[Advaita-l] Indology, traditional learning and the state of affairs in India

sivasenani at yahoo.com sivasenani at yahoo.com
Wed Sep 30 00:53:36 CDT 2009

Recently I visited the Keesara Veda Pathasala in the outskirts of Hyderabad run by Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam. There a krama paaThi is the principal and a ghana paaThi is a teacher! 

Though it was not spelt out in so many words, I got the sense that the evaluation would be along the usual university standards. Imagine somebody scoring 61% and being certified a first class vedic pundit!

Now, there is also a Vedic University in Tirupati. I wonder if they will reserve 22.5% of lecturer posts and student seats for ST, SC and 33% for women etc.

That said I have the good fortune of knowing two University professors, one from whom I learnt Sanskrit. The first, Mahamahopadhyaya Br Sri Pullela Sriramachandrudu who authored more than 100 books (mostly translations and criticisms). His main contribution (known to the alpamati that I am) was in popularising the works of Jagannaatha Panditaraja, who most probably translated, or provided guidance to the translation of, the Upanishads into Persian (and ignited the Indology field). He was also very influential in promotion and propagation of Sanskrit in Hyderabad.  The second Professor I know is my teacher Srimaan Acharya BoorugaDDa Narasimhacharyulu, a naiyyaayika and an aalankaarika. His work on Dharmasuri's magnum opus on poetics reminds one of Dr. Raghavan's work on Bhoja's work on poetics. Both are traditional scholars, children of traditional scholars. They don't question the teachings of the Veda and the ancients; they seek to understand.

I also know a few other professors who fit the description of Sri Vidyasankar. One of them, apparently once combined hanumat+upadesa (this refers to Hanuman's advice to Ravana in Sundarakanda of Ramayana) as hanumopadesa. For most of them professing Sanskrit is a job and as long as they do enough to keep it, they are fine.

Then we also have the economic factor. If my teacher had the facilities that my professors in IIM had, or what western universities provide, he would have started and completed his Dictionary of Alankara Sastra.

In short, we have a mixed bag. I hope we will make the right choices which uphold, celebrate and learn from our tradition and ensure that none of us is denied or kept out of our tradition. 

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-----Original Message-----
From: Vidyasankar Sundaresan <svidyasankar at hotmail.com>
Date: Tue, 29 Sep 2009 09:48:46 
To: Advaita List<advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org>
Subject: Re: [Advaita-l] wilhelm halbfass

> 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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