11. Wendy Doniger | Translating India
My guest this month is Wendy Doniger. Read more about her and her many wonderful books here and here. She was educated at Radcliffe, the only part of Harvard then to admit women, and at Oxford. She has taught at SOAS, but has spent most of her career at the University of Chicago's Divinity School, on the Committee on Social Thought, and in South Asian Languages and Civilizations.
Among her teachers, she lists Daniel Ingalls at Harvard, Robert Zaehner at Oxford, and in India, Ali Akbar Khan, from whom she learnt to play the Sarod, and the Purāṇic scholar Rajendra Chandra Hazra.
Among the many texts that find mention today are the Kāmasūtra, Kālidāsa's Kumārasaṃbhava (and that same story as it appears e.g. in the Śivapurāṇa), the story of Nala from the Mahābhārata, and among Professor Doniger's own books, The Origins of Evil in Hindu Mythology, Dreams, Illusion and Other Realities, The Donigers of Great Neck and An American Girl in India, which she talks about here.
Read more about Mircea Eliade, Santiniketan, the mā niṣāda śloka, and see the hotel from Gentlemen's Agreement.
Among the books Wendy Doniger recommends for kindling our interest in India are The Wonder That Was India, Midnight's Children, A Passage to India, Village India, The Inner Life of Dust, the works of A. K. Ramanujan.
Her review of the Goldman translation of The Rāmāyaṇa can be found here.