17 June, 2021

‘Nobody In Rome Will Mind A Videshi Translating Aeneid’

Indians take the interpretation of their past with a degree of seriousness found virtually nowhere else in the world, says Sheldon Pollock, one of the world's most eminent Sanskritists, in a exclusive interview withOutlook.

Photograph by Jitender Gupta
‘Nobody In Rome Will Mind A Videshi Translating Aeneid’

Sheldon Pollock, one of the world’s most eminent Sanskritists and founder-editor, Murty Classical Library, was in the eye of a storm a few seasons ago. In India for a talk at Ashoka University, he reprises the themes in an interview with Sunil Menon. Excerpts:

There are two tracks we can go down here. One is to stay in the deep, if not entirely still waters of the academic. But when a scholar emerges from the silence of the library, it’s a noisy world out there. The world of petitions. How did you negotiate this recent turbulent phase?

I knew that would be your first question! You see, for an obscure scholar of Sanskrit from a distant country to be invited to a briefing with the press is on the face of it very odd. Imagine an American scholar of Virgil who comes to Rome and is queried by the press about his attitude towards Aeneas! The good side is that people take the classical past in India very seriously. People care. I see this in many areas. Think how many rapes happen in the US every...

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