The classical Indian tradition of panditya (scholarship) has a long and distinguished history, but is practically extinct today. Its decline is remarkably recent — traditional panditya flourished as recently as 150 years ago. The decline is also paradoxical, having occurred precipitously following a broad and remarkable flowering of the tradition between the fifteenth and eighteenth centuries. The important questions this decline poses are the subject of much ongoing work, and the intellectual history of the period is still under construction. The present book makes a major contribution to this project.
A notable impediment facing intellectual historians has been the lack of critical biographies of significant figures in the Indian scholarly tradition. The importance of personal and social context?for reconstructing intellectual histories is widely understood. In the Indian tradition, however, authors have systematically excluded such context from their work. Reliable biographies of figures from the classical tradition of panditya are a rarity — very scarce in English and sparse even in the regional languages.
This book presents translations from the original Kannada of the biographies of Garalapuri Sastri, Srikantha Sastri, and Kunigala Ramasastri of nineteenth-century Mysore, all representing the highest echelons of traditional panditya at this critical period of transition. Their fields are literature, grammar, and logic, respectively.
These biographies illuminate the personal lives of these scholars in the social and political context of their times. They are also detailed and nearly contemporaneous accounts by individuals with first-hand knowledge of these lives. The translations are accompanied by copious footnotes as well as appendices that significantly augment the material in the biographies.
C. V. Ravishankar has pursued life-long interests in the humanities as well as in science and technology. He is Professor of Computer Science & Engineering and Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Education in the Bourns College of Engineering at the University of California, Riverside. Previously, he was on the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science faculty at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. He holds a Ph.D. in Computer Sciences from the University of Wisconsin, Madison.