The Authors of the Palm Leaf Manuscripts

Hello, everyone!

We have some more interesting information for today! Last time we learnt about the preparation of the palm leaves before they reached the author's hands. In this post we will talk about the types of contents that came through the palm leaves, the different languages that were used, and the different authors that wrote onto palm leaves.

What kind of content was written onto palm leaves?

The authors wrote about many topics including literature, arts, science, mathematics, philosophy and life science.


The works of literature in the palm leaf manuscripts render lots of information regarding letters, the grammar of poetry, and prose. There were also literary works ranging from epic to short stories, and 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 artistic people wrote about their skills in 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, but 1000's of years ago this is what the palm leaf manuscripts were used for. These talented people would also have periodic meetings to share their skills with others, similar to how we hold conferences in the modern day. For example - 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, 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. There are works about medicine, physics, chemistry and astronomy. Siddha, Ayurveda, and Unani manuscripts contribute to the medicine works, and there are also books regarding civil engineering (Vastu Sastra), architecture, atomic theory and metallurgy etc. 


In the ancient period, people had a simple and structured lifestyle where they lived a self sustainable life. There are numerous literary works regarding the different types of people who lived in different geographical landscapes. 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. For this they wrote philosophical works to help normalize and assist society. 

What kind of languages were used?

There are palm leaf manuscripts written in Tamil, Sanskrit, Prakrit, Pali, Persian, Arabic, Urdu, Marathi, Malayalam, Telugu, and Kannada.


who were some of the authors contributing to the palm leaf manuscripts?

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. While 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 palm leaf manuscripts written about a large number of different topics, in different languages, and by various authors of different ages. Palm leaf libraries are rich in knowledge, lessons and stories that hold the power to teach and sometimes astonish us with each word we read.