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

Madhav Deshpande mmdesh at umich.edu
Tue Mar 24 09:41:52 EDT 2020


Here is my description of what we as Indoloogs do:

खफछठथेति रटन्त: स्वशिरोभारेण गौरवं प्राप्ता: ।

गणयन्ति काकदन्ताननिशं ते पण्डितंमन्या: ।।


Hope it makes you laugh at ourselves!


Madhav M. Deshpande
Professor Emeritus, Sanskrit and Linguistics
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA
Senior Fellow, Oxford Center for Hindu Studies

[Residence: Campbell, California, USA]


On Tue, Mar 24, 2020 at 4:56 AM Andrey Klebanov via INDOLOGY <
indology at list.indology.info> wrote:

> “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 <http://kashin.guru>, 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
> <http://lurkmore.to/%D0%9E%D0%BB%D0%B5%D0%B3_%D0%9A%D0%B0%D1%88%D0%B8%D0%BD#.D0.9C.D0.B5.D0.BC.D1.8B>
> or here <https://echo.msk.ru/programs/klinch/1742522-echo/>. The original
> debate is here <https://echo.msk.ru/programs/klinch/1592616-echo/>.
>
> 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 <http://yogascapes.weebly.com/> Academia
> <https://patrickmccartney.academia.edu/> Linkedin
> <https://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=241756978&trk=nav_responsive_tab_profile>
>  Modern Yoga Research <http://www.modernyogaresearch.org/events/>
>
> *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
>> <https://books.google.be/books?id=NCArDgAAQBAJ&pg=PA95&lpg=PA95&dq=nuccio+ordine+the+usefulness+of+the+useless+sanskrit&source=bl&ots=JmMiqWAORS&sig=ACfU3U0_SDl4ZpYaNsGhUnflgLpFvJYTDg&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwj-rMSM5bLoAhXEMewKHYVdDp4Q6AEwAXoECAoQAQ#v=onepage&q=nuccio%20ordine%20the%20usefulness%20of%20the%20useless%20sanskrit&f=false>
>> 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
>> <https://eur03.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fhermantieken.com%2F&data=02%7C01%7Cchristophe.vielle%40uclouvain.be%7C2ebe73edfa3d487755a208d7cfd05574%7C7ab090d4fa2e4ecfbc7c4127b4d582ec%7C0%7C0%7C637206365997980559&sdata=knZj3KCyfVrhEl8UT1nRa97QamdqJ1dnMK8PR5N0U9A%3D&reserved=0>
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>> –––––––––––––––––––
>> Christophe Vielle <https://uclouvain.be/en/directories/christophe.vielle>
>> Louvain-la-Neuve
>>
>>
>>
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