UItgelichte toekenningen

Gonda Fonds 2019

De Stichting J. Gonda Fonds ondersteunt wetenschappelijk onderzoek naar het Sanskriet, andere klassieke Indische talen, Indische letterkunde en cultuurgeschiedenis.



Rocco Cestola studies yoga and language

Three Aspects of the Absolute, Bulaki 1823, folio 1 from the “Nāth Carit”, Jodhpur, India, 47 × 123 cm. Opaque watercolor, gold and tin alloy on paper, Merhangarh Museum Trust, RJS 2399.

Rocco Cestola is an IIAS fellow with a fellowship from the J. Gonda Fund Foundation. During his fellowship, he will study the Pātañjalayogaśāstra. This is a collection of sutras (aphorisms) on the practice of yoga according to Patañjali, who was a composer of classical yoga texts. From this collection and relative commentaries the so called sphoṭa theory developed, which is “the disclosing of meaning” in the context of verbal communication.

Very little systematic research has been carried out on this Pātañjalayogadarśana philosophy of language. Cestola can now conduct research on this specific theory and the overall role and function of language (śabda). He will link the field of Yoga studies to that of Sanskrit philosophy of language. Cestola’s research contributes to the inclusion of classical and pre-modern South Asian philosophy of language among the wider history of Global Philosophy.

Researching Indology in the Netherlands might seem counterintuitive. But, according to Cestola, the Netherlands offers a functional context for his research. “There is a large and ready availability of primary and secondary sources scattered among the academic libraries. In addition, the Netherlands provides an active, working and creative human network capable of connecting researchers to each other at an international level.”

Yael Shiri researches the way Buddhist clan narratives construct identity

As a Gonda fellow at Leiden University, Yael Shiri will elaborate on her doctoral thesis. “While my doctoral thesis focused only on stories of the Buddha's birth, I will now expand my research to include other narratives and the literature of other Indian Buddhist lineages”, Shiri explains.

In the past few years, she has studied narratives about the Śākyas Buddha's clan, particularly in association with the monastic code of a lineage called the Mūlasarvāstivāda. This lineage, which was one of the most influential in ancient India, disappeared from its homeland in the 13th century. However, it is still the one transmitted by Tibetan Buddhists to this day. Shiri’s work examines the way that stories about the Buddha's family were instrumental in the identity construction of this group. She wants to discover whether or not the Buddha’s genealogy is significant to Buddhists’ identity in this case. “I have always been fascinated with the relationship between narrative construction and issues of identity”, says Shiri. Little research had been done on this topic from a narratological and philological perspective.

Leiden University is an important hub for Indology and Buddhist studies, says Shiri: “I have wanted to be able to do research there for a long time.”