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Catholic Scholar to Research Bhakti Literature
By   |  Sep 19, 2009

A senior professor of Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium, has called for more researches into the Bhakti (devotion) movement that still inspires India.

“We cannot overestimate the impact of Bhakti songs on modern India,” Winand Callewaert said at a ceremony in the Indian embassy in Brussels on September 11th. The event was organized to launch his book “Dictionary of Bhakti.”

The dictionary in three large volumes is the translation of North-Indian Bhakti (religious and devotional) texts into Hindi (Khari Boli) and English, Asia News reported September 12th.

Callewaert, who holds masters degrees in Hindi and Sanskrit literature from India’s Ranchi University and Ph.D. from Leuven University (Belgium), currently teaches Sanskrit and Hinduism at the Catholic University of Leuven.

The professor has been studying and working in India since 1965.

The practice of Bhakti (devotion) emphasizes devotion above ritual. The Bhakti movement in India was responsible for the many rites and rituals associated with the worship of God by Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs.

Jemini Bhagwati, Indian envoy to Belgium, hailed Callewaert’s dictionary and said it was “a truly exceptional work by a person who grew up in the West and spent so many years in India to learn Sanskrit and complete the work.”

Willy Vande Walle, professor of Japanese studies at the university, in his speech noted that the largest number of Sanskrit students outside India is in Japan.

Tillo Detige, who has just graduated from the Indology department of Ghent University, explained two main motives attract students in Belgium to Indian studies.

One is academic related to Indian politics, culture and language while the other spiritual linked to India’s rich culture of philosophy and religion.

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