Sanskrit Biography of Samartha Ramadas Ramadasaswamicharitam – SS Hasurkar 04.
To such Romantic thinkers, India in particular came to be viewed as the cradle of Western civilization, despite what they considered the decadence of many contemporary Hindu customs.
For the sake of convenience, we might date the beginning of this renaissance to the founding in 1784 of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, a scholarly association composed initially of some thirty British civil servants working in Calcutta under the auspices of the East India Trading Company.
Puritan patriarch Cotton Mather had corresponded with Danish missionaries in Madras as far back as the 1720’s, and later in the century, Benjamin Franklin conceived an active interest in Confucianism that later led to a learned exchange with Sir William Jones, with whom he had worked in Paris in the run-up to the American Revolution.
In 1794, Joseph Priestly, a transplanted English Unitarian, produced the first serious study of Asian religions in America, and somewhat later, Hannah Adams included an account of Asian religions in her own comparative survey of world religions.
While the various authors of these studies were often accomplished amateur scholars in their own right, they all worked in one capacity or another for the East India Company and later, the British Raj.
Among the chief contributors to the Society’s work were Sir William Jones (1746-1794), an accomplished philologist, and the Society’s founder and second president, who arrived in Calcutta in 1783 to join the Supreme Court in Bengal; Charles Wilkins (1749-1836), a printer for the East India Company and first European to learn Sanskrit, who produced the first English translation of the Bhagavad Gītā; Henry Thomas Colebrooke (1765-1837), an accountant turned magistrate, who wrote widely on classical Hindu religion and culture; Brian Houghton Hodgson (1800-1894), a British civil servant residing in Nepal, who put together an invaluable collection of Sanskrit manuscripts bearing on the origins and development of Buddhism; and Horace H.It is surprising and at the same time good news that Digital Library of India has a very good collection of Sanskrit biographies of Indian Saints and Heroes like Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, Samartha Ramadas, Guru Gobind Singh, Sivaji, Gandhiji, Rana Pratap, Prithviraj Chauhan, etal.Though it is said that Sanskrit lags in the genre of biography, I could find plenty of books in this genre at the DLI.As colonial subjects themselves, such Indian leaders participated centrally in the tense, politically fraught, ongoing cultural and political exchange between Europe and its Asian colonial possessions.No less significant for modern East-West religious and cultural exchange was D. Suzuki, the great ambassador of Zen in the West, whose work also contributed significantly to modern Japanese self-definition The most conspicuous expression of Emerson’s international outlook was perhaps his precocious and, in retrospect, quite prescient interest in the classical religious and literary traditions of China, Persia and, most especially, Hindu India.For British magistrates working in India, one principal early motive for the acquisition of Sanskrit and the translation of selected Hindu texts was to facilitate political jurisdiction over the Indian population.Jones’s own scholarly program serves as a notable case in point.One of the first Sanskrit texts he chose to translate was the ancient Hindu legal code, the Manu-smṛti or “Laws of Manu”— a choice dictated as much by legal and political considerations as by his own scholarly interest.His groundbreaking translation, which he entitled Although Emerson was arguably the first American to embrace Asian religious and philosophical traditions as an important complement and corrective to biblical traditions, his interest in Asian civilizations was not wholly unprecedented in earlier American colonial history.The Society’s grand ambition was to discover everything that could be known about the human and natural history of the vast Indian subcontinent and to propagate that knowledge for a wider English and European readership.Within a few years, a torrent of translations, monographs, and articles on a wide range of subjects issued from the Society’s press totally transforming European knowledge of several Asian civilizations, past and present.