Review and Video of the event “The research work of Indologist Miltiadis Spyrou and the unknown publications of Demetrios Galanos in India”

By Vula Bolou

Click on the photo to watch the video recording of the event on Diavlos channel.
(The name of Dimitrios Vassiliadis has been written as Spyridon by mistake).

One of the most important events in the history of Greek Indology took place at the Academy of Athens on Tuesday, June 13, 2023, at 19.00. The theme of the event was “The research work of Indologist Miltiadis Spyros and the unknown publications of Demetrios Galanos in India”, which conveyed the spirit of unity of two cultures, Greek and Indian, over a period of about three centuries.

The President of the Academy, Prof. Michael Stathopoulos, opened the session. He laid out the chronological frame of the research project of the late Dr. Miltiadis Spyrou (1934-2019), whose objective was focused on the work of the pioneering Greek Indologist, Demetrios Galanos the Athenian (1760-1830). After his introductory speech, the President of the Academy presented the first copy of the book by Miltiadis Spyrou “Demetrios Galanos – His Life and Unknown Work in India” published by the Hellenic-Indian Society for Culture and Development (ELINEPA).

The President of the Academy of Athens, Prof. Michael Stathopoulos, launches the first copy of Miltiades Spyrou’s book on D. Galanos and congratulates Dr. Dimitrios Vassiliadis and Ambassador of Australia Mr. Arthur Spyrou on its publication

Following that, H.E. the Ambassador of Australia to the Hellenic Republic, Mr. Athanasios Spyrou, the son of Miltiadis Spyrou, spoke of his father’s life journey, who, along with his mother, traveled extensively and collected a plethora of material on Galanos’ writings and on other eminent personalities of the Greek Community in Bengal from Greek, Indian and British Archives in Athens, London, Varanasi, Calcutta, Dhaka and other cities in India and Bangladesh.

The former President of the Academy of Athens, Prof. Antonios Kounadis, in his speech, provided a synopsis of the life of Demetrios Galanos, elaborating on the tremendous impact of his work in the development of Sanskrit and Indological studies in the Western World.

The main speaker of the event was Indologist Dr Dimitrios Vasiliadis, the second Greek after Miltiadis Spyrou to be awarded the Ph.D. degree from Banaras Hindu University. Dr Vassiliadis’ presentation was divided into two parts: the first outlined the work of Demetrios Galanos and of the most significant authors who wrote afterwards about him. The second part was dedicated to the research of Miltiadis Spyrou, which revealed many unknown facts about Galanos’ life in India.  These facts have altered the idea of Galanos as a secluded scholar. They clearly demonstrate his active participation in the educational life of Varanasi, which culminated in his nomination as the first foreign Director of the Hindu Sanskrit College of Banaras.  Dr. Vassiliadis also presented a synopsis of the letters of Galanos to Indian Newspapers, published under the pseudonym “Philanthropos”, that Dr Miltiades Spyrou had collected over the years. These letters cover various topics of national, social and anthropological interest. All these letters have been digitalized and are now available in Miltiadis Spyrou’s book on Demetrios Galanos.

Dr. Dimitrios Vassiliadis talks about the sacred memory of Dimitrios Galanos and Miltiadis Spyrou
referring to the saying of Dionysios Solomos “We fall but our work for the homeland remains”

President of the Academy of Athens Prof. Stathopoulos in his concluding remarks said that the story of the three Greek Indologists – Galanos, Spyrou, Vassiliadis – is a story of the strong connection between the two cultures and of sharing knowledge through the eons. This shows how the broadening of minds and the expansion of hearts with the emphasis on similarities and not differentiations, should be our guiding light both in our academic and our day-to-day life. 

(From left to right): President of ELINEPA Dr. Dimitrios Vassiliadis, President of the Academy of Athens Prof. Michael Stathopoulos, former Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias, and Ambassador of Australia Mr. Arthur Spyrou

The message was clear to the audience, which consisted of members of the Academy, Indologist professors, students of Sanskrit, Hindi and Indian philosophy, and friends of South Asian Studies. Among the official guests who attended the event were the Αrchbishop’s representative His Eminence Archimandrite  Seraphim Rivios, former Foreign Minister Mr. Nikos Dendias, and H.E. the Ambassador of Bangladesh to Greece Mr. Ashud Ahmed with his wife Sultana.