Right Word | Gitartha Ganga: A goldmine of ancient Bharatiya scriptures

The library procures manuscripts, rare books and authentic versions of Bharatiya scriptures from all across the country and if needed even from other countries also

Arun Anand January 28, 2023 13:34:45 IST
Right Word | Gitartha Ganga: A goldmine of ancient Bharatiya scriptures

Representational image. Wikimedia commons

If you have an interest in ancient Bharatiya scriptures but feel handicapped by lack of access and lack of knowledge about ancient languages like Sanskrit and Prakrit in which these scriptures are written, then your wait is over!

Tucked away in a quiet corner of Karnavati (Ahmedabad) is a goldmine of two lakh pages of digitised ancient Bharatiya scriptures easily accessible to all. The most significant thing is that the essence of these scriptures is also made available. Initially it is being made available in Gujarati but very soon it would be available in English and Hindi also. The essence is written after studying these texts in Prakrit and Sanskrit languages by experts and this summary is being made available for every verse. This short commentary is written and vetted by spiritual matters who are subject matter experts in that specific area.

The project was started around three decades ago and is run under the aegis of Gitartha Ganga (GG), a not-for-profit organisation that calls itself ‘a spiritual research institute’.

The objective of this whole exercise is to prepare a scriptural encyclopaedia on identified 108 main subjects and 15,000 sub-subjects. The classification of these subjects and sub-subjects is an outcome of intense consultations with subject matter experts and spiritual masters over the last several years.

According to the trustees of GG, this is a mission to create an infrastructure for experts, to get the holistic view of a particular scriptural subject perpetuating the flow of ‘Samyag Gyan’ (holistic knowledge) in masses, for generations to come.

Selection and collection of Scriptures

The selection of scriptures is done after a comparative study. Data entry of the granth (scripture) is done with proof checking. It is significant to note that while a large number of institutions are doing preservation and reprinting of these scriptures, there are hardly any institutions that are involved in translation, commentary and executive summaries of these scriptures and that too verse by verse. Once the scripture is digitised then this digitised version is shared with institutions and spiritual masters   who are doing critical work on that particular scripture. So far 850 scriptures with nearly 2 lakh pages have been digitised.

25-year-old Software

Interestingly, this whole programme is run through a software which was developed in-house 25 years ago when there were no search engines and coding was done on DOS based operating systems. This in-house software and system functionality was formatted with such a long term vision that even after 25 years it is fully functional and is able to meet all the requirements of this project with optimum efficiency.

Classification through coding

The toughest challenge for those who want to study a particular subject in ancient Bharatiya scriptures is that there are multiple sources for knowledge on the same subject. In other words, ‘data’ on a particular subject is scattered across various granths.

Through systemic coding and classification, it has now been made available at one place. A professional research team at Gitartha Ganga collect subject-wise information  from various granths and sort it out so that if anybody wants to  find what various scriptures have said about one particular subject , just by a click of the mouse , it would all appear on the computer screen. To  execute this functionality more than 3,50,000 codes have been created and integrated with the software.

Trees and Charts

To make the data understandable even for common people, the GG research team has created various forms of trees and charts. This helps to explain the divisions and sub-divisions of various subjects. This also enables easy understanding of subjects. A senior functionary of GG explains, “For example, take the case of  Mathematics. In Jain scriptures there are 9 types of ‘infinities’ and this is unparalleled. And, a lot of quantification is explained through the forms of greater than/lesser than the ‘infinities’.  Based on Jain scriptures, we have made special charts to explain these categorisations. Everything is prepared with scriptural references. Approximately 5000 such charts and classifications have been prepared.’’

Treasure of Références

This project provides researchers, especially those who are interested in Jain scriptures with a treasure of references. One of the trustees explained, “In numerous Jain scriptures, we find quotations of older Jain scriptures to authenticate a point or to explain an older reference with further detail. Similar Stories, discussions in shastras on the same subject are also linked at GG. This also helps in dealing with certain statements which might appear to be conflicting. Our subject matter experts, which include a number of spiritual masters, explain these contradictions by creating proper reference points that explain the core idea behind every viewpoint or statement in our scriptures. More than 9,700 such references have been researched by GG. Such an exhaustive treasury of references is one of a kind, enabling detailed study in a subject.”


The GG building houses one of the well-stocked libraries on ancient Bharatiya scriptures with a large number of original manuscripts. The spiritual masters and seekers are provided books from this library and if needed these are sent to different parts of the country also. More than 10,000 books are sent in this manner. The library procures manuscripts, rare books and authentic versions of Bharatiya scriptures from all across the country and if needed even from other countries also.

The library has books by renowned authors on a wide variety of subjects covering every realm of life. All the books are classified under subjects and sub-subjects to match the classification of the digitisation project. This helps to provide comprehensive offline information also on particular subjects. Library is open for 8 hours daily. The library also has a collection of more than 80,000 articles on related subjects. The list of all the books, magazines, manuscripts and other research material is available in digitised catalogue. A part of this material is available online also, so that if you are a researcher or have any kind of interest in ancient Bharatiya scriptures, you don’t need to come all the way to Karnavati. You can do that sitting at your home!

The writer, an author and columnist, has written several books. He tweets @ArunAnandLive. Views expressed are personal.

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