Murty Classical Library of India

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The Murty Classical Library of India began publishing classics of Indian literature in January 2015. The books, which are in dual-language format with the original language and English facing, are published by Harvard University Press. The Columbia University scholar, Sheldon Pollock, is the library's general editor. Pollock previously edited the Clay Sanskrit Library.[1] The library was established through a $5.2 million gift from Rohan Murty, the son of Infosys co-founder N. R. Narayana Murthy and social worker and author Sudha Murty.[2] The series will include translations from Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Marathi, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Tamil, Telugu, Urdu, other Indian languages and Persian. It will include fiction, poetry, nonfiction, and religious texts from all Indian traditions including Buddhism and Islam.[3] The projected 500 volumes, to be published over a century, have a corpus of thousands of volumes of classic Indian literature to draw on.[1]


Sheldon Pollock previously edited the Clay Sanskrit Library, whose funding had ended in 2008, and Pollock was searching for a new sponsor to continue the work in a wider format. Rohan Murty, as a PhD student in Computer Science at Harvard University, was taking courses in ancient Indian literature and philosophy from the Sanskrit Department and developed a deep interest in ancient Indian texts. The two were brought together by Gurcharan Das, leading to the establishment of the Murty Classical Library under the auspices of the Harvard University Press.[4]


January 2015

  • Therigatha: Poems of the First Buddhist Women, translated by Charles Hallisey, Murty Classical Library of India, Harvard University Press (January 2015), hardcover, 336 pages, ISBN 9780674427730.[5]
  • The Story of Manu, by Allasani Peddana, translated by Velcheru Narayana Rao and David Shulman, Murty Classical Library of India, Harvard University Press (January 2015), hardcover, 656 pages, ISBN 9780674427761
  • Sur's Ocean: Poems from the Early Tradition, Surdas, edited by Kenneth E. Bryant, translated by John Stratton Hawley, Murty Classical Library of India, Harvard University Press (January 2015), hardcover, 1072 pages ISBN 9780674427778
  • Sufi Lyrics, Bullhe Shah, edited and translated by Christopher Shackle, Murty Classical Library of India, Harvard University Press (January 2015), hardcover, 496 pages, ISBN 9780674427747
  • The History of Akbar, Volume 1 (the Akbarnama), by Abu'l-Fazl ibn Mubarak, edited and translated by Wheeler Thackston, Murty Classical Library of India, Harvard University Press (January 2015), hardcover, 656 pages, ISBN 9780674427754

January 2016


Paperback versions of the books are available throughout the Indian subcontinent for the equivalent of USD 3 to USD 5, depending on the volume's size. Electronic editions of the works are planned for the future.[7]

Criticism on the choice of General Editor[edit]

In March 2016, a petition initiated by Indian academicians demanded that Sheldon Pollock be removed from the editorship of the Murty Classical Library of India.[note 2] The petition cites Rajiv Malhotra's book The Battle for Sanskrit, in which Pollock is a major topic. Malhotra criticizes Pollock for his methodologies, which are not being led by a traditional Dharmic point of view,[8][9] and uses political philology[10] which unearths "social abuses in the texts (against dalits, women, Muslims) as the predominant quality of those texts". According to Malhotra, Pollock takes an activist stance, calling "his peers to expunge the Sanskrit tradition of its inbuilt oppressiveness" which he describes as prescriptivism. Malhotra rejects these approaches, regarding them as a "bias" which threaten traditional approaches of Sanskrit texts. He adds, it is unfortunate that most Hindus are "largely unaware of what he has written."[11]

In a response, Rohan Murty stated that Sheldon Pollock will continue his position, saying that the library will commission the "best possible scholar for that particular language. We will not judge on nationality, gender, race, creed or colour." He further questioned the intentions of the petitioners, noting that none of the petitioners had tried to contact him for the past six years.[12][13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ This is the first complete English translation of Bhāravi's Sanskrit poem. The work was translated into German by Carl Cappeller in 1912 as Volume 15 of the Harvard Oriental Series.[6]
  2. ^ See 132 Indian academicians call for removal of Sheldon Pollock as general editor of Murthy Classical Library for a link to the petition.


  1. ^ a b Jennifer Schuessler (January 2, 2015). "Literature of India, Enshrined in a Series: Murty Classical Library Catalogs Indian Literature". The New York Times. Retrieved January 3, 2015.
  2. ^ Masoom Gupte (11 December 2014). "Rohan Murty debuts at Jaipur Literature Festival". The Economic Times.
  3. ^ "Murty family gift establishes Murty Classical Library of India series". Harvard Gazette. 29 April 2010.
  4. ^ Elizabeth Kuruvilla, The modern revivalists, LiveMint, Jan 24 2015.
  5. ^ Appleton, Naomi. "Charles Hallisey: Therigatha: Poems of the First Buddhist Women:(Murti Classical Library of India.) – Book review" Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 78.03 (2015): 635–636.
  6. ^ Thomas, F. W. 1917. Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland. Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland, 869–77.
  7. ^ "A literary colossus". Harvard Gazette. 5 March 2015.
  8. ^ [1][dead link]
  9. ^ Archived at Ghostarchive and the Wayback Machine: Murty Classical Library Translations Not Reviewed by Traditional Sanskrit Scholars' Panel #1. YouTube.
  10. ^ —— (26 July 2008). "Towards a Political Philology: D. D. Kosambi and Sanskrit" (PDF). Economic and Political Weekly. 43 (30): 52–59.
  11. ^ "interview with business standard - The Battle for Sanskrit". The Battle for Sanskrit. Retrieved 2016-04-08.
  12. ^ Divya Shekhar & Indulekha Aravind, Rohan Murty says American Indologist Sheldon Pollock to stay, The Economic Times, 3 March 2016.
  13. ^ Sudha Pillai, It is always nice to disagree, but don't be disagreeable, Bangalore Mirror, 3 March 2016.

External links[edit]