London: An ancient Jain manuscript considered sacred by the community has been named one of the rarest documents in the world by UNESCO, which said the text was of "lasting value to humankind".
'Shantinatha Charitra', a text written in Sanskrit describing the life of Shantinatha, the 16th Jain Tirthankara, was included in the 'World Register of the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO)'.
The international body said the Indian entry offers a universal message of friendship, global peace and unity with integrity and "the story is of lasting value to humankind".
"It also describes historical facts and professes high moral and cultural values. The Illustrations found in this manuscript are oldest specimens of miniature painting," it added.
"These illustrations are beautifully drawn in multi-colour and are examples of a highly evolved style of painting. As these illustrations are rarest of rare, their preservation and protection is necessary for humanity," UNESCO said.
The manuscripts are owned by Lalbhai Dalpatbhai Institute of Indology and were donated to them by the late Muni Punyavijayji, who had inherited it through family.
Another document with an Indian link to make the prestigious list this year originates in Nepal.
The 'Nisvasattatvasamhita' manuscript is one of the oldest and most important sources of tantrism and is believed to have influenced the shaping of other tantric texts.
"It is written in Sanskrit language on palm leaves," said Prakash Darnal, chief of the National Archives in Nepal.
A hand-written journal documenting Vasco da Gama's first voyage to India, dating back to 1497-1499 has also found a spot in the 'Memory of the World Register.'
This year 55 ancient documents have been added to the list.
Last year, the Rigveda – the oldest among the four Vedas and a literary document on humankind – was the highlight addition.