Rahul Peter Das

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Rahul Peter Das (born 7 July 1954 in Haan, North Rhine-Westphalia) is the professor of South Asian studies (Südasienkunde) at the Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg, where he is also the Dean of Studies of the Faculty of Philosophy I. He is the President of the German Association for Asian Studies (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Asienkunde), and received the Hind Rattan Award in 2006, the Nav Rattan Award in 2009.

Das, of mixed Indian (Bengali) and German parentage, was born in Germany, but raised in Calcutta. He attended the Calcutta Medical College and the Maulana Azad College, both affiliated to the University of Calcutta for his medical preparatory education.[1] He returned to Germany in 1974, where he studied Indology, Islamic studies and Tamilology at the University of Cologne and the University of Hamburg, obtaining all his degrees from the latter. Through his teachers Klaus Ludwig Janert and Albrecht Wezler, students of the famous Paul Thieme, he was influenced by the stringent principles of philological research of the latter. He applied these principles when he instituted, in 2000, the new subject of South Asian Studies (Südasienkunde) at his university. This subject is based on an approach to the study of South Asia different from Indology, which too continues to be represented at the university. In a manner new for the German-speaking area, it combines elements of philology and the social sciences, but with a methodology derived from philology: data-based and not taking its cues from models or theories, in which respect it differs from approaches prevalent in the Anglo-Saxon world. The languages of reference are modern South Asian languages, not Sanskrit; South Asian Islam is a part of the curriculum.

Das' student Hans Harder obtained the first Venia legendi in the new subject and subsequently went on to the University of Heidelberg to become the professor for Modern South Asian Languages and Literatures, known before Harder took over the chair as Modern Indology.

Das has published widely and authoritatively on a variety of subjects ranging from Vedic linguistics through South Asian Islam and Tamil to Security Studies.[2] His particular areas of interest are, however, Bengal and Bengali, as well as traditional South Asian medicine. One of his major publications in the context of Bengali is his Lehrbuch der modernen bengalischen Hochsprachen, a comprehensive teaching device for and grammar of Bengali in German.

In 2006, Das initiated the interdisciplinary Working Group on Post-classical South Asia (Arbeitskreis Neuzeitliches Südasien) within the German Association for Asian Studies (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Asienkunde).

Das is the editor / co-editor of:

  • Traditional South Asian Medicine
  • Südasienwissenschaftliche Arbeitsblätter (Working Papers on South Asian Studies)
  • Mitteilungen zur Sozial- und Kulturgeschichte der islamischen Welt (Communications on the Social and Cultural History of the Islamic World)
  • Veröffentlichungen zur Indogermanistik und Anthropologie (Publications on Indo-European Studies and Anthropology)
  • South Asia editor of Orientalistische Literaturzeitung (Review of Literature on the Orient)
  • South Asia editor of the new (3rd) edition of Kindlers Literatur Lexikon


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