Becoming a PANDiT

If your quarantine days were not as productive as you expected, you still have time to catch up. This summer, you should undoubtedly contribute to PANDiT, the Prosopographical Database for Indic Texts.

But let’s start from the beginning: what is prosopography? It is a method for studying history that investigates the common characteristics of a group of people by studying the lives of their members; it looks at patterns of relationships and activities through the study of collective biography; it collects and analyses statistically relevant quantities of biographical data about a well-defined group of individuals.

Prosopography is, thus, a useful method for studying history, and it proves to be particularly useful for the study of those diverse, at times fragmented and always expanding realities that enlivened the Indian Subcontinent throughout its history.

The PANDiT Project began in 2012 as a niche database for a highly focused research project on Appaya Dikṣīta led by Yigal Bronner (Hebrew University of Jerusalem). Originally, “the database was to account for all of Appayya Dīkṣita’s one hundred works, related works, and the people and places to which he and his works were tied.” However, the scope of the database soon became larger and aimed at creating “a rich, easily accessible, thoroughly searchable, and constantly updated digital database of South Asian prosopography: people, works, places, sources, and their diverse ties” and, most importantly, a “hub of a vibrant and large body of researchers who will rely on its data and contribute regularly to it […] to foster exchange and collaboration in the scholarly community.”

Using PANDit is easy: you can look for people, by searching their names or historical period (years):

You can look for works according to discipline and genre:

And search for places according to site, institution, and state. Sources, moreover, are classified among manuscripts, extracts, and prints.

Therefore, if you are looking for a net of information on pre-modern Indian sources and people, PANDiT definitely makes you life easier!

However, being a paṇḍita (Skt. for ‘scholar,’ ‘teacher’) in the digital age also means being able to share your knowledge through digital tools; PANDiT is, in fact, a collaborative project that bases its developments on the active contributions of the scholarly community of Indologists and Sanskritists.

You can find here the guidelines to follow when implementing the database, so please, have fun with it!

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