, mum.edu/vedicreserve: The website is devoted to collecting together all the source texts of the ancient Vedic Science. The Vedas and Vedic Literature are written in the Sanskrit language, and they are said to be many thousands of years old. To make the website complete, we are trying to obtain a number of rare unpublished manuscripts. The purchase of the photographs of the Atreya Shiksha bundle located in Hamburg, Germany is funded, and now we are presenting our "Stretch Goals."  Stretch Goals are the targets we want to reach with additional funding for this "Atreya Shiksha" Kickstarter Project. So you can still make pledges even though our original goal has been reached: We have a number of smaller projects which also need to be funded:

  • Photography of the rare Vasishtha Shiksha and one other Shiksha text located in Tirupati, India
  • Vyala Shiksha and other Shiksha texts located at the Adyar Library in Chennai, India
  • Krama Shiksha, Veda Shiksha and other Shiksha texts located in Mysore, India
  • Shiksha and Kalpa texts from the Asiatic Society of Kolkatta
  • Shiksha texts from Allahabad, Hoshiarpur, Udaipur, Jodhpur, Hyderabad and Poone
  • A large collection of rare Upapurana and Shiksha texts, including the lost Atharvana Shiksha preserved on microfilm in Nepal

All these together will cost around $1500 (making a total "Stretch Goal" of $3500). If that full amount is not raised, then we will acquire as many of these additional manuscripts as we can. All the money pledged will be used only to acquire more Sanskrit manuscripts. All the texts that we acquire will be transcribed and added to the Subscription which all the Backers receive.

We started this project on the track of one of the most rare texts in the field of Vedic Phonology.  Vedic Phonology, called Shiksha in Sanskrit, is one branch of Vedic Literature, dealing with the study of sound. We have located perhaps the most rare and most comprehensive of all the texts of Vedic phonology in, of all places, Hamburg, yes, Hamburg, Germany.  The Hamburg Staats Universitaet Bibliothek has a small collection of ancient palm leaves, texts written hundreds of years ago in India on palm leaves. The palm leaves have writing on both sides of each leaf, and the leaves are tied together with strings, so that the pages remain in proper sequence. Our efforts to obtain the rare Atreya Shiksha, whose only known copy is here in the Hamburg library, met an obstacle: The library would not allow us to do our own photography, we must pay for professional photography at the library's rates. We launched this Kickstarter project to raise the money needed to pay for the photography of this one bundle of 157 palm leaves, so that we can recover the lost Atreya Shiksha, and publish it on our vedicreserve website. Now, due to the enthusiastic response and global support for this Kickstarter project, we have hope of recovering even more lost Shiksha texts.

The story of our website in general, and specifically the texts of Shiksha, Vedic phonology, follows.  If you want to scan it quickly, enjoy the photographs and their captions!

The Project in Depth

The human physiology is made of intelligence, made of Natural Law. Every fiber of the physiology contains the practical synthesis of eons of experience of the dynamism of total Natural Law, and all of its discrete channels of expression. Natural Law is at the basis of the DNA that gives rise to human physiology. That is of course true in the abstract, but the discovery of Dr. Tony Nader is that there is a blueprint of Natural Law which is at the basis of the expression of human physiology, and ultimately of the entire universe: This blueprint of total natural law we call the "Constitution of the Universe." Using religious language, we could say that man is made in the image of God, because he has been fashioned according to the blueprint of creation, the blueprint of Total Natural Law, the Constitution of the Universe.

Forty Branches of Vedic Literature
Forty Branches of Vedic Literature

The Constitution of the Universe which is the basic intelligence at the foundation of human physiology has been convincingly demonstrated by Dr. Tony Nader to be the 40 branches of Veda and Vedic Literature. Each of the different organ systems and structures in the human physiology, in the human nervous system has a structure and function which is correlated one to one, with a specific text in Vedic Literature which has the corresponding structure and function. This discovery of a blueprint of Total Natural Law has implications for research in all fields of human endeavor, and has numerous practical applications in health and for developing full human potential. It is such a tremendously inspiring vision that Dr. Nader was awarded his weight in gold for this discovery.

Excerpt from Shiksha page on vedicreserve website
Excerpt from Shiksha page on vedicreserve website

Our team of scholars at Maharishi University of Management in Fairfield, Iowa USA, has been dedicated for many years in exploring one basic aspect of this discovery of Dr. Tony Nader, and that is identifying and collecting together all the texts of Vedic Literature which collectively form the blueprint of Total Natural Law. There are more than 300 of these texts that have been identified so far and collected on a website, mum.edu/vedicreserve, and that website has grown in excess of 60,000 pages. For the most part, the Vedic Literature is very well defined: There are two histories, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata; there are 18 Puranas; there are six systems of Indian philosophy, called Darshanas, and so forth. But one area that has not been well-defined, nor well explored by Western scholars of the last two centuries, is the area of Vedic phonology, the area dealing with the pronunciation and expression of Vedic speech, called Shiksha. Furthering the research on Vedic phonology, Shiksha, is the purpose of this project.

Published lithograph of a handwritten Shiksha, and its transcription on vedicreserve
Published lithograph of a handwritten Shiksha, and its transcription on vedicreserve

A collection of Shiksha texts, called Shiksha Samgrahah, was published towards the end of the 19th century. However, that collection was devoid of the largest category of Shiksha, the Krishna Yajur Veda Shiksha, as well as lacking the Shiksha of Rik Veda. That having been the only effort so far to collect together all the texts of Shiksha, the texts of Shiksha remain scattered. Some are published in obscure journals; some are published as lithographic reproductions of handwritten texts; and some remain undiscovered in manuscript repositories.

Descriptive Bibliography of over 1600 Shiksha-related books and manuscripts
Descriptive Bibliography of over 1600 Shiksha-related books and manuscripts

The greatest blessing for the field of Vedic Phonology in the last 200 years has been the comprehensive Descriptive Bibliography of Veda Lakshana texts by Parameshwara Aithal, published in 1993. He lists more than 1600 works directly or indirectly related to Vedic phonology. Since 1993, this has been the Bible for those interested in defining the limits of the field, or in researching more deeply into different areas of Vedic phonology. Aithal visited libraries throughout India and Europe in order to compile his bibliography, and he noticed many Shiksha whose voice, whose preservation was now vested in a single Shiksha manuscript.

The collection of palm-leaf bundles at the Hamburg Staats-Universitaet Bibliothek in Germany
The collection of palm-leaf bundles at the Hamburg Staats-Universitaet Bibliothek in Germany

The most rare and precious of all these forgotten and neglected Shiksha texts is the Atreya Shiksha. Comprising well over 300 verses, it discusses 60 different topics of Vedic phonology, listed on the margins of the respective palm leaves. From these topics, Atreya Shiksha appears to be the most systematic and most comprehensive of all of the Shiksha texts. It is in itself a great treasure of India, a brilliant precious product of the ancient Vedic civilization. And where is it? It is in Hamburg, Germany!

30 Shiksha texts in the Hamburg Palm-Leaf Bundle
30 Shiksha texts in the Hamburg Palm-Leaf Bundle

We have been trying to get hold of a copy of this manuscript for 15 years. But only recently has the library in Hamburg organized to have a curator in charge of this collection of ancient palm leaf bundles, and for him to hire the services of a photographer to make these ancient palm leaves accessible. So now, for the first time in 15 years, it is possible to obtain photographs of this entire bundle of 157 palm leaves. This collection of Shiksha texts assembled in one bundle of palm leaves is a veritable gold mine of Vedic phonology, comprising approximately 30 different Shiksha texts. Of these 30, 18 are unpublished texts! Of those that are published, many have been published on the basis of a single manuscript. This neglected, almost lost bundle of texts on Vedic phonology is of utmost importance to all of us, because many of these texts are ancient cognitions of the Constitution of the Universe, part of the blueprint of Natural Law at the basis of human physiology and the whole cosmos.

Beginning and Ending Verses of Ātreya Śikṣā
Beginning and Ending Verses of Ātreya Śikṣā

The importance of the Atreya Shiksha was underscored when the Pandits at Maharishi Nagar, compiling a 2-CD set of beginning and ending verses of all the 40 branches of Vedic Literature, chose a set of 60 different Shiksha texts, based on the Descriptive Bibliography of Aithal, for their section on the limb of the Vedas called Shiksha. Among those 60, they included this Atreya Shiksha, proclaiming thereby, that in their opinion, this Shiksha was absolutely authentic, and deserved a proud place in the assembly of Shiksha comprising one part of the Constitution of the Universe.

Diagram of Central Nervous System, Autonomic Trunk and Target Organs
Diagram of Central Nervous System, Autonomic Trunk and Target Organs

Why are Shiksha important? In the physiology they are correlated with the autonomic ganglia, ranged in long trunks running on either side of the spine. There are 36 pairs of such ganglia, running from the base of the spine up into the head. These ganglia are quite small, and their role seems to be chiefly in relaying communications between the central nervous system and the major organs of the body. They can hardly compete with major brain structures like the thalamus, the hypothalamus, and the cerebellum, whose complexity is of a much higher order, and whose importance in the nervous system is readily apparent. One of the main reasons we are pursuing with great zeal the publication of all the available Shiksha texts, is because of the tremendous importance Maharishi Mahesh Yogi placed on them in the context of Yogic Flying. When asked in 2003, at a press conference, what was the origin of yogic flying, he said that the origin of Yogic Flying was the quality of expansion in Shiksha.

This opens up a very exciting field of research. In order to understand how Yogic Flying came to be, what it's basis is on the level of the total blueprint of Natural Law, our first step is to assemble all of the Shiksha that are available in the world; and then we will be in a strong position to examine the Shiksha as a whole and identify what the quality of expansion in Shiksha really is. So for research on Shiksha, and thus for research on the origin of Yogic Flying, it is important to obtain the complete texts of all the Shiksha that are in the world today. That is the basic purpose and intent of this Kickstarter Project.

Sample Photo of Palm Leaf from Ātreya Śikṣā taken by Conrad Nolte
Sample Photo of Palm Leaf from Ātreya Śikṣā taken by Conrad Nolte

This is the greatest treasure of Shiksha manuscripts available in one place anywhere in the world. If we fail to obtain these photographs of Atreya Shiksha and its bundle of Shiksha texts, these texts may be forgotten and lost. That would be an enormous loss to the world, the loss of knowledge of our own selves, the loss of the knowledge of one part of the blueprint of Natural Law that makes us what we are. Failure to obtain these photographs would mean that study of Shiksha would continue to limp along with a small subset of the available texts--not necessarily the best, or the greatest, or the most comprehensive of all the Shiksha texts, but merely those which were most readily at hand to scholars 150 years ago. Partial knowledge is never fulfilling. Help us make the field of Shiksha complete! Help us meet the very stiff costs of photography of a very rich bundle of manuscripts on Vedic phonology, and then share with us month after month our celebration of the fullness of knowledge of Shiksha, as we explore and publish each of the precious texts in this golden palm leaf treasure, located in Hamburg.

Beginning of Karanagama in Grantha and in Devanāgarī
Beginning of Karanagama in Grantha and in Devanāgarī

The palm leaves are written in Grantha script, a script used in South India to write Sanskrit. We have already transcribed and placed on the vedicreserve website several Sthapatya Ved texts that were published in the grantha script, so we are familiar with that script and competent to transcribe it. The manuscript in question is written in a very clear consistent and orderly handwriting, which should be easy to decode on the basis of our experience with transcribing grantha, and our experience decoding handwritten manuscripts in a variety of scripts. Most recently, we transcribed the Svara Shiksha palm leaves, obtained from the library of the University of Kerala in Travendrum, and a discussion of the results of the study are found on YouTube. So far our team has published seven Shiksha texts on the internet based on rare unpublished manuscripts, and transcribed more than seven others that were published in handwritten form. Thus our track record shows that we are competent to carry out this research once we have the photographs available for our study.

Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

Since we haven't actually seen all the pages of the manuscript yet, there is some risk that the texts in the manuscript bundle may be corrupt: Even though our initial evaluation is that the handwriting is clear, and there is no damage from insects, there could be corruption in the source texts that were used; there could be pages missing in the palm leaf bundle, making it difficult to reconstruct the constituent texts in a coherent way. These challenges if they occur, would make the end result less neat, and less clean, less coherent. However, the clarity of the beginning and ending verses of Atreya Shiksha, given in the descriptive bibliography seems to indicate that the text is actually in excellent shape. There could be difficulties in interpreting the handwriting: This is always a challenge with handwritten texts, and we have a great deal of experience on our team in evaluating and figuring out idiosyncracies in handwritten texts. We are also in communication with experts at JNU in India, and at universities in Europe, whom we can consult in the event of there being passages difficult to interpret. Transcribing texts sometimes requires entering into the nuts and bolts of the Sanskrit, and actually translating the passages, in order to see what readings make good sense: If this becomes necessary, the process of transcribing will take considerably more time, but it is not an insuperable obstacle. Transcribing manuscripts requires patience and diligence, and that is the long and the short of it.

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    An email pdf copy of the Atreya Shiksha transcribed from the manuscript. Thereafter, approximately one per month for the next two and a half years, a transcription or if appropriate, critical edition of each of the 30 Shiksha texts in the bundle will be sent by email: This is “the Subscription.”

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    A printed paper bound or spiral bound (approx. 40 page) copy of the Atreya Shiksha in beautiful devanagari type, and also the email Subscription.

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    A printed copy of the critical edition of Atreya Shiksha, with brief English descriptions of each of the 60 topics of Atreya Shiksha, and discussion (in English) of the Author of the text, the date of its genesis, and its commonality and uniqueness as compared to other Shiksha texts, and also the Subscription.

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    a 2-DVD set of the Atreya Shiksha recited by an Indian Brahmin. This DVD set will be exclusive to this offering, and will not be offered for sale, nor posted on the internet in any form. These contributors will also receive the critical edition of Atreya Shiksha and the Subscription.

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