Prague Indology Conference 2010

 
Charles University in Prague
 
The Institute of South and Central Asia
Faculty of Arts and Philosophy
Charles University in Prague

( http://iu.ff.cuni.cz )
Embassy of India in the Czech Republic
 
Embassy of India in the Czech Republic
( http://www.india.cz )
Indian Council for Cultural Relations
 
 
Indian Council for Cultural Relations
New Delhi

( http://www.iccrindia.net )
 
 
Invite you to the International Conference
 
Indological Studies and Research:
 
Languages, Literatures, History and Culture - Indological Identities
 
Prague, June 18 - June 19, 2010
 
at Emperor's Hall (Císařský sál) in the Historical Building of the Charles University,
 
Ovocný trh 5, Praha 1

 
 
Financially supported by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations, New Delhi and hosted by Charles University in Prague
 
 
Scientific committee:
Harbans Mukhia
Danuta Stasik
Jaroslav Vacek
 
Secretary:
Martin Hříbek
 
 

Programme
 
Thursday June 17, 2010
 
19.30 Official opening at the Indian Jewel restaurant, Týn 6, Prague 1
 
Prof. PhDr. Jaroslav Vacek, CSc. – Welcome
Prof. MUDr. Jan Škrha, DrSc., MBA.Vice-Rector, Charles University in Prague
Mr. Manish, Charge d’ Affaires a.i., Embassy of India in Prague
Michal Stehlík, Dean of the Philosophical Faculty, Charles University in Prague
Prof. Harbans Mukhia, formerly Rector, Jawaharlal Nehru University
Prof. Danuta Stasik, University of Warsaw, Head of CEENIS
 
20.00 Dinner Reception
 

 
Friday June 18, 2010
 
09:30-12:50 Morning session
 
Indology between India and Europe

Chair: C. Rajendran
 
09:30-10:00 Aloka Parasher-Sen: The ‘Fragment’ and the ‘Whole’ – Bridging ‘Indological Studies’ and Identities in Contemporary India
10:00-10:30 Harbans Mukhia: Filling in Some Voids
10:30-11:00 Danuta Stasik: Regional Co-operation in Central and Eastern Europe: Overview and Appraisal
 
11:00-11:20 Coffee Break
 
Indological traditions in Central and Eastern Europe
Chair: K. Srinivas

 
11:20-11:50 Audrius Beinorius: Indology at Vilnius University: Past Searches and New Developments
11:50-12:20 Anna Trynkowska: First and second cycle studies in Indology at the University of Warsaw
12:20-12:50 Marzenna Czerniak-Drożdżowicz: Indology in Cracow – facing new challenges, viewing new perspectives
 
13:00 Lunch
 
14:20-16:40 Afternoon session
 
Chair: Aloka Parasher-Sen
 
14:20-14:50 Svetislav Kostić: Teaching Hindi in the Czech Republic (A historic overview)
14:50-15:20 Klara Gönc Moačanin: The state and status of Indology in Croatia today
 
15:20-15:40 Coffee Break
 
Interpreting India’s past and present: disciplines, methods, teaching and their intersection
Chair: Harbans Mukhia
 
15:40-16:10 C. Rajendran: Towards a more inclusive Indology: Problems and Prospects
16:10-16:40 K. Srinivas: The Art of Investigation in the Indian Tradition
 
19.00 Dinner
 

 
Saturday June 19, 2010
 
09:30-12:20 Morning session

 
Chair: Siniruddha Dash
 
09:30 -10:00 Galina Rousseva-Sokolova: Indology in Perspective: Theoretical Considerations and Practical Choices
10:00 -10:30 Dagmar Marková: On the proportions of the Modern and Classical in Research and in Teaching Literature
 
10:30-10:50 Coffee Break
 
Chair: Danuta Stasik
 
10:50-11:20 Siniruddha Dash: Grammatical Traditions and Linguistic analysis in ancient India
11:20-11:50 Jaroslav Strnad: Interpretations of Kabir: linguistic, literary and historical issues
11:50-12:20 Surinder Singh: Locating Islam in the Historical Experience of South Asia: Reflections on Politics, Society and Culture
 
12:30 Lunch
 
14:00-16:40 Afternoon session
 
Chair: Surinder Singh
 
14:00-14:30 Zdeněk Štipl: Significance of Teaching Modern Indian History in Indology
14:30-15:00 Martin Hříbek: Indology and Social Sciences: A Central-European Perspective
 
15:00-15:20 Coffee Break
 
Chair: Audrius Beinorius
 
15:20-15:50 Petr Duda: Indology in the e-Space
15:50-16:20 Jaroslav Vacek: Indology – a complex branch of knowledge
 
16:20-17:00 Valedictory session and round table discussion
 
19:00 Farewell Party
 
 

Images from the Conference  (More photos available at the iForum of Charles University )
Prague Indology Conference 2010 Prague Indology Conference 2010 Prague Indology Conference 2010
Prague Indology Conference 2010 Prague Indology Conference 2010 Prague Indology Conference 2010
Prague Indology Conference 2010 Prague Indology Conference 2010 Prague Indology Conference 2010
Prague Indology Conference 2010 Prague Indology Conference 2010 Prague Indology Conference 2010
Prague Indology Conference 2010 Prague Indology Conference 2010  

 

 


Annotations (alphabetically by author)

Indology at Vilnius University: Past Searches and New Developments
AUDRIUS BEINORIUS, Vilnius University, Lithuania

In my paper I am going to discuss briefly the development of Indology at Vilnius University Center of Oriental Studies by introducing the contemporary situation in the field of Indian teaching and research. Asian studies at Vilnius University were restablished in 1993 starting with Sanskrit language teaching as optional. Since 1999 a separate BA program in Indology was introduced and since 2005 – MA program in Contemporary Asian Studies. An intention with my paper is to show our attempt during those years to combine classical Indian studies (based on philology and history) with modern Indology emphasizing contemporary methodologies and disciplines (anthropology, postcolonial studies, gender studies, etc.) Implementation of this kind of two levels teaching, on one hand, reflects not only the realization of the urgent contemporary necessity to provide for our students more or less interdisciplinary approach (in Area studies field) to Indian studies by highlighting as much as possible the practical application of their knowledge. On the other hand, our Center of Oriental Studies, having a core-unit status is considered as interdisciplinary unit and the syllabi of the teaching reflects the main fields of research pursued by our colleagues.

But what are the problems we face nowadays? What is the status of Indian studies among other scientific fields? What the future of Indian studies do we see in Lithuania?


Grammatical Traditions and Linguistic analysis in ancient India
SINIRUDDHA DASH, University of Madras

While acknowledging Tamil as a classical language, it is seen to be enjoying the well-deserved attention, for its studies in the past. While a diachronic study of the Tamil language has laid threadbare the features present in the language vis-à-vis the grammar there is a paucity of comparative study with regard to classical languages like Sanskrit.

My paper attempts to explore the comparative features of the languages i.e. Sanskrit and Tamil, from a global perspective. The distinct commentarial tradition of each of the languages will be addressed first, followed by a few pointers in phonology, morphology and syntax. Besides, Tolkāppiyam, the most ancient grammar of the Tamils has a final section devoted to poetics and semantics. My paper will address the importance of such attention to poetics in a grammatical work; something that has not been seen in any other tradition, especially in India.

Thus the modern linguistic aspects of Tamil grammar will be compared to the well-known points of Sanskrit grammar based on modern linguistic principles. I hope the paper will shed light on the modern trends in comparative study in particular and Indology in general.


Indology in Cracow – facing new challenges, viewing new perspectives
MARZENNA CZERNIAK-DROŻDŻOWICZ, Jagiellonian University, Cracow

In my presentation, after short reference to the history of the Cracovian Indology, I would like to concentrate on the one hand, on the present developments in the program of Indological studies connected with the newly imposed Bologna system (3 + 2), and on the other hand, on the developments in the research of the scholars of our Department connected with the new challenges and new perspectives which Indology has to face.


Indology in the e-Space
PETR DUDA, Charles University in Prague

The paper attempts to outline the current position of Indian studies in the world of the Internet. After introducing the most remarkable Indological online projects and categorizing the available tools and information sources, we will consider their value for Indology students, teachers and researchers and the possible directions that future development could or should take. A discussion will be opened on the topic of the basic computer and Internet literacy of a student of Indology.


Indology and Social Sciences: A Central-European Perspective
MARTIN HŘÍBEK, Charles University in Prague

Since the beginnings of Indology at both German and Czech universities in Prague in the second half of 19th century, the research centred on the fields of linguistics, literary studies and history with focus predominantly in the distant past. Although modern Indian languages and current developments became a subject of more interest with the creation of Czechoslovakia, it was the beginning of the Cold War that gave impetus to the introduction of full-fledged degree courses in modern Indian languages and further enhanced the interest in current social and political processes in South Asia. The modern Indian studies were, however, stifled by state imposed restrictions on travel on one side and tight ideological framework on the other, which further reinforced the dominance of linguistics, literary studies and history over field-work based social research. In the same period, approaches informed and inspired by anthropology and social sciences gained prominence over traditional Indology in Western countries. In this paper I shall further explore such political context based differences in approach towards India, their repercussions for the present state of affairs and possibilities for future cooperation.


 

Teaching Hindi in the Czech Republic (A historic overview)
SVETISLAV KOSTIĆ, Charles University in Prague

Charles University in Prague is the only institution in the Czech Republic, as well as in the former Czechoslovakia, where Hindi is studied at the university level.

In this country it had been taught firstly before the Second World War by prof. Otakar Pertold as Hindustani, not as a subject of linguistic or literature research, but only for the practical purpose – aimed to be used for commercial purpose. Thus his textbook Učebnice hindustánštiny, Prague 1939, deals only with the colloquial and commercial correspondence language.

When India reached independence, and Hindi gained very position of national language, officially with the Constitution in 1950, its international importance appeared too. In that period it had been taught in Europe only in few universities, among them was also Charles University in Prague. A great merit in this matter belongs to prof. Vincenc Pořízka, who studied it abroad, and after returning to Prague, he started to teach Hindi at the Faculty of Philosophy of this university.

Pořízka’s disciples also were reputable indologists and teachers like Odolen Smékal, who taught Hindi more then 35 years; Dagmar Marková, who teaches Hindi literature till today, Vladimír Miltner and German indologist Helmut Nespital, both known as excellent linguists.

At the Charles University Hindi is taught continuously, without any interruption, but courses start usually in 3 to 5 years intervals.

Recently the study of Indology with Hindi, as well as other Indic languages, as subject fields, is realized, in accordance with the European educational system, as three-year B.A. plus two-year M.A. courses. The study includes, besides the language courses, also Hindi literature, historical grammar, history of India, linguistic, literature and historic seminars, reading and translation prose and poetry, Hinduism, modern history and society of India etc.


On the proportions of the Modern and Classical in Research and in Teaching Literature
DAGMAR MARKOVÁ, Oriental Institute, Czech Academy of Sciences, Prague

If someone specializes in ancient Indian literature, it is good if he gets some knowledge of a modern Indian literature, too. But if one specializes in a modern Indian literature, then not only some basic knowledge of the classical is a must, but also a sound knowledge of the Hindu tradition as it works in the contemporary social reality (if possible, then some basic knowledge of the Muslim tradition, too). The same is valid for teaching. Naturally philological education is the first precondition, but philological education alone is not enough. Only the question arises of how to combine and coordinate all that in the relatively narrow scope of time, while the students usually study an additional subject for practical reasons.


The state and status of Indology in Croatia today
KLARA GÖNC MOAČANIN, University of Zagreb, Croatia

Presently at our Department there are seven teachers and one honorary retired teacher. Our curriculum is rich and includes Sanskrit, Hindi, Indian history, Indian religion and philosophy, Indian literature, Indian art, Asian theatre. At first year we have about 30 candidates but, as the study is difficult for them, one third comes to conclusion of the study.

Status of Indology in Croatia is high with great interest for it even from general public. But there are problems, which, we hope will not affect our study, like recession which may cut the project financing and opening of new posts for young scholars, no need for indologists as we do not have an Oriental institute. Bologna process made quite a lot of damage with 3+2 system though our Department did stay at 4+1 years of study. Its paedagogical standards are inappropriate for university studies, it led to the redaction of programmes, division of study into two steps with final exam after first step and a new enrolment for the second.

Our Department is organizing a world famous indological conference every 3 years: The Dubrovnik International Conference on Sanskrit Epics and Purāṇas and already 4 volumes of proceedings had been published. The last one was in 2008, the next will be held next year. The ongoing work on the research project dealing with Upanisads will soon end with a publication.

In my paper I shall say more on the history of indological studies in Croatia mentioning main scholars and their work.


Filling in Some Voids
HARBANS MUKHIA, formerly Jawaharlal Nehru University

The whole of the nineteenth century and much of the twentieth was marked by two images of India: one that it, in the words of Hegel and Marx among several other influential thinkers, ‘had no history’, i.e. no empirical evidence of ‘change’ at the social and economic planes, not even in the mode of dress as Montesquieu had argued. Stasis was the chief characteristic of India (indeed of the whole of the Orient) over centuries and millennia. This was in sharp contrast to Europe’s past, driven by an incessant onward march right from Antiquity, somewhat interrupted during the dark middle ages, but terminating the interruption with the return of post-Enlightenment, post-Renaissance rationality. The second image was that of the ancient wisdom of India, located in its religions, mythology and languages, primarily Sanskrit. This image was driven on one hand by genuine admiration on the part of some and on the other a degree of hostility on the part of some others, inspired by what was perceived as the rival religion of Christianity. This image too visualized Indian civilization as originating in great antiquity and virtually retaining its pristine purity down to the present. Indeed some of the major figures of scholarship in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century Europe, such as Herder and some of his disciples firmly believed that human life itself had originated in Asia and all of human civilization in India. The creators of these two images had little in common; yet one premise comprised a running thread for all: the unchanging character of Indian history, culture and civilization, especially its non-material constituents. The notion of the material west in contrast with the spiritual east was born of these postulates developed in Europe.

Indology was one of the primary offshoots of this creation of contrasts. The predominant positivist notion of the study of society and its past in the scientific mode which was premised on collection of exact data and inferring unambiguous meanings out of them, developed in Europe, was more than an intellectual quest; it also gave its creators a mastery of societies so scrutinized. It is significant that even as a good part of the contrast was accepted and imbibed by Indian scholarship, Indology as a discipline per se did not get wide acceptance here; it was by and large confined to European learned institutions and remains situated there. If Indology was in one sense a liberating agent, it was also one that had the effect of limiting.

The limitation inhabited in equating virtually the entirety of Indian civilization with the elite language and the culture it signified and conceptualized. It wittingly or unwittingly created a homogenous image of Indian culture and civilization. In some ways this was in tune with notions of civilization prevalent everywhere. Nevertheless, a very large chunk of society and variant modes of cultures, and languages and life patterns were excluded from the study of India’s past. Among phenomena excluded from the purview of Indology, Indian Islam stands out tall. As does Indian Christianity and other non-Vedic religious practices. Within ancient Indian philosophical systems too, the enormous diversity of schools of thought seldom occupied the space due to them. Some of these issues are being addressed by colleagues from India to this Conference.

But I would like to concentrate in this presentation on the necessity of studying non-elite or popular versions of the past, of mythology and folklore. This might help fill in the voids in Indian studies. We need to keep two facets in mind, though: one that the reach of popular history, myths etc. is far greater in society than that of the academic disciplines and that even as the two are distinct, they do not constitute binary opposites. Indeed, there is a large shared space between them. My primary plea is to look at the popular versions as alternative entry points into the study of the entirety of the past and the present of Indian civilization, giving these versions the respect Indology has given to Sanskrit language and literature, and Hindu religion and culture.

One of the major intellectual transformations in the past few decades has been a transition from study of social phenomena from binary oppositions to one of continuums where interactions and interrelationships comprise the totality. It is against this background that the study of India, as of any other society, needs to cast a second look at itself.


Towards a more inclusive Indology: Problems and Prospects
C. RAJENDRAN, University of Calicut, Kerala

Most of the scholars working on aspects of Indian thought in India and abroad are convinced of the fact that traditional Indology is at crossroads and in dire need of redefinition of its contours. The main factors which are responsible for this rethinking include the general decline of interest in philology and textual studies related to classical languages across the globe and consequent dwindling of institutional support, the general saturation in research and teaching related to classical texts, the inevitable marginalization of many interesting aspects of Indian civilization like the plastic/performance arts and popular culture caused by the self-imposed restrictions by the practitioners of the discipline and at a more theoretical level, the realization of the basic limitations of the oriental project and other colonial discourses brought about by the change in the intellectual climate in the West. The present paper will perspectivise the issues involved by focusing on the positive and negative fallouts caused by the orientations of Indology of the past, to investigate its future role. The accent of the paper is not in the summary dismissal of the achievements made by scholars of yesteryears in the retrieval of classical texts, but on the necessity of supplementing the results with rich insights which could be made available by multi/interdisciplinary approaches. No one can deny the importance of textual criticism or belittle the significant achievements made in the field, given the fact that there are thousands of manuscripts still unattended and that we have only a few manageable texts even in classical Sanskrit. It would also be self defeating if the importance of Sanskrit and classical scholarship is not adequately recognized in Indological studies. Nor is the conversion of Indological departments into area studies or Religious studies the panacea of all ills as this would inevitably reduce the importance of the study of several interesting aspects of the Indian civilization like its literature and arts and the more secular aspects of philosophical thought. What is required is an attempt to incorporate to the fold of Indological studies the oral/performance traditions, historical developments, textual accretions and the less studied traditional knowledge systems, on the basis of a vigorous methodology so as to broaden its areas of investigations. The accent should be both on tradition and historical changes, as well as Sastra and Prayoga and not to the exclusion of one category over the other. I would like to illustrate the necessity of a broad based approach to comprehend the complexities related to traditional discourses on the basis of some canonical texts like the Natysastra and Arthasastra. Hopefully, if we broaden the scope of Indology by incorporating pluralistic perceptions of the texts and the practices enshrined in them, it might well be possible to make it more challenging, to further enrich our comprehension of Indic civilization and also to involve more stakeholders to its fold. It is also important to recognize that there could be different thrust areas and orientations in Indology across the globe basing on historical and cultural factors and that more frequent academic exchanges, and sharing of experiences could enrich our perceptions.


The ‘Fragment’ and the ‘Whole’ – Bridging ‘Indological Studies’ and Identities in Contemporary India
ALOKA PARASHER-SEN, University of Hyderabad

The last two decades of the twentieth century have seen a number of debates about and critiques of the ‘Indological discourse’ dominating the academic scene. In this presentation the challenges posed in the teaching and researching of India’s early past against the background of these debates shall be juxtaposed with the context of the contemporary Indian scenario from the perspective of the region and the locality.

By focusing on the history of localities and, by default then, of traditions known through small and often fragmentary pieces of information, it is suggested that we need to get away from the notion of meta histories based on apparently pan-Indian sources when in fact, it is a variety of sources at the local level that should engage our attention. We intend to use a couple of illustrative examples to shed light on this perspective.

Further, a central theme in our argument is that we can no longer compartmentalize the various seminal traditions of the Indian sub-continent. They need to be looked at in terms of networks each dynamically interacting with the other to retrieve from the religious, the material and the cognitive texts, the textures of history about marginal social and regional groups that asserted difference while at the same time were linked to a larger whole. The emergence of these networks their sustenance, mutation and transformation should become the central focus of India Studies in our times.

During the last three decades History as a discipline in India has moved away from its traditional definition as part of literature based Indological studies. Historians of ancient India in particular now give equal importance to archaeological sources and also draw on contemporary theories emanating from anthropology, linguistics and cultural studies. This is clearly witnessed in the emergence of gender history, history of environment and everyday life and the history of marginal groups.

The direction in which the discipline is moving, we conclude, is a necessity in the contemporary situation for teaching in classrooms in India and in South Asian Studies or Indology departments abroad, since increasingly (1) the seekers of this knowledge in class/ caste/ ethnic terms has expanded far beyond the limited educated elite of the early twentieth century to become more varied (2) in the various regions of the sub-continent new histories of their respective distant pasts have come to be written from a regional perspective and (3) outside India the so-called ‘Indian’ diaspora now seeks to grapple with its ancient roots – sometimes at tandem with how Indians in India see as theirs!


Indology in Perspective: Theoretical Considerations and Practical Choices
GALINA ROUSSEVA-SOKOLOVA, Sofia University

For over two hundred years the accumulating knowledge about India was feeding the intellectual debate in Europe. India was the embodiment of the “totally different”, an ancient and exotic culture, challenging traditional concepts and ideas with every new travelogue or translation published. Today, travel has democratized and so has the general public’s interest for India: it has not lessened in strength, though it has shifted in scope and nature. From this often superficial general interest academic indology (and its philological variety in particular) is getting more and more detached, retreating into a world of its own, professionalized and specialized. This paper focuses on what a modern edition of classical Indian texts should look like in a “small” language like Bulgarian. Should crowd-pleasing concessions be made and are these really concessions once we acknowledge the restrictedness its potential academic audience.


Locating Islam in the Historical Experience of South Asia : Reflections on Politics, Society and Culture
SURINDER SINGH, Panjab University, Chandigarh

This paper seeks to address some important issues related to Islam, as it was manifested in major historical processes like the rise of Indo-Muslim states, the development of Sufi networks, the spread of Islamic acculturation and emergence of new socio-cultural identities. It attempts a critique of the modern writings on the subject, appreciating the different conceptual frameworks and ideological concerns. It ventures to identify the gaps in the existing knowledge, while speculating on the possibilities of future research. It weighs the possibilities of developing courses on Islamic Studies within the larger discipline of History. Discussion on these issues, it is hoped, has assumed a considerable relevance in the beginning of the twenty first century, when the spread of Islamic terrorism threatens to vitiate our understanding of the past, in particular the rich and variegated Islamic heritage of South Asia.

Modern historical writings on medieval South Asia took off in the beginning of the twentieth century. Scholars devoted themselves to reconstruct the political history of the subcontinent, focusing either on the rise and fall of dynasties or on prominent rulers who had left behind a large record of their activities. Attempts were made to understand the structure and functioning of central and provincial government, besides army and revenue administration. At this stage, the subjects of study – ruling dynasties, members of the nobility, state institutions, political theories, coinage, monuments and chronicles – were seen as ‘Muslim’ and therefore somewhat alien to the land. On a positive note, the influence of Islam was discerned not only in the ideas Bhakti reformers, but also in the major forms of art that was sponsored by Muslim rulers. Studies on the life and conditions of the people identified the various social classes and described their social customs.

In the post-independence period, the communalist and Marxist schools acquired a considerable prominence. In the eyes of the former, the Muslim rulers were guided by the tenets of orthodox Islam and therefore sought to convert this land of infidels into an abode of Islam, displaying their bigotry in temple breaking and forcible conversion. On the other hand, the latter uncovered the oppressive character of the ruling class that extracted the social surplus from a stratified peasantry through the twin instrument of graded military ranks (mansabs) and revenue assignments (jagirs). Meaningful research work was done on introduction of new technology, industrial production, commercial enterprise and urbanization. Some detailed studies were produced on the different regions of South Asia, with particular focus on political structures and socio-economic formations.

In the second half of the twentieth century, medievalists began to pay serious attention to the study of Sufism. Writings on Chishtis and Suhrawardis focused on mystical beliefs and practices, organization of hospices (khanqahs) and institution discipleship. A contentious debate has irrupted on the role of Shaikh Ahmad Sirhindi, the most prominent Naqshbandi exampler of South Asia. On the one hand, Sirhindi has been credited with turning the Mughal state towards Islamic orthodoxy. On the other hand, it has been argued that Sirhindi, who carried out a tirade against the Hindus and Shias, failed to influence the policies of the Mughal state. Some western scholars are inclined to treat Sirhindi more as a Sufi who made an original contribution to the development of the mystical thought. The study of Richard M. Eaton on the Sufis of Bijapur marked a paradigm shift in the study of Sufism. Placing the Sufis belonging to different orders in their regional cultural context, he categorized them as warrior, reformist, literati, landed and dervish. He has also examined their social role in relation to rulers, clerics and non-Muslims.

Religious conversion to Islam has been a controversial issue. It has been alleged, though without sufficient evidence, that Muslim rulers converted Hindus to Islam either by using force or by offering patronage. Attempts have been made to show that socially depressed elements have been attracted to Islam with the hope of social liberation. But these ideas have lost ground in view of the more scientific explanations based on Islamic acculturation. In the case of Bengal, ecological changes paved the way for agrarian expansion, which was brought about by the land holding Muslim Pirs. As a result, the tribal peasantry underwent the slow process of Islamic acculturation, which assimilated numerous indigenous cultural elements. In east Bengal, therefore, Islam has been viewed as a religion of the plough. In west Punjab, Islamization appears to have followed agrarian expansion that was sponsored by the land holding Chishti establishment of Pakpattan. In the case of Kashmir, however, Islamic acculturation seems to have occurred owing to the efforts of the Rishi order of Sufis. Recent studies on some major Sufi shrines – Ajmer, Pakpattan and Bahraich – have opened several windows into the medieval past, besides underlining the efficacy of unconventional methods of historical analysis.

It is no longer possible to view Islam as an intrusion or rupture in the onward march of humankind. Nor can it be understood as a set of universal and unchanging beliefs and rituals. Islam can not be treated as a civilization that was transferred across vast geographical expanses and established a hegemonic stranglehold in the wake of military conquest. Islam has freely interacted with the local cultures and, in specific regional and historical contexts, this interaction has given rise to the formation of new social identities. We must hasten to note that this process was complex and gradual. Religious boundaries, which appear hard and impenetrable today, were soft and porous in the medieval times. The use of conventional categories of ‘Muslim’ and ‘Hindu’ is not only simplistic, it is also not warranted by the actual lived experience. That is why Hodgson felt persuaded to propose the categories of ‘Islamicate’ and ‘Indic’ as meaningful alternatives. Further research in the subject may have to capture the lives of small social groups that have shared a common past across the centuries. Going beyond the official chronicles and normative texts, we may have to undertake field surveys in the localities and delve into the oral traditions in local dialects. The task promises to be challenging as well as exciting.


The Art of Investigation in the Indian Tradition
K.SRINIVAS, Pondicherry University

It is generally viewed that what is called Indology is an academic study of languages and literature; and history and cultures of the Indian sub-continent. More specifically Indology deals with the study of Sanskrit literature and Hinduism and other religions such as Jainism, Buddhism, and other indigenous religions of India.  It can be said that Indology as a discipline owes its existence to the Persian anthropologists and historian of eleventh century al-Biruni, whose researches on India covered political, cultural, scientific and religious history of India.  Apart from that, the contributions made by the British orientalist Henry Thomas Colebrooke, German Indologist Max Müller, and British Indologist Arthur Berreidale Keith made it an interesting discipline. Since it is not possible to deal with all aspects of Indology in a  paper like this, I would like focus my attention on the philosophical traditions of India which become part and parcel of Indic cultures.  As aptly held by P.T. Raju, the philosophical traditions of India represent the philosophy of life and of spirit (The Structural Depths of Indian Philosophy,  p.(XI).”  When we talk about philosophy of life, the diverse disciplines such as language, literature, history, philosophy and culture become part and parcel of it. In other words, although they have their own subject-matters to deal with ultimately they contribute to the identity of a tradition in general. Thus one can see the interdependence among these branches. The philosophy of any people is represented by their thinking, living and reflection. Our thinking and philosophy find their expressions in language and experience respectively.

The art of philosophizing is one of the most important and distinguishing features of any philosophical tradition, In other words, a philosophical tradition is identified with its art of  philosophizing.  The art of philosophizing differs from one tradition to the other. It is largely dependent on the metaphysical presuppositions of a given tradition in the sense that the method of investigation must be appropriate enough to establish the metaphysical presuppositions under investigation. The ancient Indian philosophers did not blindly support any philosophical position or standpoint without proper rational scrutiny. Thus reason is treated as one of the most important factors of the art of philosophizing by the ancient Indian philosophers to enable their philosophical standpoint free from dogma and blind faith and to get into the deeper structures of philosophical reasoning. Similarly, he used to put questions to his disciples to elicit answers that are subjected to the scrutiny of reason. Philosophical dialogues, debates, and arguments have inbuilt investigating mechanism which aims at eliciting rationally justifiable answers. Therefore the art of investigation which involves healthy dialogues, debates, and arguments only unearths the various layers of knowledge. Thus its role is more positive and constructive, but not negative and destructive.

The art of philosophizing is successfully employed in the Upaniṣads The major systems of Indian philosophy have been categorized into the heterodox (nāstika) and the orthodox (āstika) camps. The unique feature of this distinction is that the systems such as Cārvāka, Jainism, and Buddhism are known as heterodox systems not because of their inbuilt atheism, but because they oppose the Vedic authority. What is peculiar to Jainism and Buddhism is that in spite of their atheism they are treated as religions. And as religions they have considerably good following in India. On the contrary, the orthodox systems such as Nyāya, Vaiśesika, Sāṁkhya, Yoga, Pūrva-Mīmāmsā, and Uttara-Mīmāṁsā (Vedānta) are so called not because of their theism, but because of their allegiance to the Vedic authority. Therefore, when we talk about the Indian philosophical tradition our talk in general covers all those systems of philosophy that took birth in the Indian soil. Therefore, one must be circumspect enough to distinguish Indian philosophy from Hinduism. The later is only an offshoot of the orthodox Indian philosophical systems and it does not owe its allegiance to the non-Vedic philosophical systems of India.  Also, it needs to be mentioned here that philosophy and religion are not segregated from each other in the classical Indian tradition.

The development of the Indian philosophical tradition is largely attributed to the commentarial tradition practiced by the various system builders. The art of philosophizing, by and large, starts with the exposition of the position of opponent or the system to be criticized (pūrvapakṣa), the criticism leveled against the system (khaṇḍana), and the thesis arrived at (siddhānta). This is a healthy practice. One has to understand the philosophical position of his opponent thoroughly before criticizing it. Theory building in philosophy is different from that of science.  If the theories in science are built with the aid of experimental method, the theories in philosophy are built with the aid of reason and experience. What is experienced is more authentic than that is arrived at by mere reason. But the fact remains that what is experienced by an individual remains as a private experience and it would not be possible for others to share it. This remains as a chief obstacle for establishing truths in philosophy. Such an obstacle cannot deter philosophers from constructing theories on the basis of experience. In this paper an attempt is made to show that the art of investigation is inbuilt in the Indian philosophical tradition. Since it is not possible to provide an exhaustive survey of the entire Indian philosophical tradition in a paper of this kind, I restrict myself to those schools of thought that attracted my immediate attention.

 

Regional Co-operation in Central and Eastern Europe: Overview and Appraisal
DANUTA STASIK, University of Warsaw

As a representative—or more precisely—the international co-ordinator of Central & Eastern European Network of Indian Studies (CEENIS; http://www.ceenis.eu), I shall deal with the most essential questions concerning CEENIS from the point of view of its past and present day as well as its future. Such, both diachronic and synchronic, perspective seems especially vital when one—more than once—can realise that even those who are in one way or another part of CEENIS fully realise neither its aims nor the scope of its potential. These questions are raised with the aim of once again discussing this potential and appropriately utilising it in the future for the sake of all involved parties.


Interpretations of Kabir: linguistic, literary and historical issues
JAROSLAV STRNAD, Oriental Institute, Czech Academy of Sciences, Prague

Linguistic and textual analysis of pads ascribed to Kabir and contained in the Rajasthani Dadupanthi manuscripts has proven that morphological structure of the language cannot be assigned to any existing grammatically clearly defined dialect, and the comparison of textual variants has shown their originally oral character. These two features raise important questions about the authorship and the possible existence in the past of one single "Ur-text" - questions that can be addressed with methodological equipment developed by scholars studying oral traditions in different cultures of the world (thick corpus methods, organic variation, etc.). Taking into account the changing historical context of this in itself inherently fluid and mutually interacting oral and textual tradition may help us understand the causes of changes affecting the tone and themes of Kabirian pads that came down to us in manuscripts of different ages and places of origin.

Interpretation of selected pads in Hindi- classes affords an opportunity to apply on this type of texts advanced methods current in the field of general linguistics (morphological and syntactical analysis, aspects of historical linguistics), and also approaches developed in the field of modern literary theory (intertextuality, study of oral traditions, etc.), and religious studies (study of religious syncretism). Combination of specialized knowledge of the traditional indological scholarship with advanced methodological approaches of these disciplines may enrich not only the established repertory of indological tools but also the material basis of the respective disciplines themselves.


Significance of Teaching Modern Indian History in Indology
ZDENĚK ŠTIPL, Charles University in Prague

The paper points out the significance of studying the modern Indian history in the broadest context of Indology and emphasizes its practical use. From the methodological viewpoint there are at least two supposable didactic approaches towards the issue - the chronological one and the subject one. The paper considers the pros and cons of both approaches from the teacher’s as well as the student’s perspective. Further on it suggests a periodization of modern Indian history, in order to underline the characteristic features defining each respective period and subsequently to make it easier for the students to understand the process of political development in India since the Independence. The golden thread of the fascinating story appears to be a permanent struggle for the preservation of unity, in spite of the centrifugal forces of various kinds (e.g. language, religious or class diversity) with fluctuating intensity threatening the political unity of India. This persistent struggle between unity and diversity might be the key to understanding of modern Indian history.


First and second cycle studies in Indology at the University of Warsaw
ANNA TRYNKOWSKA, University of Warsaw

The paper concentrates on discussing in detail the 3-year first cycle (undergraduate) and 2-year second cycle (graduate) programmes of study in the field of Oriental Studies with specialty in Indology at the Department of South Asian Studies, Faculty of Oriental Studies, University of Warsaw; it specifies their contents and the intended learning outcomes of their graduates, as well as points out problems encountered when creating and implementing them. Additionally, the paper briefly presents 3-year first cycle and 2-year second cycle programmes of study in the field of Cultural Studies with specialty in Inter-cultural Relations at the Centre for Cross-cultural Relations, Faculty of Oriental Studies, University of Warsaw, which also provide their students with basic information on Indian culture.

The presentation may serve as a basis for comparison with study programmes offered by other Indological centres.


Indology – a complex branch of knowledge
JAROSLAV VACEK, Charles University in Prague

Basic prerequisite or axiom: Indology starts in and returns to India.

Against the background of the development of Indology in Prague since 1850 the paper will discuss the question of the relevance of various approaches to this complex branch of knowledge. It is not only (and no more) romanticism and it should in no way be practised as the proscribed ‘orientalism’.

European or western Indology in general is of necessity confined to narrower fields of learning and consequently also of research, such as language learning, linguistics, reading texts and literary interpretation, the history and various aspects of Indian ‘life and institutions’, which are viewed in part from an historical perspective. As for learning and teaching, in the first years this should be as complex and comprehensive as possible, because Europeans coming to the University practically start from primary school level and must obtain systematic knowledge, both in practical and theoretical terms, about the subject within a couple of years. Ideally, this then could and should become a solid background for specialised research in one field (possibly two fields) – for example it would make no sense to be a linguist without knowledge of literature or history, or to be an historian without knowledge of the relevant languages etc.

Without appropriating for myself the right to ‘judge’ ‘Indian Indology’, I think from the western point of view ‘Indian Indology’ has some innate advantages. Indian teaching and also research in the various aspects of Indology can already count on having a matter-of-fact ‘practical’ experience in one or more fields (modern languages, literary tradition, culture in the broad sense etc.) and can be ‘more to the point’ in many respects from the very beginning. But I am sure that Indian Indologists should also contribute to the discussion and clarification of the methodological question of the right proportion between the individual disciplines both in teaching and in research, from which all of us will profit.

Preliminary conclusion: the Indian and European approaches are mutually complementary and can support each other. There must be ‘give and take’, which may, in many respects, produce not only new knowledge but also a new and deeper understanding not only of India and its tradition, but in that context also a better understanding of our western tradition. This can be the ‘added value’ in our complicated globalised world.

At first sight this may look like an attractive intellectual construction, but it should not remain the abstract construct of an intellectual. It should be brought to life and tested through mutual co-operation between the ‘various Indologies’. So a meeting like this may help to improve our mutual communication and enrich both our practical and theoretical knowledge.


 

 

 

 

(c) 2010, Institute of South and Central Asia, Faculty of Arts, Charles University in Prague.