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Punjabi Mahabharata manuscript

Call Number: MS J9:1


This anthology, containing Braj Hindi translations of portions of the Sanskrit Mahabharata by Krisan Lal and of the Sanskrit Jaiminibharata by Tahkan Chopra, was copied and illustrated in Punjab, circa 1820-1840. The manuscript is most likely the second volume of a complete two-volume copy of Krisan Lal's translation of the Mahabharata.


  • approximately 1820-1840

Language of Materials

Braj Hindi

Conditions Governing Access

No access restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

Spencer Library staff may determine use restrictions dependent on the physical condition of manuscript materials.

This manuscript volume is both heavy and fragile. Refrain from opening beyond 120 degrees when viewing.


1 volume : Contemporary stamped leather binding with flap, contains 11 illuminated drawings. White Sialkoti paper, 16 lines per page in Gurmukha script. ; 33 x 24 cm (written surface: 22 x 18 cm)

Scope and Contents

The text in this anthology contains Krisan Lal's Braj translation of parvans 8-12 and 15-18 of the Sanskrit epic the Mahabharata. The text adds a Rajadharama paraba between the eleventh and twelfth parvans of the classical text and omits parvan 13 (Anusasanaparvan). It may also be that the text's Rajadharama paraba substitutes for the Anusasanaparvan, but in a different position in the text.

The manuscript substitutes for parvan 14 (Anusasanaparvan) of the Sanskrit Mahabharata the Braj translation of the surviving portion of the Sanskrit Jaiminibharata, by the poet Tahkan Chopra of Jalalabad, completed in 1669 when he was serving in the Mughal army. Like the Anusasanaparvan, Tahkan's Asvamedha bhakha centers around the horse-sacrifice (asvamedha) carried out by the victorious Pandava leader Yudhisthira after his coronation to assert his sovereignty and atone for the slaughter of the Kauravas. In this version, the horse-sacrifice is used as a frame-story to narrate various legends and wonder stories in the context of the adventures of the Pandava heroes (principally Arjuna and Krishna) as they locate and follow the sacrificial horse after its consecration in the sacrifice ceremony.

The manuscript is most likely the second volume of a complete two-volume copy of Krisan Lal's translation of the Mahabharata.

Physical Location

MS J9:1

Other Finding Aids

Additional information about the volume, including a list of the illustrations, is available at

Custodial History

A label pasted into the front cover reads "This book was presented to the University of Kansas by Sallie C. Thayer in memory of her husband William B. Thayer 1917." The second flyleaf bears the stamp of the "W.B. Thayer Library" and a penciled note with the first line illegible and the second reading "Maha Bhârata." A typed label, presumably added by the University Library, reads 'Mahabharata' an epic relating to the wars between two ancient Hindu races during the thirteenth century B.C."

Physical Description

The volume consists of 6 + 758 + 7 folios. In pothã format, numbered in the top right-hand corner of the recto of the folios. Leaf 178 is unnumbered; leaf 215 misnumbered as 205, 618 as 18, and 716 as 706. Leaves 253-302 of the second text originally numbered as 169-218; some of the original numbers have been overwritten, while others have been crossed out and corrected below. There is no folio numbered 707.

The text is enclosed on all four sides by two sets of margins: the inner margin consisting of a thick orange line outlined in black with a thin orange line on the inside and thin black, orange and blue lines on the outside; and the outer margin consisting of an inner thin orange line with an outer thin blue line. Occasional verse numbers are written in the margins, and a round circle is used for line-ending kanna.

Leaves 252b, 746a and 758b are blank. There are rubrications in red ink on the following folios: 1a-56b, 59a-62a, 63a-92a, 95a-8b, 100b-2b, 105b-15a, 117b-20a, 126b, 168b-78b, 190a, 196a-200a, 202a-8a, 217b-26a, 210a-43a, 251b-54a, 300b, 355a-72b, 374b-6a, 573b-631b, 696a, 697a, 698b-9a, 730a-1a, 738a-58a. The following folios have alternating text lines of red and black ink: 1b, 59a, 88b, 95b, 106b, 169a, 253a, 696a, 730a, 746b and 752a. Very occasional use of yellow hartal for corrections.

A series of numbers appears in the bottom left-hand corner of the verso of some folios: 9 (leaf 14a), 11-15 (leaf 21a-5a), 16-20 (leaves 31a-5a), 2? (leaf 41a), 26-30 (leaves 51a-5a), 31-4 (leaves 61a-4a), 36-40 (leaves 70a-4a), 41-5 (leaves 80-4), 41-5 (leaves 90-4), 46-50 (leaves 100a-4a), 51-5 (leaves 110a-14a), 56-60 (leaves 120a-4a), 63-5 (leaves 131a-3a), 67-70 (leaves 140a-3a), 71-5 (leaves 149a-53a), 76-80 (leaves 159a-63a), 2-5 (leaves 170a-3a), 6-10 (leaves 179a-83a), 11-15 (leaves 189a-93a), 16-20 (leaves 199a-203a), 21-5 (leaves 209a-13a), 26-30 (leaves 219a-23a), 31-5 (leaves 229a-33a), 36-40 (leaves 239a-43a), 6-10 (leaves 339a-43a), 11-12 (leaves 348a-9a), 3-5 (leaves 698a-700a), 6-10 (leaves 704a-11a), 11-15 (leaves 717a-21a), 16-20 (leaves 727a-31a), 21-5 (leaves 737a-41a), 26-30 (leaves 747a-51a).

There are occasional gaps in the text on leaves 429ab, 444a, 507a, 525a, 529b, 543a, 572b, 659b, indicating that the copy text was damaged or illegible at this point.

Guide to the Punjabi Mahabharata Manuscript Collection
Punjabi Mahabharata manuscript
Finding aid prepared by ksc, 2006. Finding aid encoded by skt, 2006.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Finding aid written in English.
Finding aid permalink
Preferred citation
Punjabi Mahabharata manuscript, MS J9:1, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas.

Repository Details

Part of the University of Kansas. Kenneth Spencer Research Library Repository

1450 Poplar Lane
Lawrence KS 66045-7616 United States