Making the Argument for Sanskrit

George Hart glhart at BERKELEY.EDU
Mon Jan 15 15:41:52 UTC 2007

I find myself perplexed, to say the least, that apparently the most  
potent argument for Sanskrit is that it has influenced a few (dead)  
white men.  Surely Kalidasa and Ilango did not care in the slightest  
what white people would think of their work.  And certainly any dean  
approached about the importance of Sanskrit would be puzzled at these  
arguments.  South Asia contains about 1.5 billion people. Their  
cultures and ways of thought have been deeply influenced by the  
classical tradition contained in Sanskrit (and Tamil).  Are we then  
to argue that the importance of Sanskrit is that it influenced  
Oppenheimer or Eliot in some minor way?  Is this not slightly  
narcissistic?  George Hart

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