What Euclid is to Europe, Panini is to India: or are they?

Publication Type:



Frits Staal


National Institute of Advanced Studies, Volume L1, Number 81-87663-57-X, Bangalore (2005)




The topic of this evening is the thesis that Euclid is to Europe what Panini is to India. It is a baffling topic because it causes havoc to a widespread prejudice: the myth of the two cultures of sciences and humanities. The sciences, it is said, are exact and rigorous; the humanities seem to lack those qualities and what they offer instead is not very clear. Since Euclid was a mathematician and therefore a scientist, he belonged to a species that is highly regarded and for good reasons. Panini. on the other hand, was a grammarian or linguist - according to some a more marginal occupation. So must we accept the myth and draw the conclusion, that Europe addressed basic and substantial issues but India dabbled in trivialities?.


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