Turmoil

V.V. Raman VVRSPS at RITVAX.ISC.RIT.EDU
Wed Nov 1 09:22:41 EST 2000


TURMOIL IN INDOLOGY

1. In recent years Indology has been undergoing certain major paradigm shifts.
One of them is that voices of representatives from the Hindu tradition are
becoming louder and louder. Some of these are reasoned and polite, others
passionate and angry. In any case, it is important for serious Indologists (Exo
or Endo) to hear these voices, to listen to them carefully in some instances,
ignore them in other instances,  respond to them when appropriate, but not to
shut them off or make them exotic (beyond ear-shot).

2. I understand that this is an elite egroup, concerned primarily with esoteric
problems relating to linguistics, word origins, sources and interpretations of
ancient texts, scholarly dissertations, Bangladeshi Buddhists, multiple
meanings of abstruse passages, distinctions between Saivism and
Saivasiddhantam, etc., etc., in a detached, Exo-spirited mode. Perhaps the vast
majority of participants here would like it to remain this way.

3. However I would urge the powers that be and the membership to reconsider
this ivory-tower exclusivity for the following reasons:
(a) Many of the angry participants who have spoken out here are deeply
committed to (what they regard as) a fair appraisal, interpretation,
understanding of their history and tradition.
(b) Most of them are well acquainted (book-wise and emotionally) with aspects
of the subjects they (we) are commenting upon.
(c) They too need to know/understand that not all <alien> Exo-Indologists have
sinister motives. It is only when they read some of the postings here that they
are likely to be convinced of this.
(d) Exo-Indologists need to know why the Endo-voices expressed here are
sometimes so angry and passionate. It is not by responding to them in kind or
by booting them out that Indology as a discipline will be enriched. If
anything, I would invite them back and even ask more of them to join in and
speak out so that one may better understand why they feel so negatively about
Exo-Indology, why many of them they entertain unfavorable opinions
(e) We need to reckon with this new tumultuous phase in Indology. We need to
strive to build bridges between the two camps, nor divide them up even more as
warring factions.
(f) Exo-Indologists have to be more tolerant, more understanding, and more
sympathetic to the protesters because their (the protests') ancestors were
oppressed, treated as inferiors, and analyzed as if they were specimens in a
laboratory.

4. One of the prerogatives of Endo-Indologsts is that they can get pretty
upset, angry, even vicious sometimes. It is incumbent upon Exo-Indologists to
remain calm and collected in the face of such outbursts, because there are
historical reasons for this. I recognize that there must be basic netiquette
norms. But, as with Gandhian Satyagraha or the March in Selma, there are
momentous contexts when these have to be discounted in the interest of
long-range greater good.

V. V. Raman
November 1, 2000



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