A catalogue of South Asian Manuscripts at the Bodleian Libraries



Hindi, miscellaneous


Summary of Contents: The manuscript is the earliest available firmly dated version of Kabīr’s Bījak. Kabīr (died ca 1518) was one of the most popular vernacular poets of north India who is highly respected among the Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims of the subcontinent. The Bījak, a collection of his poems, is the sacred book of the Kabīrpanth, the sect of the followers of Kabīr, and one of the three most influential recensions of Kabīr’s poetry. Although much of its text may not date earlier than the eighteenth century, Kabīrpanthī lore holds Kabīr’s disciple Bhagvāndās or Bhaggojī as the compiler of the Bījak. It is published in numberless sectarian print recensions and in the semi-critical edition of Shukdeo Singh. Among his sources, Singh appears to have consulted an early nineteenth-century manuscript for his edition (possibly from 1802/3 or 1805); however its exact date and the way it contributed to his text is unclear. Moreover, according to Linda Hess, a leading Kabir scholar and a close collaborator of Singh, the manuscript is now lost. MS. Hindi e.1 is a Kaithī-script Bījak copied in 1810. Its arrangement is different from the two recensions, Dānāpur and Bhagatahī, discussed in the introduction of Shukdeo Singh’s edition. According to the note on the title page, the manuscript was obtained from a Hindu subedar by Colonel Harriots on 15 April 1823 at Chamar (?) and presented to Garcin de Tassy on Harriot’s visit to Paris on 24 Sept 1834. It was acquired by the Bodleian Library, Oxford in October 1892.
Kabīr , Bījaka
Language(s): Awadhi.

Physical Description

Form: codex
Support: Paper.

22.5 × 18 cm.

Extent: 90 ff.
Foliation: Awadhi numerals, top and mid-left margin, verso.
Foliation: Arabic numerals in pencil, top right margin, recto.


Good condition; binding damaged.


Kaithī in black ink.


Leather cover, library binding.


Origin: Vikrama 1868 / 1810 CE.

Provenance and Acquisition

Acquired by the Bodleian Library in 1892.


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Digital Images

Digital Bodleian (full digital facsimile)

Funding of Cataloguing

Andrew W. Mellon Foundation