a1 Assistant Professor of Religious Studies and Classical Languages, St Lawrence University
Ever since the work of Horace Hayman Wilson in the early decades of the nineteenth century, the Purānas have had a certain fascination for Western scholars which, if not rivaling the fascination that they have had for Hindus themselves, has at least been substantial. This seems particularly to have been the case in recent years, as both anthropologists and textual scholars, their appetites whetted by the development of various scholarly methods, have cultivated the Purānic field with diligence, and apparent fruitfulness. Especially when considered in conjunction with the often allied inquiry into the Hindu epics, it seems safe to say that we have here a field in which the labourers are many, and the crops diverse.
* This article is a slightly revised version of a paper presented at a conference in honour of Wilfred Cantwell Smith at the Center for the Study of World Religions, Harvard University, 15–17 June 1979. Its title is inspired by Smith's article, ‘The Study of Religion and the Study of the Bible’, Journal of the American Academy of Religion xxxix, 2 (June 1971), 131–40.