Sunday, February 05, 2006

Prof. Witzel Wins Dharma Debate!

Congratulations to Professor Witzel! At a debate conducted by the "dharma" student organization at Harvard University on February 3, Professor Witzel brilliantly fought back against a determined effort to unsettle him by throwing deep Sanskrit sentences at him. IRFAN has some difficulty in getting the audio tapes of this meeting and transcribing what was on it (there seemed to be a strange sound like that of 75 people giggling at once..) but we managed nevertheless, and bring you the precise, unedited version, EXCLUSIVE TO IRFAN.

First, in Professor Witzel's own words at IER:
"Ze Hindootvadis are trying to test me! Ihren sprechen im das Sanskrit und Ich repliert im das Sanskrit. Dumbkopfen Braminen vere showing off zeir zuperiority! To ME! An ARYAN!

Way to go, Prof. Witzel! Showed them, didn't we?

IRFAN has obtained an exact transcription from video of the event.

At 7:03:03:02 - Professor Witzel is speaking. Sounds like: "Zees natives are all ze accountanten und engineeren. Ze are not like me! Ich hab spent funf jahren im das Nepal und ich bin sie greatest expert in ze entire WELT! Ich bin ein Linguist!"

7:03:45:04 - minor disturbance in audience. A mother seen grabbing for , but missing, her brat, age circa 5, wearing uniform of Hahvahd Wunderkindergarten and DayCare Center. Brat jumps up, and yells:


7:03:46:15: Professor Witzel: Pauses, looks straight at brat. Smiles. One can almost see the brilliant Linguistic Brain spinning at Hyperdrive, interpreting, sorting, placing, dissecting, analyzing, and coming up with the super deduction.

7:03:46:20: Pindrop silence broken by a few inexplicable giggles around the room.

7:03:47:30: "Aham Arya KULA Chakravathin Asmi!"

7:03:47:36: Pindrop silence erupts in wild cheers! People laugh out loud from joy! papers and books tossed into the air!

7:04:02:20: Audience settles down a bit. Professor Dino Eek rushes out with a "Peetambaram" (yellow turkey towel with a giant "HOLIDAY INN" printed on it) and wraps it around Prof. Witzel's waist as a mark of honor and respect for so brilliantly winning that debate with the kindergartner. Embarassed mother lifts brat by the waistband and carts him out of the hall!

That was not all...

7:43:21:20 Professor Witzel was just finishing recounting his experiences in Nepal, and saying: "I veesh I could hab stayed in ze Katmandu for ze long zeit!"

Interruption: A hand sticks up. Professor Witzel points to the questioner.

Questioner (a 4th-grader from Cambridge Elementary):

"Hey, mister! My older brother told me to tell you:

'Jo Kaatmandoo mein gandoo
woh Leiden aur Boston mein bhi gandoo"

Pindrop silence. A few sharp intakes of breath.

7:43:30 Professor Witzel has finished parsing, dissecting, deconstructing and linguisticizing that, and understood the very origins of that Sanskrit "sloka" perfectly. It is from the Rig Veda. Composed on the shores of the Black Sea, which is not far from the Black Forest, in 1221 BCE. Calls for an appropriate response:

Professor Witzel: "Bhavitavyam bhaved eva. Aham WitzelaH Asmi".

Audience erupts again. Wild applause at this beautifully simple, lucid answer. Thoroughly defeated in debate, the stunned kindergartner is dragged out of the hall by the ear, by his irate Big Sister.

Way to go, Professor Witzel! Try to stump you with dem long, complicated Sanskrit quotations, will they? Heh-heh!

IRFAN adds:

Please don't believe reports by the Hindutva that Herr Doktor Witzel, Wails Professor of Sanskrit at Harvard University, was crushed in a debate on his area of competence by a *****drumbeat**** 23-YEAR-OLD BUSINESS STUDENT ********** AN "ACCOUNTANT"!!!!***

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Professor Deshpande Straightens Out Daniel Golden of Wall Street Journal!

Professor Madhav Deshpande, Professor of Asian Languages, Professor of Cultures and Professor of Linguistics, Professor of Sanskrit, Historical Linguistics, Sanskrit Grammatical Tradition, Sanskrit Phonetics, Indo-Aryan Linguistics, Sociolinguistics of Sanskrit and Prakrit languages and Professor of Indian History at the College of Literature, Science, the Arts, Religious Superstitions, Appreciation of Basket-Weaving and Vertical Kinematics To Clean Floors, at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (obviously, Michigan is a polytitlistic university) , has kindly published the strong letter that he sent to Daniel Golden of the Wall Street Journal. In an article published on the front page of the WSJ, Golden had failed to do adequate justice to Prof. Deshpande's explanation on why Hindus are polytheistic. Reportedly, Golden fell asleep (something that U.Mich students NEVER do in Prof. Deshpande's classes) after about 20 minutes of Prof. Deshpande's explanation, and hence devoted only 1.3754 lines in his article to what he learned there. Professor Deshpande in his own words:


"Madhav M. Deshpande"
Date: Thu Jan 26, 2006 2:30 am
Subject: My views mentioned in Daniel Golden's article in WSJ 1-25-06

Send Email

Dear List members,
I have sent the following letter to the Editor of the Wall Street Journal I am reproducing here so that the readers can see My views in My own words.
Madhav Deshpande

To Editor Wall Street Journal
Dear Sir,

In the Eastern Edition of today's (1-25-06) issue of WSJ, Mr. Daniel Golden has published an important article: Defending the Faith: New Battle Ground in Textbook Wars; Religion in History; Hindu, Islamic, Jewish Groups Fault Portrayals of Events and Often Win Changes. In this article, Mr. Daniel Golden refers to his phone conversation with Me and briefly describes My views on the current dispute in California regarding depiction of Hinduism. In abbreviating my views, his statements are likely to misinform the reader as to exactly what My views are, and hence it is appropriate to briefly state My views in My own words.

I wish Mr. Golden had given Me an opportunity to see the copy of his article before it was published. I may have been able to help him phrase My views with better clarity (IRFAN notes: see lucid prose below). In any case, the following is a gist of what I told Mr. Golden in our phone conversation. ....(IRFAN notes: complete and unabridged, as heard and jotted down by Mr. Golden or most listeners)

On inequalities of women, all one...
as for women.. / thighs /mouth debate... there are sufficient .. needs to do is to read the Laws of Manu in all its details is caste Vedic ..other subsequent religious/legal caste and the status of authorities.. as it gets.. part of the traditional Hinduism the purusasukta hymn giving origins of four castes from the arms and polytheism feet of the cosmic monotheism primordial being is ... and is repeated by Manu .were directly responding to critiques of Hinduism.. and . studies of 19th century India that Indian religious reformers (e.g. Brahmo Samaj of Bengal, Arya Samaj of Punjab, Prarthana Samaj of Pune etc.) ... in their environment and ... such as meditation on Brahman "primordial underlying universal reality" above all the contemporary diverse practices that have continued unabated to this day. The Hindu unwelcome accretions of ..
reformers of the colonial period ..

(IRFAN adds the IER WitzelJugend Chorus:
caste, untouchability, child-marriage, bride-burning, cow, caste, communal riot, toilet-cleaning, dalit, technical degrees, Aryan Invasion, Inquilab Zindabad..Prominent Academics!" )

highlighting some aspect of the old tradition .. projected all the religious and social reforms they were seeking back ..., and that allowed them to claim that what they were proposing was not something new, but merely a return to a purer past, by discarding the ...the medieval period..into ancient Vedic past... , etc. were deemed as having arisen ..My own grand mother was post-Vedic medieval times. All social/religious dimensions such as caste, child marriage, ..., unequal treatment of , and were claimed not to be part of true/original/ancient Hinduism of the Vedas. The Vedas were deemed to provide a form of modernity more modern than the contemporary modernity provided by the colonial rulers and missionaries' burning of the widows . Every issue like caste, untouchability, child-marriage, was debated hotly in the 19th century and early 20th century India, where I am glad that I was born... to.. both the reformers and their orthodox opponents were making claims of going back to the purer past.

(IRFAN adds the IER WitzelJugend Chorus:
caste, untouchability, child-marriage, bride-burning, cow, caste, communal riot, toilet-cleaning, dalit, technical degrees, Aryan Invasion, Inquilab Zindabad..Prominent Academics!" )

Such is the complex history of these debates, and reforms, many of which fortunately were incorporated into the modern Hindu Code Bill, giving shape to modern Hindu society. I was born at the age of 9 which was the norm in those days in India. The Hindu monogamy of the present day India is not a continuation of some classical tradition, but has been brought about only by relatively modern legislations, rather than the pre-modern tradition that clearly sanctioned polygamy. Such modern reforms, many now incorporated in modern Hindu laws (the Hindu Code Bill) passed by the and cannot be imagined to have been effective all through the history of norms ..that tradition. Otherwise there would have been no need for Indian parliament are drastic changes from the prior
reform movements.

(IRFAN adds the IER WitzelJugend Chorus:
caste, untouchability, child-marriage, bride-burning, cow, caste, communal riot, toilet-cleaning, dalit, technical degrees, Aryan Invasion, Inquilab Zindabad..Prominent Academics!" )

in a post-social-reform Hinduism, but that does not make these reforms part of the pre-reform classical and ancient Hindu history and...

(ALLLOOOO!! Is that you snoring? Wake up, little Daniel!)

in the Madhva Vaisnava family of Deshpandes in southern Maharashtra where My grand-father grew up, the name of god Shiva was banned from the house, because they were worshippers of Vishnu. In the Madhva Vaishnava dialect of Marathi in our house, they would not use the common Marathi verb "shiv" to sew clothes, but found alternative words. Even while scrubbing floors, the Madhva Vaishnava women of my family many generations ago used to scrub floors with vertical motions of hand, rather than sideways, because that resembled the Shaiva marks on the forehead. Such was the Shaiva/Vaishnava divide, part of daily experience even within
own family a few generations ago.

(IRFAN adds the IER WitzelJugend Chorus:
caste, untouchability, child-marriage, bride-burning, cow, caste, communal riot, toilet-cleaning, dalit, technical degrees, Aryan Invasion, Inquilab Zindabad..Prominent Academics!" )

"Sages speak of one truth in various ways" is just one single statement of the ancient Vedic text of the Rigveda that stands besides the thousands of Vedic hymns and ritual sacrificial practices

(IRFAN: Yes, we know, professor! Isn't that like,,., e=mc^2 is just one statement among millions of papers proving Flat Earth Theory? We done learned that in our Pissiks 666 class last semester taught by Comrade
Academician Professor Ass-e-tush Wash-nay!)

... where making specific offerings to different specific gods is specifically required. There has been a wide gap between..
gods and goddesses.. the philosophical unity of Brahman proposed by the Upanisads, and the diversity of actual religious practice of worshiping many different gods and goddesses. The typical phrases in most rituals, after worshipping various ...Nyaya, Vaisesika, Samkhya, and Mimamsa,
is sarvebhyo devebhyo namo namaH (salutations to all gods) in plural (IRFAN adds: all in small case letters .. and all Politburo Comrades and all UberHochschuleFuehrers in Capital Lettters: Marx, Lenin, Angana Chatterji, Vijay Prashad, Vinay Lal, Stalin, Witzel, Farmer, Fosse, Shenoy).

The term "monotheism" is ..the 9th century philosopher sankara..
inappropriate to describe the beliefs in one braha cow as the principle that underlies all reality, and creates and incorporates all gods without rejecting them along with everything else the best term for this form of "brahman=Everything-ism" is perhaps monism (advanita), rather than monotheism (eka-isvara-vada) that is why , a proponent of this kind of monism, rejects the possibility of devotion of god in the ultimate state of brahman-realization no devotion is possible, when there is only one entity in real existence even then only advanitins ever subscribed to this sort of monism.
(IRFAN adds the IER WitzelJugend Chorus:
caste, untouchability, child-marriage, bride-burning, cow, caste, communal riot, toilet-cleaning, dalit, technical degrees, Aryan Invasion, Inquilab Zindabad..Prominent Academics!" )

More hindu traditions opposed it, including the celebrated hindu traditions of not to mention the dwight d. vedanta, or the worshippers of many gods and goddesses plurality is the core of hindu religious life of the masses, with only a rare philosopher claiming that all gods are in reality only different names of the same truth.

If I had to write
My own views in My
own words, this is how I would write them.

(IRFAN adds: Oh, thanks, Professor, I got that all down perfectly. So apparently these were NOT your writing and his own words! Wonder where he plagiarized them? It's OK, Professor Deshpande, as long as you've added that disclaimer, it should be fine with the Michigan Administration's "pluralistic" view of academic ethics!)

[These are
My personal views and not those of the institution to which I belong.]

Madhav M. Deshpande
Professor of Sanskrit and Linguistics
University of Michigan

Madhav M. Deshpande

Professor of Sanskrit & Linguistics (as evident from the lucid prose)
Department of Asian Languages & Cultures
The University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109-1285, USA


Thank you!!! Professor Deshpande! Phew! We couldn't have IMAGINED such an INTELLECTUAL lecture!