École Française d'Extrême-Orient

The French contribution to Indian scholarship is considerable- and one of the most visible faces in this effort is the École Française d'Extrême-Orient (EFEO). Along with the French Institute of Pondicherry or the IFP, they have a vibrant publishing program- indeed the two organizations share an Indology Department, co-editing and publishing most of their publications in this area. All in all, there are something like 250 publications in different formats, encompassing a very diverse range of subjects.

La victoire de Manasa
, for instance, a translation of Manasavijaya by Vipradasa (1495) which "portrays the cruel manner in which the Goddess of Serpents established a tradition of her worship in the world. This Bengali poem, intended for singing and recitation, belongs to the literary genre of the mangalkavya. Alongside Vedic, epic and Puranic myths, it borrows themes from the literature of Nath yogins, painting a large and vivid tableau of medieval Bengali society." The 2007 translation is by France Bhattacharya.

Senji (Gingee): A fortified city in the Tamil country, recently translated by Jean Deloche is "an essay at the junction of several disciplines (archaeology, history and human geography), trying to show the evolution of the defence systems of the stronghold, the development of the urban centre, as well as the different aspects of water and grain storage which are at the root of its surprising growth."

"Senji, immortalized by Desing’s ballad, still popular in South India, is a significant place in the Tamil country. Successively occupied by the Hindus of Vijayanagar, the Nayakas, the Muslims of Bijapur, the Marathas, the Mughals and finally by the French in 1750, it was, at the end of the 16th century, one of the biggest cities of the peninsula."

The entire collection of EFEO can be ordered from Scholars: whatever titles are not on the site can be obtained by writing in. And the titles from IFP as well...

For instance: Forest landscapes of the Southern Western Ghats, India: biodiversity, human ecology and management strategies by B Ramesh and Rajan Gurukkal. "The Western Ghats forests are endowed with large species and habitat diversity, which is nowadays under threat by increasing demographic pressure and changing land use. To address these challenges, a novel and comprehensive approach is sought from the principles of landscape ecology. Morphopedological features are used to delineate landscape units all over the Western Ghats of Kerala, among which the Western Anamalai region is chosen to elucidate the relative influence of physical factors, bioclimate and anthropogenic pressures on the characteristics of natural vegetation and on the status of the vertebrate fauna. Highlighting patterns of resource utilization by proximal and distant stakeholders, the book goes about identifying value-based management zones, while proposing management strategies for conservation and sustainable development."

Pondicherry is also home to two remarkable collections of palm-leaf manuscripts. The IFP and the Pondicherry centre of the EFEO hold a manuscript collection (comprising of palm-leaf bundles, old paper codices, paper transcripts, totalling to 11353 pieces in all) of inestimable value. The Shaiva manuscripts in the IFP and the Vaisnava manuscripts in the EFEO were in 2005 deemed a UNESCO “Memory of the World” collection, in response to an application jointly submitted by the IFP, the EFEO and the National Manuscripts Mission (NMM) which is an initiative of the Government of India. More on these and the NMM in a later blog.

Meanwhile, see the listings on our Site.

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