All posts tagged: Indology

“Dispassionate Churning of Indology” – International Conference

The recently concluded three day conference – “Dispassionate Churning of Indology” was organized by Bharatiya Vidvat Parishad (BVP) and the Tattvasamshodhana Samsat, with support from Indian Council for Philosophical Research (ICPR), New Delhi and Indic Academy, Hyderabad in Udupi on 4th – 6th January 2019. The carefully coined conference title by Prof Ashok Aklujkar, seemed like an ode to the the sagar manthan in purana given Udupi’s close proximity to the Indian Ocean. Not withstanding the practical challenges of combining modern expectations with spiritual ambience, the conference was a success with scholars debating, presenting and discussing various aspects of Indic studies. A total of 305 persons attended the conference, and 180 papers were presented in three days. The recordings of the sessions are available on YouTube. Indic Academy had provided travel grants of upto Rs 10,000 to 5 deserving candidates to attend this conference. The three days were an amalgamation of presentations, lectures/discussions, award ceremonies in the following order: Day I The conference was inaugrated with the traditional blowing of conch and other invocations followed by …

The Pseudoscience of Indology: An Interview with Joydeep Bagchee

With The Nay Science: A History of German Indology, Professor Vishwa Adluri emerged as one of the most powerful critics of Indology, the nineteenth-century field established to study India. Professor Adluri has called Indology “scientized racism,” a “club,” and a “court.” He has been interviewed by Open, Swarajya, News18, Social Research, and IndiaFacts. Mukunda Raghavan of Meru.Media interviewed Professor Adluri’s student Dr. Joydeep Bagchee on the occasion of the completion of their second book, Philology and Criticism: A Guide to Mahābhārata Textual Criticism. Dr. Bagchee spoke on behalf of his teacher, and explained how they became interested in Indology and why historicizing the Mahābhārata was crucial to colonizing India intellectually. The following transcript was edited for clarity and length. The complete interview will appear soon as a podcast and a video from Meru.Media. MR: What are your backstories? I have a PhD in philosophy from the NSSR, New York. It is one the most prestigious schools for continental philosophy in the US. Hannah Arendt and Reiner Schürmann taught there. I met my teacher Vish there. …

Travel Grants For Conference On Indology

An International Conference titled “Churning Of Indology” will be organized by the Bharatiya Vidvat Parsihat(BVP) as a part of the first meeting of it’s members. The conference will take a look at the impact and consequences of the Indological studies that have taken place during the past 150-200 years. There has been a constant review of Indological research outcomes in the BVP mailing list by many prominent scholars. Many debates, dialogues, and discussions held in the BVP list have been leading us to the correct understanding of Shastras in a consolidated way. It has been successful in spearheading the improvement of quality research in Samskrit Shastras and related disciplines. BVP has been a platform for sharing new ideas, creative writings, information regarding academic activities, innovative projects, new discoveries and developments that keeps the entire Samskrit academia ever updated. In order to expand the sphere of research and literature in Sanskrit and to make them accessible to everyone, BVP desires to set new directions through this conference. The present conference is titled “Churning of Indology” to …

Indology: The Origins of Racism in the Humanities – Part 1

Review of Pascale Rabault-Feuerhahn, Archives of Origins: Sanskrit, Philology, Anthropology in 19th Century Germany. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2013. Introduction Archives of Origins traces the establishment and expansion of Sanskrit studies in Wilhelmine-era Germany. Rich in archival materials, it is a valuable reference work for scholars of nineteenth-century German Indology. In the first part, titled “Sanskrit and Philological Tradition in Germany,” Rabault-Feuerhahn (hereafter R-F) traces the beginnings of Sanskrit studies in Germany, focusing on Friedrich Schlegel, Franz Bopp, A. W. Schlegel, and Schlegel’s student Christian Lassen. In the second, “The Hegemony of Comparativism,” she focuses on Vedic studies in Germany, especially as they engendered a search for characteristically “Indo-European” forms of religiosity, myth, and historical development. Here her primary interlocutors are August Schleicher, Adalbert Kuhn, Friedrich Max Müller, and Rudolf von Roth. In the third, “The Challenges of Anthropology,” R-F addresses the emergence of a science of race from Indology. Tying the interest in the “Aryan” concept to wider developments in German politics and society (the Franco-Prussian War, Bismarck’s anti-Catholic policies, and the rise of German nationalism), …

Indology: The Origins of Racism in the Humanities – Part 2

Review of Pascale Rabault-Feuerhahn, Archives of Origins: Sanskrit, Philology, Anthropology in 19th Century Germany. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2013. Read part 1 here The Attempted Rehabilitation of Indology In The Aryan Myth (1971), Léon Poliakov famously claimed that “the division of the European population into Aryans and Semites was originally based on a confusion about the nature of men (races) and their culture (languages)” (Poliakov 1996 [1971]: 2). He argued that, mediated via comparative philology and Indology, German strivings for nationhood and the Enlightenment’s anthropological discourse had led to the Holocaust. With Archives, R-F has provided the anti-Poliakov, apologetic response. Although she does not cite Poliakov, her book clearly has him in view: “The core of the questioning is the link from Indological philology to anthropology. In the discriminating [sic], lethal uses that have been made of the terms ‘Aryan’ and ‘Indo-Germanic’, what is at stake is indeed the collusion of linguistic and racial typologies” (23). Not only does R-F argue, against Poliakov, that “the link between Indological philology and anthropology does not necessarily take on the …

Mahabharata Workshop – Echoing The Warning Of Vyasa

Mahabharata has been the Itihasa that defined a part of my identity. It has defined and continues to define my consciousness. Whenever I read the Itihasa, take any episode of it, a kinship is formed between me and those immortal people within. I feel invested, physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. From wanting to knock some sense into Shantanu, feeling like bursting into the Kuru Sabha and defying the Adharmis and feeling the exhilaration of speeding through the bloodied battlefield of Kurukshetra with none other than Krishna Vasudeva as my charioteer, I feel one with the epic. I am sure I echo the sentiments of crores people who consider themselves as the spiritual inheritors of this legacy, The Bharata. I don’t have to remind anyone who is aware of the epic even at a superfluous level, of the multitude of emotions that overwhelm us when the ill-fated dice game takes place. Falling prey to the crafty abuse of tenets of Kshatra Dharma, Yudhishtira gambles away the empire, the sweat and blood of his valiant and loyal …

India’s Great Epic – Workshops On The Mahabharata

The Mahabharata has had a profound influence over Indians for millenia. This epic ties together discourses on niti, yoga, dharma and philosophy in a unifying tale about the fracas of the Bharata clan. Its episodes have inspired poets, and served as moral guides for laymen. The Bhagavad Gita has become one of the most important guides for both philosophy and yoga. The Mahabharata continues to exert its sway over the Indian psyche. But when Western scholars discovered the text in the nineteenth century, they approached it in a peculiar manner. Rather than understanding what the Mahabharata has to say about itself, Western scholars, especially German Indologists, read their own racial and religious prejudices into the text. They dismissed the Indian tradition as fanciful and irrational, while applying a haphazard pseudoscientific method that they presented as “objective, scientific and historical.” Dr. Adluri and Dr. Bagchee’s summary of the legacy of Indological scholarship can be found here.  Dr. Vishwa Adluri is Adjunct Assistant Professor in Religion and Philosophy at Hunter College, City University of New York, USA, where he …

In Search Of India’s Lost Epic

The beginnings of Western scholarship on the Sanskrit epic, the Mahābhārata, are marked by a great puzzlement at the work. The text does not fit Western canons of literature—too heterogeneous its contents, too abstract its ideas that Western scholars can make sense of it.1 The “confusion” of fact and fantasy—a cosmological narrative that begins with Brahmā, the Creator, and descends through the repeated names of obscure dynastic kings to connect with present-day “history”—violates all Western expectations of narrative consistency and reality. In contrast to the Vedas, considered the earliest documents of “Indo-European” civilization, the Mahābhārata appears a corrupted work, and German scholars are quick to identify the culprits: the “aboriginal” population of India, those from “the darker side” (Garbe). In the German scholars’ view, the aboriginal influence can be seen in features such as the emphasis on gift-giving to the Brahmans, the belief in karma and rebirth, and the “repugnant” cults of Viṣṇu, Śiva, and the Devī—features they consider inimical to the “Aryan” inheritance of ancient India.2 The task of scholarship can only be to …