Friday 14 August 2020

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Culture | Literature

Sanskrit scholar & historian Dr Jose Pereira passes away in USA


Padmabhushan Dr Jose Pereira, eminent Sanskrit scholar, historian, musicologist, writer, linguist and artist, based in New York, USA passed away today morning after prolonged illness.

He was 84.

Hailing from Curtorim in Salcete taluka of Goa, Dr Pereira was born in Mumbai on 22 January 1931.

After graduating with Honours in Sanskrit in 1951 from Siddharth College and obtaining PhD in Ancient History and Culture from St Xavier’s College in 1949, he flew to Portugal as a lecturer at Lisbon’s Insituto Superior de Estudoes Ultramarinos.

However, he had to leave Portugal within a year for his public statement: “Goa has a cultural identity of its own and can never be a showcase of the greatness of the Portuguese.”

He then worked as a Research Fellow on the History of Indian Art at the London School of Oriental Studies for six years and then at Banaras in India as a research scholar till 1970. However, Dr Pereira then shifted his base to teach at Fordham University in New York till he retired.

Besides writing 145 research articles and papers on several issues, Dr Pereira has also authored 24 books on diverse subjects in literature, architecture, theology, music etc, like ‘Hindu Theology’, ‘Monolithic Jinas’, ‘Konkani Mandakini’, ‘Songs of Goa (Mando)’ and ‘Golden Goa’s Art’.

Well known internationally for his Fresco Paintings, Dr Pereira, a student of J J School of Art, had put up his first painting exhibition in Mumbai at the age of 18 and later in Delhi in 1969, depicting Goan life captioned: ‘Images of Goa.’

Having command over not less than 13 languages, Dr Pereira was a strong proponent of Konkani as a language.

“Konkani is a language with music in its veins and noble blood of Sanskrit in its arteries”, he had said.

His paintings on ‘Epiphanies of the Hindu Gods’ had become a sudden controversy in 2010 when Hindu fundamentalists had protested against nudity in his paintings while Dr Pereira, quoting Sanskrit scriptures, had provided scholarly justification to his works.

Recognising his contribution to Indian history and literature, Government of India had conferred on him the Padma Bhushan in 2012.

Perhaps he is the only Goan having attained one of the highest civilian awards of India while settled abroad. 

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