Profile of Ramanath Sharma

An eminent scholar, professor, and writer


Ramanath Sharma was born in the family of traditional Sanskrit scholars at Chhata, Ballia, U.P., India. He received his High School and College education at Varanasi , and then an M.A. from the Allahabad University (1959 in Hindi Literature). He received another M.A. degree in General Linguistics from the K.M. Institute, Agra University in 1962. He worked for a while as a visiting Research Linguist with an American team of the University of Chicago writing the grammar of the Munda language at Ranchi . He joined the Hindi department of the Allahabad University as an Assistant Professor of Linguistics in 19062, teaching Linguistics and Hindi literature. He came to the University of Rochester in 1966 where he earned his Ph.D. in General Linguistics in 1971. He also taught at the University of Rochester (1970-1975) as an Assistant Professor of Linguistics. He moved to the University of Hawaii in 1976 where he is currently Professor of Sanskrit.

Learning Sanskrit has remained his goal since childhood. He received Sanskrit education from his father Padmashree Pandit Raghunath Sharma between the ages 6 through 18. While in India, he wrote and published Hindi poems, short stories and critical appreciation in journals. Both at Allahabad and Varanasi, he was fortunate to come in close contact with great literary personalities of Hindi literature.

His primary research interest is the 5th century B.C. grammar of Panini. He has thus far published six volumes on this grammar under the title The Astadhyayi of Panini (New Delhi, Munshiram Manoharlal). Another four-volume study on this grammar, the English translation of the Sanskrit commentary the Kashika-vrtti is soon to be published. He has systematically studied the Brahmanical texts (Vedas, Brahmanas, Upanishads, the Grhyasuutras and smrtis) in the last 15 years. He is currently working on three books: (1) The Wonder that was a Brahmana; (2) Dharma, Karma and Yoga (a comprehensive study in the Indian tradition) and (3) Samskaras.

He has made scores of presentations at national-international conferences, and has made many significant contributions to anthologies on representation of knowledge in Indian tradition. He is recognized for his lectures on the Brahmanical tradition, and the Bhagavadgita. More recently, he was invited to teach mini courses, and present lecture series on Panini's grammar at over a dozen Indian Universities, including the Delhi, and Jawaharlal Universities, and National Sanskrit Institute, and the I.I.T. Kanpur, under a Fulbright Lecture grant (2005). Panini's grammar is ancient, but deals head on with issues in rule-formulation, interpretation, order and application. This grammar is a subject of careful modern studies now because of its contribution to the current knowledge in the area of automation and artificial intelligence. Sharma's six-volumes are the only source in the English language for most comprehensive knowlege of Panini. His work has received generous recognition, internationally. It has also facililitated to a great deal the development of a Web presentation of the Astadhyayi by Shivamurthy Swamiji, and the development of software on Panini by Professor Gert Unruh of Germany .