Dominik Wujastyk ucgadkw at UCL.AC.UK
Mon Feb 10 11:47:18 UTC 2003

On Mon, 10 Feb 2003, Arlo Griffiths wrote:

> All these works make clear that identifications commonly used by Indologists
> can in many cases already be rejected for the simple reason that the
> supposed animal does not exist in India. Regarding Dave's book on birds, we
> should indeed, as Karttunen just hinted, not forget R.P. Das' words
> ("Studies in Indian Medical History", ed. by Meulenbeld and Wujastyk,
> Groningen 1987, p. 27 n. 36): "... Dave seems on the whole far too sure of
> his identifications and has moreover more or less neglected other studies on
> the subject."

The more I've used Dave, the less I would agree with Das's caveat.  Dave
really had an excellent personal knowledge of Indian ornithology, which
makes his book uniquely useful, and his opinions far more valuable than if
they were merely based on secondary academic sources alone.  (Of course,
he is very widely and usefully read in Sanskrit sources.)  If Dave appears
sure, it is often because he does actually know what he's talking about.

Obviously, there is never any excuse for not thinking for oneself.  I'm
not saying Dave is perfect, just very, very good, and perhaps unfairly
criticised by Das.  Also, unfortunately, out of print.


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