The problem of early modernity in the Sanskrit intellectual tradition

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The problem of early modernity in the Sanskrit intellectual tradition

Type: Article / Letter to editor
Title: The problem of early modernity in the Sanskrit intellectual tradition
Author: Pollock, S.
Source: IIAS Newsletter, 43, 8 - 9 (2007)
Publisher: IIAS, Leiden
Issue Date: 2007
Keywords: History
Sanskrit
Modernity
Abstract: Anyone who aims to discuss the Sanskrit intellectual tradition of the early modern period is required to preface his exposition with two remarks. The first is the typical caution offered by those in a new field of research, though in this case the caution truly has bite. Sanskrit science and scholarship from the 16th through the 18th centuries has only just begun to attract the attention of scholars. In addition, the vast majority of texts have never been published, and some of these are housed in libraries and archives where access is either difficult or impossible. The second remark concerns a rather atypical language restriction on our problematic. In striking contrast to China or the Middle East, while somewhat comparable to Western Europe, India in the early modern period shows a multiplicity of written languages for the cultivation of science and scholarship. But two of these, Sanskrit and Persian, monopolised the field, and did so in ways that were both parallel and nonintersecting. Each constituted the principal language of science for its associated social-religious sphere, while very few scholars were proficient in both (at least aside from mathematicians and astronomers, and even these were very much in the minority). Sanskrit continued its pervasive, age-old dominance in the Hindu scholarly community, and merits consideration as a completely self-contained intellectual formation. With those two clarifications in mind we can proceed to ask what actually occurred in the world of Sanskrit knowledge during the early modern period, and how a comparative analysis may illuminate the general problem of modernity.
Handle: http://hdl.handle.net/1887/12783
 

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