Sanskrit Knowledge Systems on the Eve of Colonialism

Timothy C. Cahill tccahill at LOYNO.EDU
Fri Feb 8 00:35:27 UTC 2002

Dear "Indologists",

   Well, I must agree with George Hart when he points out that there was
an extremely complex interplay between people of the period in question
and that these people were diverse (lang., rel., culture, etc.).  And I'll
also agree that scholars should not assume that Sanskrit works were most
important or most significant.  Moreover, I'm happy that to hear an
acknowledgement that Sanskrit sometimes mediated in the interplay between
all these.  If this last is true, then I don't see a huge problem with
learning about the content of Sanskrit texts in the period.  The purpose
of my message was to point out that the shakers and movers behind this
project did not assume that a single system was operative.  (NB: I'm not
part of the group, and so reference to "Tim, et al" isn't quite

   My hunch is that the label "Sanskrit Knowledge Systems" approximates
the use of the term "sastra".  No doubt the collective no. of works in
Telugu, Urdu, Bengali, Marathi, Tamil, etc. outnumber the texts written in
Skt during 1550-1750.  (I can't see how my message gave the impression
that I was arguing for BIG numbers.)  And I'm sure that a number of them
had a pan-regional impact. I sure hope there are coordinated initiatives
underway to publish, translate, interpret, criticize and, yes, even
celebrate the vernacular / regional works.  When that's underway, and when
this NEH project has produced its results, we ought to be in a better
position to see the interplay more clearly.  In any event, I'm glad to see
that *this* project will treat a period that has received less attention
than others, and my interest is piqued that such a period has been defined
as especially significant.

   After browsing through the web site, my main problem is with the word

best wishes,
Tim Cahill

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