"Science" in India

Motilal Banarsidass mlbd at VSNL.COM
Mon Oct 23 13:28:31 UTC 2000

Dear Readers,

While reading thru the Indology list almost on a regular I found quite a
steadily growing interest in Indian "Science" almost all across the world.
Therefore, shortly in the future we are going to launch a new series of
HERITAGE, the general editor of which is going to be Dr L M SINGHVI. The
series will begin with a couple of volumes on VEDIC & JAIN MATHEMATICS &
which would follow covering almost all the subjects within this field. Since
such a venture has been undertaken by our publishing house for the 1st time
& there's hardly any publisher in India or overseas who
has done much in such a specialised field, so we'd be looking forward to
"superior quality" manuscripts yet to be published by
eminent scholars. However, whatever manuscripts we get for publication will
be thoroughly examined not only from contents point of view, but its
language style. Therefore, we'd be expecting lucid language & to be very
precise it should be in READER & USER FRIENDLY, so that our customers or
readers are not put off.

For the sake of scholarship we'd like to invite manuscripts & all those who
happen to work in these areas.

Regards & best wishes

Motilal Banarsidass Publishers
41, U.A. Bungalow Road, Jawahar Nagar
Delhi-110007, India
Tel: (011) 3974826, 3918335, 3911985, 3932747
      (011) 5795180, 5793423, 5797356
Fax:(011) 3930689, 5797221
Email: mlbd at vsnl.com , mail at mlbd.com
Website: www.mlbd.com , www.newagebooksindia.com

God sleeps in minerals,awakens in plants;
Walks in animals  and  thinks in man.
----- Original Message -----
From: Steve Farmer <saf at SAFARMER.COM>
Sent: Monday, October 23, 2000 11:28 AM
Subject: Re: "Science" in India

> What a surprise after returning for the weekend! A few quick
> notes, hopefully ending this thread:
> Dominik Wujastyk writes:
> > At base, what Farmer is trying to do is to find for himself some way of
> > understanding how Rajaram, Kak, and others can write history that is so
> > variance with the standard model, and is based on poor evidence,
> > misleading argumentation, and so forth.  How can someone do something so
> > inexplicable?
> Dominik characterizes my motives perfectly. I'd like to add that
> I think that the sources of Rajaram's errors are radically
> different from Kak's, as Michael Witzel and I suggested in our
> FRONTLINE article.
> David Salomon writes:
> > It should by now be obvious that poking a jackbooted fascist
> > with a stick is a risky business.  Fascists are brutal but they
> > must have their historical myths, and they value compliant
> > "scientists" who will give their myths respectability.
> ....
> > The question should not be why are Farmer and Witzel pursuing
> > this matter, but why are Indian scientists so silent in their
> > support?  Have they been intimidated?
> Thanks much to David and others for their moral support. The fact
> that this is risky business certainly doesn't mean that scholars
> should be silent. Nor, so far as native Indologists go -- if not
> scientists -- we shouldn't forget that Iravatham Mahadevan has
> offered his strong support for Rajaram's debunking, as has Romila
> Thapar, and many other native scholars on this List.
> Vidyasankar Sundaresan writes:
> > Now we have Farmer insulting an entire
> > population and an entire nation,
> Ridiculous. Valerie Roebuck expresses my motives perfectly:
> > I don't think Steve Farmer was insulting anybody--just questioning the
> > quality of certain systems of education, surely a legitimate concern of
> > academics everywhere?
> Vidyasankar Sundaresan writes further:
> > I invite Steve Farmer, or indeed, anybody on this list, to show that
> > Farmer is indeed a trained Indologist. From what I can make out, he has
> > much training in Indology as I do, and perhaps less background than I.
> ...
> > I am also just expressing a wish that the experts on this highly
> > self-referential and self-reverential list stand up to the same
> > that they expect out of amateurs, and that they apply the same standards
> > all the amateurs, including Steve Farmer.
> Sundaresan opens the door to a topic on which I've wanted to
> remark for some time, especially in light of Dominik's
> (understandable) comments that he intended this List for
> professionals. I'm obviously a comparative historian and not an
> Indologist. But that hardly makes me an "amateur" of Sundaresan's
> sort. By definition, comparative historians move systematically
> from field to field. I've spent over twenty years (going back to
> when I received my doctorate in cultural history) as a premodern
> historian who studies the evolution of manuscript traditions in
> Europe, China, India, the Middle East, and Mesoamerica.
> Historical studies of manuscript traditions travel remarkably
> well from field to field: shifting from premodern studies of
> Greece or China or Mesoamerica to India is radically different
> from shifting from engineering to any premodern field. Religious
> commentators (say) dealing with Vedic or Buddhist or Hindu
> traditions employed remarkably similar exegetical methods as
> commentators concerned with Confucian or Aristotelian or Islamic
> or Egyptian texts. Obviously, in studying manuscript traditions
> cross-culturally, I can't be expert in all the premodern
> languages that were used in Eurasia or Mesoamerica, nor in all
> the modern languages that scholars use to discuss them. But I am
> competent in a half dozen or so of those languages, and am
> continually studying others (including Sanskrit). When I can't
> deal with a specialized topic on my own, I go to lengths to
> collaborate with reputable scholars who have skills that
> complement my own. In any event, after two decades of advanced
> research into premodern traditions I think that I can claim that
> I am possibly more qualified to raise scholarly questions in
> fields like Indology (and I always expect to raise more questions
> than I can answer) than (say) an engineer who turns to to the
> field without that same two decades of professional study -- let
> alone without the formal training in paleography, philology, and
> the history of philosophy, religion, and science expected of
> someone in my field. One of the problems in premodern studies --
> for Sinologists and Western classicists no less than Indologists
> -- is that experts are so constrained by the specialized needs of
> their research that they normally have little time to study other
> Eurasian, Middle Eastern, or Mesoamerican fields that throw light
> on their own. This is one place where comparativists can play a
> significant catalyst's role, serving as a bridge between
> researchers in intellectually related but geographical dispersed
> fields. Recently I've had some moderate success bringing together
> Vedic specialists (including M. Witzel) and their counterparts in
> the Warring States period in China -- in ways that have already
> affected work in the latter field.
> In any event, can I suggest that the ridiculously early dates
> assigned to Vedic sources so cavalierly by the Rajaram or Kak or
> Talageri or Frawley types are immediately *recognized* as
> ridiculous by *any* trained premodernist -- if not by engineers
> who approach Vedic studies without that training?  Insofar as I
> am a "lover" of premodern history, etymologically speaking (at
> least) I embrace the "amateur" label. But after two decades
> working with premodern texts, including some infamously difficult
> ones, I can safely reject the "amateur" label the way that
> Sundaresan intends it. Of his training, I know nothing.
> Steve Farmer

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