Heeraman Tiwari

senior fellow
EURIAS cohort 2014/2015
discipline Indian Philosophy and Intellectual History
Full Professor, Centre for Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University

Research project

Text and Tradition: Commentary and Memory as Generators of Intellectual History in Ancient India


Texts come into being and go, but tradition remains; tradition contains memory of texts and their contents. Texts and tradition both compliment each other, enrich each other. Texts preserve and represent tradition; tradition in turn reflects upon the texts which have been and point to those which are yet to be produced. Tradition also mediates and meditates between two sets of texts – texts from the past and those of the present. Sometimes, traditions are also perceived to be inventing and reinventing texts which may or may not have direct connection with the texts of the past. In early India, like elsewhere in the world, production of literary, philosophical and religious texts was woven in the pattern of texts, commentaries and meta-texts. For example, the ancient Indian seers, writers and philosophers all represented their traditions in their writings; they also reflected upon the tradition they were representing in a way that furthered, renewed and strengthened their particular tradition. In ancient Indian literature and philosophy the concept of underlining affiliation to the tradition is strong. A scholar who may have produced absolutely new ideas, may still wish to maintain that what he is doing, or has done, is not more than collating, scrutinizing and repeating what has already been said by his elders in the tradition. This study seeks to look for answers to the problem of texts and their contexts and their affiliation to a particular tradition in which they may have been generated. Texts and their commentaries appear to be the main source of generating a tradition.



Heeraman Tiwari is Full Professor at the Centre for Historical Studies, School of Social Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi. He has been awarded with the Heinrich Zimmer Chair for Indian Philosophy and Intellectual History at Ruprecht Karls University, Heidelberg during the academic year 2011-2012. He holds a D.Phil. in Indian Philosophy from Balliol College at Oxford University; and a Ph.D. in Sanskrit (Indian Philosophy) from Delhi University.      


His principal areas of specialization are Indian Philosophy of Language with special emphasis on Epistemology and Metaphysics, Sanskrit Language, and Literature and Tradition. He also works in the area of India’s Intellectual History from ancient to medieval period.  


Selected publications


Culture, People and Power: India and the Globalised World, with A. Mattoo (eds), ICCR/Shipra Publications, Delhi, 2014.


'Epic Identity and Humanism in Ancient India: A Refined Idea in Rough World', in A. Mattoo & H. Tiwari (eds), Culture, People and Power: India and the Globalised World, ICCR/Shipra Publications, Delhi, 2014, pp. 177-192.


'Tradition and Memory: Filiation and Identity in Early Sanskrit Literature and Philosophy', in R.P. Bahuguna, R. Dutta & F. Nasreen (eds), Negotiating Religion: Perspectives from Indian History, Manohar Books, Delhi, 2012, pp. 61-83. 

'Language, Memory and the Vernaculars: the Power of the Ramcaritmanas in India’s Epic Culture', in S.K. Mitra (ed.), The Heidelberg Papers in South Asian and Comarative Politics  [online], working paper no. 66, Heidelberg University, Heidelberg, March 2012. 


The Character of Logic in India, with B.K. Matilal & J. Ganeri (eds), State University of New York Press, Albany, 1998; Indian edition, Oxford University Press, Delhi, 1999.


'One and Many: Early Naiyayikas and the Problem of Universals', Journal of Indian Philosophy, vol. 22, no. 2, Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht, 1994, pp. 137-170. 


junior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2012/2013
Israel Institute for Advanced Studies (IIAS)
discipline Linguistics
senior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2015/2016
Israel Institute for Advanced Studies (IIAS)
discipline History
senior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2013/2014
Israel Institute for Advanced Studies (IIAS)
discipline History
senior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2017/2018
Israel Institute for Advanced Studies (IIAS)
discipline Computer Science