The Nay-Science: A History of German Indology

Paperback | June 3, 2014

byVishwa Adluri, Joydeep Bagchee

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Vishwa Adluri and Joydeep Bagchee undertake a careful and rigorous hermeneutical approach to nearly two centuries of German philological scholarship on the Mahabharata and the Bhagavad Gita. Analyzing the intellectual contexts of this scholarship, beginning with theological debates thatcentered on Martin Luther's solefidian doctrine and proceeding to scientific positivism via analyses of disenchantment (Entzauberung), German Romanticism, pantheism (Pantheismusstreit), and historicism, they show how each of these movements progressively shaped German philology's encounter with theIndian epic. They demonstrate that, from the mid-nineteenth century on, this scholarship contributed to the construction of a supposed "Indo-Germanic" past, which Germans shared racially with the Mahabharata's warriors. Building on nationalist yearnings and ongoing Counter-Reformation anxieties,scholars developed the premise of Aryan continuity and supported it by a "Brahmanical hypothesis," according to which supposedly later strata of the text represented the corrupting work of scheming Brahmin priests. Adluri and Bagchee focus on the work of four Mahabharata scholars and eight scholars of the Bhagavad Gita, all of whom were invested in the idea that the text-critical task of philology as a scientific method was to identify a text's strata and interpolations so that, by displaying what hadaccumulated over time, one could recover what remained of an original or authentic core. The authors show that the construction of pseudo-histories for the stages through which the Mahabharata had supposedly passed provided German scholars with models for two things: 1) a convenient pseudo-historyof Hinduism and Indian religions more generally; and 2) a platform from which to say whatever they wanted to about the origins, development, and corruption of the Mahabharata text. The book thus challenges contemporary scholars to recognize that the 'Brahmanic hypothesis' (the thesis that Brahmanic religion corrupted an original, pure and heroic Aryan ethical and epical worldview), an unacknowledged tenet of much Western scholarship to this day, was not and probably nolonger can be an innocuous thesis. The 'corrupting' impact of Brahmanical 'priestcraft,' the authors show, served German Indology as a cover under which to disparage Catholics, Jews, and other 'Semites.'

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Vishwa Adluri and Joydeep Bagchee undertake a careful and rigorous hermeneutical approach to nearly two centuries of German philological scholarship on the Mahabharata and the Bhagavad Gita. Analyzing the intellectual contexts of this scholarship, beginning with theological debates thatcentered on Martin Luther's solefidian doctrine an...

Vishwa Adluri is Adjunct Professor of Religion at Hunter College. Joydeep Bagchee is Lecturer in Philosophy at Philipps-Universitat Marburg.

other books by Vishwa Adluri

Format:PaperbackDimensions:416 pages, 9.25 × 6.12 × 0.68 inPublished:June 3, 2014Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199931364

ISBN - 13:9780199931361

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Table of Contents

IntroductionA History of German IndologyThe History of German Indology as a History of MethodThe Origins of the Historical-Critical Method in Neo-Protestantism of the 18th CenturyThe Origins of Philology in the Argument for the Immortality of the SoulDefining the Scope of InquiryPlan of Study1. Historical Identity and Narrative Constructs in an Indo-Germanic SettingThe Birth of German Mahabharata StudiesThe Indo-Germanic Original Epic:The Buddhist Poetic CompositionBuddhism and ProtestantismProtestantism, the Counter-Reformation, and the Prosecution of HeresyThe Twin Brahmanic RedactionsBrahmanism and CatholicismReturn to the Problem of Textual Reconstruction2. Text-Historical Reconstruction and the Struggle for an Objective CanonThe Bhagavad Gita in German IndologyThe Theistic Gita: Richard GarbeThe Epic Gita: Hermann JacobiA Practical Gita: Hermann OldenbergThe Trinitarian Gita: Rudolf OttoThe Soldier's Gita: Theodor SpringmannThe Aryan Gita: Jakob Wilhelm HauerThe Brahmanic Gita: Georg von SimsonWhat is the German Gita?: A Review3. German Indology in the Context of the European GeisteswissenschaftenProblems with the Critical MethodThe Scientification of Protestant Theology in the Critical MethodThe Secularization of Protestant Theology in the Study of the History of ReligionsThe Institutionalization of Protestant Theology in IndologyThree Notions of Science: Positivism, Historicism, and EmpiricismCriticisms of the Positivistic Notion of TruthFrom Historicism to HermeneuticsConclusionWriting under ErasureCreating the Object of Scientific ResearchHonest Heretics or Neo-Brahmins?Afterword: Gandhi on the Gita ProblemNotesBibliographyIndex