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Sanskrit Cosmopolis

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Benedicta Budiman

on 18 March 2014

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Transcript of Sanskrit Cosmopolis

The Sanskrit Cosmopolis
By Arman, Giri, Jeremiah, Monica, Riju, Sherrine & Shivam
Section I
Sanskrit Cosmopolis: transregional cultural formation in the premodern world
Polis: Political dimension
Premier instrument of political expression in most of South and Southeast Asia

What makes Sanskrit’s cosmopolitan career remarkable
The historical career of Sanskrit
The conditions of possibility for Sanskrit’s diffusion as a language of politics
It’s social domain
It’s political work

What work then did Sanskrit do in much of the Sanskrit Cosmopolis?
Not as material power
Common aesthetics of political culture
Sanskrit “ecumene”

Research Questions
How did the transculturation process at work in the Sanskrit cosmopolis function?
Can we make any valid generalization about the relationships between Sanskrit and vernacular culture especially in terms of political language?
Can we theorize this process without risking mechanical functionalism and anachronism (‘legitimation’ being a causal explanation that illustrates both problems)?

Section II
When and how does Sanskrit enter the domain of “public” political discourse in South Asia?
What is “public”?
What is the significance of Sanskrit?
Maurya & Gupta

When and how does Sanskrit enter the domain of “public” political discourse in South Asia?
Satavahanas & Ksatrapas

When and how does Sanskrit enter the domain of “public” political discourse in South Asia?
The first public political text in Sanskrit
Sanskrit at the end of the first century C.E

When and how does Sanskrit enter the domain of “public” political discourse in South Asia?
Prakrit & Sanskrit
Diglossia & Hyperglossia
Basim Plates

Section III
Sanskrit political-cultural idiom offered in the historical records of Pallava Dynasty
Stone inscription of Simhavarman
Copper plate in Prakrit without prasasti portion
Land-grant on copper plates (338 C.E)

Drastic change in inscriptional style of Pallavas
4th generation after Sivaskandavarman
Elements of the standard prasasti style developed
Fixing of the genealogical succession
The catalogue of kingly traits of the dynasty
The eulogy of the ruler lord and a documentary account of the gift that the record inscribes as well as conditions against violation

Division of Linguistic Labor
First appearance of the metrical prastasi and its appearance in the Pallava records of Tamil
Sanskrit is used to interpret, supplement and reveal reality, whereas for documenting reality in the pragmatic portions of the grant, non-Sanskrit is required

Emphasis on “Expectabillity”
Pallava dynasty primary example
In 600 years no transcription where Tamil did any work beyond recording the everyday
Functions usually denied to Sanskrit from an early date

Relationship between Sanskrit and Prakrit among the southern regions in India And
Pallavas of Tamil Nadu for most of the 1st millenium

Parallel with Tamil
Epigraphs of the Gangas “documentary”
Percentages of inscriptions in Kannada relative to those in Sanskrit rose from 30% to 90% from 960-1200 C.E
Sanskrit’s competitor languages were only allowed to serve documentary function

Generalizations on the basis of epigraphical evidence
Institution of the transregional use of Sanskrit for public political texts in South India
Development of Sanskrit at expense of local literary traditions
Cosmopolitan character generated by transregional developments as a shared language practice that points to the aestheticization of the political
Section IV
Before the beginning of the common era..
Trades were limited to small groups of traders, adventurers, religious professionals
No evidence that large-scale state initiatives were ever at issue, or anything that resembles colonization

Emergence of Sanskrit inscriptions
5th century appeared almost simultaneously across Southeast Asia ranging from Burma to Indonesia
Some dies out rather quickly, and in some last for hundreds of years

Sanskrit in Khmer and Malayo-Polynesian speaking countries in Southeast Asia
Production of political culture throughout the region
“Funan Polity” in Khmer
Growth of Sanskrit in Khmer during Angkor period (dated 20%, undated 35%)

Inscriptional Discourse
Cambodia follows that of continental South Asia
Badami Calukyas & Rastrakuta successors
Between 9th and 13th centuries, fascination with sophisticated forms of royal poetry in Khmer country

Inscriptional Discourse
Angkoran inscriptional discourse comparable to India
Sanskrit deployed in Khmer to make literary claims about the world
Usage of Sanskrit and Khmer language

Relationship between Sanskrit and Khmer
Unequal relationship; Sanskrit uninfluenced, Khmer massively invaded by Sanskrit at least at the lexical level
Vernacular literacy mediated by Sanskrit literacy
Assymetrical cultural authority

Relationship between Sanskrit and Khmer
Sanskrit culture was completely indigenized
Why are the Khmer using Sanskrit?
Poem inscriptions as prayers

Khmer Country
Khmer language for everyday speech and documentation
Khmer scripts used by and for royals
Khmer heavily influenced by Sanskrit
No proof of original Sanskrit lit being produced

Used Sanskrit differently than Khmer people
Sanskrit died when Old Javanese became popular
Big influence in javanese works
40% of old Javanese lexicon is derived from Sanskrit

The Cosmopolis
Common imperial formations
Hierarchical Societies
Cities planned in geometric orientation
Similar language led to similar beliefs

Section V
Sanskrit's lasting impact
Used as a language of politics and literary discourse
Not a language of everyday life
Throughout a millenium (300 – 1,300 C.E) undergone significant changes in South and SE Asia
Transculturation without imperial subjugation and/or bureaucratic control

Sanskrit in the Transculturation Process
Introduction of Sanskrit into local, distinct cultures embraced as a linguistic ideology
No cultural conquest of local languages
Literization of local languages into Sanskrit texts accompanied and accepted as part of local culture
Use of Sanskrit as a unifying, political language for empire-building

Sanskrit for socio-political needs
Language for ‘political legitimization’
Aesthetic use to legitimize political power
No political/cultural center, especially from the mainland to manipulate the spread of Sanskrit
Separating Sanskrit from local languages for everyday, communicative purposes

Comparing Sanskrit
Best comparative is Latin in 800 CE
Imaginaire politique
Key difference
The Latin Vernacular
New Persian – 1000 CE West Asia
Sanskrit’s aesthetics

Inscriptional Discourse
“Unique” discourse
Increasing Popularity

Calukyas of Madami and Rastrakutas
Tamil literature
New theorization of a politics of a vernacular culture

Vernacular Culture
Dominant assumption
Gramsci – “The vernaculars are written down when the people regain importance”
Relations between language, literature and social power
“Linguistic relations are always relations of symbolic power..” – Bourdieu & Wacquant

Culture and Ideology
Cultural colonization
Gift of civilization – the division between inferior and superior cultures
Global Ecumene

Namaste for listening to our presentation!
Sheldon Pollock on what makes Sanskrit special..
Full transcript