The first volume of Collected Essays brings together research papers of Olivelle published over a period of about ten years. The unifying theme of these studies is the search for historical context and developments hidden within words and texts. Words and the cultural history represented by words that scholars often take for granted as having a continuous and long history are often new and even neologisms and thus provide important clues to cultural and religious innovations. Olivelle's book on the Âúramas, as well as the short pieces included in this volume, such as those on ânanda and dharma, seek to see cultural innovation and historical changes within the changing semantic fields of key terms. Closer examination of numerous Sanskrit terms taken for granted as central to Hinduism, provide similar results. Indian texts have often been studied in the past as disincarnate realities providing information on an ahistorical and unchanging culture. This volume is a small contribution towards correcting that method of textual study.
Patrick Olivelle is the Chair, Department of Asian Studies, at the University of Texas at Austin, where he is the Professor of Sanskrit and Indian Religions. Among his recent publications are The Samnyasa Upanisads (Oxford, 1992), The Asrama System (Oxford, 1993), Rules and Regulations of Brahmanical Asceticism (State University of New York Press, 1994), The Early Upanisads: Annotated Text and Translation (Oxford 1998), Dharmasütras: Annotated Text and Translation (Motilal Banarsidass, 2000), Manu's Code of Law: A Critical Edition and Translation of the Manava-Dharmasastra (Oxford, 2005), and Dharmasütra Parallels (Motilal Banarsidass, 2005). His translations of Upanisads, Pancatantra, Dharmasütras, and The Law Code of Manu were published in Oxford World's Classics in 1996, 1997, 1999, 2004.