Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Thomas Stephens and comparative linguistics

This is from Vincent W.J. van Gerwen Oei:

Personally I'm intruiged by the fact that Thomas Stephens was the first to recognize the relation between Indian and European languages, and thus a founder of comparative historical linguistics as a science. 

My transcription from the pertinent sentences on the last page:
Linguae harum regionum sunt et multae. Pronunciationem habent non invenustam, et compositionem latinae graecaeque similem: phrases et constructiones plane mirabiles. Literae syllabarum vim habent, quae toties variatur quoties consonantis cum vocalibus, vel mutae cum liquidis combinari possunt. (T. Stephens, letter to his brother, 1583)

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Hubert Olympus Mascarenhas

One small mystery is solved: the H.O. Mascaren, author in 1951 of The Quintessence of Hinduism, mentioned in De Smet's "Sankara Vedanta and Christian Theology" turns out to be H.O. Mascarenhas, and there is quite a bit of information about this Mascarenhas on the net.

The clue turned out to be "H.O. Mascarenhas" listed by De Smet among specialists to whom he sent copies of his doctoral dissertation in 1954: see his "From the Vedas to Radhakrishnan" 1994 1.

Strangely, I think it is this same Mascarenhas who is mentioned by Jose Cosme Costa as proposing theories of pre-Portuguese christianity in Goa.

Hubert Olympus Mascarenhas was a "fiery Indian nationalist" and a priest, besides holding a doctorate and being recognized as an Orientalist, according to what I have gleaned from the net.

  • The Quintessence of Hinduism: The KEY to Indian Culture and Philosophy. Bombay: Fr Bento D'Souza, St Sebastian's Goan High School, Thakurdwar, Bombay 2.
  • Konkannachem Apostolik Kristanvponn. Rendered into Kannada script by A.A. Saldanha. Dabul, Bombay: Betal Prakashan, 1960.
  • Interview with the Editor of New Leader, reprinted in the Silver Jubilee Souvenir of the Archdiocese of Tellicherry, 1970, see http://thenazrani.org/feasts9.htm

  • De Smet, Richard. "Sankara Vedanta and Christian Theology." Review of Darshana 1/1 (1980) 33-48 = Understanding Sankara: Essays by Richard De Smet (New Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, forthcoming) ch. 27.
  • De Smet, Richard. "From the Vedas to Radhakrishnan." 1994. 
  • Costa, Cosme Jose. Apostolic Christianity in Goa and in the West Coast. Pilar, Goa: Xavierian Publication Society, 2009.
  • Gispert-Sauch, George. "Advaita as a Unique Indian Contribution to the Articulation of a Christian Vision of Reality." Relating We Journey: An Interdisciplinary Exploration. [Festschrift for Dominic Veliath.] Ed. Jose Kuttianimattathil. Bangalore: Kristu Jyoti Publications, 2012. 161-175, at 166-170: Advaita Re-discovered: Hubert Olympus Mascarenhas.

General bibliography

National Library (India). A Bibliography of Indology. Calcutta 1960. Z3201.C3.
See http://staff.washington.edu/jfwhite/saref/standardfilter.php?style=langstyle.xsl&datz=saref.xml&filterby=English as of 19 May 2010.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

S.M. Tadkodkar, Goan Christian Marathi Vilapika during the 17th Century

An extraordinary book: S.M. Tadkodkar, Goan Christian Marathi Vilapika during the 17th Century. Delhi: B.R. Publications, 2009.

Tadkodkar, who is HoD of Marathi at the Goa University, proposes that 2 of the 3 Paixao de Christo found at the end of the MS of the Khristapurana preserved in the State Central Library, Panjim, Goa, were written by Thomas Stephens himself.

The book - which is practically sold out - contains transcriptions of many other parts of the MS: the Censures and Licences, for example.

Tadkodkar teaches a course called "Christian Marathi Literature" every year to his students. Every year, he told me, he has problems from his students: Sir, why do we have to study this stuff? And every year, by the end of the course, they say: This is the best course we have attended.

The Professor is full of admiration for Thomas Stephens. His writings are able to move people even today, reaching out across temporal, religious and community barriers to touch the hearts of those who read and hear.