[INDOLOGY] Where can you do a BA in Sanskrit?

Ananya Vajpeyi vajpeyi at csds.in
Sat Jul 3 15:13:50 UTC 2021

Dear Colleagues,

Prof. Lyne Bansat-Boudon alerts me that the volume I mentioned --

d’Intino, Silvia, and Sheldon I. Pollock, eds. Enjeux De La Philologie
Indienne: Traditions, Éditions, Traductions/Transferts. Paris: Institute de
Civilisation Indienne, Collège de France, (2019)

-- is not about the history of Indology in the sense I had surmised.
Rather, it collects the proceedings of this conference --


Issues in Indian Philology: Traditions, Editions, Translations/Transfers
International Conference
December 5-7, 2016 - Paris, Collège de France
Conference Committee: Lyne Bansat-Boudon (EPHE), Silvia D’Intino (CNRS),
Jean-Noël Robert (Collège de France)

Thanks and best,


On Mon, Jun 28, 2021 at 4:42 PM Ananya Vajpeyi <vajpeyi at csds.in> wrote:

> Sorry, some of the embedded links dropped out of my earlier mail:
> A similar exercise was undertaken comparatively for India and China and
> the study of classical Chinese
> <http://www.sheldonpollock.org/archive/pollock_what_2018.pdf>. Some
> aspects of the history of Indology in France is here, I think:
> d’Intino, Silvia, and Sheldon I. Pollock, eds. *Enjeux De La Philologie
> Indienne: Traditions, Éditions, Traductions/Transferts*. Paris: Institute
> de Civilisation Indienne, Collège de France, 2019.
> Thanks and best,
> AV.
> On Mon, Jun 28, 2021 at 12:20 PM Ananya Vajpeyi <vajpeyi at csds.in> wrote:
>> Dear Dominik, Antonia, Prof. Rocher, and Colleagues,
>> On a different trajectory than Schwab, and apart from the history of area
>> studies in the US which is by now pretty thoroughly known, Pollock has
>> explored the antecedents and inter-connections of Philology, Classics,
>> Sanskrit, Oriental Studies, Indology and the Humanities in the
>> post-Enlightenment Western university quite consistently over the past
>> decade and a half.
>> You may find many articles of interest on this broad theme -- how the
>> disciplines are organized and departmentalized; how chairs, syllabi and
>> degrees emerge; what role the study of Sanskrit plays in the definition and
>> evolution of the modern humanities -- in a repository of his writings,
>> here <http://www.sheldonpollock.org>:
>> http://www.sheldonpollock.org/texts/articles/
>> There are also reflections on the relationship -- or disjunction --
>> between intellectual cultures, philological methods, reading practices,
>> pedagogy, translation, transmission etc. in India and in the West, before
>> the colonial university (largely) supplanted more "traditional" forms of
>> Sanskrit teaching and learning in colonial and post-colonial India.
>> A similar exercise was undertaken comparatively for China and the study
>> of classical Chinese. Some aspects of the history of Indology in France
>> is here, I think, though I haven't seen this work yet, except for
>> Shelly's chapter
>> <http://www.sheldonpollock.org/archive/pollock_indian_2019.pdf>.
>> Professors Isabelle Ratie, Matthew Kapstein or Jan Houben would know more
>> (about the French case).
>> Best wishes,
>> Ananya.
>> On Sun, Jun 27, 2021 at 10:43 PM Antonia Ruppel via INDOLOGY <
>> indology at list.indology.info> wrote:
>>> Dear Dominik,
>>> My personal impression concerning Sanskrit (and all the other subjects
>>> Germans would call 'breadless') at university, at least in Anglophone
>>> countries, is that, with the exorbitant fees students are paying, they and
>>> their parents want something in return. Spending a life paying off student
>>> debt is no fun, and so the understandable tendency would be to take/major
>>> in a subject that offers a slightly clearer path towards gainful
>>> employment. Taking an online Sanskrit course that costs around $300 is a
>>> much smaller commitment, and almost all my Yogic Studies students are
>>> adults. (If you take all three terms of my intro course for $800, you get
>>> the same from me that my Cornell and Munich students in Intro Sanskrit
>>> got/are currently getting, and with much better tech support, a TA and
>>> thriving online communities. But Yogic Studies, unlike universities, are
>>> the ones considered by some as being ‘for profit’:-)…)
>>> Another factor likely is that most students in Europe or North America
>>> don't really know about subjects that they don't encounter in secondary
>>> school (I at least first heard the name 'Sanskrit' mentioned when I was
>>> already a Classics undergrad). Combine that with the attitude (which I
>>> believe is stronger where I currently am than in e.g. the US) that the task
>>> of a department of Indology, Indo-European etc is to educate the next
>>> generation of Indologists, Indo-Europeanists etc., and you find an
>>> environment that could be made more inviting for students who (wisely!)
>>> want to first dip their toe into this new (to them) field before they
>>> possibly commit to it.
>>> There are many other factors as well, of course. Some things we can do
>>> that I believe would be productive:
>>> - Networking as much as we can within our institutions, having our
>>> courses recognized as elements in as many adjacent departments as possible.
>>> We have *so much* to offer after all.
>>> - Becoming better public communicators and advocates of our work. The
>>> idea of a public intellectual is accepted in some countries, praised in
>>> few, often looked down on in others. Such communication is difficult and
>>> needs to be learned, but it *can* be learned. This applies especially to
>>> all our specialised research that does at first sight not pass an
>>> interested bystander's 'so what?' test.
>>> - Give available positions not just to those who excel most at research,
>>> but also to those who actually care about and are good at teaching. (I know
>>> this is difficult because there is a limited number of posts available, and
>>> universities are the only places where research like ours can be carried
>>> out.) Don't give intro language teaching to inexperienced TAs. Intro
>>> teaching is *much* more challenging than, say, an intermediate reading
>>> class.
>>> What would also be helpful, but isn’t in our control: make education
>>> affordable (again, this doesn’t apply to all countries, but definitely most
>>> Anglophone ones). Have universities that are fully about education rather
>>> than accreditation, that are not the playthings of politicians, that are
>>> not about having a degree from the Most Excellent University of X. (My BA
>>> certificate from Cambridge states the day on which I received it, written
>>> out in words (!), but does not mention subject or grade. It took me a while
>>> to understand the rationale behind this.)
>>> Ultimately, I hope that what is going to happen in future years is that
>>> the various alt-acc institutions, which arise because there are important
>>> vacuums to be filled, can be tied in more with universities. That means
>>> more job opportunities for academics, and for universities the possibility
>>> to focus on their individual strengths, given who is there, rather than
>>> having to offer the full breadth of the field. For smaller colleges to be
>>> able to offer full degree courses specific to South Asia, or maybe even
>>> ‘classical’ Indology. Imagine being able to have specific offerings that
>>> you are renowned for, but if you don't have, say, someone focussing on
>>> yoga, not a problem, because you can offer world-class online courses with
>>> none other than Jim Mallinson or Phillip Maas (and many others) through a
>>> place like Yogic Studies. (And now I will stop blowing the YS horn - I
>>> promise they're not paying me to write this:-).)
>>> We all know that courses in situ, with face-to-face contact, remain an
>>> absolutely necessary framework; but maybe we can have online offerings
>>> within that framework, at least when they are well-organised from the start
>>> and not put on as an afterthought (as they sometimes have been by
>>> universities in the past).
>>> Public interest in India (past and present) is enormous, far beyond the
>>> ‘Yoga practitioner who wants to know what the names of āsanas mean’
>>> stereotype. If we can get many interested in taking a few courses, and then
>>> a few in pursuing further studies as part of official degree courses, I
>>> think that would be great for our field. It would also secure us much
>>> broader support whenever someone decides we are an easy subject to cut.
>>> My two (well, maybe five) Euro cents.
>>> All my best,
>>>     Antonia
>>> On Sun, 27 Jun 2021 at 17:09, Dominik Wujastyk <wujastyk at gmail.com>
>>> wrote:
>>>> The rationale was just curiosity.  I was chatting with a colleague
>>>> about student numbers and wondering why universities can't fill their
>>>> classes while online courses like yours can.  The question arose out of
>>>> that.  Perhaps the online options are popular partly becausestudents can't
>>>> actually do a degree in Sanskrit at a university these days.  Instead of a
>>>> focus on language - for which there is a student appetite - they see a ton
>>>> of stuff that might seem irrelevant to them (at least at first
>>>> impression).
>>>> There's more to discuss about all this and about how Sanskrit degrees
>>>> worked in the past and how they might in the future, but email maybe is too
>>>> pedestrian and monologue-prone a medium.  When I did the Oxford BA, there
>>>> was the idea in the air that we were catching up with students doing Greats
>>>> who came to university with eight years of Latin and Greek already, from
>>>> their school years. I think the idea was that it was premature to dive into
>>>> culture and history if we didn't have the language.  That was perhaps
>>>> flawed.  The system was so different anyway, that it's hard to compare.  It
>>>> was a tutorial system, and there were no lectures.  Not one, in the whole
>>>> three year degree.  I vividly remember the first lecture on Hinduism I
>>>> attended, by Richard, and it was wonderful.  But it was in the first or
>>>> second year of my PhD.
>>>> Best,
>>>> Dominik
>>> _______________________________________________
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>>> INDOLOGY at list.indology.info
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>> --
>> *Ananya Vajpeyi*
>> https://www.csds.in/ananya_vajpeyi
> --
> *Ananya Vajpeyi*
> https://www.csds.in/ananya_vajpeyi

*Ananya Vajpeyi*
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