Infosys Chairman Funds To An Indian Classics Project At Harvard

UNITED STATES, May 2010: Less than a fortnight ago, Harvard University announced that the Murthy family of Bangalore (Narayana Murthy is the Founder-Chairman of Infosys a global software company) had established a new publication series called the Murthy Classical Library Series (MCLI) with a generous gift of $5.2 million. It also announced that renowned scholar Sheldon Pollock, who is currently Ransford Professor of Sanskrit and Indian studies at Columbia University, had been named the general editor of the volumes.

Although there have been many such classical series published by various institutions, what sets this exercise apart is that it makes a significant departure from the Orientalist project of the last couple of centuries, by aiming to look beyond Sanskrit and religion, and dipping into India’s multilingual literary heritage. In other words, the Murthy series seeks to broaden the idea of India. It promises to be pluralistic and inclusive.

This unique project will present, in English translation, canonized classical texts available for centuries in various regional tongues like Kannada, Tamil, Oriya, Telugu, Punjabi, Urdu, Persian, Gujarati, Bangla and so on, besides Sanskrit. An extraordinary feature of the project is that each volume will be presented as a bilingual edition. These ‘definitive’ volumes will seek to serve both the general public and academics.

Pollock explained the vision behind the project: “India possesses the longest continuous and richest multilingual literary tradition in the world. To forget this literature is not only to lose a resource for living of potentially immeasurable benefit, but to lose part of one’s self. As the Bhagavad Gita says, the loss of memory entails the loss of mind.”

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