SI-1 Paper Abstract
Title: The Science and Nescience of Śāstra
The interpretations of śāstra as done by Professor Sheldon Pollock (hereafter Pollock) are critically appraised in this paper, with a firm grounding in the traditional perspectives and vocabularies of the vidyā-s (poorly translated by Pollock as theory) – as practiced (śāstra) by actual practitioners of the Vedic tradition. The foundational perspectives and motivations that have driven the theorization of the grammars and metaphors of Indian Knowledge Systems, and the practices derived thereof are examined. It is proposed that the current Western theses on śāstra derive from a deep ignorance – a veritable nescience. The primacy, undilutability, and non-negotiable nature of a sacred perspective (saṁskāra) whilst interpreting Sanskrit texts on Indic knowledge systems are established. The flawed and incorrect use of philology by Pollock and its overall nebulous nature is explicated. The limitation of the scientific method in interpreting śāstra is discussed. The non-empirical, non-verifiable and unscientific nature of the methods used by Pollock to make his claims, are highlighted.
The aim, purpose and science of any śāstra is to lead the practitioner on the path to a holistically (nature included) harmonious existence. The scope and role of śāstra is beyond that of Science or Religion (as the West currently knows/interprets the two words). Unless this universality of aim is acknowledged and more importantly reinforced and realized by its practice – Western scholarship will continue to provide nebulous and incorrect etic1 interpretations of Indic knowledge systems driven by nescience.
SI-3 Paper Abstract
Title: The Science and Nescience of Comparative Linguistics: Examining the nature and veracity of Comparative Linguistics with implications to the Aryan-Dravidian hypotheses
The two century year old “field” of study of Comparative (Historical) Linguistics (henceforth CL) is critically examined along various dimensions – primarily its evolutionary drivers, the nature of its methods, the supposedly scientific nature of its theories, the assumptions underlying its theories and its socio-political agenda. What are the kinds of questions that Comparative Linguistics tries to ask and provide answers to? Are there alternative approaches and models to engage with these questions? Given the poorly formulated basis of language and its understanding in the West compared to the traditional Indian approaches to language and meaning – Are there scientific models of language and language evolution that this field of study is based on? What would the future of Comparative (historical/diachronic) Linguistics look like if this field is given a basis in computational models and frameworks instead of wordlists and theses based on morphology and phonology? What is the traditional Indian perspective on such approaches to theorising about language evolution? As an illustrative case-study (using data) of the larger issues that plague CL, the nature of the Indo-European and Dravidian as language classifications are explicated. Are these language families even valid classifications? We examine many of these issues critically and lay out a comprehensive agenda for a bias-free, scientific and modern Comparative Linguistics.