[Y-Indology] Berlin Indology (2)

Ithamar Theodor theodor at RESEARCH.HAIFA.AC.IL
Sun Jan 7 15:42:04 UTC 2007

Dear Harry,

 Enclosed please find a copy of my letter sent today.

 With best regards,

 The Chair
  Department of Indian Philology
  Free University

  I am writing this letter in order to express my deep concern in regards to 
the plan of closing down the Classical Indian Studies program at your 
university. I would not repeat the known facts of the long and glorious 
history of 186 years of first class Indological research in Berlin. I would 
also avoid mentioning the important contribution of the German Indologists 
to the field worldwide. What I would like to very briefly state, is that I 
believe that the field of classical Indology is not only to contribute to 
the study of the past, rather, it has an important role to play in the 
future, too. I am an Indologist living in Israel, and am planning to enter 
the emerging field of peace studies; to my mind, Sanskrit literature will 
gradually come to occupy a major place as a rich source of ideas for the 
construction of theories in the area of Global Nonviolence and hence, 
another aspect of its importance. I hope that this considered, it will help 
the authorities overcome the difficulties, and allow Classical Indological 
Studies to continue in Berlin.


 Ithamar Theodor
 M.Litt., PhD
 Dept. of Asian Studies
 University of Haifa

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Harry Falk" <falk at ZEDAT.FU-BERLIN.DE>
To: <INDOLOGY at liverpool.ac.uk>
Sent: Friday, January 05, 2007 5:52 PM
Subject: Re: [Y-Indology] Berlin Indology (2)

> Dear list members,
> since it is my post which is planned to be sacked when I leave office in 
> 2012 I would like to thank Michael for his enduring efforts, which 
> outshine everything that has been done in this respect anywhere in 
> Germany.
>     May I recall the basic fact: it was planned that the dept. of Indian 
> Philology moved to the Humboldt-University in town. This was not a bad 
> idea, given the depts. of Indian history already there. The shift over 
> there was planned to be accompanied by a shift of the Egyptian Archaeology 
> from there to us, the Free University. This way no university would have 
> been forced to augment its staff, just a swapping of depts. with no 
> financial burden involved would take place. Unfortunately, the Egyptian 
> Archaeology refused to move and the president of the Humboldt universtiy 
> missed the occasion to kick them over par ordre du moufti.
>    Our president had firmly planned for a future without Indian Philology. 
> Now that I cannot go - because the Egyptian Archaeologists don't come - he 
> still sticks to this plan. What is worse: he refuses to talk about our 
> field with me or anyone else who could make him change his mind.
>    He and his colleague at the Humboldt-University should be reminded that 
> no higher authority, like the senator for education and sciences in town 
> or the Wissenschaftsrat, has ever pleaded for a closure of Indian 
> Philology, and that even with the missed swapping no additional personal 
> is to be paid anywhere.
>    All arguments regarding the importance of the field, its long history 
> in town, Sanskrit, Indian history etc. will be accepted as important, but 
> they will not be taken into account. At least at present. No one should 
> expect an instant result; however, as long as complaints from all over the 
> world keep pouring in these two presidents will be reminded of something 
> they have to deal with. Just say that
> - there never was a plan to erase Indian philology
> - no additional money is needed since the swapping would not have changed 
> the number of staff
> -
> Michael Witzel schrieb:
>> Dear List members,
>> Before Christmas, I have written to you about the planned closure of the 
>> Berlin Indology department.
>> Many of you have already written to the Berlin authorities then.
>> However, a second push may not hurt, as the case is by *no means* closed 
>> yet.
>> So, please, those of you who have not yet written, do so now during the 
>> New Year break!
>> As you know, we have set up an email address to which you can send your 
>> letters:
>>        berlinindology at gmail.com
>> If you want to write *directly* to the various authorities concerned, 
>> please let me know, and I will then send you the proper addresses.
>> [[ By the way, someone (the World Sanskrit Association?) should organize 
>> such efforts worldwide, as cutbacks in all classical fields, from Latin 
>> and Greek to Chinese, are and will be with us for a while. Eventually, 
>> even administrators and  politicians will recognize that you have to know 
>> a bit more about the world's civilizations than just current elections 
>> and economics... ]]
>> With many thanks
>> and best wishes for 2007,
>> Michael Witzel
>> -----------------------
>> Please select from the following or compose a letter yourself.
>> Just a  few lines will do!
>> =================================================
>> To whom it may concern:
>> A few days weeks we have learned, worldwide, that Indian Studies in 
>> Berlin are to be abolished. I therefore write to you to request to 
>> preserve the world famous Institute of Indology.
>> This does not only concern modern South Asian Studies, that still are 
>> well represented, but also „Classical Indology“ or „Indian Philology“.
>> Classical Indian Philology has existed at Berlin since 1821, and the 
>> discipline has been continued at Humboldt University even after 1945 by 
>> Professors Ruben and Morgenroth, as well as at the new institute of the 
>> Freie Universitaet (Prof.s Bruhn and Falk). Indology prominently deals 
>> with the indigenous weltanschauung, religion and history of thought, as 
>> they are represented in Sanskrit and other texts. Without this kind of 
>> background modern India cannot be understood.
>> The study of the Sanskrit language, that was one of the official 
>> languages in India until 1835, is essential for any understanding of the 
>> immense number of Indian texts, from c. 1500 BCE until today, for example 
>> in fields such as traditional Indian medicine (Ayurveda) or indigenous 
>> Indian linguistics (Panini), a field that has supplied important stimuli 
>> to western linguistics.
>> As is obvious even from this minimal discussion, modern India can only be 
>> understood -- just as any other important civilization – if one studies 
>> its foundational texts and their impact during the medieval and modern 
>> periods.  (I have constantly experienced that myself during my five years 
>> stay in South Asia.) Indian history, spanning some 5000 years, is 
>> becoming ever more important even in the political arena, for example 
>> during the past elections of 2004, which had the effect that even 
>> classical philologists were drawn into the fray, whether they wanted or 
>> not.
>> Consequently, both modern as well a classical Indology are essential.  We 
>> appeal to you to continue both branches of our discipline.
>> Berlin Indology can look back, as mentioned, to a tradition spanning some 
>> 200 years. Many internationally famous scholars have emerged from Berlin. 
>> In the early 19th century, the study of India belonged to one of the 
>> major points of Humboldt’s reform of the German Universities. This should 
>> not be forgotten now that India receives great attention worldwide, as it 
>> grows economically and politically.
>> Finally, it may be added that German Indology has a very good name in 
>> India, as Indologists have seriously endeavored to study Indian culture 
>> without prejudice. This long-standing and continuing attitude of German 
>> intellectuals towards Indian civilization has made Indology the best 
>> ambassador in India. It will be met with disbelief both in India  and 
>> worldwide if the German capital will have to do without an Indian 
>> Institute.
>> The preservation of the internationally highly regarded Indology of 
>> Berlin therefore is important also for the reputation of Berlin as a 
>> place of research.  The demolition of Indology would also  be 
>> unreasonable in view of the large collections of manuscripts of the 
>> Prussian State Library and the Academy, as well as the rich holdings of 
>> the Museum of Indian Art. It would bring 200 years of a great tradition 
>> to an end.
>> We therefore sincerely appeal to you to preserve the discipline and its 
>> BA., M.A., and PhD. courses. Anything but this would be a disaster, a 
>> waste of material and human capital.
>> Yours faithfully,
>> X.Y.
>> (official position)
>> (address)
>> (email)
>> ==================================
>> Michael Witzel
>> Department of Sanskrit and Indian Studies, Harvard University
>> 1 Bow Street , 3rd floor, Cambridge MA 02138
>> 1-617-495 3295           Fax: 496 8571
>> direct line:       496 2990
>> <http://www.fas.harvard.edu/~witzel/mwpage.htm>
>> <http://groups.yahoo.com/group/compmyth>
>> <http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Indo-Eurasian_research/>
>> < http://users.primushost.com/~india/ejvs/>
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