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Friday, April 22, 2011

What is the purpose of comparisons?

I recently had the pleasure to listen to two lectures by Prof. Kamaleswar Bhattacharya, in Rome. In one of them, he discussed the usage of Western symbolic logic to "translate" Navya Nyāya. What is the purpose of it? Is it only meant to have Navya Nyāya look "modern" (as suggested by Mohanty' in JIPh 1)?
The objection is more than sound, and applies to comparative philosophy in general. Hence, it induced me to express the point of view I embraced while writing my book.

Since the present author believes that history of philosophy is a fundamental part of philosophy, the book is not only an exercise in comparative philosophy. Comparisons are more than frequent in it, and are meant to:
  1. 1. make the approach to Prābhākara Mīmāṃsā easier to Western readers,
  2. 2. make readers aware of the philosophical interest of the materials discussed,
  3. 3. make readers who are not familiar with Western philosophy aware of new interpretative tools.
For the same reasons, the book also includes distinct chapters dedicated to the historical context of the Tantrarahasya and of Prābhākara Mīmāṃsā in general.

I would be glad to read the readers' opinions about it. How do you use comparison?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

When was Hinduism born?

The building of a "Hindu" identity is a complex, but fascinating process.

I often struggle whenever I have to label non-Buddhist Classical Indian Philosophy. I do not like the label "brahmanical", since it might work from a sociological point of view, but –being not a marxist myself;-)– I doubt that there is something like a common ideology in systems whose concern with the Veda, to name just an example, is quite different. Why should Sāṅkhya, with its violent attacks against sacrifice, be said to be "brahmanical"? The label only works if it is almost deprived of any meaning at all, apart from the sociological one. But at that point it might become dangerous, insofar as it suggests to readers a commonness which was perhaps not there.
Of course, many scholars might reply that Brahmans had a common agenda and that this agenda influences works written in all systems of Indian thought. This might well be, but:
  1. 1. I doubt the possible homogeneity of such an agenda (one should then rather talk of "brahmanical, bengali, 1st c. CE" philosophy, etc.).
  2. 2. I doubt that this agenda was everywhere and under all respects radically different than the "Jaina" or "Buddhist" ones.
"Buddhism and Hinduism"
By contrast, if one looks at the Buddhist field, one notices that there might be something common in whatever Buddhists react against. Buddhist thinkers tried to create an own system of knowledge, with an own grammar (Candravyākaraṇa…), an own epistemology, Buddhist "universities", etc. Since they explicitly tried to distinguish themselves from something, I cannot resist asking whether they could see a single "thing" they want to part company with. Alternatively, they might have contributed to the building of the identity of "Hindus" insofar as they could at least identify themselves as non-Buddhists.
What do you think? Did Buddhists happen to build some sort of proto-Hinduism? Or is Indian Buddhism (especially until the end of the first half of the first Millennium CE) hardly more than a "special case" within a non-connoted mass of religious beliefs?

If you are interested in this topic, you might want to have a look at this interview with A. Nicholson about his book Unifying Hinduism.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Do Indian philosophers postulate a correspondance between language and external reality?

As well known, Johannes Bronkhorst maintains that Indian philosophy fundamentally differs from the one elaborated in the West because it presupposes the non-distinction between language and reality. Whatever can be spoken of, must also exist. Hence, Indian philosophers get stucked in non-sensical problems, such as the ontological status of a pot in sentences like "The potter makes a pot" (where the pot is named, although it does not exist yet).
This same attitude can be seen from a different point of view as an advantage. Karl Potter writes, for instance, that Indian philosophy anticipated the "linguistic turn" of the 2oth c. Analytic Philosophy.
If we agree on this similarity, then it might be interesting to read the debate on this issue within Analytic philosopher. Consider for instance the following objection and reply:

[A] typical objection to Austin's appeal to ordinary language here (and, hence, to his whole procedure in general) […] is the objection that ordinary language cannot be trusted as a guide to philosophical "truth," since, as we're surely all aware, all of us "ordinary people" get things wrong all the time […].
To this kind of objection, Austin has a compelling rejoinder: it is not Austin's claim that attention to ordinary language necessarily tells us what is true, but that such attention tells us what is and what is not really in need of explanation.
(Dan Arnold 2001: 253)

Could this apply also to Indian authors? What do readers think? Until now I thought that language was used as a counter-evidence. If something does not work in language (and, hence, in thought), it is unlikely that it works in reality, unless one is able to explain the incongruity away (for instance, the fact that language might use the feminine gender for inanimate things is not an obstable for their being inanimate). Could it be the case that language rather defines what is interesting for us human beings?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

What about prescriptions which have no authority over us?

In order to evaluate the pragmatic components of the definition of prescription, we might ask whether a prescription which has no authority at all over us is still a prescription?
For instance, would a prescription about the way ants should be cooked found in a book on anthropology of Central African populations still be a prescription if read by a vegetarian reader? Generally speaking, the answer depends on how one defines a prescription (formally or pragmatically). From the point of view of the vākyaśāstra (about which see here), I am inclined to think (although the example is not dealt with in texts I am aware of) that it would NOT be one, since an exhortation presupposes the listener's desire for the result to be achieved through the action enjoined. In the case of a slave being directed to carry something, the desire could be rephrased as her desire to satisfy her master, but the role of desire cannot be ruled out altogether. Hence, exhortation is not thought of as a purely linguistic phenomenon, independent of whoever listens to it. There is a link to pragmatics, via the definition of a context, of suitable listeners, and of the range of authority of the utterance (in the Speech Act Theory, this would be tantamount to the range of authority of the speaker).

A Sanskritist may now object that no Indian author would accept that the Vedas might be thought as not prescriptive. There is indeed a subtle boundary between what is ontologically not a prescription and what just does not function subjectively like one. In general, I am inclined to think that a vākyaśāstra-author would say that the Vedas do not cease to be prescriptive, because they address people who desire happiness, and everyone desires happiness. But I never found an explicit argument for it in the texts I am aware of.

On vākyaśāstra, see here. On the Speech-Act theory, see here and here.
On prescriptions, see also the corresponding tag on the left.
On the necessity of desire, see here.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Should a Sanskritist learn Spoken Sanskrit?

The morphology and syntax of spoken Sanskrit are a simplified version of that of Classical Sanskrit. Basically:
  1. 1. no dual endings. Instead, one uses paraphrases such as etad pustakadvayam atirucikāram.
  2. 2. no past endings beside ppp. Instead, one uses the sma paraphrase, e.g., sadānandamahodayaḥ māṃ saṃskṛtasambhāṣaṇam adhyāpayati sma.
  3. 3. (almost) no second person ending. Instead, one addresses people with bhavān/bhavatī + III person ending.
  4. 4. shorter compounds (as obvious, in a spoken language).
  5. 5. hardly any sandhi at all.

As for vocabulary, all the everyday vocabulary is either made up (vidyutpatra for email), imported (seba or sebaphala for apple) or re-adapted (vimāna for airplane). One will not need it in one's Classical Studies.
However, in many Spoken Sanskrit classes one reads many subhāṣitas, and hence gets a chance to learn some metrics and get in touch also with classical Sanskrit.
Most important, one has to figure out which style of learning suits oneself most: do you remember things because you heard them or because you read them? If the former, the course will terribly enhance your understanding of Sanskrit. You will start reading texts autonomously, instead of having to look for every single word on the dictionary. If you keep on working on it, the ultimate result is to start questioning texts in Sanskrit. And Sanskrit texts tend to reveal more to the one who questions them in the appropriate way;-)

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Speech Act theory and truth-values

By rule, I discuss Western theories only if the point of view of an Indian school of thought may spread new light on them. Recently, I re-read J.L. Austin's How to do things with words while reconsidering the stronger connection of linguistics and epistemology in India. is not by chance that "language", śabda is one of the instruments of knowledge, instead of the Western "testimony".
Non-descriptive (in Austin's terminology: "non-constative") statements have offered also within the Speech Act theory a chance to re-consider epistemological issues.

In this connection, let me focus on the opposition of "false" and "wrong" in this passage from Austin's first lecture:
In the particular case of promising, as with many other performatives, it is appropriate that the person uttering the promise should have a certain intention, viz. here to keep his word: and perhaps of all concomitants this looks the most suitable to be that which `I promise' does describe or record. Do we not actually, when such intention is absent, speak of a `false' promise? Yet so to speak is not to say that the utterance `I promise that…' is false, in the sense that though he states that he does, he doesn't, or that though he describes he misdescribes —misreports. For he does promise: the promise here is not even void, though it is given in bad faith. His utterance is perhaps misleading, probably deceitful and doubtless wrong, but it not a lie or a misstatement, At most we might make out a case for saying that it implies or insinuates a falsehoods or a misstatement (to the effect that he does not intend to do something): but that is a very different matter. Moreover, we do not speak of a false bet or a false christening; and that we do speak of a false promise need commit us no more than the fact that we speak of a false move. `False' is not necessarily used of statements only
(Austin 1975 (1st ed.: 1962): 11).

In the second lecture, Austin defines "performative utterances":

These have on the face of them the look –or at least the grammatical make-up– of 'statements'; but nevertheless they are seen, when more closely inspected, to be, quite plainly, not utterances which could be 'true' or 'false'. Yet to be 'true' or 'false' is traditionally the characteristic mark of a statement.

(Austin 1975 (1st ed.: 1962): 12).

In other words, Austin's answer seems to be that illocutionary speech acts show that truth-values cannot be applies to all sorts of utterances, but rather only to the sub-set of constative utterances.

More in general, Austin's point is that illocutionary speech acts are just acts. And, like any other act, they can fail to attain their result or be miscarried. His analysis, hence, plays down the linguistic specificity of Speech Acts.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Exhortation: a meaning?

At first sight, pragmatic linguistics has nothing to do with epistemology. But in Classical Indian thought, epistemology has a broader meaning…

The following is Jayanta Bhaṭṭa’s definition of an exhortative force:

The linguistic force is that activity pertaining to language which causes people to undertake actions and in which the undertaking of the activity is understood as something to be done.

(yas tu śabdagataḥ prayojakavyāpāro yatra puruṣapravṛttiḥ sādhyatāṃ pratipadyate sā śabdabhāvanā (GS edition p. 67; Mysore p. 97)).

The chief elements of this definitions are that the exhortative force is a function (vyāpara), related to language (śabdagata) and inherently prescriptive (sādhyatāṃ pratipadyate).
This leads us back to the question mentioned in yesterday's post, namely "To whom does the illocutionary force belong?" In Jayanta's terminology, this can be specified as "How can the burden of expressing the illocutionary force rest on a function?"

Jayanta addresses the problem insofar as he investigates on the relation between exhortation and prescriptive verbal endings? Do prescriptive verbal endings directly express exhortation, or is it their functioning (vyāpāra), which induces one to act? If the former, then everyone would undertake an activity, just by hearing an exhortative verbal ending, even one who does not know Sanskrit. If the latter, then one needs the intermediate step of understanding them, since the functioning of the prescriptive verbal ending consists in their conveying a meaning.

Hence, the burden of the illocutionary force is carried by both language and its listeners. Further, language is a vehicle of illocutionary force not in itself, as if it had a magical power, but rather insofar as it conveys a meaning. In other words, the illocutionary force is rooted in the epistemological aspect of language.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Exhortation in Western and Classical Indian linguistics

Exhortation is also one of the fields where Classical Indian linguistics may fruitfully co-operate with contemporary studies.
Mainstream Western linguistics, in fact, tend to consider exhortation just as an exception in regard to the standard case, descriptive language.

In the last decades, the approach to exhortation has been modified through J.L. Austin’s Speech Act theory, as expounded in his 1955 lectures How to do things with words (Oxford, Clarendon 1962).

This theory analyses language from the point of view of its pragmatic effects and distinguishes a locutionary, illocutionary and perlocutionary aspect in it.

  1. 1. A locutionary act comprises the act of uttering a sentence and its phatic and rhetic aspects.
  2. 2. Illocutionary speech acts are the core of the theory: they could be of various sorts (greeting, baptising, …).
  3. 3. A perlocutionary act consists of the effect of the illocutionary one (persuading, scaring, …).

Within this theory, exhortations are a sub-set of illocutionary speech acts, namely “directive illocutionary speech acts”.
In its analysis, the Speech Act theory focuses on the role of the speaker.

By contrast, in Classical Indian thought one might be tempted to say that the linguistic bhāvanā is an “illocutionary force”, like the one present in commands, but Mīmāṃsā authors do not attribute a role to the speaker, thus making the distinction between illocutionary speech acts (intended by a speaker to produce a certain effect) and perlocutionary ones (producing effects on the hearer) hardly possible.

In other words, Classical Indian vākyaśāstra focuses on the characteristics of language itself: What makes language able to convey a perlocutionary effect?

On vākyaśāstra, see yesterday's post. On Mīmāṃsā theories and speech acts, see here.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Indian teaching about sentences

Traditionally, Indian texts about language are distinguished into two:

  1. padaśāstra (“Teaching about words”: Grammar, Nirukta etc.)
  2. vākyaśāstra (“Teaching about sentences”: Mīmāṃsā)

The first group badly needs further studies. The second one, by contrast, still awaits even pioneering studies. Hence, one cannot but highlight the need for studying Indian sentence-linguistics.

And this not just for the sake of completeness. In fact, the sentence-context is fundamental in order to deal with complex linguistic phenomena, such as deixis, textual linguistics, the investigation on the minimal elements of signification, exhortation.

One might object that in order to study exhortation the tools of padaśāstra are enough. An exhortative sentence would be one where an optative, imperative, subjunctive verbal ending is found. But this is not correct. Verbal endings are not enough to identify an exhortative sentence, since there are exhortations even in the case of indicative verbal endings and only a sentence-context allows one to detect them. For instance, in the context of the prescriptions regarding the Darśapūrṇamāsa sacrifice, a statement such as ``The sacrificial spoon is made of parṇa wood" means, in fact, ``One should use a parṇa-spoon for the present sacrifice". Similarly ``I am thirsty" may just mean ``Please, give me a glass of water", in an appropriate context.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The duty of the subject? Bringing together different cognitions

The following is another statement by Utpaladeva about the fact that the subject is established insofar as it bridges two distinct moments (the past experience of something and its present memory). Utpaladeva's usage of viṣayin is noteworthy, insofar as this usage enables Utpaladeva to elaborate a cogent deduction without making it appear as a tautology:

The remembering subject is implicitly established because it bridges together two moments of time, since the statement that [memory occurs] in the present time depends on the distinction of the [present] light of memory from [the experience which occurred] at a past time. And the experienced object, accompanied by the previous experience, insofar as it is determined by its own time, which is past, is not distinct from what has it as its content (i.e., the present cognition) (viṣayin) determined by the present time. In fact, if the content, characterised by the fact that it does not deviate from what has it as its content (i.e., the present cognition) (viṣayin), were distinct from the light [i.e., the subject], there would be an incongruity. Therefore [the Vṛttikāra] said "appearing". […] This has been already said and will be said again.

(smṛtiprakāśasya tātkālikatvaviśeṣaṇena vartamānatoktyā kāladvayānusandhānāt smartṛsiddhir
upakṣiptā, na ca smṛtijñānasya vartamānāvacchinnasya viṣayiṇaḥ pūrvānubhavasahito ’nubhūto ’rtho ’tītarūpasvakālāvacchinno bhinnātmaiva viṣayyabhraṃśamānatālakṣaṇasya viṣayatvasya prakāśād bhede saty anupapatteḥ. tad ahā “avabhāsamāna” iti. […] etac coktaṃ purastād vakṣyate ca.)

(Vivṛti on ĪPK 1.4.3, edited by Raffaele Torella in Mélanges tantriques à la mémoire d'Hélène Brunner, my translation).

For other translations of Utpaladeva's Vivṛti, check the tag "Śaiva" and here.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Not only memory

A subject –according to many philosophers, from John Locke to Sidney Shoemaker– is needed in order to account for memory. In his Vivṛti on ĪPK 1.4.3, Utpaladeva adds the case of projective cognitions, in which one's subjectivity is projected in a future time:

Thus, it is illogical that the perception of a past object and the object become contents of memory if the following two conditions not occur:
1. the manifestation [of the object] within memory at the present time,
2. the fact that there are two kinds of cognitions of the object (i.e., its actual memory and its past experience).
Therefore a subject of memory and experience is said to be established. And this subject consists of the unity made of the [faculty] of bringing together [memory and experience]. Hence [the Vṛttikāra] said "in this way the experience…". With "etc" (in the Vṛtti) a cognition such as the projective knowledge (of the future) is expressed. This has the form "this object will be perceived again by me". And it must be included because the [present] notion of a projective cognition must be brought together also with the experience of a future time.
(tad evaṃ vartamānasmṛtiprakāśatāṃ vinā paurvakālikārthānubhavasya arthasya ca tajjñānadvayātmatāṃ vinā smṛtiviṣayībhāva eva nopapadyata ity uktā smṛtyanubhavayor
anusandhānamayaikarūpātmasiddhiḥ. tad āha “evam anubhava” iti. ādigrahaṇenotprekṣādisaṃvid uktānubhaviṣyate punar artho mayeti bhaviṣyatkālānubhavenāpy utprekṣābuddher anusandhānāt.)

(edited by Raffaele Torella in Mélanges tantriques à la mémoire d'Hélène Brunner, my translation).

For other translations of Utpaladeva's Vivṛti, check the tag "Śaiva" and here.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Do we need priorities?

As a latin motto runs, the things to be learnt are many and our life is short (Ars longa vita brevis), hence, no matter how much we would like to do it, we will not be able to read all the 20 millions of Sanskrit manuscripts waiting to be edited.

Hence, setting priorities is a fundamental task. Priorities are needed not just for theoretical purposes, but also for historical ones. In other words, I am not suggesting that we should decide which texts are theoretically more interesting in order to focus on them and forget the others, just as it happened in Ancient and Classical India. I am an historian of philosophy and am particularly fond of authors deemed to be "minor" or less-significant, because they can help us reconstructing the cultural background of an era, and because they are often more helpful than their well-known predecessors (or successors) in understanding a difficult point.

For instance, no one could start one's journey in Prābhākara Mīmāṃsā reading Prabhākara himself, since his texts are hardly understandable at all (as acknowledged even by his contemporaries). The texts to be understood as ``prioritary" should, by contrast, be the ones which can spread light on the others.

On the importance of reading primers, see here.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Temporal and spatial arrangement

What delimits an abstract entity, like a sacrifice?
Indian thinkers were well aware of the fact that its outer spatial and temporal boundaries might have not been the same as its ideal boundaries. The end (anta) of a sacrifice was not necessarily the same as its completion and the sacrificer should be aware of it, in order to avoid reaching the temporal end of the sacrifice before having reached its completion.
The latter is called saṃsthā, which is an interesting term, meaning at the same time "completion" and "form". In later texts, each sacrifice may have more than one saṃsthā (form) and the various saṃsthā are distinguished because of their completing formulas. In the Śrauta Sūtras, the meaning of "completion" prevails. Lilian Silburn, in her well-known Instant et cause writes that
saṃsthā designates [perhaps because it delimits it] the very structure of the sacrifice (p.60).
Silburn further notes that saṃsthā is the temporal foundation of a sacrifice, whereas pratiṣṭhā is its spatial foundation (see also Thite, Sacrifice in the Brāhmaṇa-Texts, 1975: 274):

saṃsthā consists of a coordination of structures within time, [since] rūpa, the form, is considered to be tantamount to an activity (karman) (p.61).

It might be interesting to note that "temporal" refers to the dynamic aspect of the sacrifice, rather than to its diachronic dimension. The historical dimension of rituals and of their evolution is, by contrast, completely out of sight.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Arranging the sacrifice in space

Mīmāṃsā, Grammar and Kalpasūtra share a common terminology and the more one looks at it, the better one realises how it reflects a spatial (and not temporal) organization of concepts (see these comments). Let me focus on one example.

According to Śabara and all subsequent Mīmāṃsakas, prasaṅga is the topic of 12. Its standard definitions in mature Mīmāṃsā run more or less as follows:
so ’yam anyārthānuṣṭhitāṅgair anyasyo ’pakārarūpaḥ prasaṅgo dvādaśa ucyate (MNS 12.1.1).
This is prasaṅga, which has the form of assistance for one thing by means of subsidiaries performed for the sake of another, and which is spoken of in the Twelfth Book ([Benson 2010, 766]).
In other words, prasaṅga refers to:
• a function
• which applies to more than one item
• insofar as it has been made for the purpose of one item, but then ends up helping another, too.

A further requirement, which is explicit in Śabara and only implicit in the above definition is an explicit prescription prescribing for a certain occurrence the assistance originally performed for a previous one. In fact, since the assistance which is given through prasaṅga is, unlike tantra, not necessary present insofar as it pertains to the structure of the rite, it is only through an explicit prescription that one understands that it is needed.
In other words, all elements prescribed in the context of the Darśapūrṇamāsa sacrifice apply through tantra to all the six rites composing it, independently of whether they are actually needed there, just because the six rite share the same basic procedure (another meaning of tantra). By contrast, the assistance offered through prasaṅga applies to a sacrifice different from the one it had been initially performed for. Therefore it only applies to this later sacrifice if it is explicitly needed there, i.e., if in the later sacrifice there is a prescription enjoining the
same assistance.
To summarize:
tantra | prasaṅga
structural | non structural
applies anyway | applies only if prescribed
same sacrifice |different sacrifice or rite

On tantra and prasaṅga, see here. On tantra and absence, see here. On tantra as a technical term, see here and here.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

How can Sacred Texts be understood?

The theistic traditions posit that it is possible to understand the Sacred Texts by the will of God, who reveals them. In the atheistic Mīmāṃsā, on the other hand, the possibility of understanding is based on our linguistic expertise: We have to rely on worldly meanings of words when reading the Sacred Texts since we have no other key to their interpretation. Hence, the mastery of worldly meanings is a pre-condition for the understanding of a Sacred Text. But what if that text prescribes a kind of duty which is fully new (apūrva), unprecedented, that is, non-attainable through any other (worldly) kind of knowledge? Should it not remain beyond any possible grasp?

This issue raises thought-provoking questions for all theological discourse. How can the non-human be expressed in terms accessible to human beings?

Let me now sketch the problem and its solution within Tantrarahasya IV.

Rāmānujācārya lets a Prābhākara propose the option that even in worldly sentences prescribing something to be done, what one grasps is the pure ``ought", so that one can grasp the ought in itself even in mundane commands (TR IV 9.6). Rāmānujācārya dissents. According to him, it is only through its link to action, which can be experienced even in this world, that we can understand what an ought means, and, hence, understand it even in its apūrva-garb in the Sacred Texts. Thus, Rāmānujācārya confirms the Mīmāṃsā commitment to our common experience even in regard to the Veda.
This final position of Rāmānujācārya has linguistic roots. According to both the Bhāṭṭa and the Prābhākara school of Mīmāṃsā, the relation betweeen a word and the entity it means is fixed (nitya). Nonetheless, this does not mean that everyone, upon hearing for the first time a word, automatically understands its meaning.
Rather, one needs first to acquire proficiency in language through exposure to the usage of elders and through witnessing the connection of this verbal usage to physical actions (both these aspects may be referred to as vyavahāra). E.g., after having heard one's grandfather ordering:“Bring [the] cow!," one sees one's father bringing a cow. Through many similar instances, one eventually learns the meaning of the words “Bring!” and “cow”.

However, according to the Prābhākara Mīmāṃsā, the meaning conveyed by the Veda is a duty (kārya) that is unprecedented (apūrva). Hence, how could it be possible to learn the relation between a word and a meaning in the case of an unprecedented duty (apūrvakārya) through the usage of one's seniors? And if this is not possible, how could one understand the meaning of the Vedic words referring to it?
In fact, the relation between Vedic words and the unprecedented duty is fixed, but a meaning can be grasped only by people who have previously understood, by means of the linguistic usage of senior speakers, the relation between the signifiying word and its meaning. Hence, a relation lying beyond the possibility of being grasped in the usage of senior speakers would be fixed, but unattainable and useless for human beings. Nor can it be said that one can learn the meaning of Vedic words referring to an apūrvakārya through the Veda itself, as in this case there would be a vicious circle (the elders' usage would depend on the Veda, whose understanding depends on the elders' usage).

For some tables on this topic, see here.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Offer and demand in Indology

A close friend looks for someone able to identify secondary sources in Jayanta's Nyāyamañjarī and cannot find any suitable candidate. A colleague looks since months for someone who could collate manuscripts. Several other colleagues tell me how hard it is to find scholars who are willing to help their projects.
In all these cases, the people would be payed well enough (for Indological standards) and I have a long list of acquaintances who are brillant Sanskritists and jobless. So, why does not the offer meet the demand? I can think of two possible solutions:

  1. 1. Sanskritists are not trained to work in a team. Most of all, they are trained to work as lonely scholars and cannot accept to work for someone else's projects.
If so, there is hardly something we can do, apart from trying to make young scholars more aware of what they really want to achieve (does lonely work really work?…). But a different option may be:
  1. 2. There is no way offer can meet demand.
If the latter is the case, one could fancy of a database for people looking/offering temporary jobs for which knowledge of Sanskrit and/or Indian philosophy and/or Indian palaeography is/are required. What do readers think? What is the real answer? And what could help?
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