Mysuru: JP Filliozat, a Frenchman who taught Sanskrit in Paris and his wife Vasundhara Filliozat, a consultant historian have been working on multiple projects involving Sanskrit, Vedas and heritage of Karnataka temples.
Their passion for Sanskrit and cultural heritage is immense, though Filliozat is French by birth and Vasundhara lived in Paris for three decades. Filliozat is working on the last among the 28 agamas called Vathula Shuddha on the rituals followed in temples. To promote Sanskrit in France, the couple observes last Saturday of June every year, as “Sanskrit Day”. Filliozat has PhD in Alankara Shastra and taught Sanskrit in Paris. He has published 20 books on various subjects including Ashtadyayi, Patanjali’s Mahabhashya and Vedanta Desikas Varadaraja Panchasat. He studied under Narasimhacharya Iyengar and N Ramachandra Bhatt. Since 1993, the couple has settled in Mysuru at Yadavagiri but they live in Paris for six months and the rest in Mysuru.
How love for Sanskrit started?
Filliozat – My father was a Sanskrit scholar. During free time, I used to accompany him and even used to visit India. During the course, I came to know the value and importance of Sanskrit through various traditional pandits. After going into the depth of Sanskrit, I got more attached and decided to take up Sanskrit.
Can you tell more about Sanskrit?
Filliozat – If one has to know more about Indian civilization and temples one should study or go through Sanskrit. Sanskrit pundits created remarkable technical vocabulary for mathematics, astronomy, philosophy etc. Across the world, 38 different countries are offering various courses on Sanskrit in their respective universities. In Sanskrit, there is voluminous literature about medicine, tradition of studying astronomy and mathematics. It is a rich language and touches all the subjects including mathematics, astronomy, science, chemistry, medicine, Sidda and Ayurveda. Keeping this in mind, many universities across the world have started giving importance to Sanskrit.
How is the scope for Sanskrit in France?
Filliozat – The first chair of Sanskrit outside India was established in Paris in 1815. Those interested can take up research in the subject. But there are no much students or professors as of now. I feel there is a kind of revival of interest happening in Sanskrit. Not many are taking up Sanskrit; it is only out of interest that some take up the subject. Apart from this, the job opportunities for Sanskrit are very less and hence they should take up teaching or research.
To promote Sanskrit in France have you taken up any initiative? What should be done in India?
Filliozat – To promote Sanskrit in France, I along with my wife Vasundhara Filliozat, conduct Sanskrit Day every year during the last Saturday of June. We invite Sanskrit scholars who in turn will be telling more about the subject. In India, the government should start giving more funds to traditional colleges.
What made you choose Mysuru as your second home town?
Filliozat – Mysuru which happens to be historical place is best place for Sanskrit. The place provides the perfect ambience for my work. There are traditional scholars with whom I interact regularly. The collection of manuscripts and archives at the 125-year-old Oriental Research Institute provides us with rich inputs for our work.
After retiring from service how did manage to you continue involving in the subject?
Filliozat – Sanskrit is a vast subject. There is always some pressure to do more-interesting works, discovering new ideas or new things. I, along with my wife, started studying about Hampi temple past couple of years ago. There is still lot of scope for studying and we will take one by one.
How Filliozat met Vasundhara?
“It was in 1968 that I met Filliozat when I was doing research on Vijayanagar Empire under the guidance of his father Jean Filliozat, an international scholar in Indology of pre-Independence period. Jean established the French Institute for Research on Indian Culture with support from French. We both take up various research works together. Apart from some differences, I consider him as a thorough Indian,” added Vasundara who also belongs to a family of scholars. She is daughter of Pandit Channabasavappa Kavali in Haveri. She pursued her PG in History apart from learning Sanskrit, Kannada literature, French, Tamil and English languages.