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S Bhatta attahb at REDIFFMAIL.COM
Fri Apr 13 15:23:15 EDT 2001

Of late I have been intrigued by the postings of Dr. Steven Farmer.

Dr. Farmer admits he is not a Vedicist, is not proficient in the grammar and
language of Sanskrit (Vedic or otherwise), but has concluded that,
nevertheless, he is qualifiied to post on Vedic matters, Indological matters, in
that he is a Comparative Historian who has mastered several Western

During my last few posts, I have questioned not the secondary sources to
which he has relied, but have instead directly questioned his qualifications to
post on Vedic matters in that he is not proficient in Sanskrit (Vedic or

For, from my perspective, it is ludricrous to merely point one's fingers at stack
of translations to grind one's own axe in that the language, in its orginal form,
must be impressed permanently within the mind and heart of the student in
order for one to proper make an utterance.

However it seems, my point of view, espcially in light of Dr. Farmer's
methodology, my approach is somewhat antiquated.

Dr. Farmer though has admitted that language proficiency is important, but
what he has not admitted or demostrated is that language proficiency on the
subject which one addresses is a necessity.

Just today, Dr. Farmer has now posted an enquiry on Panini.

I do not understand this: How can one just jump about like this, from Vedic to
Panini as if it they were TV programs which one flits between with a flick of the
button on the channel changer?

True scholars of Sanskrit are limited to a certain realm of thought.

For example, unlike Dr. Farmer, Dr. George Thompson and Dr. Witzel, rightly
so, have mostly spilled most of their ink on Vedic matters and I believe would
never even attempt to discuss matters of which they has not been properly
versed in that it is beyond the scope of their experience and training.

Thus my *specific questions* in re to methodology in the American Academy

1) Is a proficiency in language a thing of the past?

2) Are secondary sources the preffered choice of citation today?

3) Is scholarship more akin surfing the internet, where one achieves to have a
New York minute with the language, author, culture, and text rather than to
absorb one's self with it incrementally?

4) Along with God, is Philology now dead also?


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