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

Ananya Vajpeyi vajpeyi at csds.in
Mon Jun 28 11:12:24 UTC 2021

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,


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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> --
> *Ananya Vajpeyi*
> https://www.csds.in/ananya_vajpeyi

*Ananya Vajpeyi*
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