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B K Matilal

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Title: B K Matilal  
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B K Matilal

Bimal Krishna Matilal (1935–1991) was an Indian philosopher whose influential writings present the Indian philosophical tradition as being concerned with the same issues as have been the theme in Western philosophy. From 1977 to 1991 he was the Spalding Professor of Eastern Religion and Ethics at Oxford University.

Fluent in Sanskrit from an early age, Matilal was also drawn towards Mathematics and Logic. He was trained in the traditional Indian philosophical system by leading scholars of the Sanskrit College, where he himself was a teacher from 1957 to 1962. He was taught by scholars like pandit Taranath Tarkatirtha and Kalipada Tarkacharya. He also interacted with pandit Ananta Kumar Nyayatarkatirtha, Madhusudan Nyayacharya and Visvabandhu Tarkatirtha. The upadhi (degree) of Tarkatirtha (master of Logic) was awarded to him in 1962.

While teaching at Sanskrit College (an affiliated college of the University of Calcutta) between 1957 and 1962, Matilal came in contact with the Indologist Daniel Ingalls of Harvard University, who encouraged him to join the PhD program there. Matilal secured a Fulbright Fellowship and completed his PhD under Ingalls on the Navya Nyaya doctrine of negation, between 1962 and 1965. During this period he also studied with W.V.O. Quine. Subsequently, he was professor of Sanskrit at the University of Toronto, and in 1977 he was elected as Spalding Professor at Oxford University, succeeding Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan and RC Zaehner.

In his work, he presented the Indian systems of logic, particularly Nyaya-Vaishesika, Mimamsa and Buddhist philosophy, as being relevant in modern philosophical discourse. This was in contrast with the German approach to Indian studies, often called Indology, which prefers minute grammatical study as opposed to a concern for the development of the ideas as a whole in the general philosophical context. Thus, Matilal presented Indian Philosophical thought more as a synthesis rather than a mere exposition. This helped create a vibrant revival of interest in Indian philosophical tradition as a relevant source of ideas rather than a dead discipline.

He was also the founder editor of the Journal of Indian Philosophy.

Matilal died of cancer on June 8, 1991.

Works by Matilal

  1. Epistemology, Logic and Grammar in Indian Philosophical Analysis, Mouton 1971 (new edition Oxford University Press 2005)
  2. Logic, Language and Reality, Motilal Banarsidass, New Delhi 1985
  3. Perception: An essay on Classical Indian Theory of Knowledge, Oxford 1986
  4. Logical and Ethical Issues: An essay on the Indian Philosophy of Religion, Calcutta University 1982 (repr. Chronicle Books, Delhi 2004)
  5. Navya Nyâya Doctrine of Negation, Harvard Oriental Series 46, 1968
  6. The word and the world: India's contribution to the study of language, Oxford 1990
  7. The Character of Logic in India, Oxford 1999
  8. Niti, Yukti o Dharma, (in Bengali), Ananda Publishers Calcutta 1988.

See also


  1. Heeraman Tiwari, Introduction to the Logical and Ethical Issues: An essay on the Indian Philosophy of Religion, University of Calcutta 1982.
  2. J.N. Mohanty, Introduction to Relativism, Suffering and Beyond: Essays in Memory of Bimal K. Matilal, Oxford University Press 1997.
  3. In Memoriam Bimal Krishna Matilal, Journal of Indian Philosophy 1991

External links

  • Jadavpur University in January 2007.

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