[INDOLOGY] question for European Indologists

Dominik Wujastyk wujastyk at gmail.com
Fri Jun 28 07:58:33 UTC 2013

There was a big change in Sanskrit pedagogy in the 70s.  Thomas Burrow had
taught Sanskrit from the same syllabus for for 32 years.  By "syllabus," I
mean the printed, published Oxford schools syllabus that gave the editions
and even page numbers of what the student would do in each term of each of
the three years of the BA.    You could look a head and say to yourself,
"ah, in October next year, I'll be reading page three of the Mudraraksasa."

When Richard Gombrich became lecturer in Sanskrit, and responsible for the
lion's share of u/g teaching, he stopped the use of Perry at Oxford.  He
hated that book with a passion.  When I arrived in '74, Richard had already
introduced Coulson, though it was only in photocopied typewritten sheets at
that time.  (But the same was true of Mr Gray's famous Sanskrit course book
at SOAS.  It was never published, so I don't know what

When Richard became professor, he began the bureaucratic Oxford process of
changing the syllabus.  He said that if he had to teach the same pages of
the same books for the rest of his life, as Burrow had done, he would go
mad.  His idea was to make the u/g as śāstrika as possible, to make it more
similar to a traditional pundit's education, but while still keeping it in
the general mould of a European university course.  Also, because no one
Sanskritist can master all the śāstras, he wanted the flexibility to be
able to have guest teachers, people like David Pingree, who could give a
course out of their special knowledge that would still count towards the
undergraduate course credit.

Richard got the changes through committee, and the new u/g course was born
(after my time).  I'll leave it to others to describe it in detail if they
wish, but it contained fixed core components such as readings from Panini,
and the Asokan inscriptions, plus other components that were decided
year-by-year according to who was in town or what Richard, Bimal, Alexis,
Margaret Cone or others wanted to read.

Richard, any comments, corrections?


Dear All,

> On a related note, I would be interested to know to what extent
> traditional Sanskrit grammars have been/are being taught at various
> universities - this would include the use of Sanskrit terminology to the
> citation and discussion of sutras. I know Oxford has a regular course on
> Panini as part of the Sanskrit BA and that Professor Ingalls used to teach
> a course on Panini at Harvard with some regularity. I'm also familiar with
> Goldmans' use of Sanskrit terminology. Additional information would be of
> great interest.
> Many Thanks,
> Victor D'Avella
> PhD Candidate
> University of Chicago

-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <https://list.indology.info/pipermail/indology/attachments/20130628/44853850/attachment.htm>

More information about the INDOLOGY mailing list