Sunday, May 2, 2010

Digital memory

As Prabhu, a 12th-century mystic, says in a Kannada vachana, it is sometimes strange to see a connection between two disparate things or happenings, but it can, nevertheless, be a reality. Similarly, it may be difficult to associate N.R. Narayana Murthy, an eminent technologist, with a project on Indian classical literature at Harvard University, but it is, indeed, a reality. So much of a reality, in fact, that this project might just, in the time to come, overshadow the legacy Narayana Murthy has left behind at Infosys.

Less than a fortnight ago, Harvard University announced that the ‘Murthy family of Bangalore’ had established a new publication series called the Murthy Classical Library Series (MCLI) with a generous gift of $5.2 million. It also announced that renowned scholar Sheldon Pollock, who is currently Ransford Professor of Sanskrit and Indian studies at Columbia University, had been named the general editor of the volumes.

Although there have been many such classical series published by various institutions, including Harvard itself, like the Loeb Classical Library or the Clay Sanskrit Library, or the earliest of all—Max Mueller’s 50-volume Sacred Books of the East series, what sets this exercise apart is that it makes a significant departure from the Orientalist project of the last couple of centuries, by aiming to look beyond Sanskrit and religion, and dipping into India’s multilingual literary heritage. In other words, the Murthy series seeks to broaden the idea of India. It promises to be pluralistic and inclusive.

Full report here Outlook

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