Last Tuesday a group of pupils from St James School for Boys paid a visit to Oxford and in particular the Bodleian Library where they viewed some of greatest South Asian manuscript treasures in our collection.
The boys, who are in Year 10, had the opportunity to spend the morning looking at William ‘Oriental’ Jones’ original translation of the famous Kalidasa play, ‘The Recognition of Shakuntala’, as well as another manuscript of the play and the modern Clay Sanskrit Library translation of it. They also saw a 300-year-old complete manuscript of Valmiki’s great epic the Ramayana, a 200-year-old book of the Mahabharata, Sir Monier Monier-Williams’ own copy of the Bhagavad Gita and an incredible Thai Biddhist manuscripts beautifully illustrated with scenes from the past lives of the Buddha.
They expressed huge enthusiasm for the experience and immense gratitude for getting to see some original copies of sources for stories which they themselves have studied during their Sanskrit classes at school.
After lunch the day finished with a visit to the Ashmolean Museum where some excellent examples of Classical Indian and Central Asian Hindu, Buddhist and Jain art and sculpture is held. This gave them the opportunity to see more of the rich and varied sources from which we have learnt so much about the extensive cultural heritage of India.
We at the Bodleian Library and Clay Sanskrit Library Project look forward to having another group from the school back next year.