Gentoo Studies

Lars Martin Fosse lmfosse at ONLINE.NO
Wed May 5 09:53:34 UTC 1999

Shrisha Rao wrote:

> On Tue, 4 May 1999, Lars Martin Fosse wrote:
> > Swaminathan Madhuresan schrieb:
> >
> > >
> > > Curious thing about Kak, Frawdley, Talagiri, Rajaram, & their
> > > schoolers: None has any formal, university degrees in Linguistics
> > > or Archaeology.
> >
> > That is an important prerequisite for their scholarship, and they are
> > proud of it. They have no faith in Western scholarship such as
> > philology, linguistics etc, and they prefer to construct their own
> > version of scholarship.
> A very valid point; however, while completely disowning any affiliation
> with Frawley, et al., I still must point out that "Western scholarship" of
> Indic studies is often as guilty of the same sins, albeit in a slightly
> different context.

Oh, yes indeed, and don't I know it! :-) My work with the writings of Hindutva
scholars has shown me that many of the sins they commit - and which stand out
glaringly because they commit them in contexts where Westerners don't - many
of these sins are committed just as well by Western scholars. E.g. everybody
argues ex nihilo when it suits their purposes.

> Then, too, there certainly is more than a slight tendency among proponents
> of "Western scholarship" to rely excessively on each other's secondary
> sources and form incestuous intellectual cliques with little outside
> input.

> From what I hear, Indian scholars in India tend to spend most of their time
reading texts, rather than study secondary literature. I believe it is the
other way around in the West. But in defence of Western scholars, I would like
to point out that the university system forces them to publish far more
literature that is really needed. If they were to cut their production in half
while doubling the quality, everybody would be better served. As for
trendyness, I believe this has always been the case one way or the other, in
all fields of scholarship. It is an evil, but I suspect that it is

> The very same trend is certainly
> present to a large degree in recent Indological scholarship (such as with
> the late Jan Gonda, who had never been to India, but was perfectly content
> to theorize about it extensively from his armchair).

The India that Gonda studied had been dead for at least a 1000 years. For many
Western scholars, the study of Sanskrit resembles the study of Greek and
Latin, both of which cultures that are comfortably out of the way and
therefore a place where your soul can rest while your mind works.

> As such, it would probably be as well to note that incompetence can take
> various forms, and it is incorrect simply to assume that proponents of a
> view one does not like are the only incompetents.

Again, I concur. But I am afraid that even within Western academia (as indeed
elsewhere), followers of different trends tend to regard each other as quite
worthless. It seems to be in the nature of things. :-)

Best regards,

Lars Martin Fosse

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