can be defined as knowing something with familiarity acquired through
study, association or experience.
part of Knowledge, whether ancient or modern, is available in the form
of books, which contain information about facts, hypothesis,
experimentation and experience. Books give us only a fraction of the
total knowledge. Much of what constitutes 'knowledge' is available in
the minds of scholars and experts. Therefore, one cannot hope to gain
knowledge entirely by reading books. An erudite teacher or a guide is
required. It is they who transfer their knowledge to us. Books and
periodicals then become a supplementary source of information. In
technology-enabled knowledge management of the present day, the vast
amount of knowledge that is in the minds of people is called 'Tacit
knowledge'. Knowledge stored in other tangible media like books, CDs is
called 'Explicit knowledge'.
of tacit knowledge, which involves identifying the knowledge contained
in people's minds and making it available in a form that can be stored
and accessed, thus making it explicit, is a major challenge for those
working in information and communication technology. The enormity
this task is compounded in the case of ancient knowledge, for, only a
few people still possess this tacit knowledge and fewer still are in a
position to teach, guide and pass on this knowledge to us.
Management is the act of collecting information, which may be in the
form of books, audio recordings or video recordings, and efficiently
creating out of them a knowledge storehouse, also known as a knowledge
repository or a knowledge base.
of a knowledge base will be useful only when they can be inter linked
in such a way as to make it possible to retrieve them, contextually.
Creation of such a link is a complex task as it requires prior
knowledge of how people seek information and how information within the
knowledge base can be contextually linked in a meaningful manner.
knowledge base must then be published so that people can access it in
an instant, at any time. The knowledge base will have to be kept
updated as and when new information is available or as and when
different teachers, scholars and experts are available for
Sarada Project - an example of knowledge management of ancient
project in knowledge management, known as the 'Advaita Sarada project',
has been launched by Sri Sri Jagadguru Sankaracharaya Mahasamsthanam,
Sri Sarada Pitham, Sringeri, Chikkamagaluru District, Karnataka.
Sarada Pitham, founded
about 1200 years ago by Sri Adi Sankara, the great Indian philosopher,
is a renowned centre of learning. His Holiness Sri Sri Bharati Tirtha
Mahaswami, the present Sankaracharya and 36th Pithadhipati, a
sage of great learning, has been imparting knowledge contained in
ancient Indian literature to all seekers who come to him from many
parts of the world. His Holiness, on becoming aware of the potential of
information and communication technology, desired to make this
knowledge available to all those who wish to learn, wherever they are,
in any part of the world where information and telecommunication
technologies can reach them.
Project, conceived and blessed by him, seeks to create a knowledge
base from more than 25,000
Granthas or books available in Sringeri and from audio and video
recordings of classroom proceedings, Vidvat Ghoshtis (scholarly
debates) and the like that are regularly conducted in this
Sri Sarada Pitham
of the more than 25,000 granthas
in the libraries of Sri Sringeri Math date back a few centuries. The granthas
are available in the form of ancient tala patras (palm
leaf manuscripts), kadatas (a form of manuscript made from a
long piece of cloth, conditioned by smearing on it powdered tamarind
seeds and charcoal, and then folded into pages), paper manuscripts, and
printed books. The subjects/ topics they deal with include
Vaidika Dharma, philosophy, logic linguistics, science, mathematics,
medicine, stories from the puranas and itihasas,
literature, arts and many other subjects, and
are in many Indian languages such as Sanskrit, Kannada, Telugu, Tamil,
Malayalam and Marathi. However, it is not uncommon to find transcripted
books - that is, the language of the text of the book and the script in
which it is written are different. An example is Bhaskaracharya's
Lilavati, the Sanskrit
slokas or verses (containing mathematical problems) of which are
written in Telugu script.
of the Advaita
objective of the project
is to create a universal, free-to-read, digital library on the Internet
that can be accessed by students and scholars alike. In addition to the
books which, we now know, provide explicit knowledge, the Advaita
Sarada Project has set a goal of providing tacit knowledge by making it
possible for the seekers to interact with scholars, experts and
teachers. This interaction known as 'socialization' in modern knowledge
management terms will help students gain a correct understanding of granthas.
addition to the above,
Tippani (annotation) will be written and created at the book level
and at the section/chapter level. These annotations will guide
the student about contents of the book, its relative importance in the
gamut of literature available on the subject of study, profile of the
author, pre-requisites for studying the book, and also suggest related
and advanced books on the subject.
scanned using a high performance scanner, and its pages stored as
images in a powerful computer system, known as the knowledge server,
using a modern Database Management System (DBMS). The DBMS has the
capability to store images, audio and video recordings as well as texts
(words and sentences that can be understood by computers and hence can
be processed, that is, indexed, searched, located and retrieved). DBMS
also has the capability to serve hundreds of users simultaneously with
the information they want, without interfering with one another.
the grantha bhandara - a brief introduction to conceptual modelling
order to design a
knowledge base that can be represented and stored in modern DBMS, it is
necessary to conceptualize the knowledge base, which in this case
consists of granthas, audio and video recordings. A model is a
mental picture of the concept; therefore, the knowledge base model is a
mental picture of it.
modeling a knowledge
base, we see it as consisting of various entities about which we want
to know something. Examples of entities that we can see as associated
with the knowledge base under discussion are:
in various physical forms (palm leaf manuscript, paper manuscript, kadata,
printed books etc);
are associated with the grantha as its creators, or as persons
who have written commentaries on it, or as those who have edited and
brought out a critical edition of it.
entities about which we
want to know are known as 'Objects' in computational
terminology. Examples of a few more objects are: taxonomy, which
represents a hierarchical categorization of various subjects (or
disciplines of study); sub divisions of a grantha into
sections/chapters (eg: kandas, parvas, prakaranas or adhyayas).
far we talked about
'objects' about which we want to know something. We can now ask what do
we want to know about them? Details that we want to know about various
objects are known as the 'Attributes' of those
'objects'. We certainly do not want to know
every detail about an 'object' - only those details that we think are
relevant for our purpose. For example, in the case of books, we may
want to know its name, author, language, subject etc. Similarly, about
an author, we may want to know his name, period and a brief profile of
'objects' that share
common properties and that exhibit similar behaviour are classified
together into what are called 'Classes'. Therefore,
'classes' consist of
'objects' that are similar and an 'object' becomes an example of a
'class'. Bhaskaracharya's book on Mathematics, Lilavati, is
thus an example of a 'class' called 'Book' and Bhaskaracharya is an
example of a 'class' called 'Author'. 'Objects' of a 'class' may be
interrelated with other 'objects' in another 'class'. In our knowledge
interrelated with Authors, as it is they who have created the Books.
a Book are related to Books.
related with other books on the same subject.
conceptual modelling, to put it in a simple manner, we are concerned
with identification of 'Classes', 'Objects', their 'Attributes' and
their interrelationships. There are many other aspects as well, which
however is not required for our understanding of a model as far as this
discussion is concerned. It is said that Indian Logic (Tarka)
also sees the world around us in terms that are similar to what is used
in modern knowledge management, though in a more elaborate manner.
challenge for Indian Knowledge Management
Since the granthas
are captured as images, for a detailed search of the contents in the
Library, the page images should converted into 'Texts' that can be
understood, or 'read', by the computer. A technology called 'Optical
Character Recognition (OCR) converts the images of lines of a book into
a series of words or texts. An OCR technology for Sanskrit and other
Indian languages is still being perfected.
English, where each word is distinct, in Sanskrit - and many Indian
languages - words can be combined (sandhis and samasas).
Any OCR software, which reads the picture of words in a line, should
also be able to determine whether the words have been combined and if
so how? Only then can these words or phrases be indexed for
facilitating links and retrieval. A person who can develop effective
OCR software for Sanskrit should necessarily have some knowledge of its
grammar to know how words can be combined so that they can be split
individually, keeping the meaning in tact.
Advaita Sarada Project goes much beyond the scope of this lecture,
which, basically is to tell students why it is important to learn
Sanskrit and how this learning can be relevant to Science and
Technology. Knowledge Management of ancient Indian knowledge
provides both opportunities and challenges to those who are interested
in learning from our past so as to be a step ahead of their peers in
the future. For, only persons or a group of persons who are well versed
in both Sanskrit and Technology can build a suitable solution that will
enable millions to mine profitably the knowledge in our ancient texts.