Traditional Knowledge Digital Library


It is a pioneering initiative of India to protect Indian traditional medicinal knowledge and prevent its misappropriation at International Patent Offices. 

Traditional Knowledge (TK) is a valuable yet vulnerable asset to indigenous and local communities who depend on TK for their livelihood. 

It was initiated in India in 2001.

It is a collaboration between the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Ministry of Science and Technology, and the Department of Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy (AYUSH), Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, of India.  

Implementing Agency

Council for Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR)



The TKDL contains documentation of publicly available traditional knowledge (TK) that:

  • Relates to Ayurveda, Unani, Siddha and Yoga
  • Is in digitized format
  • Is available in five languages: English, German, French, Japanese and Spanish.

The TKDL, which contains over 34 million pages:

  • Provides information on TK existing in India, in languages and a format understandable by patent examiners at international patent offices
  • Contains information for patent examiners on prior art that would otherwise be available only in Sanskrit and other local languages in Indian libraries
  • Lists the precise time, place and medium of publication for prior art searches by patent examiners
  • Aims to prevent the granting of erroneous patents.


  • To prevent the granting of patents for products developed utilizing TK where there has been little, if any, inventive step.
  • Intends to act as a bridge between information recorded in ancient Sanskrit and patent examiners (with its database containing information in a language and format understandable to patent examiners)
  • Facilitate access to information not easily available to patent examiners, thereby minimizing the possibility that patents could be granted for “inventions” involving only minor or insignificant modifications.


  • TKDL is proving to be an effective deterrent against bio-piracy and has been recognized internationally as a unique effort. 
  • TKDL has set a benchmark in TK protection around the world, particularly in TK-rich countries, by demonstrating the advantages of proactive action and the power of strong deterrence. 
  • The key here is preventing the grant of wrong patents by ensuring access to TK related prior art for patent examiners without restricting the use of traditional knowledge.