Making the Argument for Sanskrit

Alfred Collins acollins at GCI.NET
Mon Jan 15 20:50:00 UTC 2007

I think the main point that should be made is that classical Indian studies are of enormous relevance to contemporary  Western (and Chinese and Japanese) culture, and Sanskrit is a fundamental tool for the pursuit of those studies. 

In addition to the areas already mentioned (poetry, literary studies, philosophy, linguistics, political science, etc.) I would cite psychology and psychotherapy.  Several branches of psychotherapy are greatly indebted to Indian thinking (Buddhist, yogic): mindfulness is used by thousands of therapists and there are a large number of books and research studies on it.  Biofeedback and relaxation strategies based on yoga (pranayama, etc.) are also widespread.  Both Freud (the death instinct aka "nirvana principle") and Jung (the idea of the self as center of the personality) were deeply influenced by Indian thought, and this continued in Winnicott, Kohut, and Bion. Sudhir Kakar's work carries this on to the present day.

Al Collins

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