Making the Argument for Sanskrit : a Real Problem and Directions for a Solution

gruenendahl gruenen at MAIL.SUB.UNI-GOETTINGEN.DE
Thu Jan 4 10:47:09 UTC 2007

On 4 Jan 2007 at 0:36, Jan E.M. Houben wrote:

> ... we should also look courageously at the (more
> distant and more recent) past, without trying to
> escape or evade it in a cowardish and hypocrit
> way. 

And, I may add, without reinventing the past according to our own preconceptions. 
Only a few years ago, Professor Houben advanced a similar argument when he 
claimed that "German indology" was in some way involved in "the disastrous 
ideology of the 'pure Aryan race'". 
(for an online version of his paper see:

However, at closer inspection, "the volumes 92-98 (1938-44) and 99 (1945-49) of 
the 'Zeitschrift der deutschen morgenländischen Gesellschaft'" he draws on in 
support say nothing of the kind, as I have tried to show in a recent paper. Of course, 
Professor Houben is free to ignore my paper, but should he consider taking up the 
issue in the present context, I should like to ask what kind of evidence he intends to 
produce this time. Two criteria would be very helpful: 1) that the evidence is 
concrete and verifiable by book, chapter and verse; 2) that it is relevant to the 

I have not read Jean Filliozat's article yet. From Professor Houben's quotes I gather 
that he saw "a gradual rise of racial theories" as a major factor in the history of 
Indology, but here, too, I cannot see that anything is said about the evidence he 
produces in support of this view.

The same applies to Sheldon Pollock's "Deep Orientalism?...". I'm prepared to 
discuss any point in Pollock's paper Professor Houben or other members of this list 
may find intellectually convincing according to the above criteria, although I cannot 
see how this could possibly contribute to the declared intention of the present 
debate in any way. In my view, the distortive and illusory claims made about the 
presumed history of "Orientalism" in general and Indology in particular are the 
single most corruptive factor for the reputation of these fields of learning. And 
wasn't that what it was all about?

Reinhold Grünendahl


Dr. Reinhold Gruenendahl
Niedersaechsische Staats- und Universitaetsbibliothek
Fachreferat sued- und suedostasiatische Philologien
(Dept. of Indology)

37070 Goettingen, Germany
Tel (+49) (0)5 51 / 39 52 83
Fax (+49) (0)5 51 / 39 23 61
gruenen at

In English:

GRETIL - Goettingen Register of Electronic Texts in Indian Languages

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