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North Indian language collections

Our North Indian language collections comprise both manuscripts and printed books, as well as serials and newspapers, in eight languages: Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Marathi, Nepali, Oriya and Panjabi.

Please note that there are delivery issues affecting some books published between 1900 and 1985 with shelfmarks in the range 14002 to 19968 following their move to a new storage facility. Please see further information on moves of Asian language materials

Portrait of Ganesha (Hindu Deity)

Hindi Asanas and Mudras (Yoga): Portrait of Ganesha (Hindu Deity) Add. 24099 (f.2v). Copyright © The British Library Board

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Collections 

Our holdings, which include over 1,100 manuscripts and the printed collections (built up through colonial legal deposit from 1868 through to the 1940s), are unparalleled outside the subcontinent itself. They provide a unique resource for research on South Asia, particularly in the fields of history, study of religions, language, literature, politics, law, education, anthropology, genealogy, geography, music, architecture and art. 

In addition to holdings in the eight languages listed above, the North Indian language collections include items in a number of minor languages such as Santhali; Konkani; Manipuri; Naga etc.

Manuscript holdings range in subject matter from history and poetry to medicine and divination and include religious treatises and scriptural texts from a number of South Asian religious traditions.

Printed books and periodicals span the whole range of humanities and social sciences. Historically, the Indian Press and Registration of Books Act of 1867 and the resultant selection of titles by both the India Office Library and the British Museum Department of Oriental Printed Books from the quarterly lists of Indian publications has led to an unrivalled collection of works from the last quarter of the 19th century through to 1947. Within this, the subsection of ‘Proscribed publications’ is of particular interest – more than 200 pamphlets, periodicals, handbills and posters banned by the British government in India during the crucial four decades leading up to Independence. From 1947 to the present day, publications of research interest have continued to be acquired through purchase and donation.

Catalogues and publications 

Assamese 

Printed Books

J. F. Blumhardt, Catalogue of Assamese and Oriya books in the British Museum. London, 1900. (About 70 items).
J. F. Blumhardt, Catalogue of Assamese books in the India Office Library. London, 1905.
The Catalogue of the Library of The India Office, Vol. II; Part. IV; Bengali, Oriya and Assamese books. pp. 345-353 (About 114 items).
Card catalogue of the Assamese printed books in the Library of the India Office are in Microfilm forms or in copy flow (bound volumes),1906 -1953; 1954-1980, available in the Oriental Reading Room.
Blue slip catalogue of Assamese books in the British Museum, Oriental Collections, 1900 - 1945 (About 1000 items).
Microfilms from Card Catalogue of Oriental Collections, 1945 -1981 (About 1000 items).
Since 1981 Assamese books are catalogued on Explore the British Library, also Computer output microfilms are available in the Reading Room.

Manuscripts

Catalogue of Bengali, Assamese and Oriya manuscripts, pp.34.
J. F. Blumhardt, Catalogue of the Marathi, Gujarati, Bengali, Assamese, Oriya, Pushtu and Sindhi manuscripts in the Library of the British Museum. London, 1905 (6 Assamese manuscripts).
J. F. Blumhardt, Catalogue of the Bengali and Assamese manuscripts in the India Office Library. London, 1924.
Classed Inventory. Includes 9 items acquired since 1906.
D. Ghosh, The handlists of Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati and Rajasthani mss. in the India Office Library. (4 Assamese items).

Proscribed Publications

Graham Shaw & Mary Lloyd (eds.), Publications proscribed by the Government of India: A catalogue of the collections in the India Office Library and Records and the Department of Oriental Manuscripts and Printed Books, British Library Reference Division. London, 1985. (About 5 books).

Periodicals

Assamese periodicals. (14 items), pp. 1-2.
Graham Shaw and Salim Quraishi, Bibliography of South Asian periodicals: A Union list of periodicals in South Asian languages. Sussex: The Harvester Press, 1982.

Bengali 

Printed Books

J. F. Blumhardt, Catalogue of Bengali printed books in the Library of the British Museum. London, 1886.
J. F. Blumhardt, A supplementary catalogue of Bengali books in the Library of the British Museum acquired during the years 1886-1910. London, 1910.
J. F. Blumhardt and J. V. S. Wilkinson, Second supplementary catalogue of Bengali books in the Library of the British Museum acquired during the years 1911-1934. London, 1939.
Blue slip catalogue (i.e. entries drafted for accessions, intended for later compilation in a printed catalogue) of Bengali books acquired 1935-1958 in the Library of the British Museum.
J. F. Blumhardt, Catalogue of the Library of the India Office, Vol. 2; Part 4: Bengali, Oriya and Assamese books. London, 1905.
J. F. Blumhardt, Catalogue of the Library of the India Office. Vol. 2; Part 4. Supplement, 1906-1920: Bengali books. London, 1923.
The card catalogues of the former India Office Library's Bengali printed books covering the period 1920-1983 are now available in the Asian & African Studies Reading Room in microfiche format. Copyflow volumes are also available for the period 1920-54.
The card catalogues produced in the former Department of Oriental Manuscripts and Printed Books of the British Museum / British Library from 1959-1979 are also on microfiche. Since 1980 (OMPB) and 1983 (IOLR) records for Bengali books, in transliteration only, have been added to the Explore the British Library.

Proscribed Publications

During the British Raj some of the Bengali books were banned by the Government of India either for their anti-British propaganda, or for promoting communal strife. The detailed bibliographical information could be found in: Graham Shaw and Mary Lloyd, Publications proscribed by the government of India : a catalogue of the collections in the India Office Library and Records and the Department of Oriental Manuscripts and Printed Books, British Library Reference Division. London, 1985.
All these books have been microfilmed and a complete set can be purchased from Research Publications Inc. There are 5 microfilm reels containing 106 banned Bengali books. Photographic orders for any single item can be placed with OIOC.

Periodicals

Graham Shaw and Salim Quraishi, Bibliography of South Asian periodicals: a union list of periodicals in South Asian language. Sussex: The Harvester Press, 1982. There are 399 titles in the collection, of which fifty-two are current. Holdings of some of the Bengali periodicals, e.g. those which ceased publishing after few years or months, are not complete.

Manuscripts

There are about 41 manuscripts and 144 Bengal factory documents from the India Office Library and 37 manuscripts from the Oriental Collections of the British Museum / British Library. The manuscripts are on various topics, but, mainly religious poetry.
J. F. Blumhardt, Catalogue of the Marathi, Gujarati, Bengali, Assamese, Oriya, Pushtu and Sindhi manuscripts in the Library of the British Museum. London, 1905.
Classed Inventory of items acquired since 1906. Available for consultation in the Asian & African Studies Reading Room.
J. F. Blumhardt, Catalogue of the Bengali and Assamese manuscripts in the Library of the India Office. London, 1924.
Anisuzzaman, Factory correspondence and other Bengali documents in the India Office Library and Records: supplementary to J. F. Blumhardt. London, 1981.
Dipali Ghosh, A handlist of Bengali manuscripts in the India Office Library. London, 1993.

Gujarati 

Printed Books

J. F. Blumhardt, Catalogue of the Library of the India Office. Vol. II; Part V: Marathi and Gujarati books. London, 1908.
Copy flow catalogues of the Marathi and Gujarati books of the Library of India Office, 1909-1945; 1946-1956. Also microfiche of cards available from 1909 to 1983 in the Asian & African Studies Reading Room.
J. F. Blumhardt, Catalogue of Marathi and Gujarati Printed books in the Library of the British Museum. London, 1892.
J. F. Blumhardt, Supplementary catalogue of Marathi and Gujarati printed books in the British Museum. London, 1915.
Blue slips catalogue of Gujarati books acquired 1916-1956.
Card catalogues of the Gujarati books of the Oriental Collections, British Museum / British Library, 1956-1980 on microfilms, available in the Asian & African Studies Reading Room.
Since 1980 Gujarati printed books are available on the Explore the British Library.

Gujarati Okhaharan by Premanada.

Gujarati Okhaharan by Premanada. Or. 12743 (f. 66v). Copyright © The British Library Board

Proscribed Publications

There are 49 Gujarati items.
Graham Shaw and Mary Lloyd, Publications proscribed by the Government of India: a catalogue of the collections in the India Office Library and Records and the Department of Oriental Manuscripts and Printed Books. London, 1985.
The proscribed books have been microfilmed and a complete set can be purchased from Research Publications Inc. There are 58 banned Gujarati books. Photographic orders for any single item can be placed with OIOC.

Manuscripts

J. F. Blumhardt, Catalogue of the Marathi, Gujarati, Bengali, Assamese, Oriya, Pushtu and Sindhi manuscripts in the Library of the British Museum. London, 1905. (57 Gujarati items).
Classed Inventory. Includes 30 Gujarati items acquired since 1906.
J. F. Blumhardt, Catalogue of the Gujarati and Rajasthani manuscripts in the Library of the India Office. London, 1954. (19 Gujarati items).
Dipali Ghosh, The handlist of Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati and Rajasthani manuscripts in the Library of the India Office. London, 1993. (30 Gujarati items).
A. Gaur, Indian Charters of Copper Plates. London, 1975. (includes 2 Gujarati items).

Periodicals

Graham Shaw and Salim Quraishi, The bibliography of South Asian periodicals: a union list of periodicals in South Asian languages. Sussex: The Harvester Press, 1982.

Hindi 

Printed Books

J. F. Blumhardt, Catalogues of Hindi, Panjabi, Sindhi and Pushtu Printed Books in the Library of the British Museum. London, 1893.
J. F. Blumhardt, Supplementary catalogue of Hindi books in the Library of the British Museum acquired during the years 1893-1912. London, 1913.
L. D. Barnett and J. F. Blumhardt, Second supplementary catalogue of Printed Books in Hindi, Bihari (including Bhojpuri, Kaurmali and Maithili) and Pahari (including Nepali or Khaskura, Jaunsari, Mandeali etc) in the British Museum. London,:1957.
J. F. Blumhardt, Catalogue of the Library of the India Office, Vol. 2; Part 3: Hindi, Panjabi, Pushtu and Sindhi books. London, 1902.
The card catalogues of the India Office Library's Hindi Printed Books from 1903 -1975 have been microfilmed and are available for consultation in the Asian & African Studies Reading Room in copyflo volumes. OC's card catalogues of Hindi books 1956 - 1980 are now on microfiche. Hindi books have been catalogued on computer, in transliteration only, since 1980 with the records being added to the British Library Current Catalogue. This is available in microfiche form in the Asian & African Studies Reading Room. These records are nationally and internationally accessible through the Explore the British Library.

Proscribed Publications

During the British Raj certain publications were banned by the Government of India either for their anti-British propaganda content or for promoting communal strife. Records for the banned books are in Graham Shaw and Mary Lloyd, Publications proscribed by the Government of India: a catalogue of the collection in the India Office Library and Records and the Department of Oriental Manuscripts and Printed Books.(London, 1985). These proscribed books have been microfilmed and a complete set can be purchased from Research Publications Inc. There are some 14 reels containing 679 proscribed Hindi books. Photographic orders for any single item can be placed with OIOC.

Manuscripts

There are about 286 manuscripts (139 from OC's collection and 147 items from IOL), ranging in date from the 17th to the 20th century and in subject-matter from history and poetry to medicine and divination.
J. F. Blumhardt, Catalogue of Hindi, Panjabi and Hindustani manuscripts in the Library of the British Museum. London, 1899.
D. Ghosh, A handlist of Hindi manuscripts in the Oriental Collections since Blumhardt's catalogue, 1899.
J. F. Blumhardt, A draft catalogue of Hindi manuscript of the IOL (Mss. Eur.D.500), unpublished.
A. Master, A short title catalogue of Hindi manuscripts of IOL.1954.
Dipali Ghosh, A handlist of all the Hindi IOL manuscripts. London, 1993.

Periodicals

There are 141 titles in the collections, of which 44 are current. Details of most of OIOC's holdings are given in Graham Shaw and Salim Quraishi, Bibliography of South Asian periodicals: a union list of periodicals in South Asian languages. Sussex: The Harvester Press, 1982.

Marathi 

A collection of Saiva mythologies by Moresvar

Sivabhakata Mahatmya: Skanda Purana. A collection of Saiva mythologies by Moresvar. Mss Mar.C.32 (f. 9r). Copyright © The British Library Board

Printed Books

J. F. Blumhardt, Catalogue of Marathi and Gujarati printed books in the Library of the British Museum. London, 1892.
J. F. Blumhardt, A supplementary catalogue of Marathi and Gujarati books in the British Museum. London, 1915.
Blue slips catalogue of the Marthi books, 1916-1955 in the Library of the British Museum.
(Ask the OIOC Reading Room Counter Staff).
J. F. Blumhardt, Catalogue of the Library of the India Office. Vol. II; Part V. Marathi and Gujarati books. London, 1908.
Card catalogue of the India Office Library Marathi catalogue, 1909 - 45; 1945 -1954s; and 1955-1976 have been microfilmed and are available in the OIOC Reading Room in microfilm forms and also in Copyflo (bound vols).
Card catalogue of the Marathi books, 1955-80, in the Library of the British Museum / British Library have been microfilmed and are available in the Asian & African Studies Reading Room.
Since 1980 Marathi printed books are on the British Library database and are available on the Explore the British Library.

Proscribed Publications

There are about 75 proscribed Marathi books in the collections: they have been microfilmed, and the detailed bibliographical information can be found in Graham Shaw and Mary Lloyd, Publications proscribed by the Government of India: A catalogue of the collections in the India Office Library and Records and the Department of Oriental Manuscripts and Printed Books, British Library Reference Division. London, 1985.
A full set of microfilms of the Marathi proscribed books can be purchased from the Research Publications Inc. Photographic orders for any one item can be placed with OIOC.

Manuscripts

There are 258 Marathi manuscripts (OC: 81 and IOL: 177). They are either in Devnagari or in Modi scripts.
J. F. Blumhardt, Catalogue of the Marathi, Gujarati, Bengali, Assamese, Oriya, Pushtu, and Sindhi manuscripts in the Library of the British Museum. London, 1905.
Classed Inventory. Includes 7 Marathi ietms acquired since 1906 ( 74 items).
J. F. Blumhardt and Sadashiv Govind Kanhere, Catalogue of the Marathi manuscripts in the India Office Library. Oxford, 1950.
A handlist of the Marathi manuscripts in the India Office Collections, compiled by Dipali Ghosh. (175 items).

Periodicals

For periodicals see Graham Shaw and Salim Quraishi, The bibliography of South Asian periodicals: A union list of periodicals in South Asian languages. Sussex: The Harvester Press, 1982.

Oriya 

Printed Books

'Catalogue of Oriya Books' in Catalogue of OR. PR. Books Miscellaneous Oriental: Catalogues: Dept of Or. P.B. & Mss. British Museum.
J. F. Blumhardt, Catalogue of Assamese and Oriya Books in the British Museum. London, 1900.
J. F. Blumhardt, Catalogue of the Library of the India Office. Vol.II; Part IV. Bengali, Oriya and Assamese books. London, 1905.
Copyflo of the card catalogue in the Library of the India Office, 1906-1955.
Blue slips catalogue of the Oriya Printed Books in the British Museum, 1900-1958 / British Library. Ask at the Oriental Reading Room Counter Desk.
Microfiche of the Oriya card catalogue of the British Museum / British Library, 1958-1980. Available in the Oriental Reading Room.
Since 1980 Oriya Books are on Computer, available on the Explore the British Library.

Proscribed Publications

Graham Shaw and Mary Lloyd, Publications proscribed by the Government of India: A catalogue of the collections in the India Office Library and Records and the Department of Oriental Manuscripts and Printed Books, British Library Reference Division. London, 1985. (9 items).

Manuscripts

J. F. Blumhardt, Catalogue of the Marathi, Gujarati, Bengali, Assamese, Oriya, Pushtu and Sindhi manuscripts in the Library of the British Museum. London, 1905. (10 Oriya items).
Classed Inventory (Includes 31 items, acquired since 1906). Available in the Oriental Reading Room.
J. F. Blumhardt, Catalogue of the Oriya manuscripts in the Library of the India Office. London, 1924. ( 50 items).

Periodicals

Graham Shaw and Salim Quraishi, The bibliography of South Asian periodicals: A union list of periodicals in South Asian languages. Sussex: The Harvester Press, 1982.

Panjabi 

Janamsakhi: A biography of Guru Narak

Janamsakhi: A biography of Guru Narak. Mss.Panj.B.40 (f. 198v). Copyright © The British Library Board

Printed Books

J. F. Blumhardt, Catalogues of the Hindi, Panjabi, Sindhi, and Pushtu printed books in the Library of the British Museum. London, 1893.
L. D. Barnett, Panjabi printed books in the British Museum: A supplementary catalogue. London, 1961.
J. F. Blumhardt, Catalogue of the Library of the India Office. Vol. II; Part III. Hindi, Panjabi, Pushtu, and Sindhi books. London, 1902.
Ganesh Gaur, Catalogue of the Panjabi printed books added to the India Office Library, 1902 - 1964. London, 1975.
Microfiche of the Card catalogue of the Panjabi printed books in the Library of the British Museum / British Library since 1960, available in the Oriental Reading Room.
Current Panjabi printed books are on Computer available on the Explore the British Library.

Proscribed Publications

(53 items in Gurmukhi script and 34 items in Persian script).
Graham Shaw and Mary Lloyd, Publications proscribed by the Government of India: A catalogue of the collections in the India Office Library and Records and the Department of Oriental Manuscripts and Printed Books, British Library Reference Division. London, 1985.

Manuscripts

J. F. Blumhardt, Catalogue of Hindi and Panjabi manuscripts in the Library of the British Museum. London, 1899.
Classed Inventory. includes 19 items acquired since 1899.
C. Shackle, Catalogue of the Panjabi and Sindhi manuscripts in the India Office Library. London, 1977.

Periodicals

Graham Shaw and Salim Quraishi, The bibliography of South Asian periodicals: A union list of periodicals in South Asian languages. Sussex: The Harvester Press, 1982.

Nepali and Newari 

Printed Books

Until 1958 The British Museum's Nepali and Newari books were catalogued and kept with the Hindi collection.
See L. D. Barnett, J. F. Blumhardt and J. V. S. Wilkinson, Second supplementary catalogue of printed books in Hindi, Bihari (including Bhojapuria, Kaurmali and Maithili) and Pahari (including Nepali or Khaskura, Jaunsari, Mandeali, etc) in the Library of the British Museum. London, 1957. (Includes about 220 Nepali items).
Microfiche of the card catalogue of Nepali books acquired since 1958 in the Library of the British Museum / British Library.
Michael Hutt, Catalogue of Nepali Printed books in the India Office Library. London, 1985.
Microfiche of the card catalogue of Newari books acquired since 1958 in the Library of the British Museum / British Library.
Copyflo catalogue of Nepali books in the Library of the India Office, acquired till 1980.
Since 1980 Nepali and Newari books are on computer, available on the Explore the British Library.

Manuscripts

G. E. Marrison, Handlist of manuscripts in Nepali, Newari and Sanskrit in the Department of Oriental Manuscripts and Printed Books. Typescript, 1973.
Classed Inventory. Includes 16 Nepali and 11 Newari manuscripts in the OC's collections.

Periodicals

Graham Shaw and Salim Quraishi, The bibliography of South Asian periodicals: A union list of periodicals in South Asian languages. Sussex: The Harvester Press, 1982.

There is no printed catalogue for the Minor Languages, but blue slips and card catalogues are available in the Oriental Reading Room on request, recent books are on OPAC. There is no manuscript available in the collection.

Contact

Marina Chellini, North Indian
Asian and African Studies
The British Library
96 Euston Road
London
NW1 2DB
United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)20 7412 7886

E-mail: marina.chellini@bl.uk