Great Minds of the Eastern Intellectual Tradition

Last week was devoted to reading about the Eastern Intellectual Tradition. Things that are closer home are often taken for granted, as they say, -ghar ki murgi daal barabar- and it was left to the Western scholars to explore and analyse this treasure. I found the depth of knowledge of Professor Grant Hardy, Ph.D., Yale University,University of North Carolina at Asheville quite impressive.


Dr. Grant Hardy is Professor of History and Religious Studies and Director of the Humanities Program at the University of North Carolina at Asheville. He earned his B.A. in Ancient Greek from Brigham Young University and his Ph.D. in Chinese Language and Literature from Yale University.

Professor Hardy has received a wealth of awards and accolades for both his teaching and his scholarship. At the University of North Carolina, he won the 2002 Distinguished Teacher Award for the Arts and Humanities Faculty, and he was named to a Ruth and Leon Feldman Professorship for 2009 to 2010. He also received a research grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, and he participated in scholarly symposia at prestigious universities around the world, including Harvard University and the University of Heidelberg.

Professor Hardy has written, co-written, or edited six books, including Worlds of Bronze and Bamboo: Sima Qian’s Conquest of History; The Establishment of the Han Empire and Imperial China; and the first volume of the Oxford History of Historical Writing. In addition, he has written or revised a majority of the articles on imperial China for the World Book Encyclopedia.

Prof Hardy possesses great knowledge about Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, and other Eastern traditions. What impressed me the most is not his knowledge about far East, of which he is the accomplished scholar, but his knowledge of India- of Vedas, Upanishads, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, Shankaracharya, Ramanuj, Nanak, Gandhi, Iqbal, Tagore and Dr. S Radhakrishnan. In fact, I discovered through Prof Hardy that Dr. S. Radhakrishnan, the former President of India is one of the best experts on Hinduism. To me he seems to be an unsung hero in the modern days India- it is a fashion to talk about Gandhi, and Nehru, and Patel, people seldom talk about Dr Radhakrishna. I am reading Bhagavad Gita critically using Chimnayananda Saraswati’s commentary, but would now be using Dr Radhakrishnan’s commentary also.

East has had rich intellectual tradition. Unfortunately, the people of the East don’t know much about it. When Yoga comes back from the West it becomes popular in India. Time to sift through our own treasury ourselves, and discover the hidden gems.

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