INDOLOGY (Was: Etymon: paTTaN)

Aklujkar aklujkar at UNIXG.UBC.CA
Mon Nov 24 05:48:53 UTC 1997

I sympathize with the experiences of Professors Bh. Krishnamurti and
Michael Witzel, but  I hope that they too will find the policy maintained
by Dr. Dominik Wujastyk sensible.

An awareness needs to be maintained that what is considered to be
scientific or professional is relative to time and is determined to a
considerable extent by the context in which most of the scientists or
professionals of a particular generation are trained. A greater loss to a
field of inquiry can result from dismissing the questions and comments of
intelligent and interested non-professionals than from "wasting" a few
seconds to delete the postings about the non-validity of which one is

In the case of Indology, it seems particularly important to me that the
professionals should take a pragmatic, long-term view of their field and
show not only greater patience but willingness to work with intelligent and
interested non-professionals. The number of new students coming to the
field is not large enough to ensure its survival as a *robust and
respectable* tradition of inquiry in the academia. In India, where the
number of Indology students should be large, politico-economic conditions
and educational policies have developed that almost make it certain that
very few intellectually gifted students would turn to disciplines that
ultimately support Indology. 'If you cannot do science, commerce or social
sciences such as economics and politics, then go for specialization in
languages, history, philosophy etc.æ is (understandably but regrettably)
the general pattern. Generally on the Indology list, we at least get
questions and inputs from some of the most intelligent students India has
educated in the recent past. They may not be as well informed as the
professionals and not entirely free of local biases (who indeed is?), but
they are genuinely interested and have the potential to learn the skills
the professionals may want them to learn. Should the professionals, *as far
as they wish and as far as they can,* not have a dialogue with these and
improve the chances for the survival of lines of intellectual inquiry?
While our first obligation should be to scholarship, we at least must not
take steps that would further erode the base that that scholarship has in
the general public.

Over the last few years, I have learned much from the communications of
several members of the Indology list who, from all indications, do not seem
to be Indologists. Sometimes this is because of the questions they asked;
sometimes because of the mistakes they made; sometimes precisely because
they expressed a non-professional, general, public impression of the
matter; sometimes because they revealed local tensions; and sometimes
because they provided a bibliographic lead I would not have come to know
through  the professional sources. (I have particularly found the
anthropological and linguistic information that only a native of the
culture can easily provide most useful.)

Having suggested that we should rejoice in the diversity of our
preparations and consider it more of a strength than a drawback,  I would
like to suggest further that hidden agendas and evaluations should not be
seen in a post if there is no clear support for them in the expressions
used by the poster.

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