[INDOLOGY] Sanskrit studies Deromanticization

Nagaraj Paturi nagarajpaturi at gmail.com
Tue Mar 1 19:09:43 UTC 2016

In an earlier post of mine on Prof. Pollock's 2012 lecture, I said I would
make a separate post on deexoticization. Here it is:

1. Dealing with the classics of a community which has living practitioners
of various aspects of culture such as the religion contained in those
classics,  is different from dealing with the classics of a community which
no longer has living practitioners of the religion and other such aspects
in those classics. Availability of these living practitioners is both a
problem and an opportunity. Problem because the practitioners react/respond
to what has been said about what they live, in the study of the classics
that contain the aspects that they put in practice;  opportunity because
the student of the classics can take the help of study of the practice in
understanding the classics.

2. What Prof. Ingalls did to Sanskrit studies, in the form of exposing,
criticizing and countering the “monstrous” (-not my word-) Eurocentric
study of Sanskrit material, was very much similar to what cultural
relativists did to the study of various world cultures. He made
Sanskritists aware of the cultural sensitivity keeping in view the
sensibilities of the culture insiders.

Cultural relativists evaluate the validity of their study by taking back
their study to the studied people and testing it for cultural sensitivity.

3.  Deromanticization, i.e., undoing of the romanticized presentation of
the ‘positive’ of a culture studied need not necessarily be in the form of
the other extreme, the romanticized presentation of the ‘negative’ of the
studied culture.

When I go to fieldwork in Indian villages, the villagers keep asking me,
“Are you going to present the same old feudal time picture of our villages
that the movie guys present, a cruel landlord replacing the bullocks of a
cart with the agricultural laborers and whipping them to bleed and so on?”

It is heartening to see that there are still a very big number of Sanskrit
scholars in US, who still live the sensitivity encouraged by likes of
 Prof. Ingalls. Though uneventful journeys do not get reported as
news, they are the ones passengers love!

Thanks and regards,


Nagaraj Paturi

Hyderabad, Telangana, INDIA.

Former Senior Professor of Cultural Studies

FLAME School of Communication and FLAME School of  Liberal Education,

(Pune, Maharashtra, INDIA )

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