The term Indology (in German, Indologie) is often associated with German scholarship, and is used more commonly in departmental titles in German and continental European universities than in the anglophone academy. In the Netherlands the term Indologie was used to designate the study of Indian history and culture in preparation for colonial service in the Dutch East Indies.
Some scholars distinguish Classical Indology from Modern Indology, the former more focussed on Sanskrit and other ancient language sources, the latter on contemporary India, its politics and sociology. But recently Indology has declined in academic circles due to various reasons.
The beginnings of the study of India by travellers from outside the subcontinent date back at least to Megasthenes (ca. 350-290 BC), a Greek ambassador of the Seleucids to the court of Chandragupta (ruled 322-298 BC), founder of the Mauryan Empire. Based on his life in India Megasthenes composed a four-volume Indica, fragments of which still exist, and which influenced the classical geographers Arrian, Diodor and Strabo. Megasthenes reported that the caste system dominated an essentially illiterate India.
Indology as generally understood by its practitioners began in the later Early Modern period and incorporates essential features of modernity, including critical self-reflexivity, disembedding mechanisms and globalization, and the reflexive appropriation of knowledge. An important feature of Indology since its beginnings in the late eighteenth century has been the development of networks of academic communication and trust through the creation of learned societies like the Asiatic Society of Bengal, and the creation of learned journals like the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society and Annals of the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute.
One of the defining features of Indology is the application of scholarly methodologies developed in European Classical Studies or "Classics" to the languages, literatures and cultures of South Asia.
From the late 16th century to the late 18th century, Hinduism was seen as highly on civilization and scholarly basis. But after the 19th century, western scholars often criticized India and Hinduism without ever visiting India or reading Hindu scriptures (i.e. E. M. Forster). As with many academic subjects which seem to have no direct bearing on modern concerns, Indology has come in for criticism. This has prompted a vigorous response from a number of eminent scholars, among them J. Bronkhorst.
Professional literature and associations
Indologists typically attend conferences such as the American Association of Asian Studies, the American Oriental Society annual conference, the World Sanskrit Conference, and national-level meetings in the UK, Germany, India, Japan, France and elsewhere.
They may be members of such professional bodies as the American Oriental Society, the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland, the Société Asiatique, the Deutsche Morgenl?ndische Gesellschaft and others.
List of indologists
The following is a list of prominent academically qualified Indologists.
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