Critical Edition Wing – A critical edition of the complete Valmiki Ramayana, on the lines of the critical edition of the Mahabharata, published by the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute was launched on 12.3.1951 in the Oriental Institute. For this huge project, a separate department of critical edition wing named the Ramayana Department was established in the Institute. With the publication of the Critical Edition of the Valmiki Ramayana in seven volumes (1st vol. was published in 1960) by 31.3.1975, it was recommended by the UGC that such work should be continued on a permanent basis. Thus, on the lines of the Ramayana critical editions of Vishnupurana (in two vols.) and Markandeyapurana (in two vols.) are also published. Preparations of Vayupurana and Vahnipurana are in progress.
Collection -The bulk of the manuscript collection is the result of the work of Pandit R. Ananta Krishna Shastri who was commissioned by the State to make extensive tours all over India in search of rare and valuable mss. The last accession number of ms registered is 30,296. This huge collection is possible due to the people voluntarily donated their prized possessions to keep in safe hands.
Preservation - Greatest possible care is taken in preserving these priceless hand written mss. Each ms is provided with protective boards and labels and is wrapped up in red cloth. These are kept in steel cabinets The palm-leaf mss are periodically disinfected by applying Citronella oil where powder ofAcorus Calamus (ghoravach) is kept in small bundles in every rack of paper mss for the same purpose.
Cataloguing - Regular Registers and a complete Card Index of all mss are maintained. Two volumes of the Descriptive Catalogue and four volumes of Alphabetical list of manuscripts are published containing 25,000 entries. With the emergence of new technology the Institute has digitized most of the mss with the assistance of National Mission, New Delhi.
Publication - The late Shri C. D. Dalal, curator of Sanskrit Section, was deputed to inspect and study Jain mss of Patan and Jesalmer and on the basis of his reports and copies of rare mss prepared by him the late Maharaja issued orders in 1915 for starting Gaekwad Oriental Series (GOS). In 1916 Kavyamimamsa of Rajashekhara was published. It contains Critical Editions of rare and unpublished Sanskrit, Prakrit, Apabhramsha, Persian and Arabic works besides some others relating to Indology in general. Shri Chimanbhai Dalal was the first General Editor of the GOS. 187 works are published so far.
Exhibits -There is a permanent exhibition of rare and valuable ancient writing materials in the Section. It also shows the various materials on which mss were generally used to be written, as well as some mss noteworthy by reason of their rarity or beauty of their illustrations. There are also a few copper plate inscriptions. The interested visitors can introduce themselves to our literary heritage.
Post Graduate Research -The scholars can refer to the mss and also they are provided with photo copies or CDs required for their research.