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The Asha Archives is a public library of Nepali manuscripts, named after the late Asha Man Singh Kansakar, father of the late Prem Bahadur Kansakar (1917-1991). Mr. Kansakar was a prominent activist, social worker, educationist and Newar writer who had founded several social, cultural, literary and educational institutions. The nucleus of this collection was donated by Prem Bahadur Kansakar to Cwasa Pasa, a premier literacy association of Newar writers on 16th August 1985. To this personal collection were later added the donations of valuable manuscripts and palm leaf documents by several well-wishers and friends.
The Asha Archive was inaugurated on 7th December 1987 and opened to the public. The Toyota Foundation’s generous grant made it possible to purchase and furnish the house where it is now located. The Foundation also supported the documentation of the manuscripts and the initial operation of the archive with a fund deposited as seed money and endowment.
The archive has several valuable collections of palm leaf, loose leaf pothi and folded manuscripts. There are more than 6,700 manuscripts and about 1100 palm leaf land grant documents. These manuscripts belong to various sects and genres written in different languages and scripts. Largest among these are the ritual texts, medical texts, manuals of magic and necromancy, astrology/astronomy, Vedic, Puranic and Tantric texts of Shaiva, Bauddha and Shakta sects. A large number of manuscripts also belong to the Mahayana and Vajrayana sects. Of special interest are technical and symbolic drawings and architectural designs of religious and secular structures, painted covers, and book illustrations of great beauty and design. However, the most valuable of the archive’s possessions are the literary texts, hymns, songs, plays, popular narratives, didactic tales and Buddhist avadanas in the Newari language. Remarkable specimens of beautiful calligraphy can be seen in Nepalbhasa, Maithili, and Nepali language, rendered in plain black ink, silver and golden letters.
The archive also has a collection of nearly all Nepalbhasa books in print, journals, magazines and newspapers in the Nepalbhasa. There is also a small Nepal collection, consisting of books on Nepal in English and other languages which will be of interest for study and research on the culture and heritage of the Nepal Valley. The Asha Archives is located on the western edge of old Kathmandu, in the locality known as Kulanbhulu, opposite Raktakali on the way to Swoyambhu.