[INDOLOGY] Against the petition against Prof. Pollock

Madhav Deshpande mmdesh at umich.edu
Sun Feb 28 14:01:02 UTC 2016

Dear Colleagues,

I could not agree more with Dr. Nityananda Misra's concluding statement: "As
I see it, both petitions are rooted more in strong differences of
opinion/ideology than in misunderstanding or wilful
 This ideological divide is now at the boiling point, but the first time I
came face to face with it was in 1965 in Pune.  There was a Pandit Sabha in
which some leading Pandits were discussing some grammatical point, citing
the authority of Patañjali.  My teacher, Professor S.D. Joshi was in the
audience and wanted to make a comment that disagreed with Patañjali's
views.  The Pandits told him that he could not participate in the
discussion, unless he first accepted the supreme authority of Patañjali.
Professor Joshi sat down, without being allowed to speak at this event.  I
don't know where the current "Battle for Sanskrit" will end up, but it
clearly has very deep roots.

Madhav Deshpande

On Sun, Feb 28, 2016 at 6:41 AM, Nityanand Misra <nmisra at gmail.com> wrote:

> On 27 February 2016 at 21:22, Dominik Wujastyk <wujastyk at gmail.com> wrote:
>> I discovered yesterday that there exists a petition
>> <https://www.change.org/p/mr-n-r-narayana-murthy-and-mr-rohan-narayan-murty-removal-of-prof-sheldon-pollock-as-mentor-and-chief-editor-of-murty-classical-library>
>> launched by Prof. K. Ramasubramanian that asks for Prof. Sheldon Pollock to
>> be removed from his editorial leadership role with the Murty Library.
> Dear list members
> It is the season of petitions and statements! Adding some more details
> before my comments:
> 1) While the petition of change.org has been started by Prof. K
> Ramasubramanian, as many as 131 Indian intellectuals apart from Prof. K
> Ramasubramanian signed the original plea to Mr. Narayana Murthy and Mr.
> Rohan Murthy. I do not know if it was covered in a mainstream media source,
> the much less-known newsgram.com carried it:
> http://www.newsgram.com/132-indian-academicians-call-for-removal-of-sheldon-pollock-as-general-editor-of-murthy-classical-library/
> I personally know and have met with many scholars on the list: and some of
> them are very well respected in India, in addition to being well-known.
> Prof.  Ramasubramanian himself is a recipient of the Badarayan Vyas Samman.
> 2) Apart from the aspects highlighted in Dr. Wujastyk's email, two other
> aspects which are very relevant to this petition: the letter by the
> academicians mentions Mr. Rajiv Malhotra's *Battle of Sanskrit* as well
> as Prof. Pollock's recent signing of the solidarity statement with the
> “students, faculty, and staff of JNU”: the petition against Prof. Pollock
> may well be a reaction to this. On the first aspect: Recently, Mr. Rajiv
> Malhotra's book has been widely discussed in Indian universities of late.
> Mr. Malhotra has been hosted by several Indian universities and institutes
> (e.g. Karnataka Sanskrit University and TISS) for talks where he has
> received both support and opposition, but more support than opposition as
> far as I can say. On the second aspect, there was a discussion on the *Bhāratīyavidvatpariṣat
> *mailing list (Mr. Rajiv Malhotra recently joined this mailing list). The
> thread was started by me, and I remarked in my short initial post “Before
> the Indian courts decide, 455 academicians have already reached a
> decision.” The discussion can be read here:
> https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/bvparishat/cTgsJDKjA8I
> My quick comments:
> If it can be argued that the petition against Prof. Pollock is based on
> ‘misunderstanding’ or ‘wilful misconstrual’ (as members on this list have
> described), then it can also be argued that the solidarity statement (to
> which Prof. Pollock is a signatory) on the JNU issue is based on a ‘lack of
> understanding’ of jurisprudence in India or ‘wilful misrepresentation’ of
> facts. On jurisprudence: The Delhi Police has the documentary (video tapes)
> and non-documentary (eye-witnesses) evidence, and the Indian courts will
> examine the evidence and rule on the matter: then in what capacity does the
> solidarity statement declare thrice that the police action on JNU was
> ‘illegal’. On misrepresentation, the solidarity statement misses that fact
> that a large section of JNU students and teachers did support the police
> action on JNU. This was also covered in the news:
> http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/180-JNU-Teachers-Take-the-Sarkari-Side-Demand-Action-Against-Students/2016/02/16/article3280826.ece
> As I see it, both petitions are rooted more in strong differences of
> opinion/ideology than in misunderstanding or wilful
> misconstrual/misrepresentation.
> Thanks, Nityanand
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Madhav M. Deshpande
Professor of Sanskrit and Linguistics
Department of Asian Languages and Cultures
202 South Thayer Street, Suite 6111
The University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48104-1608, USA

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