Fri Nov 29 16:05:14 UTC 1991

Status: RO

I was interested, and frankly relieved, to see that despite the approval
given my brief summary by Ken  Zysk, the discussion did not end there.
I am not current on Indian politics, and thus do not have an opinion one
way or the other on RE's comments, vis-a-vis their accuracy.  But I
would like to note that I was surprised by Richard Hayes's comments:
Richard, do you really think that in studying ancient society etc
you can omit to take a political etc stand?  I am currently finishing
an overly long book review of Phillip Almond's _The British discovery
of Buddhism_, a work methodologically indebted to Said's _Orientalism_
and one which should make us aware yet again of the enormous political
ideological, etc etc background behind everything we do, even editing
9th century epistemology or medical texts - and I think I have to
agree with Emmerick that the script question, HOWEVER it is resolved,
cannot be pushed aside by wishing it were non-political.  If someone
makes it political in an explicit way, we cannot ignore this.  This
(the latter stance) is the worst kind of ivory-tower-ism.  Please
read Canetti's _Auto-da-fe_ (the English title) on this point.  All
this is not to say that I agree that RE's argument is right, but only
that I am sure Richard's cannot be accepted if we as scholars are to
take a responsible role in this world.  (This, by the way, is a way
of modernizing the constant harping in Mahaayaana texts on _iha loke_
as opposed to _paraloke_ or  It may be enough, pace Dominik's
remarks on the Ramayana translation, to discuss the stand taken by the
translators on whatever issue or set of issues seem to be in question.
For whether they and all of use are conscious of it or not, we do and
must necessarily have a stand, a background, a pre-text, just as we
must speak in some language and use some grammar (even if we think
grammar mere convention).  Dominik alludes again to an issue I raised
earlier, with different results.  Yes, if we want Indians to read
something it must be available in readable, affordable editions.  I
would think the emphasis should be on the latter.  How many Indians
do you know who can afford Rs. 500 for a one volume edition of
something, devanagari or not?  If I want to consult the Thai or
Burmese Tipitaka, I can spend a few minutes with a table of
letters and learn the alphabet.  I forget it each time, I confess,
but nevertheless the effort is not great.  Anyone with a scholarly
interest in Sanskrit can learn to read roman letters as or more
easily that we nagari, which after all, for most of us was a quick
thing anyway.  Knowing Skt already would no doubt speed up the
process.  So I am led back to my original conclusion that technical
considerations (and here I think Dominik should agree that roman
odd fonts and styles look better than nagari ones) and the question
of the hoped-for audience should decide the issue.  What say ye?
--Jonathan Silk

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