Agrahara, gurukula, pravacana query (fwd)

Dominik Wujastyk ucgadkw at UCL.AC.UK
Fri Dec 20 22:34:10 UTC 2002

Kindly CC replies to Dr Venkat Rao at the "From:" email address just


Date: Thu, 19 Dec 2002 01:20:31 +0530 (IST)
From: "venkat at" <venkat at>

Subject: query


I have been for some time now groping for some historical material on the
themes of "agrahara", "gurukula", "pravacana" and in general the
"intellectual traditions" in the precolonial period.  Though I am not an
indologist by training, I am drawn to these areas of inquiry. (My training
has been in the areas of literary theory and cultural studies or broadly
the fields of critical humanities).

Lacking expertise in historical/philological methods, I am looking for
literary material.  Currently I am absorbed in the biography of a
Mahamahopadhyaya Rani Narasimhasastry (a Vedanta Pandit from Andhra, who
died last year in November).  The biography is narrated by his son (who is
also a Sanskrit pandit), in his autobiography aptly called The Last
Brahmin.  I have begun to feel that this is a classic work in this area
(probably first of its kind to have been written from inside).  One of the
most fascinating aspects of this work is to offer a critique of religion
from the ontological basis of caste. This is probably one of the first
philosophical critiques of Brahmanism to emerge from the classical
traditional background.  A powerful intellectual position is examined by
the narrator in conjunction with its tragic undercurrent (the place this
tradition accords to women).  I am currently involved in translating this

While working on this and as I came across your own work website, I
thought I should seek your help in continuing my inquiry.  Could you
kindly inform me (or suggest sources) whether there is any work on the
theme of agrahara.  Is there any work on the Sanskrit curriculum as it was
developed (a) in traditional setting and (b) after 18th century especially
in the context of South India .

I am sorry to bother you with these questions.  I would be grateful if you
could spare some time to help me in pursuing my inquiry.

Kind regards

D. Venkat Rao
School of Critical Humanities
Central Institute of Enlgish and Foreign Languages
Hyderabad 500007

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