Re: [INDOLOGY] Speaking of plagiarism: Satya Prakash Sarasvati and Satyakam Vidyalankar’s Ṛgveda

Herman Tull hermantull at
Mon Jul 20 19:26:07 UTC 2015

George and others,

I know this discussion was not intended to be a bashing of Monier-Williams
(whatever sins he may have committed, we all owe a vast debt to his work;
I've worn out two dictionaries, and a third was saved only by the fact that
it now exists in a non-physical online form), so it is worth pointing out

1. Monier Williams does acknowledge his debt to Otto Böhtlingk and Rudolf
Roth; but his acknowledgement apparently appears in the 1872 edition, which
I have never seen.  The 1899 edition (the one we all use) has at the
beginning of the preface:

"The first edition appeared in the summer of 1872. The extent of its
indebtedness to the great seven-volumed Sanskṛit-German Thesaurus compiled
by the two eminent German Sanskṛitists, Otto Böhtlingk and Rudolf Roth,
with the assistance of many distinguished scholars, such as Professor
A.Weber of Berlin — then only completed as far as the beginning of the
letter व v — was fully acknowledged by me in the Preface."

2. Monier-Williams's claim to originality was based, as he states, on the
*plan* of the work, not the words in it. Words mean what they mean, so
"plagiarism" here is not quite an applicable term. As he states:

"The words and the meanings of the words of a Dictionary can scarcely be
proved by its compilers to belong exclusively to themselves."

3. Much the same can be said of the composition of any Sanskrit grammar
text.  Grammar rules have not changed in the past 2500 years; at best, the
compiler of a Sanskrit grammar merely restates (or re-orders) rules stated
by others. Thus, Macdonell tells us in the preface to his grammar that he
restates Muller's work, albeit in a shorter version.

By the way, Monier-Williams was born in India; there is a a terrific photo
of him by his colleague Lewis Carroll (Charles Dodgeson) on his Wikipedia
page. (Dodgeson also photographed Monier-Williams's daughter Ella with some

As far as the other discussion...I prefer saving my electronic ink for the
many actually meaningful discussions this community of scholars has
engendered over the years.


Herman Tull
Princeton, NJ

On Sun, Jul 19, 2015 at 2:12 PM, George Hart <glhart at> wrote:

> I remember years ago when I was studying Sanskrit Ingalls mentioned that
> Monier Williams had apparently copied from Boethlingk-Roth without
> attribution. He said that Boethlingk was able to adduce entries in Monier
> Williams that had the same mistakes originally made on the SP Lexicon. Plus
> ça change…. George Hart
> On Jul 19, 2015, at 10:49 AM, David and Nancy Reigle <dnreigle at>
> wrote:
> No, I did not intend to imply anything about Malhotra's writings, which I
> have never read. I wanted to call attention to two other cases of
> plagiarism, far more extensive than Malhotra's. Even if the possibility
> that something might be done about them is remote, it may be useful to know
> about them.
> I was very disappointed when I saw what T. G. Mainkar had done with the Sāṃkhyakārikā
> and Gauḍapāda’s commentary, copying even omissions and typographical
> errors in Har Dutt Sharma's translation. It seems that all he did was read
> and edit the English, without even consulting the Sanskrit. He improved
> some English words here and there, and deleted all the parentheses that
> Sharma had used to distinguish his own additions from what is in the
> Sanskrit. Yet Sharma's superior translation has fallen into oblivion, while
> Mainkar's was again reprinted in 2004. I have scanned and posted Sharma's
> book in three parts here:
> Similarly, I was very disappointed to see that Satya Prakash Sarasvati
> and Satyakam Vidyalankar had largely only copied Wilson's translation of
> the Ṛgveda, substituting God for the Vedic gods. The notes they added are
> helpful, and they reproduced Aufrecht's romanized text, and also a
> devanagari text. But I expected their translation to follow the Arya Samaj
> line of interpretation throughout, so that we could see how it differs from Sāyaṇa’s
> interpretation. What unsuspecting readers got instead, other than God for
> the gods, was in fact Sāyaṇa’s interpretation, by way of the silent
> appropriation of Wilson's translation.
> My own work is textual, and these two cases of plagiarism are more
> important to me than is Malhotra's case. I wanted to use the opportunity
> that this discussion of plagiarism provided to call attention to these two
> cases. Sorry that I did not distinguish them more clearly from Malhotra's
> case.
> Best regards,
> David Reigle
> Colorado, U.S.A.
> On Sun, Jul 19, 2015 at 10:33 AM, Dominik Wujastyk <wujastyk at>
> wrote:
>> Two wrongs don't make a right.  (If that's what you meant.)
>>>>>> Dominik Wujastyk​
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*Herman TullPrinceton, NJ *

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