Regarding the Upanishads.- Conflicting logic of tenuredIndologists.

Dan Lusthaus yogacara_assoc at HOTMAIL.COM
Fri Feb 11 18:14:04 UTC 2000

What "Subrahmanya S." overlooks in his epistemological critique of academic
indology is that he cannot criticise indologists for focusing on historical
issues to the detriment of 'traditional values and styles of reading', and
then turn around and make his own insupportable historical assertions. Can't
have your cake and eat it too.

Traditional Indian methods of reading as well as the traditional sense of
lineage and history of ideas are indeed at odds with modern methods, as are
traditional vs. modern methods of etymology, etc., but each method has its
strengths and weaknesses. One may criticize a modern indologist for paying
more attention to historical issues when reading a text than to the inner
significance of the text (though as several pointed out, if one really wants
to be traditional, one needs to learn the rigor and techniques that Indians
applied in the good old days; e.g. pramAna-vAda, etc.). But when it comes to
historical method and overview it is no contest. Modern methods practice a
more rigorous methodology and a more developed form of historical pramana
than traditional India did. That's too painfully obvious. If Xuanzang and
Yijing had not visited from China in the 7th century, our historical and
ethnographic knowledge of India at that time would be severely diminished.
Indians rarely paid attention to historical issues in that way, though
Westerners and, obviously, Chinese do.

So criticize modern indologists all you want, but try to smuggle in
historical claims.

Dan Lusthaus

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