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The Language of the Gods in the World of…

The Language of the Gods in the World of Men: Sanskrit, Culture, and Power… (2006)

by Sheldon Pollock

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This highly academic work will be appealing only to those who are interested in pre-modern India, Sanskrit, the Sanskrit culture, and influence of Sanskrit on the many 'local' cultures of India and South Asia. The scope of the subject is endless. The book does not read like a novel, but easy enough for the involved reader. The language power of this University Professor of Sanskrit and Indic Studies is amazing.

The research and genius that is put into this work is mind-boggling, especially coming from a 'foreigner'. This author is no foreigner to India or South Asia. He has studied the subject in detail more than most Asians.

Each chapter has the scope of being expanded to another book. The author acknowledges the unlimited scope of the issues raised.

The issues discussed are too numerous to mention and highly analytical in nature. Of the many discussions, the processes the author has chosen to tackle the definition of vernaculars and 'vernacularization' are very interesting. The reader may find them pleasing and intermittently amusing. The attempt and effort are painstaking, and the product (the many chapters and the whole book) is phenomenal. The author may have been more influenced by the Kannada culture than any other, because of his association with scholars from the Karnataka.

Many Indians may not welcome the many brave and candid statements such as Mahabharata is political, to name just one.

The endeavour has paid off and the result is brilliant. ( )
1 vote uma1 | Jan 15, 2012 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0520260031, Paperback)

In this work of impressive scholarship, Sheldon Pollock explores the remarkable rise and fall of Sanskrit, India's ancient language, as a vehicle of poetry and polity. He traces the two great moments of its transformation: the first around the beginning of the Common Era, when Sanskrit, long a sacred language, was reinvented as a code for literary and political expression, the start of an amazing career that saw Sanskrit literary culture spread from Afghanistan to Java. The second moment occurred around the beginning of the second millennium, when local speech forms challenged and eventually replaced Sanskrit in both the literary and political arenas. Drawing striking parallels, chronologically as well as structurally, with the rise of Latin literature and the Roman empire, and with the new vernacular literatures and nation-states of late-medieval Europe, The Language of the Gods in the World of Men asks whether these very different histories challenge current theories of culture and power and suggest new possibilities for practice.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:06 -0400)

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