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South Asian Manuscripts at the Library of Congress

This guide provides information about rare manuscripts in various South Asian languages (e.g., Sanskrit, Urdu, Tamil, Sinhalese) available for research in the Asian Division of the Library of Congress.


Indo-Aryan Ms. 213 Kalpasūtra. 18th/19th century. Library of Congress Asian Division.

In total, the South Asian Rare Book Collection in the Library of Congress numbers approximately 1,000 manuscripts in various languages (e.g., Sanskrit, Urdu, Tamil, Sinhalese). The majority of these manuscripts are in Sanskrit. Reference librarians in the Asian Division will update this guide periodically with further details of manuscripts in various languages.

Using the Manuscripts

All South Asian manuscripts at the Library of Congress are part of the South Asian Rare Book Collection, and all are available to researchers in the Library's Asian Reading Room. The Asian Division’s rare book policy states that access to rare materials is reserved for individuals engaged in scholarly research. To view these manuscripts you must make an appointment in advance using the Asian Division’s Ask-a-Librarian service. Please contact us at least five business days before your visit to the Library of Congress.

About the Asian Division

The Asian Reading Room provides public access to more than 4 million items in approximately 200 languages and dialects from across Asia, including Bengali, Chinese, Hindi, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Mongolian, Thai, Tibetan, Urdu, Vietnamese, and many others. In the reading room, researchers can use the Asian Division’s collections of printed materials, microform, and databases and confer with reference librarians to answer research questions about the countries of East, South, and Southeast Asia.