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A Hundred Harvests: The History of Asian Studies at Berkeley

South Asian Collections

Portrait of Murray B. Emeneau

Murray B. Emeneau portrait

When Murray B. Emeneau came to Berkeley in 1940 he was already a renowned Indologist and linguist who had spent many years studying the Todas and Kotas in the Nilgiri hills and learning Dravidian languages. He taught Sanskrit and linguistics, first in the Classics Department and then, from 1953 onwards, in the the newly formed Department of Linguistics, of which he was the first Chairman. Since 1973, Sanskrit has been taught in the Department of South and Southeast Asian Studies.

Portrait of Arthur W. Ryder

Arthur W. Ryder portrait

Arthur W. Ryder came to Berkeley in January 1906. Though Sanskrit had been offered since 1897, with Ryder's arrival the courses were expanded into a full program for Sanskrit language and literature. Ryder translated many Sanskrit works including "Little Clay Cart," "Shakuntula," and the "Cloud Messenger." In describing Arthur Ryder, one Italian Sanskritist said "Ten men like him would make a civilization." 

Photograph of Gobind Behari Lal

Gobind Behari Lal photograph

Gobind Behari Lal was born in India in a well-to-do Hindu family. After graduating from the University of the Punjab in 1908, he entered the University of California, Berkeley and earned a degree in social sciences. In 1925 he joined the San Francisco Examiner and in 1936 shared a Pulitzer Prize with two other reporters for coverage of the Harvard Tercentenary. His greatest contribution to journalism was his popularization of science and his effort to imbue the general reader with what he called "the spirit of science." Lal's papers are housed in the Bancroft Library.

Photograph of David Goodman Mandelbaum

David Goodman Mandelbaum photograph

Berkeley professor David Goodman Mandelbaum with tribesmen from the Nilgiri hills. Mandelbaum was one of the first cultural anthropologists to undertake ethnographic research in India.

Photograph of George Dales

George Dales photograph

George Dales examining a human skeleton at the archaeological dig in Harappa, Pakistan. This project in Pakistan has been sponsored jointly by the Archaeological Survey of Pakistan and two United States universities, first University of California, Berkeley and now University of Wisconsin, Madison. Beyond it's research value the project is seen as an important teaching tool for future Pakistani and American achaeologists.

Jain manuscript on paper from the early 16th century.

Kalpasutra and Kalacharya Katha 

Jain manuscript on paper. Probably early 16th century. Thick cloth covers decorated with symbols of lucky dreams. The Kalpasutra is Svetambara Jain Agamic work attributed to Bhadrabahu and written in a form of Prakrit called Jain Maharastri. The miniatures are in early west Indian style. The work details the code of conduct for a Jain monk. For instance, these wandering ascetics are enjoined not to stay in a city for more than five nights and not to stay in a village for more than one night, though special dispensation is made for the rainy season when a sojourn of one month is permissible in any locale.

A Buddhist prayer sheet with Mandan characters

Sanskrit Mantra

A Buddhist prayer sheet with Mandan characters brought to the U.S. by a traveler from Mongolia.

Ceylonese manuscript from circa 1720

Sinhalese Ola

Ceylonese manuscript. ca. 1720. Lacquered covers. Book describing treatments for pneumonia and typhoid with favorite medical prescriptions and methods of preparation.

Indian manuscript in Persia rom the 17th or 18th Century

Safinah-i Ghazal 

Indian manuscript in Persian. 17th or 18th Century. Leather binding. Illuminated endpapers. A collection of classical Persian Poetry.

Tamil manuscript

Patinoravatu Nikantu Enkira Oru Corpala Porul Tokuti

Tamil manuscript, "the eleventh thesaurus". On palm leaves. Undated.

Illustration of the monkey god, Hanuman, leaping across the oceanHanuman Leaping the Ocean

Illustration from the dustcover of The Ramayana of Valmiki: an epic of ancient India, volume 5, Sundarakanda translated by Robert P. Goldman and Sally Sutherland Goldman. The illustration depicts an episode in the Ramayana when the monkey god, Hanuman, leaps across the ocean to the island of Lanka in the campaign to rescue Lord Rama's faithful wife Sita, who has been abducted by the demon-king Ravana. In this episode Hanuman is leaping from the peak of Mt. Mahendra on the right and pausing in his flight to be greeted and embraced by the undersea mountain Mainaka, which has emerged from the waters to provide a resting place for him.

Lady Gathering Flowers from the Parijata Tree

Miniature painting. Modern. Rajasthan state. According to Hindu mythology, Nyctanthes arbor-tristis, or the wish-granting Parijata tree, which perfumes the entire universe, was the third treasure churned from the milky ocean by the gods and the asuras.

Dushyanta's Court

Panoramic view of Dushyanta's court in the production of Shakuntula at the Greek Theater. Panoramic view of

Shakuntala at the Green Theater photograph

This photo, a panoramic view of Dushyanta's court, is from the 1914 production of Shakuntala at the Greek Theater in Berkeley. Arthur Ryder translated Shakuntula into English from Kalidasa's Sanskrit original and then created an "acting version" in collaboration with Garnet Holme. 

Dushyanta and Shakuntala photographs

King Dushyanta visits the hermitage of Kanva, where he falls in love with the hermit's foster daughter Shakuntula.He marries her and then returns to his palace, giving her a ring as a token of remembrance. But through wicked enchantment the king forgets Shakuntula and rejects her when she arrives at the royal court. The play tells of their suffering, separation, and final reunion.

Alwar court fee revenue stampBundi court fee revenue stamp

Court Fee and Revenue Stamps of the Princely States of India

Selections from Alwar and Bundi. The court fee and revenue stamps were designed by the British as a means to collect taxes from residents of some of the Princely States starting as early as 1797. The designs include the name of the state as well as the type and amount of tax imposed. Berkeley's collection, including stamps from over 15 Princely States, is a gift from Dr. Kenneth Robbins.

Selections from the Krishnabai Nimbkar Collection (not pictured)

Letter from Krishna Nehru urging Krishnabai Nimbkar to attend an independence rally the next day where Gandhi Ji will most likely be arrested and then deported. "The battle begins tomorrow and if we do not join now we never will." Signed Article 17, a mimeographed letter from Achyut Patwardhan addressed to the "Comrades recently released from Jail." He urges them to take heart and to resume the fight for independence and dignity, ending with "LONG LIVE FREE INDIA."