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HindustanTimes Thu,24 Jul 2014

At 78, passion for manuscripts keeps him going

Neha Arora , Hindustan Times  Jalandhar, March 29, 2014
First Published: 12:12 IST(29/3/2014) | Last Updated: 12:16 IST(29/3/2014)

He is passionate to save the invaluable treasures from being lost forever. The manuscript hunter, whenever gets a hint or call for any manuscript being traced, runs tirelessly for saving it for posterity.

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Meet the survey scholar, who works for the Vishveshvaran and Vishwa Bandhu Institute of Sanskrit and Indological Studies, Harbans Singh Bawa, despite aged 78, keeps looking for ancient manuscripts.

He moves from village to village across the state in a bid to find manuscripts. He was here at DAV College to display a manuscript of the Bhagawad Gita, nearly 200-year-old written in Gurmukhi script.

He got it from one Bhai Hari Das of Bilga village. Addressing a seminar on manuscripts at the college, he said, “I wander from dera to dera and have found more than 4000 manuscripts in villages. Some villagers have preserved the scripts realising about their importance, while a few have given them to scrap dealers.”

The passionate surveyor was earlier a government school teacher. He developed passion for hunting manuscripts in 2005.

“I did my PhD in the concept of body in Indian philosophy with special reference to Sankhya Shastra and Yoga, when I was 70 years old,” said Bawa who hails from Muktsar.

Apart from locating manuscripts, Bawa gathers some written anecdotes of eminent personalities through books. He has also credit of collecting several speeches of great personalities, including Subhas Chandra Bose. When asked if the youngsters should also locate manuscripts, he sarcastically said, “This is meant for people like us. Why should they bother about the old writings.”

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