Abstracts of Dr. Jayaraman Mahadevan

SI-2 Paper Abstract

Title: On “Feeding Tubes” and “Oxygen Tanks” for Sanskrit

This paper focuses upon one statement from the paper “The Death of Sanskrit” (2001) of Prof. Sheldon Pollock which is- “Government feeding tubes and oxygen tanks may try to preserve the language in a state of quasi-animation, but most observers would agree that, in some crucial way, Sanskrit is dead.” (Pollock 2001: 393) There are two clear implications from this statement. Firstly – he implies that without the sponsorship of the Government, even the perceived ‘quasi-animate’ state of Sanskrit would not have been possible. Secondly – that the public and non-governmental players did not have any role at all in safe-guarding Sanskrit as Sanskrit has been never the language of the masses.

The First Sanskrit Commission report, hereafter, the Commission, assumes significance in this context. The Commission was constituted by the Government of India in 1956 with Dr. Suniti Kumar Chatterji as its chairman. Seven other scholars of repute from various parts of the country were its members. The Commission crisscrossed the length and breadth of the country. In the words of the Commission’s report “…to consider the question of the present state of Sanskrit Education in all its aspects” (Sanskrit Commission of India Report 1957:1). What does the study of the Sanskrit Commission’s detailed report reveal? Nearly five decades prior to the statement of Pollock in question (and its implications), one finds well researched facts and observations that render Pollock’s statement redundant, or rather, ridiculous. It is also interesting to note that Pollock has taken care not mention this report in his paper. Thus, this paper endeavors to juxtapose various observations from the overlooked First Sanskrit Commission Report, that fly in the face of Pollock’s aforementioned statement, and allow the readers to see for themselves the flaws and blemishes of Pollock’s understanding of the status of Sanskrit.

SI-3 paper abstract

Title: Rediscovering the Lost Bridges: Tantrayukti Tandiravutti, An Ancient Pan-Indian, Trans-lingual, Text-construction Manual

Tamil literature, through millennia of its existence, has evolved methods or conventions of presentation and interpretations of literary texts and topics. Tantrayukti-s denoted as Tandiravutti-s or Utti-s in Tamil is one such set of text construction devices. The doctrine of Tantrayukti is called Tandiravuttis or merely Utti-s in Tamil literature. Utti is defined by the Tamil Lexicon (1982) as “Devices adopted in standard literary works”. Utti-s in Tamil are given as list of 32 devices either at the end or at the beginning of the text. In the Tamil literary tradition the history of utilization of this doctrine for text construction could be traced from 1st century B.C.E approximately (Tolkāppiyam) to 18th century C.E. (Cuvāminātham (18 or 19th century CE) i.e for about 1900 years. It is interesting to note that the same Tantrayukti doctrine is present in Sanskrit textual

tradition also. The presence of the doctrine in Sanskrit literature can be traced from 3rd century B.C.E. approx. (Arthaśāstra) to 12th century C.E (Vāmakeśvarītantra) i.e. for over 1400 years. Such an important doctrine in ancient Indian literary tradition has relevance and practical utility.

  1. The knowledge of the Tantrayukti doctrine would help in systematically understanding the structure and the contents of ancient Indian texts cutting across languages.
  2. The comparative studies of the texts between Indian literary traditions can be more structured and systematic with the knowledge of the Tantrayukti doctrine that is found in various literary traditions.
  3. The doctrine of Tantrayukti can be used as a guidebook for construction and interpretation of texts by authors and scholars in current topics of the contemporary era. It is impossible to realize the various promising outcomes from this doctrine unless the source of the doctrine is thoroughly studied and data emerging from it is consolidated and organized into a usable document in current context. It is unfortunate that not much has been done regarding this vital element of Tamil-Sanskrit connection. This paper does not propose to solve all the issues related to Tantrayukti doctrine. The limited objective of this paper is to re-introduce the doctrine to the world of scholars, emphasize its importance, indicate the problems and underline the need to strategically invest time and resources in recognizing and utilizing this piece of Pan-Indian Trans-lingual textual methodology document. Once this is done, it would help to set the ‘insider’s norms and standards’ to understand, evaluate Indian literature of the past and also serve as a golden standard for future linguistic creations.