Thursday, September 22, 2011
A database of scholars?
As it is often the case, offer and demand do not meet in Sanskrit studies.
While considering where to write my PhD dissertation, I did not know about Jim Benson's work on Mīmāṃsā. When I spent some time with him last Spring, he said he had at that time no student to supervise —and would not have minded having one. Years after, I started thinking of a critical edition of Sucarita's commentary on Kumārila, until someone informed me that there was already someone else working on it. Now, I am working on Vedānta Deśika and cannot get really in touch with the many serious scholars working on him (if you google "vedānta deśika" you will get instead hundreds of devotional websites —which are fine, except that I am looking for something else).
Usually, this shortcomings due to lack of mutual contact and information can be avoided because the community of Sanskrit scholars is relatively small. But this is not always the case, especially if one works at its outskirts (geographically, culturally or linguistically). Nor can one just count on one's personal acquaintances.
Hence, how to fix the problem? I think that a nice solution would be to create a database of Sanskrit scholars, searchable through various keywords (such as "key interests"), unlike the rare "Who's who in Sanskrit Studies" by Klaus Karttunen. Prospective students would in this way find suitable tutors. Scholars would be able to know whether someone else is working on a topic they are also working on. They could in this way share information and avoid useless efforts (such as doing the same thing at the same time).
On offer and demand in Indology, see this post.