28 January 2009

And Back Again (From Jaisalmer)

Our return trip from the Thar Desert and Jaisalmer took a side road to an otherwise nondescript temple. The usual shoes-off, climb the stairs, and take-a-look-around scenario. But on the way down Amar Singh asked if I’d like to see the library, the Bhadria. “Sure,” I said. He led us to a side room where he took my business card, filled out a form of some sort, and then we waited. Turns out that the Bhadrya Library has been collected by an anonymous swami (=saint) whose goal is to collect every book (in hard copy or digital form) in the world. Off to a decent start, I’d say.

The swami hasn’t been seen in public or even spoken for over three years. A life of meditation and collection; but whose written consent to admit a visitor to the library is required. We got ours in about 45 minutes. Many others, including a former vice-chancellor of NLU, haven’t been admitted. Had the swami heard of the Fulbright Program? Who knows? Down yet more stairs into a basement where we saw the first rows of stacks. Down one row and only more rows could be seen. Around those and still more . How many books were there? I’m not sure anyone knows but I was told that digitalization and cataloging is constantly underway.

Quite a few titles were in English, including versions of the Bible and various legal texts. Many more were in Hindi, Sanskrit, Arabic, and scripts I didn’t recognize. I suppose it’s a good thing that Joe Kickasola wasn’t with us or he’d still be there.

1 comment:

  1. Dear Professor Pryor,

    Thanks for all the great blogging. But could you read Justice a little faster?


    Patiently awaiting your further outline of Nick's approach,