Krishnan Venkatesh

Bio: Born in Malaysia in 1960 to a South Indian Brahmin father and a Hakka Chinese mother, Venkatesh was brought up in England and studied English literature at Magdalene College, Cambridge, where he obtained First Class honors. He subsequently did research for over four years on Shakespeare at the University of Muenster, Germany, as a wissenschaftlicher mitarbeiter for the great Shakespeare scholar Marvin Spevack. From 1986-89 he taught literature and philosophy at Shanxi University, People’s Republic of China. Both his personal and academic background make him well suited to being a “bridge” between various traditions. Since 1989 he has taught at St. John’s College, Santa Fe, both in the two Western Great Books programs (for which the college is most famous) and was one of the shapers of the unique Eastern Classics Master’s program, in which he has taught for over 20 years. The program involves close study of the classics of China, India and Japan, as well as rigorous immersion in Classical Chinese or Sanskrit for the sake of greater intimacy with the texts. Venkatesh has taught in all areas of the program, including Chinese and Sanskrit. From 2003-2008 he was the dean of graduate studies at the college. With Socrates in the Phaedrus, he is skeptical of the value of writing and therefore of publication, and believes strongly in conversation as the most powerful mode of learning – the “writing in the heart.” St. John’s College has been an ideal academic home for him because of the shared belief in the power of discussion within a sincere community of learning. In the last decade he has spent a total of about two years in India. His recent areas of work have included the Pali Canon of the Buddha, the Japanese philosopher Dogen, and the mathematical books of Johannes Kepler. The lifelong companions at his bedside include Montaigne, Chaucer, Thomas Hardy the poet, Blake, Wordsworth, Zhuangzi, Chekhov, Tolstoy, Austen, Balzac, and Laxness -- a beautiful fellowship. Shakespeare is always close at hand.

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4 thoughts on “About

  1. Dear Krishnan, My name is Benny Liow and I am the editor of Eastern Horizon (www.easternhorizon.org), tri-annual journal of the Young Buddhist Association of Malaysia (YBAM). I came across an article of yours in Tricycle called “The Buddha Talks to a Brahmin Supremacist” based on the Assalayana Sutta, MN 93. I would very much like to seek your permission to reprint the article in our next issue of Eastern Horizon due in may 2017.

    Our magazine is a non-sectarian and non-profit Buddhist magazine. Like others helping to produce this magazine, I am also a volunteer as we all work full time in various professions. I will be happy to send you a copy of our magazine when the article is published.

    On a separate note, I read in your profile that you are born in Malaysia to a South Indian Brahmin and a Hakka lady. Well, if you do visit Malaysia, please let me know and we will like to welcome you to your country of birth.

    I look forward to hearing from you soon,

    regards and metta

    • Dear Benny — Nice to meet you, and thank you for asking me. I’m honored. I don’t really know how it works with magazine publishing, but since Tricycle paid me for the article, does it not mean that permission must come from them? Do you know?
      You dit a great magazine.Next time I am in Malaysia I will certainly look you up. Do you know my uncle, Date Shankar, the judge? With best wishes –Krishnan

  2. Dear Krishnan, It’s great to discover your posts! You will hardly remember, but we were young scholars (well, you were a bit younger) at Marvin Spevack’s chair in Muenster together. Later I went on to gain a Chair at Bayreuth University (Bavaria), eventually turning emeritus two years ago. It always intrigued me that you were from Malaysia, a country where I happened to grow up for a few years. I’m now spearheading a research cluster on intercultural communication in relation to literature, much of it keyed to my secondary appointment at SISU in Shanghai. Right now I’m preparing to leave for a short research spell in London, but I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to say HI and how much I appreciate your thoughts about the interweaving east-west communications in literature.
    My best regards, Michael Steppat

    • Michael! What a nice surprise. It is good to hear from you, and to see that you’ve had a fruitful and interesting path. I remember our daily interactions very clearly. Do you keep in touch with people from those days? I have been very bad at maintaining contact. I’d also very much like to hear more about your inter-cultural communications project. Best — Krishnan

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