[INDOLOGY] French and Sanskrit: was Where can you do a BA in Sanskrit?

Dean Michael Anderson eastwestcultural at yahoo.com
Fri Jun 25 14:43:13 UTC 2021

 Dear Jan,
Thank you for this informative post. One question. You wrote that French was: "the language which was the first occidental language of the scientific study of Sanskrit"
Could you please give me more information on this? I was recently briefly covering the history of Sanskrit in the West and, while I was aware that France was one of the major players, I was not aware that it was the "first" in this sense.
I am not doubting you, since you no doubt know more about this than me. 

Could you please point me to some publications on this? Sadly, though, French is not one of my main languages and is only at the tourist level. 

Of course, in today's climate in the US, even that is enough that some might consider it un-American. I've heard that more than one person said, "If English was good enough for Jesus, it's good enough for me."


    On Friday, June 25, 2021, 7:16:48 PM GMT+5:30, Jan E.M. Houben via INDOLOGY <indology at list.indology.info> wrote:  
 Dear Dominik, Thanks for asking this useful question. In addition to Isabelle's earlier contribution to this thread I would like to add a few elements: the BA in Sanskrit at the Sorbonne Nouvelle is pedagogically one of the best in the world -- the only limitations I would add are: in the occidental world, for a Western public, because the strategy to teach Sanskrit to Indian / South Asian students can be and should be different as most of them, even if their main subjects are IT, engineering etc., are already so much familiar with Sanskrit and Sanskritic vocabulary which often helps but may frequently also put the student on a wrong or deceptive track. Hence during my stay at IIT-Bhubaneswar as visiting professor in 2019 (teaching, among other things, an introductory course on Sanskrit, German and comparative linguistics specially for IIT-students with an Indian linguistic background), I planned and organized a seminar on "Functional and Communicative Sanskrit" on 21 December 2019 with contributions by Godabarish Mishra, Amba Kulkarni, Siniruddha Dash and others. My plan to help to develop this further, in 2020, to an introductory course on Sanskrit and comparative linguistics specially for these students could not be realized due to the Corona crisis. As for the BA in Sanskrit at the Sorbonne Nouvelle, another plus is that it is in French, so that the student at the same time can develop familiarity with the language which was the first occidental language of the scientific study of Sanskrit, extensively used also by the earlier generation of German Sanskrit scholars such as the brothers von Schlegel and Franz Bopp. As for the Sorbonne Nouvelle, the manual used, or one of the major manuals used,is Le Sanskrit by Nalini Balbir (Paris, 2013) of which an English version is in preparation. The specialty of Le Sanskrit is that it presents, for the first time, the language not only in its grammatical structure but also as a living means of expression and communication, entirely on the basis of examples attested in Sanskrit literature (fiction, fables, dramas) -- hence it is different both from classical occidental introductions to Sanskrit and from modern introductions to "spoken Sanskrit". It is a worthy contribution to the series "Assimil" in which Le Sanskrit is published, as it follows throughout the "assimilation" method (nipāna-rīti) of language learning. When it appeared I composed a brief verse: 
निपानरीतिमार्गेण संस्कृताध्यापनार्थकम् ।

चकार नलिनी शास्त्रम् अतोऽध्येता प्रसिध्यति ॥

nipānarītimārgeṇa   saṁskṛtādhyāpanārthakam |
cakāra Nalinī śāstram   ato’dhyetā prasidhyati || Jan Houben
N.B. Specifically to practice and read Sanskrit there is a yearly "stage de Sanskrit" organized by Sylvain Brocquet at the Université de Provence et Aix-en-Provence (https://cpaf.cnrs.fr/spip.php?article423&lang=fr); another "stage de Sanskrit" is expected soon at the new institute ILARA, here in Paris.   
On Fri, 25 Jun 2021 at 08:46, Isabelle Ratie via INDOLOGY <indology at list.indology.info> wrote:

Dear Dominik,That our BA in Sanskrit includes a few courses without Sanskrit requirement does not disqualify our BA as one in Sanskrit! It definitely focuses on the Sanskrit language, as is specified on the first page to which I sent a link:
son objet principal est le sanskrit et ses littératures, dont elle met en évi­dence la richesse: l’apprentissage du sanskrit s’y fait avant tout par la lecture et la traduction in­tensives de textes appartenant à des genres très différents (contes, épopée, poésie savante, litté­ra­ture historiographique, traités philosophiques, traités d’esthétique, etc.).
With all best wishes,
Le ven. 25 juin 2021 à 04:44, Dominik Wujastyk <wujastyk at gmail.com> a écrit :

What about 
 l’histoire de la société, des philosophies et des religions indiennes, ou encore l’histoire de la con­nais­sance de l’Inde.
Those would not be courses involving reading Sanskrit as such, would they?  They would be in French, about India?

Similarly at UT Austin, it looks like students have to take lots of courses called,

Asian Studies related to South Asia
Again, that wouldn't be actual reading of Sanskrit texts, would it?  And there appear to be a lot of courses under "Core" that are not Sanskrit. (US History; Social and Behavioural Science, etc.).  Presumably students take a few of these?  So it's a general humanities degree with a high Sanskrit content.  Would that be right, or am I misunderstanding?

I was thinking about a degree that focussed on Sanskrit language and literature, not a course where Sanskrit was a component (even a large component).  I'm thinking of the Oxford BA, or the BA at SOAS, when it existed, in the days when it was taught by Mr J. E. B. Gray with his legendary cyclostyled, typewritten, four-year course.  Or the courses taught at German universities in the days of the old MA system.

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Jan E.M. Houben

Directeur d'Études, Professor of South Asian History and Philology

Sources et histoire de la tradition sanskrite

École Pratique des Hautes Études (EPHE, Paris Sciences et Lettres)

Sciences historiques et philologiques 

Groupe de recherches en études indiennes (EA 2120)

johannes.houben [at] ephe.psl.eu



LabEx Hastec OS 2021 -- L'Inde Classique augmentée: construction, transmission 

et transformations d'un savoir scientifique

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