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Rare Sikh scriptures to be digitized

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    Amritsar, April 18 - For the first time, rare scriptures of Sikh Reference Library in the Golden Temple will be preserved and then digitised with the help of experts.

    The library suffered heavy damage in June 1984 when the Army/CBI took rare manuscripts, while many scriptures were damaged in fire.

    The SGPC came forward to accept the suggestion of deputy commissioner Kahan Singh Pannu to get the rare holy scriptures digitalised through experts of Guru Nanak Dev University and other institutions.

    For this purpose, GND varsity has allocated Rs 55 lakh to do lamination and scanning of the rare documents.

    The local administration also played a role in persuading the SGPC and Shiromani Akali Dal to carry out the conservation of Ramgarhia Bungas and frescoes of Baba Atal in the vicinity of the Golden Temple. While the kar sewa of the Ramgarhia Bungas started today, the conservation of Baba Atal will be carried out shortly.

    It may be mentioned here that the repository of over 1,500 invaluable rare manuscripts, including copies of Adi Granth, Damdami Bir (dated Bikrami 1739) and portraits, was destroyed during Operation Bluestar.

    Even after a lapse of over two decades what exactly happened to the library is not clear.

    Besides rare historical books, documents, manuscripts on Sikh religion, history and culture, the Sikh reference library also had a number of handwritten manuscripts of Guru Granth Sahib, hukamnamas, some bearing signatures of revered Sikh Gurus, and a few rare documents pertaining to India's struggle for Independence.

    Mool Mantra on a Manuscript written by Guru Hargobind which is on display in Central Sikh Museum

    The SGPC alleged that after picking up the material from the library in gunny bags and transporting it to the Youth Hostel in Amritsar, a make-shift camp office of the CBI, in military trucks, the empty library was set on fire and it was made out that everything preserved there had been reduced to ashes.

    The library was established in 1946 vide resolution number 822, dated October 27, 1946, of the SGPC.

    A significant role was played by the Sikh Historical Society, established in 1930 at Lahore under the leadership of Bawa Budh Singh.

    The Sikh Historical Society was formed at this meeting and its formal meet was held at Teja Singh Sammundri Hall on April 29, 1945. At this time, bylaws of the society were passed and a working committee constituted. It comprised Teja Singh, Bawa Prem Singh, Bawa Harikrishan Singh, Gurmukh Nihal Singh, and Ganda Singh.

    This society became instrumental in establishing the Central Sikh Library. Later, the name was changed to Sikh Reference Library.

    - By Varinder Walia Tribune News Service
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