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Faculty of Divinity



My main areas of research are the history of linguistic ideas and the philosophy of language in ancient India, with a focus on the period from the late first millennium BCE to the early second millennium CE. I am also investigating the role grammar – especially (but not exclusively) Pāṇinian grammar – played in the history of the Sanskrit language and the broader socio-political context of classical and medieval South Asia.

At the centre of my interests is the work of Bhartṛhari, the influential 5th-century Brahmanical philosopher known for his innovative views on language and epistemology, and of his 10th-century Kashmiri commentator Helārāja. My long-overdue study and annotated translation of the Sādhanasamuddeśa from the third book of the Vākyapadīya of Bhartṛhari, with the commentary of Helārāja, is now in its final stages of preparation.

In the past I have been one of the members of an international team working on the critical edition of the Kāśikā Vṛtti (7th c. CE), the first complete commentary on the Aṣṭādhyāyī of Pāṇini, the initial part of which was published in 2009 (Studies in the Kāśikāvṛtti. The section on pratyāhāras).

In recent years I have also become interested in the Tamil grammatical tradition and its relation with Sanskrit grammar, as part of the complex process of acculturation of the Dravidian South that took place from the first millennium CE and brought it into the pan-Indian cultural horizon.  In 2009 this led to the organisation in Cambridge of an international workshop on “Bilingualism and Cross-cultural Fertilisation: Sanskrit and Tamil in Mediaeval India”, co-convened with Dr Whitney Cox (then at SOAS), thanks to a British Academy Conference Support Grant.