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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



the complex of disciplines associated with the study of the history of the peoples of the Indian subcontinent, their cultural inheritance, ideological views, literature, art, and languages, as well as, in more recent times, the economic, social, and political problems of India.

Indology took shape in Europe in the early 19th century, but the interest of European nations in India dates back to ancient times (Megasthenes, Arrian). During the Middle Ages descriptions of India were provided by Chinese pilgrims (Fa Hsien, fifth century; Hsiian-Tsang, seventh century), scholars writing in Arabic (particularly the Khwarezmian Biruni, 11th century), and later by European travelers (Marco Polo, late 13th century; Afanasii Nikitin, 15th century). The discovery of a sea route to India and the beginning of European colonization brought to the country between the 16th and 18th centuries a large number of Christian missionaries and merchants, who studied local languages and customs. In the late 17th century, officials of colonial companies began to play an important role in collecting and publishing information about India.

During the first period of development of Indology (up to the early 20th century), two tendencies were established: the applied, which was associated with the practical tasks of colonial rule, and the academic, which concentrated on the study of written works and the general historical and philological questions pertaining to the region. Impetus for the emergence of Indology was provided in the late 18th century, when, to resolve administrative and legal questions, British officials turned to the study of works in Sanskrit. W. Jones and H. Colebrooke (Great Britain), among others, acquainted Europe with Sanskrit and with examples of ancient Indian literature. The development of European Indology was facilitated by the rich philological traditions of ancient India, which included detailed principles of textual division, grammar, lexicography, etymology, poetics, and metrics. The mastering of these traditions along with the collecting of original texts and their study was the basic contribution of academic Indology of the 19th century.

In addition to a general interest in the history of the intellectual culture of humanity, European Indology was stimulated by wide diffusion of comparative and historical linguistics based on a study of Sanskrit. Familiarity with Sanskrit motivated F. von Schlegel and F. Bopp (Germany) to undertake a comparison of Indo-European languages. Sanskrit soon became an essential subject at departments of comparative linguistics, which emerged in the largest universities of Europe (including Russia) and the United States. Consequently, comprehensive study of the grammatical structure of Sanskrit was accomplished in the works of T. Benfey and B. Delbriick (Germany), J. Speijer (Holland), W. Whitney (worked in the United States), J. Wackerna-gel (Switzerland), and other scholars; in addition, dictionaries were compiled, the largest of which was the “Petersburg” dictionary of O. Bohtlingk and R. Roth (7 volumes, 1855-75). After Sanskrit, Pali and Prakrit were studied.

Philological research concentrated primarily on the Rigveda and related literature, as in the work of E. Burnouf (France); M. Miiller (worked in Great Britain); H. Grassmann, H. Olden-berg, and K. Geldner (Germany); and M. Bloomfield (USA). Considerable attention was paid to Buddhism, particularly to its southern, or Pali, branch, by C. Lassen, R. Franke, and E. Win-disch (Germany); E. Senart (France); and T. Rhys-Davids (Great Britain). A second important religious movement of Indian antiquity, Jainism, was studied by H. Jacobi and A. Weber (Germany). Masterpieces of epic and classical Sanskrit literature, ancient Indian poetics, philosophical systems, religions (R. G. Bhandarkar, India), and social institutions also received attention. This work mainly involved the publication and annotation of texts and their translation into European languages. With the compilation of descriptions of Sanskrit manuscripts (and of certain other Indian manuscripts as well) from the largest collections of Europe and India, crowned by the publication by T. Aufrecht (Germany) of the first master catalog, the Catalo-gus Catalogorum (3 vols., 1891-1903), it became possible to systematize the enormous amount of available ancient Indian literature, both original and commentative, and to begin the writing of general works. The main achievements of 19th-century Indology were summarized in the Encyclopedia of Indo-Aryan Research (1896-1915), published in Strasbourg.

The applied direction of Indology, developing principally in India itself, proceeded from the interests and needs of the colonial administration. Comparative and historical grammars were written for the Dravidian languages (R. Caldwell, Great Britain) and for modern Indo-Aryan languages (R. G. Bhandarkar of India and J. Beames, A. F. R. Hoernle, S. Kellogg, and E. Trumpp of Great Britain). Studies of the literature written in these languages were also undertaken (J. Garcin de Tassy, France; G. A. Grierson, Great Britain). The collection and study of historical chronicles was undertaken by C. Elliot and G. Dawson (Great Britain); of epigraphic materials by E. Hultzsch and A. Burnell (Great Britain) and J. G. Biihler (Germany); of numismatic materials by E. Rapson and V. A. Smith (Great Britain); of ethnographic materials by W. Crooke, H. Risley, and R. Russell; and of folklore materials by R. Temple (Great Britain) and L. B. De and M. Venkatasvami (India). Geographic reference works on the country as a whole and on individual regions were compiled.

G. S. Lebedev, who left a description of the life and customs of the Indians and a grammar of the Calcutta dialect of Hindustani, was the first Russian Indologist. Since the mid-19th century Sanskrit has been studied in the Academy of Sciences and in a number of universities (R. Kh. Lents, O. Bohtlingk, P. Ia. Petrov, K. A. Kossovich, D. N. Ovsianiko-Kulinovskii). The outstanding Indologist I. P. Minaev, who studied Pali Buddhism, and the sinologist V. P. Vasil’ev established the Russian school of Buddhist studies. This school won worldwide recognition, due to the works of S. F. Ol’denburg and F. I. Shcherbat-skoi, who organized the series Bibliotheca Buddhica (1897—) for publication of northern Buddhist texts.

Development of Indology in the 20th century is characterized by steady growth in all directions, by the inclusion in the field of previously neglected contemporary sociopolitical and economic problems, and by the shift of the center of research activity to India itself, where the development of the national liberation movement at the beginning of the century awakened lively interest in the political and cultural past of the country. This interest was further strengthened after India won independence in 1947. Monograph research of individual problems and fundamental general works constitute an increasing share of Indological literature. Considerable successes have been achieved in the study of history. After the Cambridge History of India (6 vols., 1922-37), written by the British Indologists J. Allan, W. Haig, and other scholars, Indian scholars in the 1950’s and 1960’s, under the chief editorship of R. C. Majumdar, wrote a multi-volume History and Culture of the Indian People, which was preceded by a broad spectrum of individual research (the works of U. Ghosal, D. D. Kosambi, R. Mukerji, K. Pannik-kar, K. Nilakantha Sastri). The advances made by historians are based on major achievements in archaeology (the most significant of these was the discovery of the Indus Valley civilization of the third and second millennia B.C.) and in epigraphy (the discovery and reading of new inscriptions and the compilation of the corpus). Considerable advances were made in the study of the Vedas by L. Sarup and B. Ghosh (India), L. Renou (France), and P. Thieme (Germany).

In philosophy and religion important contributions were made to the study of northern Buddhism by L. de La Vallee Poussin (France), the Russian scholar F. I. Shcherbatskoi, D. Suzuki (Japan), and N. Dutt (India). Detailed studies of the general history of philosophy by S. Radhakrishnan (India) and others have appeared. General works have been written on the history and theory of ancient Indian literature by M. Winternitz (Germany), A. Keith (Great Britain), and S. K. De, P. V. Kane, V. Raghavan, and R. N. Dandekar (India). Modern Indian literatures have also been studied. The compilation of the comprehensive Linguistic Survey of India (Calcutta, 1899-1928) by G. Grierson (Great Britain) stimulated further growth of the scientific study of Indo-Aryan languages (S. Chatterji, S. Sen, S. Katre, and S. Varma of India; J. Bloch of France; and R. Turner of Great Britain) and of Dravidian languages (T. Burrow of Great Britain, M. Emeneau of the United States, and B. Krishnamurti of India).

After World War II studies of the economic and social history of India were expanded in India itself as well as in Western Europe and the United States. Groups of Marxist historians were formed at the University of Delhi (Bipan Chandra), Aligarh University (I. Habib), and the University of Calcutta (D. Chat-topadhyaya, S. Sarkar). The progressive current in studies of the socioeconomic history of India was also represented in the works of the Indian scholars R. Thapar and T. Raychaudhuri.

There were extensive studies of the economic and political problems of contemporary India by D. R. Gadgil, K. N. Raj, S. C. Gupta, and V. B. Singh (India); D. Thorner and C. Bettel-heim (France); D. Rothermund (Federal Republic of Germany); M. Weiner, R. L. Park, and G. Rosen (USA); and W. Morris-Jones (Great Britain).

Sociological and sociologicoethnographic fieldwork has occupied an important position in Indology, as in the works of M. Srinivas and his school in India, L. Dumont in France, and F. Bailey and C. von Fiirer-Haimendorf in Great Britain.

In the USSR, Buddhist and Sanskrit studies have been advanced by P. G. Ritter, D. N. Kudriavskii, R. O. Shor, B. L. Smirnov, V. S. Vorob’ev-Desiatovskii, V. I. Kal’ianov, A. Ia. Syrkin, I. D. Serebriakov, V. G. Erman, P. A. Grintser, and T. Ia. Elizarenkova. Indian philology has been extensively studied by A. P. Barannikov, V. M. Beskrovnyi, E. P. Chelyshev, V. A. Novikova, E. M. Bykova, E. V. Paevskaia, M. S. An-dronov, T. E. Katenina, Z. M. Dymshchits, and A. N. Shama-tov. Research on historical, sociopolitical, and economic factors has been conducted by I. M. Reisner, A. M. Osipov, V. V. Balabushevich, K. A. Antonova, A. M. D’iakov, R. A. Ul’ianovskii, S. M. Mel’man, E. Ia. Liusternik, M. K. Kudriav-tsev, G. G. Kotovskii, E. N. Komarov, G. K. Shirokov, A. I. Levkovskii, G. M. Bongard-Levin, G. F. Il’in, N. P. Anikeev, K. Z. Ashrafian, L. B. Alaev, and V. I. Pavlov.

The characteristic features of Soviet Indology are the use of the theory of Marxism-Leninism as a methodological foundation for research; a shift from political history to the study of economic and social relations; and a lively interest in contemporary problems, such as the national question, the worker and peasant movements, the development of capitalism, and the construction of a national economic system. The amount of scholarly work has grown greatly during the postwar period, and the scope of research is steadily expanding, both chronologically and regionally. This is seen, specifically, in the rapid development of Dravidian studies. A four-volume history of India, dictionaries and grammars of the main languages, and surveys of the development of several literatures have been written. Translations of works from classical and modern literature are being published in mass editions. In recent years Pakistani studies has been distinguished from Indology as an independent discipline (Iu. V. Gankovskii, L. R. Gordon-Polonskaia, V. I. Moskalenko).

In the European socialist countries, along with the development of the traditions of classical Indology by E. Sluszkiewicz (Poland), and W. Ruben, F. Weller, and H. Mode (German Democratic Republic), research has been conducted in modern and recent history by B. Mrozek (Poland), M. Kriiger (German Democratic Republic), and M. Krása (Czechoslovakia) and in economics and politics and national Indian languages and literatures by D. Zbavitel (Czechoslovakia) and other scholars.

The center for Indology in the USSR is the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR (Moscow, Leningrad). Training of Indologists and research work is conducted at the universities of Moscow, Leningrad, Tashkent, Tbilisi, and Tartu, as well as at the Moscow Institute for International Relations. The most important centers of Indology in India are the universities of Calcutta, Delhi, Benares, Bombay, and Madras; Annamalai and Aligarh Muslim universities; Dec-can College (Poona); the Oriental (Baroda), Bhandarkar (Poona), Indie (Kurukshetra), and Vedic (Hoshiarpur) research institutes; the Asiatic Society (Calcutta); and numerous regional local history organizations. In Europe, Indological research is conducted in universities and research institutes of the leading cities. In the United States 16 universities, including Yale, Harvard, and Columbia, have departments of Indology. In Japan, Buddhist studies are extensively developed (Tokyo, Kyoto).

The leading Indological periodicals (in addition to journals devoted to general Oriental studies) are the Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal (Calcutta, 1832—), Journal of the Bombay Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society (Bombay, 1841—), In-dische Studien (Berlin, 1850-98), Indian Antiquary (Bombay, 1872—), Journal of the Pali Text Society (London, 1882-1927), Epigraphia Indica (Calcutta, 1892—), Journal of the Bihar [and Orissa] Research Society (Patna, 1915—), Memoirs of the Archaeological Survey of India (Calcutta, 1919—), Man in India (Ranchi, 1921—), Indian Historical Quarterly (Calcutta, 1925—), Indian Geographical Journal (Madras, 1926—), Journal of the Greater Indian Society (Calcutta, 1934—), Annals of the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute (Poona, 1918—), Journal of the Oriental Institute (Baroda, 1951—) Indian Linguistics (Poona, 1931—), Indo-Iranian Journal (The Hague, 1957—), and Indian Studies: Past and Present (Calcutta, 1960—).


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The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.