Indian Literary in UNESCO – Treasures in Memory of the World

ramacharitmanas in UNESCO

Introduction

Three Indian literary works, Ramcharitmanas, Panchatantra, and Sahdayaloka-Locana, were added to UNESCO’s Memory of the World Asia-Pacific Regional Register during the tenth meeting of the Memory of the World Committee for Asia and the Pacific (MOWCAP), held earlier this week in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.The inclusion of Indian literary in UNESCO adds to India’s global pride.

What is the significance of the works?

The inclusion of the three works in the register highlights the significance of preserving and celebrating diverse narratives and artistic expressions that shape our shared humanity, the Ministry of Culture said in a statement. “These literary works have transcended time and place, leaving an indelible mark on readers and artists both within and outside India,” the ministry said.

For instance, the Ramayana and Ramcharitmanas are read in not only India but also in other Southeast Asian countries such as Cambodia, Thailand, Sri Lanka, and Indonesia.

Literary works in UNESCO

Two Ramacharitmanas manuscripts were sent to UNESCO — one authored by Goswami Tulsidas and the other one written in Arabic in the 18th century, highlighting the appeal of the text for West Asia and other parts of the world as well.

The Panchatantra fables were zeroed in owing to their universal moral values. The 15th-century Sahdayaloka-Locana, by Kashmiri scholars Acharya Anandvardhan and Abhinavagupta, was chosen because of its aesthetics.

What is the Memory of the World (MOW) register?

UNESCO’s MOW program safeguards, protects, and grants access to rare and endangered documentary heritage through international cooperation.

UNESCO launched the initiative in 1992 “to guard against collective amnesia” by calling upon the preservation of invaluable archive holdings and library collections all over the world and ensuring their wide dissemination.

The Programme acknowledges global, regional, national heritage, maintains registers, awards logos to recognized collections.

It facilitates preservation and access without discrimination. Campaign raises awareness for preserving documentary heritage, urging action and funding from governments, public, businesses, and commerce.

Inscription on the register affirms the significance of the documentary heritage. It also makes it better known, and allows for greater access to it. This facilitates research, education, entertainment, and preservation over time.

What are the other items on the list?

There are 494 inscriptions on the International MoW Register, as of May 2023, according to the UNESCO website. However, the MoW register operates on regional levels as well.

The Memory of the World Asia-Pacific Committee (MOWCAP) —

which has now included the three Indian texts — celebrates Asia-Pacific achievements in genealogy, literature, and science.

Besides, the Member States inscribed 20 items during the 2024 cycle, at the tenth General Meeting in Ulaanbaatar.

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