Many branches of Social Sciences such as Philosophy, History, and Linguistics have traditionally been very popular, Orientology is not well known to students. The subject, also known as Asian Studies in the West, holds relevance as it forms a strong foundation to better understand both our past as well as our present, says Shrikant Bahulkat, secretary, Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute (BORI), Pune to TOI.
Orientology is the study of the indigenous lore and wisdom of the ancient East or the Orient region. “The rise of the discipline took place as the Western world indicated to show interest in understanding the region, primarily for trade and political purposes. There were few who also pursued it out of academic interest,” says Bahulkat.
There is a need to popularise the subject. “This has unfortunately been limited to only Indology (the study of ancient Indian culture), which has further been reduced only to exploring Sanskrit, Pali and the Prakrit languages,” he says. Since there are very few takers of the subject at the undergrad level, there is an absence of talent at the research level, includes Bahulkat.
BORI entered a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Infosys Foundation for five years to reinforce research activities in Orientology. The establishment has proposed a grant of Rs 9.13 crores to be utilised to train researchers in Orientology and set up a list of the bibliography of relevant scholastic texts in the field. The grant will also help to create a centralised information cell through descriptive cataloguing of manuscripts, collection and publishing of inscriptions and outlining the history of the collected data, empowered by a group of experts.