Gary Tubb

Dec 2004

True, Sanskrit's extremely difficult. In fact, I'm increasingly convinced that every Sanskrit writer was a sort of proto-James Joyce, what with the language's abundant punnery and obscurantist prose. Nevertheless, Guru Tubb is as good as it gets. He's obviously devoted to the language and to his students, and he's a genuinely interesting human being without any evident aversion to digression. But really, Sanskrit is harder than Greek. Think twice before you take it.

May 2003

Professor Tubb is, perhaps, the most brilliant man I have ever encountered. Because Sanskrit itself is unbearably hard, I found it hard to actually enjoy this class, but Professor Tubb's periodic discourses on anything he happens to be interested in (religion, linguistics, South Asian cultures, etc.) relieved much of my pain. Not a good class for the language requirement, but definitely something to consider as an elective.

Apr 2003

Gary is one of the best teachers I've ever had, sanskrit, while impossibly hard and ingerently tedious, was made fun and enjoyable, and I got a pretty good grade for my troubles... Great man, incredibly knowledgable, very approchable...

Jan 2003

I can only speak from the experience of my own section (I've heard from people who took the class in previous semesters that it was much better), but this is among the worst classes I've taken, ever. This course is full of shortcomings that could be easily corrected if the profs just took the time to do so. The material covered oscillates wildly between the phenomenally dense and the absurdly simplistic, with virtually no middle ground. The syllabus and outline of the course are so vague and the readings are presented so totally out of context that it took me the better part of the semester to get even the most rudimentary sense of what exactly we were studying (for future reference, it is the history of Madhyamaka as seen through the eyes of the Tibetan philosopher Tsong Khapa, with Vedanta thrown in every other week just to make things extra confusing). This seems to be a general characteristic of nonduality scholarship; at first I though the class readings were impenetrable because the subject matter was so difficult, but in time it became clear that, while this is true, it doesn't help that virtually no one among the assigned authors can write their way out of a paper bag. Tubb is extremely nice and knows his Vedanta, but somehow his lectures manage to be simultaneously very well-organized and totally impossible to follow. Thurman is fascinating when he gets going in "Buddhist Sunday school" mode, but this is largely predicated on his ability to show up on a semi-regular basis, which is hardly a given. My section suffered immensely from a couple of graduate students who liked to hear themselves talk, to no discernable benefit for anyone else. If anyone in your section has studied extensively in Tibet but hasn't managed to pick up any monklike humility in the process, I suggest that you abandon the class immediately. Finally, although prior knowledge of Tibetan and Sanskrit is not a prerequisite, you're basically wasting your time here if you don't know at least one of them. Tubb (who also teaches Sanskrit) loves to go into the philosophical intricacies of Sanskrit grammar, and one of the underpinning theses of the course is that nonduality doesn't come across in translation to any meaningful degree.

Jan 2000

It wouldn't be fair to call Tubb's lectures boring and leave it at that. His style amounts to a peculiar reversal of normal verbal/written faculties. Most speakers work toward the ability to read aloud in a natural speaking voice. Tubb has actually developed a high proficiency in maintaining a strict monotone even while talking spontaneously. He's definitely knowledgeable about the subject matter, but it takes constant attention to extract the information from the drone.