[INDOLOGY] Monier-Williams and Spoken Sanskrit

McComas Taylor McComas.Taylor at anu.edu.au
Mon Jun 15 06:55:47 UTC 2020

One of my students, Alex Watt, found this interesting passage in MMW's 'Modern India and the Indians' (1878), p.38

"... a deputation of Brāhmans is seen approaching. They have come to greet me on my arrival; some of them are Pandits. A mat is spread for them in a vacant tent. They enter without shoes, make respectful salaams and squat around me in a semi-circle. I thoughtlessly shake hands with the chief Pandit, a dignified venerable old gentleman, forgetful that the touch of a Mleccha (English barbarian) will entail upon him laborious purificatory ceremonies on his return to his own house. We then exchange compliments in Sanskṛit and I ask them many questions, and propound difficulties for discussion. Their fluency in talking Sanskṛit surprises me, and certainly surpasses mine. We English scholars treat Sanskṛit as a dead language, but here in India I am expected to speak it as if it were my mother-tongue. Once or twice I find myself floundering disastrously, but the polite Pandits help me out of my difficulties..."

The original is online here:  https://books.google.com.au/books?id=se49AAAAMAAJ&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false

McComas Taylor
Associate Professor
Reader in Sanskrit
College of Asia and the Pacific
The Australian National University
WSC Website<http://www.wsc2021.com.au>| McC Website<https://sites.google.com/site/mccomasanu/>
Tel: +61 2 6125 3179

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