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The Last Brahmin: Life and Reflections of a Modern-Day Sanskrit Pandit

Rani Siva Sankara Sarma (Author) D. Venkat Rao (Translator)

The last Brahmin is a work of reflection as well as the intellectual quasi-autobiography of a modern-day pandit. Written by a school teacher of Sanskrit, it shows living facets of the ancient brahminical tradition its spread over long time periods, its forms and transformations, its implications for the Indian subcontinent. A philosophical critique of tradition, the last Brahmin is also the story of the difficulty of finding alternatives to that tradition today. The Brahmin at the centre of this tale faces difficult and even adversarial conditions for the sake of learning, scholarship, and the rigours of pedagogical bonding. His sons whom he considers apostates represent to him the pain of discontinuity of the tradition in which he believes. Their disinheritance throws up interesting questions: what are the conditions and consequences of such inheritance? This book becomes the poignant articulation of a Brahmin and anti Brahmin view of such questions.

Its critical unraveling of the Sanskrit tradition sets The last Brahmin apart from the disciplinary frames of Idology on the one hand, and partisanal Hindu ideologies on the other. While opposing orientalist knowledge on India, the Brahmin protagonist also distances himself from modern forms of Hinduism. It would be difficult to find a more fascinating personal history of Vedic Brahminism persisting into modern times, or a more conservatively radical critique of contemporary Hindu practices.

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About the authors

Rani Siva Sankara Sarma

Rani Siva Sankara Sarma teaches Sanskrit in a small-town school in Andhra Pradesh.  His literary work includes short stories, poetry, and essays in Telugu.  He has written a poem in Sanskrit on the Ramayana as well as experimental poetry in collaboration with Dalit writers.

D. Venkat Rao

D Venkat Rao is a professor at the School of Critical Humanities, Central Institute of English and Foreign Languages, Hyderabad. He did postdoctoral research at the University of California at Berkeley, University of Washington at Seattle, and University of Chicago. He has taught at Kakatiya University, University of Poona and University of Washington. His areas of interest include literary and cultural studies, hypermedia, internet research, image studies, and mnemocultures. He has published articles in research journals in India and abroad.

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Bibliographic information

Title The Last Brahmin: Life and Reflections of a Modern-Day Sanskrit Pandit
Format Softcover
Date published: 27.09.2012
Edition Reprint.
Publisher Permanent Black
Language: English
isbn 8178243644, 9788178243641
length 197p., 22cm.