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A Slice Of A Sanskritist's Life

Madhavi Narsalay

By Namrata Ganneri. General Editor: Aroon Tikekar
Indus Source Books for The Asiatic Society of Mumbai, Mumbai, Mumbai, 2016, 122, 125


The monograph on Peter Peterson (1847–1899) by Namrata Ganneri is a part of a larger project undertaken by The Asiatic Society of Mumbai with the objective of publishing a series of monographs on the Founders and Guardians of the Society. This project was envisioned and initiated by the late Dr. Aroon Tikekar, former President of The Asiatic Society of Mumbai. Peter Peterson was associated with the then Bombay Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society (BBRAS) in the capacity of a scholar, Secretary (1884– 1889), Vice-President (1894) and President (1897–1899) of the Society till his death. He was a scholar who lived in India, loved India, worked and even died on the Indian soil. This monograph has underlined and reiterated his contribution to the field of Indology in general and Sanskrit in particular. The author has divided this monograph into five parts based on the stages in the life of Peterson viz: i) Early life and career, ii) Service with the Education Department, iii) Research work on the ‘Search of Sanskrit Manuscripts’, iv) Association with the BBRAS and v) Conclusion. (The table of contents carries a typographical error of numbering conclusion as iv) instead of v) which could have been avoided). The monograph is well supported by a list of abbreviations, Appendix enlisting the works of Peterson, Notes and an exhaustive bibliography. The author has suitably observed different stages in the study of Sanskrit and other Oriental languages by European scholars. In the latter half of the nineteenth century, these scholars changed the course of their focus, not limiting themselves to simply the discovery and description of India through these languages but to arrange and organize this glorious past into a coherent narrative that extended up to the present times. This was the exciting ‘heroic age of Indology’. In the Saidian language, apart from the will and intention to understand India’s past, the European scholars wanted to control and manipulate India’s past assisting in her subordination. Though Peter Peterson was the product of this thought process, the author in this monograph investigates whether he actually did adhere to it. In drawing the life sketch of Peterson, his education and training in England and Scotland, his linkage with Presbyterianism, which is a reformist denomination amongst Protestants, the author rightly observes that the tendency to investigate and trace the roots of any thought as depicted in Peterson’s research is an outcome of this linkage. Peterson ...

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