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Lehrstuhl für Indologie

Impressions of the Prakrit Summer School 2007

A new international summer school project gathered together a group of South Asian studies students for an introductory course on Prakrit. The event took place in a peaceful countryside milieu of Rantasalmi, in the lake district of eastern Finland from July 23 to August 4, 2007. The leading idea was to get together students and scholars enthusiastic on Jain literature and culture for an intensive introduction to Prakrit. The 2007 Summer School was especially designed for Sanskrit students who have no possibility to get tuition in Prakrit at their home universities, but who would like to get acquainted with the treasury of Jain epic and narrative literature.

The 2007 meeting was focused on post-canonical Jain material. Even though this first meeting of the Summer School was launched out with a rather tight timetable, eleven students joined the course. The participants’ main interests were varied enough, ranging from linguistic spheres to religious studies as well as to literature and philosophy. The students came from Finland (4), Belgium (3), the USA (2), Germany (1) and Israel (1).

The participants received a proper introduction to the field of Prakrit in general and to the grammar of Jaina-Maharastri in particular. A selection of pre-readings on Prakrit languages and Jain epic and narrative literature was distributed beforehand. Only after a two-day introduction to the grammar the group started reading the Jaina-Maharastri text passages. About half of the students had some prior experience on reading Prakrit texts. A Reference Manual of Middle Prakrit Grammar by Frank van den Bossche (Gent 1999) was used as the principal reference grammar all through the course, but naturally Pischel was densely in use, too. The text passages were selected from the Vasudevahindi and Paümacariya.

From the "triumvirate" of organizers, Eva De Clercq and Anna Aurelia Esposito acted as teachers and Petteri Koskikallio hosted the course as the practical organizer. The 2007 Prakrit Summer School was made possible by a grant from Emil Aaltonen Foundation. In addition to the lessons, the students had plenty of possibilities for joint reading practices, exchange of ideas, cooking together, swimming, sauna, etc. The Summer School contained also much sightseeing in the nearby areas and a few trips to the city of Savonlinna.

The Prakrit Summer School drew also the attention of the local press:

Itä-Savo, August 5, 2007 (Finnish article with English translation)
Rantasalmen Lehti, September 12, 2007 (Finnish article with English translation)



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