The third important material used for manuscripts in India is paper. It is generally accepted that paper was invented in China by Tsai Lun in 105 CE and was introduced in India during the Moghul rule. But some interesting evidences are there to claim that paper was invented in India.
- Nearchos, admiral of Alexander wrote that Indian were manufacturing paper out of cotton. If this claim is true, then we can say that India invented paper even before China.
- Praśasti Prakāśikā, a work of Bhoja during 10th CE, describes the methods of writing on a sheet. The folding of material, leaving long space in the left side and decorating the front sheet with gold, can be applied to paper only and not practicable in case of Palm leaf of Bhūrja-patra.
- Vyāsa Saṃhitā quotes the following verse regarding the writing.
पाण्डुलेखेन फलके भूमौ वा प्रथमं लिखेत्।
न्यूनाधिकं तु संशोध्य पश्चात्पत्रे निवेशयेत्।।
The draft of the document should be written on a wooden board or on the soil, after correction, it can be transferred into “Patra”. Scholars ask that if “Patra” here meant only leaf, is there any need to have the draft on a board. Therefore, Patra is not any cheap leaf but the paper which was rather rare.
Other scholars too mention that paper was invented in India. But it is puzzling here that No Sanskrit word is met till 8th CE which gives the name śaya patra. Kākala, Kakaja and Kāgada are the other words in Sanskrit to denote paper.
Some villages like Kākajipura in Bihar are said to be the places for making papers.
SOME IMPORTANT PAPER MANUSCRIPTS
The earliest paper manuscript is deposited in the Khuda Baksh oriental library, Patna which has gazals and is dated as 816 CE.
The Rajasthan Oriental Research institute has a copy of Dhvanyāloka locana which is dated as 17 CE.
Bodleian Library has a paper manuscripts made up of wooly paper and written in North western Gupta script is dated as 5th CE.
The Jain Bhandara, Cambay has a copy of Dharmābhyudaya and is dated as 1234 CE.
The scrolled copy of paper manuscript is deposited in British Musuem.
Some specimens are illustrated one. Thanjāvūr Sarasvati Mahāl has a miniature paper manuscript with size 5 x 3.8 cms.