In Loving Memory of
Shyam Manohar Pandey
2nd Anniversary


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When teachers leave us, it is the pillars of our life that collapse.

Professor Shyam Manohar Pandey (1936-2022) was a kind, friendly and certain presence.

Colleagues from “L’Orientale” expected to see his smiling face peeking out behind their office door for a greeting, a “Ciao Pandey!” that eased any tension at the end of the day.

He retired in 2008, but all the friends and students who were in contact with him knew he was peacefully living in London – perhaps just come back from a travel to India – working meticulously on his critical edition of Candāyan (1379).
“I have to do one stanza a day, even if it’s very tiring for the eyes,” he told me.

In this way, working untiringly and with admirable dedication for almost ten years, he reached another memorable milestone, a new critical edition of Maulānā Dāūd’s Candāyan (Dāūd kŗt Candāyan, 2 Vols, Sāhitya Bhavan, Ilāhābād, 2018).

Based on manuscripts in both nasta‘līq and devanāgarī scripts, it includes several spurious stanzas that Professor Pandey considered authentic based on some correspondences with the folk versions of the story, which allowed him to have innovative readings of the text.

His pioneering works have the merit of being much ahead of their time. His research on the oral epic of Lorik and Candā started in the 1960s in the Northern India Bhojpurī-Avadhī speaking area among Allahabad, Varanasi, Patna, Ballia, Mirzapur and other cities, are worthy of the most instructive books of folklore, anthropology and oral traditions.

He has collected the precious testimony of singers belonging to the pastoral community of the Ahīrs and immortalised in his tapes and then in his volumes a centuries-old tradition that would have otherwise disappeared.
With far-sighted anticipation, he had an exceptional sensitivity for protecting the intangible heritage that only today has become an urge for the international community.

His volumes The Hindī Oral Epic Lorikī (1979), The Hindī Oral Epic Canainī (1982), The Hindī Oral Epic Lorikāyan (1986) and Bhojpurī Lorikī in two volumes (1995, 2006), all published by Istituto Universitario Orientale (after Università “L’Orientale”) and Sāhitya Bhavan Limited, include his illuminating commentary that helps to understand lexical peculiarities and nodal passages of these narratives that are deeply dependent on the circumstances of their performance.


Professor Pandey joined the Istituto Universitario Orientale after teaching at the University of Chicago (1962-1965) and the School of Oriental and African Studies of the University of London (1968-1975).

He has also been visiting professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (1983), the University of Peking (1989) and the École Pratique des Hautes Études (1999). In his long career in Italy, he taught Hindi to generations of Italian students fond of him, his amusing approach and the unconditioned love for India he was able to transmit.

He always said that despite the international acclaim, he was happy to stay at “L’Orientale”, having the support to carry on his research with freedom, peace and a focused mind, away from any political competition or limelight. This seriousness was the basis for carrying on a worldwide praised work.

He was awarded the Viśva Hindī Sammān in 1994, Hindī Sāhitya Sammān in 1999, Bhāṣā Sammān bestowed by Sāhitya Akademi in 2000 and Pravāsī Bhāratīy Hindī Bhūṣaṇ Sammān, bestowed by the Uttar Pradesh Hindī Saṃsthān in 2001.

There are many more legacies of Professor Pandey. A Hindi-Italian dictionary he has been working on for many years is only waiting for the latest revisions to go to print. We would have loved to celebrate the publication together, remembering the hours of tireless work discussing the nuances or the specific use of a term, which ended with a smile that seemed to overcome any tricky translation.

The enormous heritage he leaves us lies in each of the essays he offered to the international community throughout his prolific scholarly career. And remains in the memory of colleagues, collaborators and devoted students worldwide. The memory of his gentle sincerity, seriousness and sober professionalism will never fade.

He has honoured us for many years of its presence, and we would have hoped it would continue for many more years of fruitful work, collaboration and devotion from all his affectionate disciples.

Stefania Cavaliere
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Shyam Manohar Pandey
1936 | 2022

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