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Pali and Sanskrit in Sri Lanka

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  • Jon Fernquest
    Dear Mahipaliha, [I hope you read this, after starting a new thread] ... I was wondering whether you could advise a westerner thinking of studying Pali and
    Message 1 of 3 , Mar 2, 2008
      Dear Mahipaliha,

      [I hope you read this, after starting a new thread]

      > I taught Sanskrit in a Sri Lankan university
      > and courses in Hinduism
      > and Buddhism in a US university. Several non-SL students sought my
      > assistance in learning Pali, which I willingly gave. Now, however,
      > living in retirement, I see the self-assertive aspect of the acdemic
      > enterprise more clearly than I did before.

      I was wondering whether you could advise a westerner thinking of
      studying Pali and Sanskrit in Sri Lanka. Are there foreign students
      from western countries who pursue such graduate studies in Sri Lanka.

      The relation between Pali and Sanskrit is a question that keeps
      arising in my studies and is a topic I would like to pursue in further
      detail. For example, how the different shastra applied sciences
      (astronomy, medicine, arthasastra, etc...) were translated into Pali
      or coexisted alongside Pali and were used in Pali writing, for
      instance. Today someone even sent a query about indigenous Burmese
      astronomical works to the Burma list. I know of one Sanskrit treatise
      but could think of nothing in Pali or Burma-specific. Often searches
      for shastra related books come up empty handed, as if the books had
      been purged or disappeared, or heavily guarded.

      Some examples of questions: Geiger claims an author of the Mahavamsa
      was influenced by Kautilya's Arthasastra. Were Kamandaki's aphorisms
      on political science a condensation of Kautilya's Arthasastra? The
      Thai military treatise Phichai Songkram (Victorious warfare)
      supposedly came from Burma but the title is Sanskrit? Historians of
      Burma often claim that nearby Manipur was a conduit for Sanskrit into
      Burma, but some items of the famous 1442 Pagan book list in Mabel
      Bode's history of Pali literature in Burma are Sanskrit. The four
      upayas (bheda, sama, danda, dana) found in the Mon Rajadhirat history
      seem to come from a Sanskrit source since they are originally found in
      Kautilya's Arthasastra. Much of the Burmese Lokapa~n~natti treatise on
      cosmology was originally Sanskrit (Lokapraj~napti). There seems to be
      a lot of shared intellectual history on the Bay of Bengal with flows
      of people and books between Sri Lanka, Burma, Arakan, and the West
      Coast of India.

      Anyway, sorry if I gave too many examples, but the combination of
      Sanskrit and Pali or Sanskrit in a predominantly Pali culture seems to
      be a perplexing combination.

      Any advise you could give would be appreciated. It is very nice to
      have this opportunity to talk to an expert.

      With metta,
      Jon Fernquest
    • mahipaliha
      ... Dear Jon, I ll try to answer some of your questions, though nowadays this kind of thing doesn t interest me much. This might initiate a long conversation,
      Message 2 of 3 , Mar 3, 2008
        --- In Pali@yahoogroups.com, "Jon Fernquest" <bayinnaung@...> wrote:
        >
        > Dear Mahipaliha,
        >
        > [I hope you read this, after starting a new thread]

        Dear Jon,
        I'll try to answer some of your questions, though nowadays this kind
        of thing doesn't interest me much. This might initiate a long
        conversation, so I need to take time, as I am occupied with some other
        matters right now. And, please, don't treat me as an expert. It feels
        more comfortable to be known as one who is prone to make mistakes.I
        must make it known that I am an 82 year old man with failing memory.
        So pl. don't expect too mush from me.
        Thanks and best wishes.

        Mahipaliha
      • Jon Fernquest
        Dear Mahipaliha ... Don t worry. Thank you for all your help. I m just a beginner who is very happy to have the opportunity to listen to a teacher of Sanskrit.
        Message 3 of 3 , Mar 3, 2008
          Dear Mahipaliha

          > I'll try to answer some of your questions...I
          > must make it known that I am an 82 year old man with failing memory.
          > So pl. don't expect too much from me.

          Don't worry.
          Thank you for all your help.
          I'm just a beginner who is very happy to have the opportunity
          to listen to a teacher of Sanskrit.
          Also I'm very interested in Sri Lanka and its history
          and hope to go there one day.
          Thanks again.

          With metta, Jon Fernquest
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