[INDOLOGY] New article on Sanskrit

Jan E.M. Houben jemhouben at gmail.com
Sun Sep 18 07:19:26 UTC 2016

Dear Ananya,
Thanks for sharing this valuable argument and position, which not only
deserves close and critical attention of Sanskritists all over the world,
it also deserves to be translated, at least for its main outlines, into
Hindi, Urdu and especially Sanskrit, in order to reach those most directly

Let us take one out of numerous important points in your argument:
“It's [Sanskrit is] part of everything that has to be fought over
to protect the diversity and inclusiveness of India, its secular state and
egalitarian Constitution.”
How to say this in Sanskrit?
Several possibilities, here is my proposal:
संस्कृतं भागमेव सर्वस्य योधनीयवस्तुनः,
भारतस्य नानाविधत्व-व्यापकत्व-लौकिकत्वानां च तत्साम्यलक्षितसंविधानस्य च
रक्षणार्थम् ।

After all, why should we systematically refuse to speak the language of
those about whom we are discussing ? Nevertheless, in Sanskrit studies this
is exactly what has been going on since at least the beginning of the 19th
And was it not precisely the exclusive focus on the archival function and
the systematic neglect of the communicative function of Sanskrit which
contributed significantly to its antiquarianization and to the complete
marginalization of contemporaneous carriers of the Sanskrit tradition?
Q: Was Sanskrit then a living language or means of communication when it
was discovered by westerners ? R: A crucial personality is here Melputtūr
Nārāyaṇa Bhaṭṭa : on the one hand he argued, in the beginning of the 17th
century, for a liberal approach to Sanskrit grammar and gives a Pāṇinian
grammar of “living” Sanskrit
-- see “Pāṇinian grammar of living Sanskrit”: www.academia.edu/28515426 --
on the other hand he was aware of westerners who show both lack of respect
and curiosity for Brahmins (tantudhārin) and their teachings (C. Rajendran
2008: 64 referring to Prabandhamañjarī ed. N.P. Unni p. 295-296).
In order to deal AT ONCE with the lack of awareness of Sanskrit and its
precious heritage outside India (not counting the very small number of
specialists dispersed over a few academic institutions) AND the danger of
its one-sided excess within India, I propose to invoke the regulatory
concept of “ideodiversity” (मत-विविधता, which, within cultural and
intellectual evolution, is or could be what “biodiversity” जैव-विविधता is
within biological evolution):
see my article “La ideodiversidad como valor planetario”
which recently appeared in: Eadem utraque Europa : revista de historia
cultural e intelectual,
Año 12, No. 17, Agosto 2016, ISSN 1885-7221, pp. 11-42, trilingual summary
The entire article can be briefly summarized in Sanskrit by referring to
the view of Bhartrhari
prajñā vivekaṁ labhate bhinnair āgama-darśanaiḥ |
kiyad vā śakyam unnetuṁ svatarkam anudhāvatā ||
(view of Bhartrhari as formulated probably by his student: note, in
addition to other arguments, the exceptional and unnecessary metrical
clumsiness in pāda a ; to write a metrically more smooth pāda a would not
have been that difficult, for instance : prajñā vivekitāṁ yāti)

Best wishes,


Directeur d’Études

Sources et histoire de la tradition sanskrite

*École Pratique des Hautes Études*

*Sciences historiques et philologiques *

54, rue Saint-Jacques

CS 20525 – 75005 Paris

johannes.houben at ephe.sorbonne.fr



On 15 September 2016 at 14:27, Ananya Vajpeyi <vajpeyi at csds.in> wrote:

> Dear Colleagues,
> The fall issue of World Policy Journal, titled "History's Ghosts", is just
> out.
> The issue published by Duke University Press journals, is now live online
> <http://www.worldpolicy.org/journal/fall2016>, and here is a direct link
> <http://wpj.dukejournals.org/content/33/3/45.full> to my article in it,
> titled "The Return of Sanskrit".
> The Return of Sanskrit
> How an Old Language Got Caught up in India’s New Culture Wars
> Indian scholar Ananya Vajpeyi examines the way the ruling Bharatiya Janata
> Party is using Sanskrit to advance a Hindu supremacist agenda. She argues
> that academics need to step out of the ivory tower and resist the
> government’s manipulation of this ancient language.
> ​Thanks and all best,
> Ananya Vajpeyi. ​
> --
> *Ananya Vajpeyi *
> *Fellow*
> *Centre for the Study of Developing Societies*
> *29 Rajpur Road, Civil Lines*
> *New Delhi 110054*
> *e: vajpeyi at csds.in <vajpeyi at csds.in>*
> *ext: 229*
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