With the popularity of Orientalism in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, knowledge of Sanskrit in the Western world led to the emergence of new schools and disciplines for study like, comparative mythology, comparative religion and comparative linguistics, etc. The articles presented in this volume examine the state of Sanskrit studies in universities in different countries of the world (volume 1 presents a survey of Sanskrit studies in universities and institutes in the states/ union territories of India).
Covering some 13 countries, the articles herein discuss how some departments, related to the study of religions, in countries like the US have incorporated Sanskrit even as some other universities as those in the UK, US and other parts of the world, have Sanskrit as one of the subjects under other departments. They emphasise the fact that it is not possible to view Sanskrit as an autonomous discipline, providing authenticity to various other branches of learning, but that it has to be considered as a part of the larg.er framework of the global studies. They point to the emergence of new schools and centres for studies of Sanskrit in various countries. At the same time, they also examine the alarming situation arising because of the erosion or marginalisation of Sanskrit across the world, especially as some Sanskrit departments in reputed universities or institutions of higher learning, are being closed one after the other. They urge for understanding the future of Sanskrit studies in the larger context of human culture while underlining the importance of Sanskrit as a cementing force in bringing together diverse civilisations and cultures.
Radhavallabh Tripathi is one of the senior most professors of Sanskrit in the country. At present he is working as Vice-chancellor of the Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan (deemed university) at Delhi. Widely acclaimed for his original contributions to the study of Natyasastra and Sahityasastra, he has published 129 books, 187 research papers and critical essays as well as translations of more than 30 Sanskrit plays and some classics from Sanskrit into Hindi. He has received more than 25 na tional and interna tiona I awards and honours for his literary contributions. He has been authoritatively referred in various research journals on Indology. Research for Ph.D. has either been completed or is being still carried out on his creative writings in Sanskrit, in a number of universities. Some literary journals have published special numbers dedicated to his life and writings
Max Muller had made this pronouncement in his Gifford lectures on Anthropological Religion delivered at the University of Glasgow in 1891.1 Dandekar calls this an utterance that 'may be said to embody-the leit-motif of principle writings of that outstanding scholar." His ulterior motives related to the propagation of Christianity apart, Max: Muller at that time was confident that Sanskrit is capable of transforming the world and make a radical change. To an extent this was proved by the role Sanskrit played at the global level during the eighteenth-nineteenth centuries. Earlier, William Jones had published the first printed edition of AbhijfiiinaSiikuntalam with its English translation in 1786 - an even that created an epoch. Soon after its publication, William Forster, a German Scholar, translated Siikuntalam into German and published his translation in 1791. Forster was not a Sanskritist, and he rendered Kalidasa's play from its English translation. This rendering reached Goethe, one of the greatest literary figures of the eighteenth century. We all know how Goethe was enamoured by reading Kalidasa and to what extent he was under the spell of Kalidasa when he was writing his own magnum opus - The Faust. We are also aware of his beautiful poem in praise of Siikuntala. Through
Goethe Kalidasa cast an impact on the generations of German and English romantic poets. Moreover, the publication of Kalidasa's work by William Jones, changed the image of India in the world, and also led to the change in the cultural and literary scenario at the global level
Forster, who rendered Siikuntala into German from its English translation was a political activist. In his introduction to the German translation, he expressed the hope that his country which is passing through a difficult period of history will soon need great classics like this to recover from the wounds that history has given. Forster had also hoped that the publication of Kalidasa's work in German translation will open vistas for a global understanding - 'the most delicate feelings which the human heart can sense, can be just finely expressed on the Ganges by the dark brown people, as on the Rhine."
With the onslaught of orientalism in the 18th and 19th centuries, the knowledge of Sanskrit in the western world led to the emergence of new schools and disciplines for study like comparative mythology, comparative religion and comparative linguistics. It was through the discipline of comparative linguistics that interrelationship between ancient languages of world's biggest group of linguistic family - the Indo-Aryan came to be investigated upon. o. The school of German romanticism nurtured by stalwarts like Johann Gottfried Herder (1744-1803) who also published the second edition of Siikuntalam's translation by Forster in 1803, and nourished by Max Muller himself, very soon paved the way for serious researches based on philological grounds.
It is evidenced by the articles collected in this volume that the studies of Sanskrit in various parts of the world have covered a vast range of texts and topics pertaining to the Vedic lore, Buddhism, Iainism, Indian philosophy, art, archaeology epics and classics,literature and literary criticism; and have aslo embraced Iranian studies and south East Asian studies. They have helped in creating a better understanding of our culture and civilisation. The aspects of history, culture and philosophy are being brought within the purview of Sanskrit studies which were pursued earlier largely on the grounds of linguistics.
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