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Indology is the academic study of the history and cultures, languages, and literature of the Indian subcontinent (most specifically the modern-day states of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal), and as such is a subset of Asian studies.
Indology may also be known as Indic studies or Indian studies, or South Asian studies, although scholars and university administrators sometimes have only partially overlapping interpretations of these terms.
The term Indology or (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 Indonesian history and culture in preparation for colonial service in the Dutch East Indies.
Specifically, Indology includes the study of Sanskrit literature and Hinduism along with the other Indian religions, Jainism, Buddhism and Pāli literature, and Sikhism. Dravidology is the separate branch dedicated to the Dravidian languages of South India.
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[disambiguation needed].
The beginnings of the study of India date back to Megasthenes (ca. 350–290 BC), a Greek ambassador of the Seleucids to the court of Chandragupta[disambiguation needed], founder of the Mauryan Empire. Based on his life in India Megasthenes composed a four-volume Indica, fragments of which still exist, which influenced classical geographers Arrian, Diodor and Strabon.
Abū Rayhān al-Bīrūnī (973–1048) (Researches on India) recorded the political history of India and military history of India and covered India's cultural, scientific, social and religious history in detail. He studied the anthropology of India, engaging in extensive participant observation with various Indian groups, learning their languages and studying their primary texts, and presenting his findings with objectivity and neutrality using cross-cultural comparisons.
In the wake of 18th century pioneers like Henry Thomas Colebrooke or August Wilhelm Schlegel, Indology as an academic subject emerges in the 19th century, in the context of British India, together with Asian studies in general affected by the romantic Orientalism of the time. The Société Asiatique was founded in 1822, the Royal Asiatic Society in 1824, the American Oriental Society in 1842, and the German Oriental Society (Deutsche Morgenländische Gesellschaft) in 1845, the Japanese Association of Indian and Buddhist Studies in 1949.
Systematic study and editorial activity of Sanskrit literature became possible with the St. Petersburg Sanskrit-Wörterbuch during the 1850s to 1870s. Translations of major Hindu texts in the Sacred Books of the East began in 1879. Otto von Bohtlingk's edition of Pāṇini's grammar appeared in 1887. Max Müller's edition of the Rigveda appeared in 1849–75. In 1897, Sergey Oldenburg launched a systematic edition of key Sanskrit texts, "Bibliotheca Buddhica".
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.
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 routinely read and write in journals such as 'Indo-Iranian Journal, Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, Journal of the American Oriental Society, Journal asiatique, the Journal of the German Oriental Society (ZDMG), Wiener Zeitschrift für die Kunde Südasiens, Journal of Indian Philosophy, Annals of the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, "Journal of Indian and Buddhist Studies" (Indogaku Bukkyogaku Kenkyu), Bulletin de l'Ecole française d'Extrême Orient, and others.
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 Morgenlāndische Gesellschaft and others.
The following is a list of prominent academically qualified Indologists.
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