SV: Comparative linguistics

Robert Zydenbos zydenbos at GMX.LI
Sat Mar 18 15:37:42 UTC 2000

Am Sat, 18 Mar 2000 schrieb Lars Martin Fosse:

> RM.Krishnan [SMTP:poo at GIASMD01.VSNL.NET.IN] skrev 18. mars 2000 12:59:
> >
> > In this honoured list itself, with many scholars around, the word 'Indology'
> > is almost always interpreted as
> > 'Sanskritology' i.e. matters relevant to north India.
> >
> I believe this has to do with historical reasons. Traditionally, "Indology"
> referred primarily to the study of India's *classical* languages as this term
> was understood in the last century. In other words: Sanskrit, Prakrit, Pali.

Dear RM.Krishnan,

What LMF says here is true, but perhaps we should add that "Indology" in the
sense of "studying India" can assume different forms. In India I have heard
the word "Indology" used in the sense of "archaeology of India" (e.g., at the
Univ. of Mysore). Elsewhere, the word acquires very wide meanings. The Univ.
of Heidelberg (Germany) once had 3 Indological departments: Indologie I
(classical India), II (modern India), and III (religious studies), and
"Indologie II" did include Tamil and Kannada (and not only modern, as their
inclusion in "II" would suggest). "Indologie" at the Univ. of Utrecht
(Netherlands) included Dravidology (with Tamil, Kannada, Telugu and
comparative Dravidian linguistics and South Indian cultural studies, until
Indian studies as a whole disappeared from Utrecht), and Tamil is taught in
the Indol. dept. of the Univ. of Leiden (Netherlands). The Indological
institute of the Univ. of Cologne (Germany) has been renamed "Institut fuer
Indologie und Tamilistik" to emphasise that it is not an exclusively
Sanskritic and North Indian institute but stresses the study of the South,
and Malayalam is also taught there. Examples from elsewhere can also be given.

So Dravidian studies are not ignored everywhere, even if that unfortunately
is the tendency; and also within Sanskrit studies, there is a tendency to
ignore the southern contributions (in spite of facts like ;Sa:nkara,
Raamaanuja and Madhva being southerners, to give only one obvious
illustration). Habit, as Dr. Fosse says, is one factor, and when professors
habitually go to Poona or Calcutta, their students will tend to follow their
example; financing is another factor, as Prof. Witzel mentioned in another
thread; it is also true, as Witzel wrote, that Indians in general (those in
India and those living abroad) are not so good at propagating the cause of
their civilization in the West as some other non-Western people are, which
contributes to the closing of already existing university departments of
Indian studies in times of financial reorganisation. Under such
circumstances, it is hard to expand Indology in such a way as to give due
attention to the real importance of southern India. Cologne is a rare


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