GOVERNMENT ORIENTAL MANUSCRIPTS LIBRARY (GOML)
The Collections of colonel Mackenzie(1754-1821), Dr. Leyden and Mr.C.P.Brown
constitute the nucleus of the vast collection of manuscripts preserved
in Government Oriental Manuscripts Library,Madras,which consists of manuscripts
of works in literature, history, philosophy and science,written in South
Indian and Oriental Languages, and of Kaifiyats and inscriptions found
in many places belonging to different periods.
Colonel Colin Mackenzie who came to India in 1783 as a Cadet of Engineers
on the Madras Establishment of the East India Company took a keen interest
in the study of ancient mathematics and, of Logarithm in particular, and
in Oriental languages. He collected a large number of manuscripts, coins,
inscriptions, maps etc., bearing on the liberature, religion, history,
manners and customs of the people not only from different parts of India
but also from Ceylon and Java.
On his appointment as Surveyor-General of India in 1818, Colonel Mackenzie
took his valuable collections with him to Calcutta and went on adding to
them till his death in 1821.
This collection was bought from Mrs. Mackenzie for 10,000 pounds by
the East India Company in 1821 and divided into three parts. While one
part was retained in London, the other parts were sent to Calcutta and
In 1837, C.P.Brown noticed a collection of manuscripts in Tamil, Telugu
and Kannada characters in the India Office Library, London. This invaluable
collection belonged to Dr.Leyden, a remarkable linguist and traveller who
was in India during 1803- 1811. After his death, the East India Company
purchased it and lodged at the India House, London. Thanks to the efforts
of C.P.Brown, who had joined Indian Civil Service, it was subsequently
brought to India.
Brown (1798-1184) himself presented to the East India Company his
own valuable collections of paper manuscripts of Sanskrit and Telugu works.
This collection was brought to India in 1855.
Full fledged library in the true sense was started in 1869. Three collections
i.e. the Mackenzie Collection and Brown Collection were transferred to
Presidency College, Madras in 1870 and Mr. Pickford who was Professor of
Sanskrit in Presidency College, was directed to prepare a Catalogue for
He was then called upon to prepare a scheme for publication of important
literary and historical manuscripts. In 1876 he was requested to explore
for new manuscripts and to purchase or acquire them by transcription.
Accordingly, many manuscripts were acquired from time to time and added
to the Library collection.
From such small beginnings, GOML, MADRAS, has grown to its present dimensions
and it possesses 71180 manuscripts in the following languages:
Other Oriental languages 127
Local Records 434
Consequent on the formation of linguistic States in our country about 7,000
manluscripts in Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam were transferred to Andhra
Pradesh, Karnataka and Kerala respectively. Apart from this 22,887 printed
books are available for reference in the Library.
The main functions of GOML are as follows:
Acquisition and preservation of manuscripts.
Classification and Cataloguing of manuscripts.
Publication of rare manuscripts and Library Catalogues.
Purchase of books and periodicalsl for reference, and
Supply of information of manuscripts to the scholars.
The rare and valuable palm-leaf manuscripts are carefully preserved by
adopting manual and chemical methods. The injured and damaged paper manuscripts
are preserved by being mended with Chiffon cloth.
GOML has brought out so far 350 publications including Descriptive and
Triennial Catalogues of its manuscripts in various languages. The publication
have been broughtl under two series. GOVERNMENT ORIENTAL MANUSCRIPTS SERIES
and GOVERNMENT ORIENTAL SERIES, those in the latter being edited by the
Curator and the staffr of the Library.
Multilingual Bulletin published annually by GOML contains in-print, rare
and unpublished manuscripts in various languages. Twenty one volumes have
been published so far.
PARTICIPATION IN EXHIBITION
The rare and valuable manuscripts of GOML were displayed in the manuscript
exhibitions on the following occasions:
1964 - The Twenty Sixth International Congress of Orientalists in New Delhi.
1964 - The Third All India Agama Silpa Bharata Forklore Conference in Kancheepuram.
1965 - The World Telugu Conference in Hyderabad
1968 - The Second World Tamil Conference in Madras.
1968 - The Lord Mahaveera's 25th Parinirvana Centenary Celebrations in
1980 - The Silver Jubilee Celebrations of the Sanskrit Department Vevekananda
College in Madras
1980 - The Chitirai Festival in Madurai
1981 - The Fifth World Tamil Conference in Madurai
1982 - Seminar on Sanskrit Literature at Vivekananda College in Madras
GOML is a government institution headed by the Curator under the control
ofl the Director of Archaeology, Government of Tamilnadu.
Manuscripts and books are issued to visitors for study or consultation
on request. Permission is accorded to research scholars for studying, copying
and comparing the manuscripts.
GOML is located in the Western Wing of the first floor of the Madras University
Working Hours: 10.00AM - 5.45PM on all working days. Closed on Fridays
and Saturdays and government holidays.
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