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Tapati Guha-Thakurta

[Raja, Rama]

(b Tanjore, c. 1790; d Mysore, 1833).

Indian writer. His posthumously published work, Essay on the Architecture of the Hindus (published for the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland, 1834), was a pioneering attempt at acquainting the West with the ancient Hindu ‘science’ of architecture, through a translation of some surviving fragments of Sanskrit treatises. Coming from an aristocratic but impoverished family of Karnataka, Ram Raz rose from the position of clerk to that of Head English Master at the College of Fort St George, Madras, eventually becoming a local judge and magistrate at Bangalore. His translation from Marathi into English of an indigenous code of revenue regulations brought him to the attention of Richard Clarke, a British official of the Madras government. It was under Clarke’s initiative that he turned his linguistic skills towards the elucidation of the ancient temple architecture of south India. While the British turned to a ‘Hindu’ to uncode the age-old precepts ‘locked’ in the Sanskrit language, Ram Raz himself had to rely on traditional Brahman scholars and on the practising craftsmen of the ‘Cammata’ clan of Thanjavur in deciphering the abstruse language and technical vocabulary of the texts. Highlighting the difficulties of his study, he noted the gap in communication between the Brahmans, with their closely guarded high knowledge, and the working ‘lower orders’ of artisans; the result was that the original theories were either lost or vastly distorted....

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Mary F. Linda

(b Greifswald, Dec 6, 1890; d New York, March 20, 1943).

German art historian. He was trained in Sanskrit philology and comparative linguistics at the University of Berlin, graduating in 1913, and his interests embraced Hindu mythology and philosophy in both literary and visual forms. He taught at the Ernst-Moritz-Arndt Universität, Greifswald (1920–24), and he held the Chair of Indian philology at Heidelberg (1924–38), from which he was dismissed in 1938 for his anti-Nazi convictions. In 1942, after briefly teaching at Balliol College (1939–40), Oxford, Zimmer became Visiting Lecturer in Philosophy at Columbia University (1942–3) in New York, where he died a year later. Many of his most important writings were edited and published posthumously by Joseph Campbell.

Following the Romantic and transcendental traditions of Indian scholarship, Zimmer sought to interpret the contributions of India in philosophy, medicine, art and the history of religion to the development of human civilization, and to assimilate the ‘truths’ found therein with Western thought. His observations were based on Puranic and Tantric texts, sources which until that time were underutilized in Indic studies. His ...