World- Renowned Sanskrit Scholar is No More

Reverend Father Noel Kantilal Sheth, a Jesuit priest, an accomplished Sanskrit scholar and eminent Indian Philosopher, died of a heart attack on 8 July, 2017 while attending a Conference in Bogota, capital of the South American country of Columbia. He was 74.

Fr Noel Sheth was attending the Conference organized by University Institutions of Philosophy. On the last day of the Conference he felt tired and skipped the final session and the dinner. Later he was found dead near a staircase.  His mortal remains will be bought soon to Mumbai, India, where it will be laid to rest.

Father Sheth was born on October 31, 1943, in Mumbai and entered the Society of Jesus on June 20, 1960. He was a gold medallist in MA Sanskrit from the University of Pune. Later we went to do his Doctorate in Sanskrit from Harvard University, where he was awarded a full scholarship.  His book The Divinity of Krishna was very scholarly and very well appreciated by the world of scholars.

He returned to Pune to be a full-time member of the teaching Faculty of Papal Seminary and Jnana-Deepa Vidyapeeth, the President of JDV during 1999-2006 and Papal Seminary Rector from 1991 to 1994. He received the “Dr. Sam Higginbottom Award for the Best Principals of India, 2004-2005.” He was the Convener of the History of Religion Section of the 14th World Sanskrit Conference held in Kyoto, Japan in September 2009. He has published widely in India and abroad on Sanskrit and Pali exegesis and on comparative philosophy and theology. He is a member of several National and International learned bodies and International Administrative Bodies. After retiring from JDV and Papal Seminary in 2008 he returned to Mumbai and joined St. Xavier’s College (Autonomous), teaching Sanskrit and doing research.

Father George Pattery, the President of South Asian Conference, which also includes the Jesuits in India, hailed Father Sheth as “an erudite scholar in Sanskrit Literature which enabled him to be thorough in his research. He could authoritatively speak on Hindu Literature which won him friends among scholars.”

Bishop Thomas Dabre, a close friend and colleague of Professor Sheth, celebrated a special Mass at the Papal Seminary on 10 July and praised his commitment and collaboration in inter-religious dialogue in various parts of India.

Fr. Sheth had studied eleven languages, including Latin and Greek. He is a widely recognised scholar on Hinduism, Sankrit and Pali and had committed himself to Inter-Religious Dialogue and Indian Christianity. He was truly a “servant, scholar, teacher and administrator,” who showed a keen interest in India and the Church.

Reported by Fr. Kuruvilla Pandikattu SJ for DNC Times