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Sheldon Pollock

Arvind Raghunathan Professor of South Asian Studies, Department of Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies, Columbia University

Governing Board Member, SOF/Heyman, Columbia University (2006–2009)

Headshot of Sheldon Pollock

Sheldon Pollock is the Arvind Raghunathan Professor of South Asian Studies. From 2005-2011 he served as the William B. Ransford Professor of Sanskrit and Indian Studies at Columbia, and before that as the George V. Bobrinskoy Distinguished Service Professor of Sanskrit and Indic Studies at the University of Chicago, where he taught from 1989-2005. He was educated at Harvard University, receiving his undergraduate degree in Classics (Greek) magna cum laude in 1971 before earning a Masters in Sanskrit and Indian Studies in 1973. His Ph.D. in Sanskrit and Indian Studies followed in 1975. His areas of specialization are Sanskrit philology, Indian intellectual and literary history, and, increasingly, comparative intellectual history.

Pollock is General Editor of the Murty Classical Library of India (Harvard U. Press). He was General Editor of the Clay Sanskrit Library, for which he also edited and translated a number of volumes, and joint editor of "South Asia across the Disciplines," a collaborative venture of the University of California Press, University of Chicago Press, and Columbia University Press. He also directs the international collaborative research project "Sanskrit Knowledge Systems on the Eve of Colonialism."

His publications include the monograph The Language of the Gods in the World of Men: Sanskrit, Culture, and Power in Premodern India (2006), which won the Coomaraswamy Prize from the Association of Asian Studies as well as the Lionel Trilling Award, and the edited volume Literary Cultures in History: Reconstructions from South Asia (2003). Two new book projects are entitled Liberation Philology (Harvard University Press) and Reader on Rasa: A Historical Sourcebook in Indian Aesthetics, the first in a new series of historical sourcebooks on classical Indian thought that he is editing for Columbia University Press.

In 2008, Pollock's students arranged a conference in his honor entitled Language, Culture and Power. In the same year, he received a Distinguished Achievement Award from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, for significant contributions to humanistic inquiry. In 2009, he received the President's Award for Sanskrit, and in 2010, the Padma Shri award, both from the Government of India. His newest initiative is the Ambedkar Sanskrit Fellowship Program at Columbia, which aims to establish an endowment to fund graduate studies in Sanskrit for students from historically disadvantaged communities