SV: Rajaram's bull

Lars Martin Fosse lmfosse at ONLINE.NO
Sat Aug 5 13:15:55 UTC 2000

Vidyasankar Sundaresan [SMTP:vsundaresan at HOTMAIL.COM] skrev 4. august 2000
> What Indologists need to do is to popularize Indology.

This is an interesting point. In principle, you are perfectly right:
Indologists should reach out to the general public. The problem is that the
general public in many places take little or no interest in India and
Indology. Many years ago, a journalist in this country told me that the
only way to make India interesting to a Norwegian audience was to relate
India in some way to Norway (e.g. Norwegian projects in India). Otherwise,
noone would care. In the English language area, there may be a different
potential, but Indology for the masses would still seem to have a bleak
future. Anyway, there is a certain amount of popular Indology around,
written for non-specialists. How many people this literature reaches, I
don't know.

Like it
> or not, there is a general feeling among Indians that Indology
> as a rule subscribes to too much Indophobia.

It is not my impression that modern Indologists are Indophobic. Most
Indologists study India because they find the country and the culture both
fascinating and challenging - India is arguably the most interesting
society on Earth. They do so in spite of the fact that Indology is a high
risk enterprise with a great potential for career killing. But Westerners
tend to be critical of certain aspects of Indian society, such as the caste
system, which is to be expected given the fact that most Western societies
have egalitarian ideals (in spite of the fact that Western societies often
are strongly class-divided.) A study of India almost always implicitly
means a culture clash, a clash we simply have to live with. But this does
not necessarily mean that Western scholars are Indophobic.  Most of the
Indological literature I have read is full of respect and praise for
India's great literary tradition, its wonderful art etc. You don't spend
your life studying India unless you have more than a grain of love for the
culture and the country. However, academics cannot only produce glowing
panegyrics. Being academic means being analytical and critical, and
academics tend to be equally critical of their own societies (e.g.
Chomsky's and other academics' critique of the Vietnam war and American
foreign policy, not to mention the traditional critique of capitalist
society that you find among many European intellectuals and academics).
Western audiences are often equally enraged by of such critique even if it
is not necessarily decried as "Europhobic" or "Americanophobic". In Europe,
however, a certain amount of Anti-Americanism is a reality (probably more
before than now). So if Indians feel that that Westerners are Indophobic,
at least they are not alone: they share the fate of Americans.

Best regards,

Lars Martin

Dr. art. Lars Martin Fosse
Haugerudvn. 76, Leil. 114,
0674 Oslo
Phone: +47 22 32 12 19
Fax 1:  +47 22 32 12 19
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Email: lmfosse at

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