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The Pandit -Traditional Scholarship In India
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The Pandit -Traditional Scholarship In India
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About The Book

In January 1999, the distinguished scholar Pandit Dr. Parameswara Aithal retired from his position at Heidelberg University. To mark this occasion, Prof. Axel Michaels organized a symposium on the institution of the Pandit and the future of traditional Sanskrit scholarship in India and the West.

Pt. Aithal, an internationally esteemed expert in Dharmashastra and manuscriptology, was born in Kota (Karnataka). He received his early Sanskrit education in the traditional method at home and became a staff member of the Adyar Library and Research Centre, Chennai, in 1962. In 1968, he joined the South Asia Institute, Heidelberg University, as a Sanskrit lecturer where he stayed for about thirty years.

The present volume containes the learned papers of the conference which cover a wide range of topics, e.g.:

the pandit as a private scholar, university teacher, public intellectual or legal adviser;

traditional ways of Sanskrit teaching and learning, especially the methods of memorization and transfer of traditional knowledge;

the relevance of traditional Sanskrit grammar for the learning of Sanskrit;

the prestige of Sanskrit and the social standing of pandits;

the special guru-shishya-relationship;

the relationship between pandit and professor in academic systems;

life histories of some well-known pandits such as Krishnashastri Chiplunkar, Hazari Prasad Dvivedi, Gopinath Kaviraj, V.S. Apte, and others

the role of Tantrik pandits. The contributors of this Festschrift are friends and colleagues of Pandit  Aithal."

About the Author

Axel Michaels, studied Indology, Philosophy and Law in Munich, Hamburg and Varanasi. He was Director of the Nepal Research Centre (Kathmandu), Spalding Visiting Fellow at Wolfson College (Oxford), and Professor for the History of Religions at the University of Berne. Since 1996 he is Professor of Classical Indology at the South Asia Institute, University of  Heidelberg.

Foreword

Dr. K. Parameswara Aithal was born into a family of village priests and Sanskrit scholars in Kota, an idyllic hamlet of Canarese brahmins, on 18 January 1934. He received his early education in the traditional method at home and was initiated according to family tradition at the age of eight. After studying Srauta-, Grhya-, Dharmasastra- as well as related literature, and the knowledge specifically pertaining to priesthood with traditional pandits, he participated and officiated in Srauta rituals and Grhya ceremonies and other rites of the family procession for a period of ten years. After studying Sanskrit at home and in the Vani Vilasini Sanskrit School at Saligrama (two miles from his home) for five years, he appeared for the Sanskrit Entrance Examination of Madras University in 1951, joined the Maharaja's Sanskrit College at Mysore in 1952, studied sastras for five years, taking the advaitavedanta of Sankara as a special subject, and passed both the Inter (1955) and the Final (1957) "Vidvan" Examinations with highest honours. In 1959, he joined the A.P. College of Arts and Commerce in Bangalore and was awarded the Bachelor of Arts in 1961. In 1965, he was awarded the Master of Arts by Karnatak University of Dharwar as an external student. For his dissertation "Non-Rigvedic citations in the Asvalayana Srautasutra" he was awarded the doctorate of philosophy (Ph.D) by the Karnataka University at Dharwar in 1970.

He joined the Adyar Library and Research Centre, Madras, in 1962 as a pandit and was the Curator of the Sanskrit Mss. Section of the Library until 1970. During this period he worked on Sanskrit Mss. and published several volumes of descriptive catalogues and edited rare Sanskrit texts. After many years of research, a sudden change took place in Pandit Aithal's life. Professor J. Duncan M. Derrett of the University of London, who had worked with him previously on Dharmasastra, recommended him for appointment as a teacher at the South Asia Institute of the University of Heidelberg. The late professor Gunther Sontheimer (1933 - 1992) and I got the opportunity of meeting Pandit Aithal at the library of the Theosophical Society at Adyar, Madras, during the International Congress of Tamil at Madras in 1968. We felt that Professor Derrett had been right in his assessment and were happy to learn that Pandit Aithal was willing to come to Heidelberg as a staff member.

It must have been an unexpected and exciting change for him to leave India and the idyllic atmosphere of his home in Karnataka, the Ashram where he spoke Sanskrit as the language of everyday life, and his training as as a Srauta priest. However, in a remarkably short period of time he and his family became true Heidelbergers and he was able to teach his students in excellent German. He fully accepted the Western approach to philology, at the same time remaining faithful to panditship and Indian thinking.

The South Asia Institute of the University of Heidelberg stands in considerable debt to Pandit Aithal for his untiring efforts over the course of nearly thirty years. He was an infallible authority on Sanskrit grammar and literature both for students and staff members who sought his advice in difficult matters. With his help we completed our syllabus of Indology. Together with him we had lectures and seminars on Panini, Alamkarasastra, the Dhvanyaloka, and the text highly admired and feared by Western scholars for its difficulty, the Vakyapadiya of Bhartrhari. Unforgettable for those who took part was a seminar of two semesters on Pasubandha, the description of Vedic animal sacrifice. The terse text of the sastra was illuminated by a man who had performed the sacrifice himself and was, therefore, able to explain details which would otherwise have remained obscure to a Western reader.

In addition to his teaching duties, Pandit Aithal made invaluable contributions to research on vedalaksana or Vedic ancillary literature, a field little known in Western philology. As a brahmin and Srauta priest he had easy access to orthodox circles, and was thus able to rescue valuable materials that otherwise would have fallen into oblivion.

Pandit Aithal possesses all the qualities that have been expected of a true pandit since time immemorial in India. His modesty is only equalled by his learning; he selflessly grants his help to anyone who asks for it. His balanced, cheerful character makes him a most pleasant companion. He has now left our institute, but, we are happy to say that it will not be forever. What is left for me to do is to thank him for all his efforts and help, and wish him good health and happiness for many years to come.

Preface

The present volume is a result of an international colloquium "The Pandit: The Future of Traditional Sanskrit Scholarship" organized at the Internationales Wissenschaftsforum Heidelberg, July 12-14, 1999, in honour of Pandit Parameshwara Aithal, who served at the South Asia Institute, Ruprecht-Karls-University of Heidelberg, for about thirty years.

My intention in organizing this conference was twofold: Firstly and above all, I wished to thank Pt. Dr. Aithal for his long selfless service at our institute. Secondly, I held the occasion of Dr. Aithal's retirement an apt possibility to combine it with a discussion on the future of the institution of the pandit in the educational system not only of India, but also of the West. For both these reasons pandits and scholars from India, who worked in Western indological institutes for many years, were invited: A. Aklujkar, M. Deshpande, S. Sharma Peri and G. C. Tripathi, although, G. C. Tripathi could unfortunately not participate in the conference due to administrative reasons. However, he kindly faxed his paper to the conference hall where it was summarized by A. Aklujkar.

To our deep regret, Sarweswara Sharma Peri, who displayed enjoyable examples of his recitation skills at the conference, passed away on March 17, 2000, during the preparation of the present publication. S. Sharma Peri was born on May 15, 1926, in the village Pedanandipalli Agraharam, Viskha District, Andhra Pradesh. From 1964 until his retirement in 1991 he was a "Lektor" in the Department of Indology, University of Marburg, teaching Hindi, Telugu and Sanskrit. He has come to be a renowned specialist in Sanskrit grammar, particularly Bhartrhari, and Indian astrology. In 1972 he published in New Delhi his thesis entitled "The Kalasamuddesa of Bhartrhari's Vakyapadiya, together with Helaraja's commentary translated from the Sanskrit for the first time". In everything he did, the traditional Sanskrit training combined with philological methodology in the tradition of his teacher Wilhelm Rau (1922-1999) was evident. Many students used his collection of one hundred subhasitas called Sataslokena Pandita" ("By learning hundred verses one becomes wise"), which he published 1982 in a mimeographed form and which was praised by Wilhelm Rau in his preface with the following words: "All who peruse these Sanskrit subhasitas will certainly get a whiff of the indiscribably enchanting atmosphere to be met with only in an Indian pathasala!" Since S. Sharma Peri's early years in India are typical of a traditional pandit, I shall also refer to his training and education in India in my paper in the Introduction, based upon the manuscript of the paper he presented during the conference.'

I am extremely grateful to many friends, colleagues and institutions for their help during the conference and the editing process: Hermann Berger, my predecessor at Heidelberg University, for his long support of Pt. Aithal, Ashok Aklujkar for his kind offer of a second introductory paper to this volume, and Albrecht Wezler, my indological "guru", for his guidance and encouraging comments throughout the years. I am deeply thankful to Thomas Lehmann, a student of H. Berger and P. Aithal, who helped not only in proof-reading but also carefully prepared the camera-ready copy of this book with the LATEX programme. My colleagues at the South Asia Institute, Jorg Gengnagel, Srilata Muller, Thomas Lehmann, Birgit Mayer-Konig, kindly supported me in the editorial process. Elfrun Linke helped me to organize the conference. Last not least, many thanks are due to Audrey Chapot, Michaela Dimmers, Katja Ehrhardt, and Carmen Hoffmann for the organizational help during the conference and/or re-typing manuscripts. It goes without mentioning that I alone am responsible for any editorial mistakes or shortcomings.

We received generous financial support from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, Stiftung Universitat Heidelberg, and Gesellschaft der Freunde des Sudasien-Instituts. I am also thankful for the friendly hospitality of the Internationales Wissenschaftsforum Heidelberg (personalized for me in Theresa Reiter and her staff).

**Contents and Sample Pages**












The Pandit -Traditional Scholarship In India

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About The Book

In January 1999, the distinguished scholar Pandit Dr. Parameswara Aithal retired from his position at Heidelberg University. To mark this occasion, Prof. Axel Michaels organized a symposium on the institution of the Pandit and the future of traditional Sanskrit scholarship in India and the West.

Pt. Aithal, an internationally esteemed expert in Dharmashastra and manuscriptology, was born in Kota (Karnataka). He received his early Sanskrit education in the traditional method at home and became a staff member of the Adyar Library and Research Centre, Chennai, in 1962. In 1968, he joined the South Asia Institute, Heidelberg University, as a Sanskrit lecturer where he stayed for about thirty years.

The present volume containes the learned papers of the conference which cover a wide range of topics, e.g.:

the pandit as a private scholar, university teacher, public intellectual or legal adviser;

traditional ways of Sanskrit teaching and learning, especially the methods of memorization and transfer of traditional knowledge;

the relevance of traditional Sanskrit grammar for the learning of Sanskrit;

the prestige of Sanskrit and the social standing of pandits;

the special guru-shishya-relationship;

the relationship between pandit and professor in academic systems;

life histories of some well-known pandits such as Krishnashastri Chiplunkar, Hazari Prasad Dvivedi, Gopinath Kaviraj, V.S. Apte, and others

the role of Tantrik pandits. The contributors of this Festschrift are friends and colleagues of Pandit  Aithal."

About the Author

Axel Michaels, studied Indology, Philosophy and Law in Munich, Hamburg and Varanasi. He was Director of the Nepal Research Centre (Kathmandu), Spalding Visiting Fellow at Wolfson College (Oxford), and Professor for the History of Religions at the University of Berne. Since 1996 he is Professor of Classical Indology at the South Asia Institute, University of  Heidelberg.

Foreword

Dr. K. Parameswara Aithal was born into a family of village priests and Sanskrit scholars in Kota, an idyllic hamlet of Canarese brahmins, on 18 January 1934. He received his early education in the traditional method at home and was initiated according to family tradition at the age of eight. After studying Srauta-, Grhya-, Dharmasastra- as well as related literature, and the knowledge specifically pertaining to priesthood with traditional pandits, he participated and officiated in Srauta rituals and Grhya ceremonies and other rites of the family procession for a period of ten years. After studying Sanskrit at home and in the Vani Vilasini Sanskrit School at Saligrama (two miles from his home) for five years, he appeared for the Sanskrit Entrance Examination of Madras University in 1951, joined the Maharaja's Sanskrit College at Mysore in 1952, studied sastras for five years, taking the advaitavedanta of Sankara as a special subject, and passed both the Inter (1955) and the Final (1957) "Vidvan" Examinations with highest honours. In 1959, he joined the A.P. College of Arts and Commerce in Bangalore and was awarded the Bachelor of Arts in 1961. In 1965, he was awarded the Master of Arts by Karnatak University of Dharwar as an external student. For his dissertation "Non-Rigvedic citations in the Asvalayana Srautasutra" he was awarded the doctorate of philosophy (Ph.D) by the Karnataka University at Dharwar in 1970.

He joined the Adyar Library and Research Centre, Madras, in 1962 as a pandit and was the Curator of the Sanskrit Mss. Section of the Library until 1970. During this period he worked on Sanskrit Mss. and published several volumes of descriptive catalogues and edited rare Sanskrit texts. After many years of research, a sudden change took place in Pandit Aithal's life. Professor J. Duncan M. Derrett of the University of London, who had worked with him previously on Dharmasastra, recommended him for appointment as a teacher at the South Asia Institute of the University of Heidelberg. The late professor Gunther Sontheimer (1933 - 1992) and I got the opportunity of meeting Pandit Aithal at the library of the Theosophical Society at Adyar, Madras, during the International Congress of Tamil at Madras in 1968. We felt that Professor Derrett had been right in his assessment and were happy to learn that Pandit Aithal was willing to come to Heidelberg as a staff member.

It must have been an unexpected and exciting change for him to leave India and the idyllic atmosphere of his home in Karnataka, the Ashram where he spoke Sanskrit as the language of everyday life, and his training as as a Srauta priest. However, in a remarkably short period of time he and his family became true Heidelbergers and he was able to teach his students in excellent German. He fully accepted the Western approach to philology, at the same time remaining faithful to panditship and Indian thinking.

The South Asia Institute of the University of Heidelberg stands in considerable debt to Pandit Aithal for his untiring efforts over the course of nearly thirty years. He was an infallible authority on Sanskrit grammar and literature both for students and staff members who sought his advice in difficult matters. With his help we completed our syllabus of Indology. Together with him we had lectures and seminars on Panini, Alamkarasastra, the Dhvanyaloka, and the text highly admired and feared by Western scholars for its difficulty, the Vakyapadiya of Bhartrhari. Unforgettable for those who took part was a seminar of two semesters on Pasubandha, the description of Vedic animal sacrifice. The terse text of the sastra was illuminated by a man who had performed the sacrifice himself and was, therefore, able to explain details which would otherwise have remained obscure to a Western reader.

In addition to his teaching duties, Pandit Aithal made invaluable contributions to research on vedalaksana or Vedic ancillary literature, a field little known in Western philology. As a brahmin and Srauta priest he had easy access to orthodox circles, and was thus able to rescue valuable materials that otherwise would have fallen into oblivion.

Pandit Aithal possesses all the qualities that have been expected of a true pandit since time immemorial in India. His modesty is only equalled by his learning; he selflessly grants his help to anyone who asks for it. His balanced, cheerful character makes him a most pleasant companion. He has now left our institute, but, we are happy to say that it will not be forever. What is left for me to do is to thank him for all his efforts and help, and wish him good health and happiness for many years to come.

Preface

The present volume is a result of an international colloquium "The Pandit: The Future of Traditional Sanskrit Scholarship" organized at the Internationales Wissenschaftsforum Heidelberg, July 12-14, 1999, in honour of Pandit Parameshwara Aithal, who served at the South Asia Institute, Ruprecht-Karls-University of Heidelberg, for about thirty years.

My intention in organizing this conference was twofold: Firstly and above all, I wished to thank Pt. Dr. Aithal for his long selfless service at our institute. Secondly, I held the occasion of Dr. Aithal's retirement an apt possibility to combine it with a discussion on the future of the institution of the pandit in the educational system not only of India, but also of the West. For both these reasons pandits and scholars from India, who worked in Western indological institutes for many years, were invited: A. Aklujkar, M. Deshpande, S. Sharma Peri and G. C. Tripathi, although, G. C. Tripathi could unfortunately not participate in the conference due to administrative reasons. However, he kindly faxed his paper to the conference hall where it was summarized by A. Aklujkar.

To our deep regret, Sarweswara Sharma Peri, who displayed enjoyable examples of his recitation skills at the conference, passed away on March 17, 2000, during the preparation of the present publication. S. Sharma Peri was born on May 15, 1926, in the village Pedanandipalli Agraharam, Viskha District, Andhra Pradesh. From 1964 until his retirement in 1991 he was a "Lektor" in the Department of Indology, University of Marburg, teaching Hindi, Telugu and Sanskrit. He has come to be a renowned specialist in Sanskrit grammar, particularly Bhartrhari, and Indian astrology. In 1972 he published in New Delhi his thesis entitled "The Kalasamuddesa of Bhartrhari's Vakyapadiya, together with Helaraja's commentary translated from the Sanskrit for the first time". In everything he did, the traditional Sanskrit training combined with philological methodology in the tradition of his teacher Wilhelm Rau (1922-1999) was evident. Many students used his collection of one hundred subhasitas called Sataslokena Pandita" ("By learning hundred verses one becomes wise"), which he published 1982 in a mimeographed form and which was praised by Wilhelm Rau in his preface with the following words: "All who peruse these Sanskrit subhasitas will certainly get a whiff of the indiscribably enchanting atmosphere to be met with only in an Indian pathasala!" Since S. Sharma Peri's early years in India are typical of a traditional pandit, I shall also refer to his training and education in India in my paper in the Introduction, based upon the manuscript of the paper he presented during the conference.'

I am extremely grateful to many friends, colleagues and institutions for their help during the conference and the editing process: Hermann Berger, my predecessor at Heidelberg University, for his long support of Pt. Aithal, Ashok Aklujkar for his kind offer of a second introductory paper to this volume, and Albrecht Wezler, my indological "guru", for his guidance and encouraging comments throughout the years. I am deeply thankful to Thomas Lehmann, a student of H. Berger and P. Aithal, who helped not only in proof-reading but also carefully prepared the camera-ready copy of this book with the LATEX programme. My colleagues at the South Asia Institute, Jorg Gengnagel, Srilata Muller, Thomas Lehmann, Birgit Mayer-Konig, kindly supported me in the editorial process. Elfrun Linke helped me to organize the conference. Last not least, many thanks are due to Audrey Chapot, Michaela Dimmers, Katja Ehrhardt, and Carmen Hoffmann for the organizational help during the conference and/or re-typing manuscripts. It goes without mentioning that I alone am responsible for any editorial mistakes or shortcomings.

We received generous financial support from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, Stiftung Universitat Heidelberg, and Gesellschaft der Freunde des Sudasien-Instituts. I am also thankful for the friendly hospitality of the Internationales Wissenschaftsforum Heidelberg (personalized for me in Theresa Reiter and her staff).

**Contents and Sample Pages**












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