Making the Argument for Sanskrit

Lars Martin Fosse lmfosse at CHELLO.NO
Wed Jan 3 10:22:37 UTC 2007

Some years ago, I and a few other people took the initiative to creating a
Nordic Institute in India. In connection with that, we developed a
comprehensive argument for the importance of Indic studies in general. In my
opinion, the importance of Sanskrit has to be argued within such a

In our justification, we stressed
1. The economic importance of South Asia
2. The geopolitical importance of South Asia
	Here, among other things, we discussed South Asia in the global
context and regional conflict as a global concern. 
3. The cultural importance of South Asia.
	The last point discussed South Asia as a cradle of cultures and
South Asia as a linguistic laboratory. 

Sanskrit and Sanskritic culture is the key to understanding Hinduism, but
also to a comprehensive understanding of Buddhism and Jainism. Understanding
Sanskrit and the cultural patterns and conflicts that are rooted in
Sanskritic culture is of the utmost importance for any in-depth
understanding of India and Hinduism in general. We cannot afford to ignore
it. In a broader political perspective, knowledge of Sanskrit therefore has
instrumental value. 

I am afraid that aesthetic arguments are not likely to win any battles. The
narrow-minded politicians and bureaucrats that define university policies
today deep down think in terms of instrumentality and mass production of
students (that, at least, is the case in Norway). Indologists need to get
out of their ivory towers, they need to participate in public debates and
show that Sanskritic studies have a practical aspect. Public debates on
India and South Asia should not be left to social anthropologists and
sociologists alone. 

Lars Martin Fosse

(Incidentally, the Nordic Institute was realized and today is an integral
part of the study of South Asia in Scandinavia). 

From: Lars Martin Fosse 
Haugerudvn. 76, Leil. 114, 
0674 Oslo - Norway 
Phone: +47 22 32 12 19 Fax:  +47 850 21 250 
Mobile phone: +47 90 91 91 45 
E-mail: lmfosse at

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