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

Oliver Fallon opfallon at yahoo.com
Wed Mar 25 05:06:44 EDT 2020


 Dear Colleagues, In ONE HUNDRED YEARSOF SOLITUDE by GABRIEL GARCIA MARQUEZ (TRANS. GREGORY RABASSA) :
Aureliano had finished classifying the alphabet of the parchments, so that whenMelquíades asked him if he had discovered the language in which they had been writtenhe did not hesitate to answer.  “Sanskrit,” he said.  Melquíades revealed to him that his opportunities to return to the room were limited.But he would go in peace to the meadows of the ultimate death because Aureliano wouldhave time to learn Sanskrit during the years remaining until the parchments became onehundred years old, when they could be deciphered. It was he who indicated to Aureliano that on the narrow street going down to the river, where dreams had been interpretedduring the time of the banana company, a wise Catalonian had a bookstore where therewas a Sanskrit primer, which would be eaten by the moths within six years if he did nothurry to buy it. For the first time in her long life Santa Sofía de la Piedad let a feelingshow through, and it was a feeling of wonderment when Aureliano asked her to bring himthe book that could be found between Jerusalem Delivered and Milton’s poems on theextreme right-hand side of the second shelf of the bookcases. Since she could not read,she memorized what he had said and got some money by selling one of the seventeenlittle gold fishes left in the workshop, the whereabouts of which, after being hidden thenight the soldiers searched the house, was known only by her and Aureliano.  Aureliano made progress in his studies of Sanskrit as Melquíades’ visits became lessand less frequent and he was more distant, fading away in the radiant light of noon. Thelast time that Aureliano sensed him he was only an invisible presence who murmured: “Idied of fever on the sands of Singapore.” The room then became vulnerable to dust, heat,termites, red ants, and moths, who would turn the wisdom of the parchments intosawdust.
Best wishes,Oliver Fallon
    On Wednesday, 25 March 2020, 08:52:31 GMT, Christophe Vielle via INDOLOGY <indology at list.indology.info> wrote:  
 
 A quick search in Marcel Proust's "À la recherche du temps perdu", provides the following extracts:
Alors le solitaire languit seul. Il n'a d'autre plaisir que d'aller à la station de bains de mer voisine demander un renseignement à un certain employé de chemin de fer. Mais celui-ci a reçu de l'avancement, est nommé à l'autre bout de la France ; le solitaire ne pourra plus aller lui demander l'heure des trains, le prix des premières, et avant de rentrer rêver dans sa tour, comme Grisélidis, il s'attarde sur la plage, telle une étrange Andromède qu'aucun Argonaute ne viendra délivrer, comme une méduse stérile qui périra sur le sable, ou bien il reste paresseusement, avant le départ du train, sur le quai, à jeter sur la foule des voyageurs un regard qui semblera indifférent, dédaigneux ou distrait à ceux d'une autre race, mais qui, comme l'éclat lumineux dont se parent certains insectes pour attirer ceux de la même espèce, ou comme le nectar qu'offrent certaines fleurs pour attirer les insectes qui les féconderont, ne tromperait pas l'amateur presque introuvable d'un plaisir trop singulier, trop difficile à placer, qui lui est offert, le confrère avec qui notre spécialiste pourrait parler la langue insolite ; tout au plus à celle-ci quelque loqueteux du quai fera-t-il semblant de s'intéresser, mais pour un bénéfice matériel seulement, comme ceux qui, au Collège de France, dans la salle où le professeur de sanscrit parle sans auditeur, vont suivre le cours, mais seulement pour se chauffer.
Ou plutôt non, un Institut de psychophysiologie spéciale vous conviendrait mieux. Et je vous vois surtout pourvu d'une chaire au Collège de France, vous permettant de vous livrer à des études personnelles dont vous livreriez les résultats, comme fait le professeur de tamoul ou de sanscrit devant le très petit nombre de personnes que cela intéresse.

Eh bien ! si spéciales que soient ces guerres balkaniques, Lullé-Burgas c'est encore Ulm, l'enveloppement par l'aile. Voilà les sujets dont tu peux me parler. Mais pour le genre de choses auxquelles tu fais allusion, je m'y connais autant qu'en sanscrit.
https://alarecherchedutempsperdu.orghttps://alarecherchedutempsperdu.org/marcel-proust/

Le 25 mars 2020 à 01:02, Jeffery Long via INDOLOGY <indology at list.indology.info> a écrit :
Dear Patricia,
As a Missouri native, I particularly appreciate this one!
All the best,Jeff
Dr. Jeffery D. Long
Professor of Religion and Asian Studies
Elizabethtown CollegeElizabethtown, PA
https://etown.academia.edu/JefferyLong
Series Editor, Explorations in Indic Traditions: Theological, Ethical, and PhilosophicalLexington Books
"One who makes a habit of prayer and meditation will easily overcome all difficulties and remain calm and unruffled in the midst of the trials of life."  (Holy Mother Sarada Devi)
"We are a way for the Cosmos to know itself." (Carl Sagan)
 

    On Tuesday, March 24, 2020, 07:59:20 PM EDT, Patricia Sauthoff via INDOLOGY <indology at list.indology.info> wrote:  
 
 The Secret History by Donna Tartt
p. 50 
"You get along with Henry?
 "Oh, sure thing," said Bunny, reared back in his chair. "We were roommates. Freshman year." 
"And you like him?" 
"Certainly, certainly. He's a hard fellow to live with though. Hates noise, hates company, hates mess. None of this brining your date back to the room to listen to a couple Art Pepper records, if you know what I'm trying to get at." "I think he's sort of rude." 
Buddy shrugged. "That's his way. See, his mind doesn't work the same way yours and mine do. He's always up in the clouds with Plato or something. Works too hard, takes himself too seriously, studying Sanskrit and Coptic and those other nutty languages. Henry, I tell him, if you're going to waste your time learning something besides Greek -- that and the King's English are all I think a man needs, personally -- why don't you buy yourself some Berlitz records and brush up on your French. Find a little can-can girl or something. Voolay-voo coushay avec moi and all that."
"How many languages does he know?"
"I lost count. Seven or eight. He can read hieroglyphics."
"Wow." Bunny shook his head fondly. "He's a genius, that boy. He could be a translator for the UN if he wanted to be." 
"Where's he from?" 
"Missouri." 

p. 356 also has a [not historically great] description of Buddhist Tantra.
On Tue, Mar 24, 2020 at 1:21 PM Deven Patel via INDOLOGY <indology at list.indology.info> wrote:

>From a review of the Broadway play Spamalot in the New York Times in 2006.  I had an amusing email back-and-forth with the critic when I jokingly asked him if he could've used another metaphor...
"In "Spamalot," of course, the horseplay's the thing. And in a world of juvenile antics, a gift for Shakespearean tragedy would seem to be about as useful as a doctorate in Sanskrit."

On Tuesday, March 24, 2020, Jesse Knutson via INDOLOGY <indology at list.indology.info> wrote:

Speaking of my dear friend Lee Siegel: he often tells the story that he only decided to study Sanskrit after hearing a speech of Richard Nixon the California senator (before he became president), in which the latter quipped that the University of California's budget should be slashed because 'instead of doing anything useful, they are studying things like Sanskrit'. 
On Tue, Mar 24, 2020, 4:30 AM Walser, Joseph via INDOLOGY <indology at list.indology.info> wrote:

One of my favorites, although I am having difficulty finding the source, is: "A knowledge of Sanskrit is of little use to a man trapped in a sewer." The internet tells me that this is attributed to Tom Weller, but I suspect that he got it from someone else.Greetings from the sewer.

-j


Joseph Walser

Associate Professor

Department of Religion

Tufts University
From: INDOLOGY [indology-bounces at list.indology.info] on behalf of Madhav Deshpande via INDOLOGY [indology at list.indology.info]
Sent: Tuesday, March 24, 2020 9:41 AM
To: Andrey Klebanov
Cc: indology
Subject: Re: [INDOLOGY] The study of Sanskrit as the epitome of uselessness

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. DeshpandeProfessor Emeritus, Sanskrit and LinguisticsUniversity of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USASenior 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 journalistOleg 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,
AndreyOn 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, PhDResearch Affiliate - Organization for Identity and Cultural Development (OICD), Kyoto
Research Associate - Nanzan University Anthropological Institute, Nagoya, JapanVisiting Fellow - South and South-east Asian Studies Department, Australian National UniversityMember - South Asia Research Institute (SARI), Australian National University
Skype / Zoom - psdmccartneyPhone + Whatsapp + Line:  +61410644259Twitter - @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=NCArDgAAQBAJSee also it in his oral presentations:https://uclouvain.be/en/research-institutes/incal/conference-du-pr-nuccio-ordine.htmlQuel 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 TiekenStationsweg 582515 BP Den HaagThe Netherlands00 31 (0)70 2208127
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University of Pennsylvania

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Patricia Sauthoff(she/her/they/them)
Postdoctoral Fellow
AyurYog.org
Department of History and Classics
University of Alberta
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