[Advaita-l] wilhelm halbfass

Vidyasankar Sundaresan svidyasankar at hotmail.com
Tue Sep 29 11:48:46 CDT 2009

> BTW, someone wondered if my opinion of Halbfass extended to all his books
> (private email). The answer is no. His books are good and worth reading. But
> IMO, you have to be aware of the agenda that he is subscribing to. I.e.,
> superiority of the Western methods of analysis. But to his credit he raises
> the question if Hackers Christian beliefs misled him in his readings of
> Sankara. That itself is a major achievement for a Western academic - if any
> Hindu raised that question he would be dismissed as a "fundamentalist".

I didn't get a chance to respond to the other replies on this thread yesterday.


It seems to me that I am prepared to "cut some slack" more readily than others to Halbfass. And it is precisely because of his instinct to be fair to the subject of his study and to be alert to the possibility of bias built into the Western academic process!


Re: the treatment meted out to traditionally schooled pundists in Western academia, it will all change if they perceive that the social and political establishment in India gives these pundits the respect they really deserve. A lot has to change at home before they will change abroad. Why should we blame only the Indology/religion/philosophy departments in European and American universities? 


How many universities in India engage the traditional scholars in meaningful discourse? No, the big bogey of high caste vs. low caste will always raise its ugly head if the topic were to be even remotely broached. The upshot is that Indian universities produce hardly any scholar with good knowledge of either the Sanskrit language or specialty texts in various fields of knowledge. Meanwhile, the traditional pundits remain completely separated from the workings of modern universities.


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