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RLR 700 - Hindu Shastras: Finding Primary and Secondary Sources for the Study of the Shastras

Resources for the study of the shastras

Step One: Use the Guide

Refer to the Oxford Bibliographies provided in this guide. The scholars who have crafted these bibliographies know their objects of knowledge better than anyone else. Go through the lists that they provide, paying attention to the ways in which they organize this body of knowledge. Also note the date at which the bibliography was last revised because this will tell you the timeframe that you need to investigate regarding resources published between then and now. 

Step Two: Use Worldcat

Navigate to Worldcat in DiscoverE. Worldcat is a database that (in theory) can tell you what has been published as it relates to your search query, not simply what is currently held at Emory. This is useful for knowing what you will need to request via interlibrary loan and/or what might be out of reach until you can plan a trip to an overseas archive. 

Get comfortable with using Boolean operators in your search. To use Boolean operators (AND, OR, NOT) within search phrases, enter them in uppercase letters. You can also enter a question mark to perform a single character wildcard search. For example, type wom?n to search for records that contain the strings woman, women, and so forth. Or you can enter an asterisk to perform a multiple character wildcard search. For example, type cultur* to search for records that contain strings, such as culture, cultural, and culturally.

  • In the case of the shastras, it might be helpful to craft keyword searches like "manu AND dharma." Compare the number of results for this search (18) versus what you get with "manu OR dharma" (1,322). 
  • The lists of the texts under the "Translations of..." tabs in this guide were crafted from Worldcat searches.

Step Three: Use Google

Conduct a Google search about your topic. There are at least two central reasons that this is useful.

One, digitized versions of texts related to the study of South Asia are coming up ALL THE TIME. It may be the case that the text that you're looking for can be found from a digital archive such as the Hathi Trust, the Internet Archive, or one of the Indology-specific digital repositories (such as SARIT or GRETIL).

Two, click on Google Books. This can be helpful if there is a preview of a book that might be relevant to you. If so, you can search for it in Worldcat and either retrieve it from an Emory library or request it through ILL. 

Step Four: Use the bibliographies of scholars whose research is helpful to you

Find a book that speaks meaningfully and intelligently on the topic that you're interested in and examine that scholar's bibliography. It is very likely that someone else has worked on the topic that you are interested in. Checking out the details of his or her bibliography will help you in a variety of ways - it will tell you the other texts that you should be reading, i.e. lead you to new sources; it will tell you what that scholar believes constitutes evidence; and it will give you a chance to consider how you might intervene in the scholarly conversation, e.g. perhaps by adding a related, but different corpus of evidence or by interrogating the validity of the evidence presented (perhaps it is incomplete or incorrect). 

If you find a monograph or journal article that you need to read, conduct a search in DiscoverE for the title of the monograph or the title of the journal (For a list of journals relevant for the study of South Asia, click here). If you want to find more articles on your topic, try JSTOR for relevant peer-reviewed articles and now books. 

Step Five: Use the Virtual Browse feature

Once you've found some texts that are important to your topic, use the Virtual Browse feature in DiscoverE. This mimics what it is like to actually browse the shelves in the library. Each text is grouped according to subject heading, so it is very likely that a text that you find helpful is surrounded by other helpful texts.

Step Six: Come to the Library

Please feel free to reach out any time for help with finding relevant material. You can find me at ellen.ambrosone@emory.edu or (404) 727-1277. Aside from helping you find the resources that you need for research, I can also help you get organized by using reference management software such as Zotero. 

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