The Clay Sanskrit Library Compendium

The entry for A Sanskrit Treasury in the Autumn 2019 Bodleian Library Publishing Catalog

The aim of this volume is to lay before a wide readership the riches of Sanskrit literature as contained in the 56-volume Clay Sanskrit Library (CSL), in the context of the visual riches of the Bodleian’s Indian collection, bringing out the inter-relationship between the two modes of expression.

Before the advent of print technology, texts and images were transmitted in manuscript form. In the function and structure of manuscripts, texts are integral. Without texts, manuscripts would not exist. When the texts were reproduced and committed to the page, in many cases they were accompanied with images, becoming something much greater than the original texts themselves. The relationship between these two means of literary and artistic expression will be at the heart of the CSL Compendium.


Iconic passages from the CSL treasure trove of Sanskrit literature are paired with some of the greatest South Asian manuscript treasures in the Bodleian Library from the Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain traditions, as well as with astonishing Mughal miniatures. Their impact is significantly enhanced by the alliance of text with images from closely related manuscripts.


The organizing principle in this publication is geography. Each chapter looks at texts and manuscripts from a different region of the vast and culturally diverse South Asia: where was the text composed? In which region was the manuscript of the text written? And how did it travel in some cases so far? The volume acts as a guide to the spread of local traditions and cultures across the region. The CSL Compendium is accompanied by explanatory matter and commentaries, exploring the various facets of the authors and their works as well as of the manuscripts presented.

Aim and Prospective Readership

The CSL Compendium introduces scholarly issues to the non-specialist reader in non-technical language. Anyone interested in literature and its composition, or the growing number who wish to explore their own heritage, should find the book of value. It can also be expected to prove useful to teachers of courses on World Literature, South Asian Literature, and South Asian Art.


There was no expense spared on the production of this beautiful book. Made with the finest paper and real cloth, this 288 page book is the perfect introduction for anyone interested in Sanskrit literature and the manuscript art of South Asia – and beyond.

Purchase on

Purchase on

Dr Camillo Formigatti
The John P. Clay Sanskrit Librarian
Oriental Section
Bodleian Libraries
The Weston Library
Broad Street, Oxford OX1 3BG
December 2017

Past Event:
A Sanskrit Treasury: Camillo Formigatti and Menaka PP Bora

Thursday, 2 April 2020
1 hour
Weston Lecture Theatre

John P. Clay Sanskrit Librarian at the Bodleian Libraries Camillo Formigatti uncovers some of the jewels of Sanskrit literature held at the Bodleian Libraries.

Formigatti has put together a collection of some of the best passages from the renowned stories, poems, dramas and myths of South Asian literature, including the Mahābhārata and the Rāmāyaṇa. They include episodes from the adventures of young Krishna, the life of Prince Rāma and Hindu foundational myths, the life of the Buddha, and Buddhist and Jaina birth stories. Many of the works held in the Bodleian’s Clay Sanskrit Library are exquisitely illustrated. The collection includes birch-bark and palm-leaf manuscripts, vibrant Mughal miniatures, early printed books, sculptures, watercolour paintings and even early photograph albums.

Formigatti is John P. Clay Sanskrit Librarian at the Bodleian Libraries and previously worked as a research associate on the Sanskrit Manuscripts Project in Cambridge.

This event was part of the festival’s programme of Indian literature and culture.

Presented by Bodleian Libraries.