Making the Argument for Sanskrit (was: Re: How to salvage Sanskrit in Berlin)

gruenendahl gruenen at MAIL.SUB.UNI-GOETTINGEN.DE
Mon Jan 15 11:58:06 UTC 2007

On 12 Jan 2007 at 10:43, Sonam Kachru wrote:

> Dear All,
> In Professor Wujastyk's list of those influenced by Sanskrit 
> studies--(1) Hermann Grassmann (1809-1877), famous 
> mathematician; ...

Supposing one wanted to make Grassmann and the other celebrities listed part of 
an "argument for Sanskrit", it would have to be shown first that whatever they 
achieved in other fields was in some way "influenced by Sanskrit", resp. their 
knowledge of it, as is claimed here. How many years that would take I find it difficult 
to predict.

Now, take Grassmann. He was a mathematician with an interest in language 
(etymology). But he turned to Sanskrit (the Rgveda exclusively) quite late in life: his 
"Wörterbuch zum Rig-Veda" was published in 1873, his translation (2 vols.) 1876 
and 1877, the year he died. Not much time for influence left in his case! (mutatis 
mutandis in other cases)

Of course, none of this is pathbreaking news, and it can be extended ad infinitum, 
as a look at Windisch's "Geschichte der Sanskrit-Philologie" (2 parts, 1917/1920; for 
Grassmann see p. 364f.) will show. But as pointed out earlier, I don't consider this a 
useful approach at all.

Should Berlin authorities feel the need for counsel on indology, plenty of it is 
available to them, we may rest assured. The problem, as far as I understood it, is 
that they don't want any. So why not just ask them to seek it before they make 
decisions the desastrous consequences of which cannot be reversed?

The only address I can provide is:
berlinindology at

(There was another address, but I didn't keep it. Perhaps someone may be able to 
help out.)

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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