Twelfth Gonda lecture
2005 | 100 pages | ISBN 90-6984-448-6 | free
In this book the author examines the literary, political, and social-ethical theory - central to defining the 'life-goals' of pleasure, power, and the moral order - produced by scholars in Varanasi in the last century before the coming of European modernity. He tries to understand the nature of this knowledge itself, both in relation to the longer histories of the individual disciplines of which they were part and in respect to the specificities of seventeenth-century thought and to measure the distance between the Indian episteme and its European peer that was soon to emerge as its competitor and eventually conqueror. Pollock juxtaposes to these Indian materials the transforming conceptions of literary, political, and moral theory in early-modern Europe. In many ways Indian and European systematic thought had run along parallel tracks for centuries - until the great divergence that commenced just around this time. Comparative analysis here is complex but important to make sense of how, in intellectual-historical terms at least, Sanskrit culture ultimately lost its extraordinary, age-old power to define the Indian thought world.