Today we continue our journey exploring the uses of the palm leaves as manuscripts across the Indian subcontinent! Last time we learned about the preparation of the palm leaf manuscripts before they reached the author’s hands. So, in this post we will talk about the content of the palm leaves (also called nadi leaves). We’ll see the different languages that were used. Then the various authors that wrote the nadi astrology predictions on the palm leaves.
What Were the Uses of the Palm Leaf Manuscripts
The literary works written on palm leaf manuscripts are many. Some topics include information regarding letters, the grammar of poetry, and prose. Additionally, there were also literary works ranging from epics, like the mahabharata (containing over 200,000 lines of verse), to texts containing spiritual instruction (like Vijnana Bhiarava Tantra. VBT is a short tantric text containing only advanced meditation practices). Still more leaves contained short stories, historical records etc. The authors wrote from real-time incidents to imaginary works. In the monarchy period, many kings tasked authors with the creation of these literatures. Sangam literature was a very old literary work in the Tamil language.
Many talented artists collected their knowledge, skills and artistic philosophies on palm leaves. They used palm leaf manuscripts as a way to hand down their knowledge to future generations. In the present day we have various different platforms and resources to spread knowledge. However, 1000’s of years ago this is what the palm leaf manuscripts were used for. These talented people would meet periodically to share their skills with others, similarly to how we hold conferences in the modern day. An example is the Natya Sastra by an ancient scholar called Bharatha Muni. Natya Sastra was purely about the Indian classical dance “Bharathanatyam”.
Great mathematicians also bestowed their knowledge upon future generations through palm leaf manuscripts. From complicated concepts to simple terms, they used palm leaves to pass their knowledge on. Certainly the information can amaze us as we wonder – how had they written such simple solutions to such complex problems? There are manuscripts regarding the decimal systems, numeral notations, measurements and algorithms.
My favourite subject has come – science! There are literary works ranging from nanoscience to macro objects found within the palm leaf libraries. Further, there are works about medicine, physics, chemistry and astronomy. Siddha, Ayurveda, and Unani manuscripts contribute to the medicine works. Additionally, there are also books regarding civil engineering (Vastu Sastra), architecture, atomic theory and metallurgy and more!
Philosophy and Life Science
In the ancient period, people had a simple and structured lifestyle, thus they lived a self sustainable life. There are numerous literary works regarding the different types of people who lived in different geographical landscapes. Furthermore the authors wrote about the life, food, and love of the people who lived in those areas. Also, when kings, leaders or people were moving toward a misleading path, the authors considered it as their duty to guide them. Therefore they wrote philosophical works to help normalize and assist society.
What Languages Were Used for the Palm Leaf Manuscripts?
There are palm leaf manuscripts written in Tamil, Sanskrit, Prakrit, Pali, Persian, Arabic, Urdu, Marathi, Malayalam, Telugu, and Kannada.
Though the languages were many, uses of the palm leaf manuscripts remain similar throughout India and greater Asia.
Who Wrote the Palm Leaves?
The different authors ranged from the Maharishis, to the Siddhars, to scholars from various fields. The Maharishis wrote knowledgeable works from spirituality to materialistic life. Siddhars were scientists, saints, doctors, alchemists and mystical writers. Scholars wrote about arts, architecture, music, dance, and sculptures. Many palm leaf manuscripts that were written still exist, preserved in libraries. Unfortunately many have been lost due to enmity, natural disasters or insects.
In conclusion, we now know there are many uses of the palm leaf manuscripts. We know they were written about a large number of different topics. They are written in different languages, and by various authors through the ages. Indian palm leaf libraries are rich in knowledge. The lessons and stories contained therein hold the power to teach and sometimes astonish us with each word we read.
Palm Leaves Were Used for Nadi Leaf Predictions
A very specific use of palm leaves for recording information was the recording and preservation of the nadi leaves. Above all, these are the kind of leaves that we specialize in at My Palm Leaf.
These nadi leaves contain ancient predictions of the lives of millions of people around the world and across a large span of time. The leaves contain extremely intricate life details. Thus, they are intended to guide the seeker towards a more integrated and harmonious way of living. In Tamil the word nadi refers to a seeker of the knowledge.
The authors of the leaves, known as siddhas, rishis or the saptarishi, apparently understood that the world would enter a period of decline. Evidently their intended use of the palm leaf manuscripts was to guide us out of self-centred, materialistic and disconnected ways of living.
Preservation of the Nadi Leaf Predictions
The special contents of these nadi leaf predictions were preserved carefully in specially dedicated libraries across India. Since dried palm leaves are organic material they are of course subject to decay. This meant that the leaves had to be copied by hand every 250-300 years. Today the leaves are stored in libraries. These libraries work together in a kind of loosely formed network. This network strives to preserve the ancient wisdom of nadi astrology and to make this wisdom available to as many beings as possible.
To Learn more about the Indian palm leaves, check out this inspiring and informative YouTube video on the Palm Leaves.
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