Indology and "the disastrous ideology of the 'pure Aryan race'"

Paul Kiparsky kiparsky at CSLI.STANFORD.EDU
Fri Jan 12 02:07:04 UTC 2007

On Jan 11, 2007, at 6:03 PM, Jan E.M. Houben wrote:

> Good morning dear Reinhold and other list members still interested  
> in this thread,
>   Since uncertainties and doubts have arisen and are persisting  
> regarding my conference report of the Deutsche Orientalisten Tag  
> 1995 in Leipzig I propose that I give here my final and  
> authoritative exegetical remarks on points which -- strangely  
> enough, but anyway -- have turned out to be problematic. Why is  
> this exegesis final and authoritative?
>   (1) I am the author of the report, so it is to be assumed that I  
> knew what I wanted to say unless there are reasons to believe  
> otherwise.
>   (2) The sense I attribute to the sentences emerges from them  
> straightforwardly and effortlessly.
>   (3) The interpretation is in accordance with my earlier email  
> message to you which, dear Reinhold, I sent to you on 16 June 2004  
> (!), and which I paste below for the refreshment of your memory.
>   (4) The interpretation is also in full accordance with  
> publications of mine which appeared after the conference report.  
> Although I referred to these articles as important for my view you  
> have neglected them ever since, going even to the extent of  
> publishing an immature pamphlet in which you spent 12 out of 28  
> pages on a detailed view which you attribute to me solely on the  
> basis of a distorted reading of the mentioned conference report  
> without seeking interpretational help from these later publications.
>   Regarding the nature of the current list-discussion headed by a  
> phrase quoted from my 1995 report, I agree that if you read any  
> other statement of mine that can upset YOUR construction of MY view  
> as 100 percent identical with another view under discussion in your  
> pamphlet this might undermine this pamphlet so it was for you  
> strategically required, counter to generally accepted scholarly  
> method, to postpone reading them for two years and playing now  
> innocence as if it is only now that I have drawn your attention to  
> them: your pamphlet otherwise explodes like a budbuda. The message  
> pasted below exposes the inadaquacy of your method. This also  
> explains your hurry with the present discussion offending scholars  
> who give their sincere observations and remarks.
>   Well then, over to my authoritative exegetical remarks.
>   Vergangenheit - Bewaltigung (I guess that Bewa"ltigung would have  
> been more correct but here in Trivandrum I don't have a German  
> dictionary at hand to check this)
>   In your dealing with my conference report you felt hurt by  
> "Vergangenheit - Bew"altigung" as you apparently felt it as a  
> suggestion (I suppose) that German indologists of that time have  
> committed crimes with which current German indologists would have  
> to come to terms, or perhaps you are afraid that I am arguing that  
> the current generation of German indologists has to be punished for  
> the misdeeds of German indologists of the previous generation. The  
> formulation Vergangenheit - Bewaltigung is in any case quite  
> clearly distinct from Vergangenheitsbew"altigung which has a  
> restricted meaning, so there is no reason to take Vergangenheit -  
> Bewaltigung in the restricted sense of Vergangenheitsbew"altigung.  
> The immediately next sentence in the 1995 report confirms this, as  
> it says that :
>   "To the extent that indology in general owes a great debt to the  
> contributions of German indology, it also has to come to terms with  
> some of the more problematic aspects of the history of the latter."  
> We see here indeed the expression "to come to terms with"  and  
> "it"  clearly refers here to indology in general; in view of recent  
> misunderstandings I may add that the indologies of other countries  
> (usually strongly interrelated) have their own problematic  
> histories. It is not likely that at the time of writing the report  
> I was thinking of a necessity to accuse and punish German  
> indologists, because very soon after the conference report I gave a  
> quite different suggestion of how we should try to get to terms  
> with a problematic past: we should try to find deeper and more  
> convincing explanations of phenomena which have been conveniently  
> explained by racist theories.
>   "Essential reading for a well-informed discussion", shows an  
> orientation towards facts, and a readiness to open up for  
> discussion any theory and interpretation ; "Essential reading for a  
> well-informed discussion" does not point to a desire to propose and  
> defend a theorie, and definitely not one that is identical with the  
> one propounded in a publication to which I refer as a provocative  
> article.
>   Coming to the items which I mention for inclusion in a list  
> "essential reading" there is the now controversial reference to  
> certain issues of the ZDMG.
>     As I mentioned in that message 16 June 2004 (see below), though  
> somewhat hesitatingly because it was at that moment not fresh in my  
> memory, there are notices of W"ust in the mentioned ZDMG issues,  
> references to his organisational DMG activities explicitly in  
> connection with the then current political situation, there are  
> articles of Frauwallner (exercise for students and interested  
> readers: try to find them, it is quite easy). All these fully  
> justify the statements in the terms in which they were made in the  
> conference report (provided they are not distortively  
> reformulated). There is much more in these ZDMG issues, much that  
> is very valuable, much good and solid philological work. But two  
> persons we have, these are "some indologists at least" and they  
> kept positive relations with the then German government which  
> itself adhered to an ideology of the pure Aryan race. Obviously, I  
> never suggested that the scholarly articles in issues in ZDMG would  
> be fully or largely
>  devoted to expounding, discussing or promoting Nazi-ideology, but  
> those who explicitly keep positive relations with the then German  
> government are automatically keeping sufficiently positive  
> relations with the government's ideology of the pure Aryan race  
> which turned out to be disastrous (that this ideology was never  
> static and homogeneous is a different matter).
>   The 16 June message and the present authoritative exegesis of the  
> 1995 conference report prove me right in front of the nice quote  
> from Max M"uller, but you don't have to shower your felicitations  
> and flowers on me, nor do I expect any cows with gilded horns, I am  
> happy with the confirmation from my own conscience.
>   iti siddham
>   I am sorry, dear Reinhold, that you have forced me to prove  
> myself right and you wrong publicly.
>   avadhiirita-suh.rd-vaakya-phalam etat.
>   But perhaps this experience will help you avoid some beginners'  
> mistakes when working on your book, beginners' mistakes such as  
> attributing a detailed view to a person (whether a colleague or  
> Bhartrhari or Dignaaga) without first carefully consulting all  
> available statements of that person.
>   Further doubts on the 1995 conference report can be addressed to  
> me off-list, I will, moreover, keep a more elaborate exegesis ready  
> in the near future (it will be available on demand), and post an  
> update to my list of items that may be considered essential reading  
> on our topic.
>   -- When? When? I don't wan't to be taken on a cook's ride! --
>   On 5 May 2007 (that gives you enough time to read some articles),  
> not one day earlier, nor one day later.
>   Greetings and best wishes, JH (from Thiruvananthapuram)
>   Vergangenheit Bewaltigung
> To the extent that indology in general owes a great debt to the  
> contributions of German indology, it also has to come to terms with  
> some of the more problematic aspects of the history of the latter.  
> I am referring here, of course, to the positive relations which  
> some indologists at least maintained with the German government and  
> its disastrous ideology of the 'pure Aryan race' before and during  
> the period of the Second World War. Essential reading for a well- 
> informed discussion on this sensitive topic should comprise S.  
> Pollock's provocative "Deep Orientalism: Notes on Sanskrit and  
> Power Beyond the Raj" (in Van der Veer and Beckenridge, The  
> Postcolonial Predicament, Philadelphia, 1993), passages from  
> Halbfass' India and Europe (Albany, 1988), and selected articles  
> and notices of the volumes 92-98 (1938-44) and 99 (1945-49) of the  
> Zeitschrift f™r die Deutsche Morgenl≥ndische Gesellschaft.
>   Email sent to Reinhold Gruenendahl on 16 June 2004
>   Lieber Reinhold,
>   Ich glaube Du zitierst ein Konferenzraport das in IIASNewsletter  
> erschien sieben oder acht Jahre zurück? Ich muss mir die Teile des  
> ZDMG noch mal anschauen. Ich meine einige Notizen des Walter Wüst  
> haben in der genannten Richtung gewiesen. (Ich weiss das anderen  
> wie z.B. Heinrich Lüders den Nazismus heroisch abgelehnt haben.)  
> Ich war damals erstaunt dass irgendwo in Nummer 99 von "Occupied  
> Germany" gesprochen wurde. Ich kann die Seitezahlen suchen aber  
> wahrscheinlich nicht bevor Juli. Ein Artikel dass "positive  
> relations" aufweist wenigstens mit der Ideologie des "pure Aryan  
> race" ist Frauwallner's Artikel oder Konferenz-Beitrag dass glaube  
> ich 1938 oder 1939 erschienen ist (leider, weil ich Frauwallner's  
> Methode sonst sehr bewundere). Siehe meinen Artikel Why did  
> Saamkhya thrive but hardly survive in Etudes Asiatiques 53.3 ca.  
> 1999. Der grosse Problem ist jetzt für mich nicht das Frauwallner  
> und viele anderen so öffentlich dachten bevor ende WK II, aber: wie  
> sollen wir
>  die von Frauwallner wahrgenommene Muster sonst erklären, wenn wir  
> nicht mehr an Rassentheorien glauben wollen. Siehe für eine Idee  
> vielleicht für eine Teilerklährung: "'Verschriftlichung' and the  
> relation between the pramaa.nas in the history of Saa.mkhya."  
> Études de Lettres 2001.3: La rationalité en Asie / Rationality in  
> Asia: 165-194. Wenn Du etwas über diese Problematik schreibst,  
> bitte "keep me informed".
>   Alles gute, Jan
>   Translation of Email sent to Reinhold Gruenendahl on 16 June 2004
>   Dear Reinhold,
>   I believe you cite [in your email] a conference report that  
> appeared in the IIAS Newsletter seven or eight years back? I have  
> to look again at these issues of the ZDMG. I believe that some  
> notes of Walter W"ust have pointed in the mentioned direction. (I  
> know that others such as Heinrich L"uders have rejected Nazihood  
> heroicly.) At that time [when writing teh report] I was surprised  
> to see that somewhere in no. 99 there was talk of "Occupied  
> Germany". I can search the pagenumbers but probably not before  
> July. An article that shows "positive relations" at least with the  
> ideology of the "pure Aryan race"  is the article or conference  
> contribution of Frauwallner which appeared, I believe, in 1938 or  
> 1939 (unfortunately, because I admire Frauwallner's method very  
> much). See my article Why did Saamkhya thrive but hardly survive in  
> Etudes Asiatiques 53.3 ca. 1999. The big problem is now for me not  
> that Frauwallner and many others were publicly thinking like that  
> before the end
>  of WW II, but: how should we explain the patterns observed by  
> Frauwallner and others in a different way, if we do not want to  
> believe in racist theories any more. See for an idea perhaps for a  
> partial explanation: "'Verschriftlichung' and the relation between  
> the pramaa.nas in the history of Saa.mkhya." Études de Lettres  
> 2001.3: La rationalité en Asie / Rationality in Asia: 165-194. If  
> you write something about this problematic, please keep me informed.
>   Best wishes, Jan
>   ity uktvaa viramaami
> ---------------------------------
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