[INDOLOGY] The study of Sanskrit as the epitome of uselessness

andra.kleb at gmail.com andra.kleb at gmail.com
Tue Mar 24 07:35:17 EDT 2020


“To study Sanskrit” (учить Санскрит) became a rather popular idiom (a kind of meme) in Russia in 2015, and it has been used since then frequently exactly as an epitome of a useless time-consuming and exhausting activity, which, in a long run, may be still more rewarding than engaging in Russian politics (especially as a member of the opposition). It was popularized by journalist Oleg Kashin, who has famously used this expression (the original wording was actually slightly different) in his debate with politician Alexey Navalny, who, in 2015, campaigned for opposition parties to participate at regional elections at any cost. See, for example, here or here. The original debate is here.

best,
Andrey
On Mar 24, 2020 11:57 +0100, Sven Sellmer via INDOLOGY <indology at list.indology.info>, wrote:
> Dear All!
>
> One may also add a passage of Hermann Hesse's "Glasperlenspiel" here, though also rather in the category of useful uselessness:
>
> … schon manche von ihnen haben ihr Leben an sehr entlegene und oft wunderliche Arbeiten gewendet, wie etwa jener Lodovicus crudelis, der in dreißigjähriger Arbeit alle überlieferten altägyptischen Texte sowohl ins Griechiche wie ins Sanskrit übersetzt hat …
>
> … not few of them devoted their lives to very marginal and often rather strange occupations, like one Lodovicus crudelis, who in the course of thirty years translated all preserved Old Egyptian texts both into Greek and into Sanskrit …
>
> Best wishes,
> Sven
>
> ****************************
> Sven Sellmer, PhD
> Adam Mickiewicz University
> Institute of Oriental Studies
> Department of South Asian Studies
> ul. Grunwaldzka 6
> 60-780 Poznań
> POLAND
> sven.sellmer at amu.edu.pl
>
> > Am 24.03.2020 um 11:24 schrieb patrick mccartney via INDOLOGY <indology at list.indology.info>:
> >
> > Sort of related, on page 100 of chapter 5, of Amazing Stories (1943) issue 17 no 05, the following is said:
> > She put her hands on her hips, her
> > face thoughtful. Then she grabbed hold
> > of the grab-rail on the side of the door-
> > way, stepped into the bipedomobile.
> > She wasn’t a tall girl, but she had to
> > stoop.
> >
> > Her eyes were grave. Suddenly she
> > pointed into the distance.
> >
> > “Godwa te lele!”
> >
> > “It’s all Sanskrit to me, Jamie,” he
> > said sadly. “They’ve sure done you up
> > brown, haven’t they — ^you’ve forgotten
> > entirely, haven’t you? Well, if you want
> > to go in that direction, okay. It’s as
> > good as any, and maybe we’ll solve a
> > few mysteries while we’re at it. We
> > might even find out how to get your
> > memory back again.”
> >
> > She smiled dazzlingly. She pointed
> > again.
> > This link will take you to the relevant page - https://archive.org/details/Amazing_Stories_v17n05_1943-05_cape1736/page/n99/mode/2up/search/sanskrit
> >
> > All the best,
> >
> > パトリック マッカートニー
> > Patrick McCartney, PhD
> > Research Affiliate - Organization for Identity and Cultural Development (OICD), Kyoto
> > Research Associate - Nanzan University Anthropological Institute, Nagoya, Japan
> > Visiting Fellow - South and South-east Asian Studies Department, Australian National University
> > Member - South Asia Research Institute (SARI), Australian National University
> >
> > Skype / Zoom - psdmccartney
> > Phone + Whatsapp + Line:  +61410644259
> > Twitter - @psdmccartney @yogascapesinjap
> >  Yogascapes in Japan Academia Linkedin Modern Yoga Research
> >
> > bodhapūrvam calema ;-)
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> > •
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> > > On Tue, Mar 24, 2020 at 6:38 PM Matthew Kapstein via INDOLOGY <indology at list.indology.info> wrote:
> > > > This reminds me that one of my teachers, the great Prof. Padmanabh Jaini, lost several students in the late 70s because the job market seemed particularly bad. They switched to law and easily passed the special examinations, the "Law Boards," for entering American Law Schools. Jaini joked that the field could be saved and even expanded by converting Sanskrit to a pre-law required course.
> > > >
> > > > Matthew Kapstein
> > > > Directeur d'études, émérite
> > > > Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes, Paris
> > > >
> > > > Numata Visiting Professor of Buddhist Studies,
> > > > The University of Chicago
> > > > From: INDOLOGY <indology-bounces at list.indology.info> on behalf of Christophe Vielle via INDOLOGY <indology at list.indology.info>
> > > > Sent: Tuesday, March 24, 2020 4:32 AM
> > > > To: Tieken, H.J.H. <H.J.H.Tieken at hum.leidenuniv.nl>
> > > > Cc: indology <indology at list.indology.info>
> > > > Subject: Re: [INDOLOGY] The study of Sanskrit as the epitome of uselessness
> > > >
> > > > The Classicist Nuccio Ordine has published a stimulating (useful) essay "De l'utilité de l'inutile" (English translation: The Usefulness of the Useless").
> > > > where Sanskrit studies, together with Classics, are given as an example of (useful) usefulness, cf. p. 95 of the Engl. Transl.:
> > > > https://books.google.com/books?id=NCArDgAAQBAJ
> > > > See also it in his oral presentations:
> > > > https://uclouvain.be/en/research-institutes/incal/conference-du-pr-nuccio-ordine.html
> > > > Quel danger courons-nous actuellement ? Dans une université-entreprise, quand un professeur de sanskrit aura deux étudiants, le Conseil d’administration de l’Université pourra dire que celle-ci ne peut pas se permettre le luxe de payer un professeur de sanskrit pour deux étudiants. Demain, cela sera pour dix étudiants en grec, et après-demain pour quinze étudiants en latin.
> > > >
> > > > > Le 24 mars 2020 à 09:49, Tieken, H.J.H. via INDOLOGY <indology at list.indology.info> a écrit :
> > > > >
> > > > > Dear List members,
> > > > > Last night I started reading Ever After by Graham Swift. On p. 3 of the pocket edition (Vintage International) of 1993 we hear the protagonist think:
> > > > >
> > > > > "Before they [academics] are sixty, they are emulating one of the many varieties: ... the wide-eyed, latter-day infant, helpless in all mundane matters but possessed of a profound understanding of Sanskrit."
> > > > >
> > > > > A few months ago I was reading Nader tot U (1969) by Gerard van 't Reve gain. One of the characters has to fill in a profession on an official paper. In the end he decides to fill in "indoloog", which is considered to be better than "general in the Hungarian army" or "stratenmaker of zee" (general dogsbody) (p. 113). There is some confusion if indoloog refers to a civil servant in the Dutch Indies here (Indie verloren, rampspoed geboren) or to an indologist, which is later resolved by remarks about gurus and bhakti. I was amazed to see that I had bought the book in the summer of 1970, just a few months before I started with the study of Sanskrit.
> > > > >
> > > > > Are there more accidental references of this type to sanskritists or indologists in literature?
> > > > > (Leaving aside Lee Siegel's novel about Professor Roth being killed by Monier-Williams Sanskrit dictionary.)
> > > > >
> > > > > With kind regards Herman
> > > > >
> > > > > Herman Tieken
> > > > > Stationsweg 58
> > > > > 2515 BP Den Haag
> > > > > The Netherlands
> > > > > 00 31 (0)70 2208127
> > > > > website: hermantieken.com
> > > > > _______________________________________________
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> > > >
> > > > –––––––––––––––––––
> > > > Christophe Vielle
> > > > Louvain-la-Neuve
> > > >
> > > >
> > > >
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