ashvamedha--to eat or not to eat?

Dominik Wujastyk ucgadkw at UCL.AC.UK
Thu Feb 10 14:00:39 UTC 2000

On Thu, 10 Feb 2000, Himanshu Dave wrote:

> To study Vedas do you require a modern University degree or study?

Yes, of course, if you are intending to participate in international
scholarship on the subject.  And that is the orientation of this list.

> For last 30 years or so, I had been studying Upanishads, RigVeda, Nirukta,
> BrahmasUtra, and other scriptural texts like ShrimadBhagavad. I do not
> understand what is meant by "professional " journal in this field (i.e. of
> Vedic studies).  My experience is that one can go quite a bit astray by
> following what others have done.

In your own field, Computer Science, you are surely aware of a number of
serious, peer-reviewed journals in which the work of leading scholars is
published.  The ACM and similar bodies publish these.  Someone wanting to
make a valuable contribution to computer science would need to remain
current with new research findings, and to be aware of recent

It is just the same in Indian studies.  Journals such as the JRAS, JAOS,
ABORI, ZDMG, IIJ, JIP, etc. etc. are household words to most of the
members of this discussion list, and many of us are regular subscribers to
several of them, as well as being members of professional associations
such as the IIAS, RAS, DMG, AAS, AOS, etc.

The study of ancient India is a professionalized field, and has been since
the nineteenth century.  To claim that you have read some Sanskrit texts
and that you have invented your own interpretation and that you don't
want to read other people's books because you may be led astray is simply
not acceptable in a scholarly milieu.  I'm sure you would not accept an
attitude like this from an undergraduate in Computer Science.

You have obviously found great personal inspiration from your acquaintance
with Sanskrit literature, and that is a valuable thing which you should of
course hold on to.  But it is not the same thing as the academic,
historically-oriented study of Sanskrit literature at the university
level.  Your strong sense of conviction that you know something that
scholars of long-standing have missed should be a warning light to you
that you are not participating in the same field of endeavour.

All these points are raised in the "Scope of Indology" document on our
website, to which I again respectfully direct your attention.

You have not ruffled feathers; it is just that all the other birds are
in a different tree, I'm afraid.

Dominik Wujastyk
Founder, INDOLOGY list.

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