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Henry Thomas Colebrooke
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 8/23/20

Image
Henry Thomas Colebrooke
A bust of Henry Thomas Colebrooke currently owned by the Royal Asiatic Society
Born: 15 June 1765, London, England
Died: 10 March 1837 (aged 71), London, England
Nationality: British
Occupation: Orientalist
Known for: Sanskrit scholar, one of the founders of the Royal Asiatic Society, one of the founders and second president of the Royal Astronomical Society

Henry Thomas Colebrooke FRS FRSE (15 June 1765 – 10 March 1837) was an English orientalist and mathematician. He has been described as "the first great Sanskrit scholar in Europe".[1]

Biography

Henry Thomas Colebrooke was born on 15 June 1765. His parents were Sir George Colebrooke, 2nd Baronet, MP for Arundel and Chairman of the East India Company from 1769, and Mary Gaynor, daughter and heir of Patrick Gaynor of Antigua.

Sir George Colebrooke, 2nd Baronet (14 June 1729 – 5 August 1809), of Gatton in Surrey, was an English merchant banker, chairman of the East India Company and Member of Parliament, who bankrupted himself through unwise speculations.

He acquired Arnos Grove house in 1752 on the death of his father.


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The house was built after the London banker James Colebrooke bought the Arnolds estate in 1719[4] or 1720.[5] The estate was previously owned by William Whitmore, inherited via Thomas Whitmore from the daughter of William Acton, who purchased from Sir John Weld.[6] The house was later inherited by George Colebrooke and sold to Abraham Hume...

The mansion was described in 1821 by Edward Mogg in Paterson's Roads as:[9]

containing many apartments, equally conspicuous for size, elegance, and that air of close domestic comfort so extremely desirable in the ever-varying climate of this country; these were highly adorned by the refined taste and liberality of the late proprietor [Mr Walker] and exhibit, besides a select and valuable collection of paintings, numerous Etruscan vases and other antiquities from Herculaneum and Pompeii, about 4000 specimens of choice minerals, scientifically arranged, and a beautiful cabinet of maple-wood, in which there is a vast number of scarce and estimable shells. The paintings of the staircase, executed by Lanscroon, a pupil of Verrio, in 1723, and representing the triumphal entry of Julius Caesar into Rome, and the apotheosis of that hero, are in good preservation, and may be considered, with the exception of those in the royal palaces, the best staircase decorations now remaining in Middlesex. Several of the principal apartments are fitted up in a costly but delicate style; there is a fine chimneypiece of Sicilian jasper in the dining room, which was executed in Italy, and comprises a beautiful mask of Apollo, in statuary marble; the chimneypiece of the drawing room is likewise of Sicilian jasper, and this apartment is adorned with pillars and pilasters, imitative of the same material.

-- Arnos Grove house, by Wikipedia


After the death of his father and an older brother, George was left in sole charge of the family bank in Threadneedle Street, and invested some of his wealth in buying up control of the borough of Arundel in Sussex, where the family lived. Arundel was not a classic pocket borough, where the power to return MPs was literally tied to property rights that could be freely bought and sold, but a thoroughly corrupt one where bribery was routine and where maintaining influence of the elections required constant expenditure. Nevertheless, Colebrooke kept control for twenty years, sitting himself as its MP from 1754 to 1774 and for most of the period being able to choose also who held the other seat. Meanwhile, his brother, James had bought control of one seat in another rotten borough, Gatton in Surrey, for £23,000, and was also sitting in Parliament.

Both brothers were at first Opposition Whigs, but switched support to the Duke of Newcastle's government and were rewarded in 1759 with the creation of a baronetcy for James (who had daughters but no son) and a special remainder of the baronetcy to George. When James died in 1761, George inherited both the baronetcy, Gatton Park and the Lordship of the Manor at Gatton with its guaranteed control of one of the parliamentary seats there. He had Gatton Park landscaped by Capability Brown between 1762 and 1768

More valuably, however, Colebrooke's support for Newcastle ensured his eligibility for lucrative government contracts. By 1762, he held two of these contracts, one for remitting money to the British forces in the American colonies and the other for victualling the troops there. But with Newcastle's fall from power in that year, Colebrooke was immediately ejected from one contract by the new government, and the other was not renewed when it expired in 1765. Though offered compensation or new contracts on the formation of the Rockingham government, he preferred instead to accept a well-paid post as chirographer to the Court of Common Pleas. From this point onwards although he retained his seat in Parliament he was rarely active there.

Colebrooke's business interests were diverse. He speculated in land, buying large estates in Lanarkshire, and purchased plantations in Antigua (where his wife already had interests), Grenada and Dominica; he was also a member of a syndicate to settle the Ohio Valley in 1768, and had interests in New England. (Colebrook, New Hampshire is named in his honour.) Two interests in particular, however, led to his eventual downfall: his involvement in the East India Company and his speculations in raw materials.

Colebrooke was a Director of the East India Company from 1767–1771, Deputy Chairman 1768-69 and was elected Chairman three times, in 1769, 1770 and 1772. His final year in office was a disastrous one: the company got into financial difficulties (which led to the passing of the Regulating Act of 1773), he was accused of speculating in its stock while Chairman, and was left heavily in debt to a number of the other leading figures in the company, partly through arrangements to procure votes in the Company's elections. He lost much larger sums, however, speculating on prices of raw materials - hemp, flax, lead, logwood and alum among others. In 1771 he lost £190,000 dealing in hemp; from 1772 he was attempting to corner the world's supply of alum, buying up mines in Yorkshire and Lancashire, and saw much of the remainder of his fortune swallowed up when the market collapsed as part of a wider financial crisis.

At first, Colebrooke was able to stay in business with assistance from the Bank of England, but his bank temporarily stopped payment on 31 March 1773, and permanently (after three years in the control of trustees appointed by his creditors) on 7 August 1776. Yet at the same period he was spending considerable sums on the rebuilding of his London house in Soho Square. Most of his property, including his share in the rotten borough at Gatton, was sold to meet his liabilities, and a commission of bankruptcy was taken out against him in 1777.

-- George Colebrooke, by Wikipedia


He was educated at home.[2]

In 1782 Colebrooke was appointed through his father's influence to a writership with the East India Company in Calcutta. In 1786 and three years later he was appointed assistant collector in the revenue department at Tirhut. He wrote Remarks on the Husbandry and Commerce of Bengal, which was privately published in 1795, by which time he had transferred to Purnia. This opposed the East India Company's monopoly on Indian trade, advocating instead for free trade between Britain and India, which caused offence to the East India Company's governors.[2]

He was appointed to the magistracy of Mirzapur in 1795 and was sent to Nagpur in 1799 to negotiate an allowance with the Raja of Berar. He was unsuccessful in this, due to events elsewhere, and returned in 1801. On his return was made a judge of the new court of appeal in Calcutta, of which he became president of the bench in 1805. Also in 1805, Lord Wellesley appointed him honorary professor of Hindu law and Sanskrit at the college of Fort William. In 1807 he became a member of council, serving for five years, and was elected President of the Asiatic Society of Calcutta. He returned to England in 1815.[2]

In 1816 he was elected to the fellowship of both the Royal Society and the Royal Society of Edinburgh[1] In 1820 he was a founder of the Royal Astronomical Society. He often chaired the society's meetings in the absence of the first president, William Herschel, and was elected as its second president on Herschel's death, serving 1823–1825. In 1823 he was also a founder of the Royal Asiatic Society, chairing its first meeting although he declined to become its president.[2][3][4][5]

Works

After eleven years' residence in India, Colebrooke began the study of the Sanskrit language; and to him was entrusted the translation of the major Digest of Hindu Laws, a monumental study of Hindu law which had been left unfinished by Sir William Jones. He translated the two treatises, the Mitacshara of Vijnaneshwara and the Dayabhaga of Jimutavahana, under the title Law of Inheritance. During his residence at Calcutta he wrote his Sanskrit Grammar (1805), some papers on the religious ceremonies of the Hindus, and his Essay on the Vedas (1805), for a long time the standard work in English on the subject.

• The Agriculture and Commerce of Bengal (1792)
• Bible translations into Persian Calcutta (1804)
• Kosha, Or Dictionary of the Sanscrit Language by Umura Singha with an English Interpretation and Annotations by H.T. Colebrooke. (1807)
• Algebra, with Arithmetic and mensuration: from the Sanscrit of Brahmegupta. By Brahmagupta, Bhāsakārācārya. (translated by Colebrooke 1817)
• Miscellaneous Essays. (1837) London: W.H. Allen & Company.
• On the Religion and Philosophy of the Hindus. (published 1858) London: Williams & Norgate.

The standard author abbreviation Colebr. is used to indicate this person as the author when citing a botanical name.[6]

• Translated Mithakshara into English

A posthumous essay on his father's life was published by Sir T. E. Colebrooke in 1873 as part of a reprinting of Miscellaneous Essays.

Family

Colebrooke married Elizabeth Wilkinson in 1810. The marriage was short-lived and she died in 1814.[1] Colebrooke had several illegitimate children from Indian women.[7]

References

1. Former Fellows of The Royal Society of Edinburgh 1783 – 2002 (PDF). Royal Society of Edinburgh. p. 194.
2. Lane-Poole, Stanley (1887). "Colebrooke, Henry Thomas (DNB00)" . In Stephen, Leslie (ed.). Dictionary of National Biography. 11. London: Smith, Elder & Co.
3. Herbert Hall Turner. "The Decade 1820–1830". History of the Royal Astronomical Society 1820–1920. pp. 11, 18–19.
4. "Past RAS Presidents". Royal Astronomical Society. Retrieved 18 August 2018.
5. G. H. Noehden (1824). "Report of the Proceedings of the Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland, at Its First General Meeting, on the 15th of March, 1823". Transactions of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland. 1(1): vii–x. JSTOR 25581688.
6. IPNI. Colebr.
7. Prior, Katherine; Brennan, Lance; Haines, Robin (2001). "Bad Language: The Role of English, Persian and other Esoteric Tongues in the Dismissal of Sir Edward Colebrooke as Resident of Delhi in 1829". Modern Asian Studies. 35(1): 75–112. doi:10.1017/s0026749x01003614. ISSN 1469-8099.

Further reading

• Buckland, C. E., ed. (1906). "Colebrooke, Henry Thomas" in Dictionary of Indian Biography. London: Swan Sonnenschein & Company. Pp. 87–88. Also available online at: "Colebrooke, Henry Thomas", archive.org.
• Colebrooke, Thomas E. (1873). "Life of Colebrooke" in Frederick Max Müller's Chips from a German Workshop, (1875). Vol. IV, pp. 377–317. London: Longmans, Green & Company. Also available here in reprint edition (1881): "Life of Colebrooke", archive.org.
• Higgenbothom, J. J. (1874). "Colebrooke, Henry Thomas" in Men Whom India Has Known: Biographies of Eminent Indian Characters. Madras: Higgenbothom & Company. Pp. 75–79. Also available online: "Colebrooke, Henry Thomas", archive.org.
• Rocher, Rosane and Ludo (2011). The Making of Western Indology: Henry Thomas Colebrooke and the East India Company. London: Routledge for the Royal Asiatic Society. ISBN 978-0415336017
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#2)

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Royal Astronomical Society [Astronomical Society of London]
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 8/24/20

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Royal Astronomical Society
Entrance to the Royal Astronomical Society at Burlington House, London
Abbreviation: RAS
Motto: Latin: Quicquid nitet notandum (Whatever shines should be observed)
Formation: 10 March 1820; 200 years ago
Type: NGO, learned society
Legal status: Registered charity
Purpose: To promote the sciences of astronomy & geophysics
Professional title: Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society (FRAS)
Headquarters: Burlington House
Location: Piccadilly, London
Website: http://www.ras.ac.uk
Formerly called: Astronomical Society of London

The Royal Astronomical Society (RAS) is a learned society and charity that encourages and promotes the study of astronomy, solar-system science, geophysics and closely related branches of science.[2] Its headquarters are in Burlington House, on Piccadilly in London. The society has over 4,000 members ("Fellows"), most of them professional researchers or postgraduate students.[2] Around a quarter of Fellows live outside the UK.[2]

The society holds monthly scientific meetings in London, and the annual National Astronomy Meeting at varying locations in the British Isles. The RAS publishes the scientific journals Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society and Geophysical Journal International, along with the trade magazine Astronomy & Geophysics.

The RAS maintains an astronomy research library, engages in public outreach and advises the UK government on astronomy education. The society recognises achievement in astronomy and geophysics by issuing annual awards and prizes, with its highest award being the Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society. The RAS is the UK adhering organisation to the International Astronomical Union and a member of the UK Science Council.

The society was founded in 1820 as the Astronomical Society of London to support astronomical research. At that time, most members were 'gentleman astronomers' rather than professionals. It became the Royal Astronomical Society in 1831 on receiving a Royal Charter from William IV. A Supplemental Charter in 1915 opened up the fellowship to women.

Publications

Main category: Royal Astronomical Society academic journals

One of the major activities of the RAS is publishing refereed journals. It publishes two primary research journals, the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society in astronomy and (in association with the Deutsche Geophysikalische Gesellschaft) the Geophysical Journal International in geophysics. It also publishes the magazine A&G which includes reviews and other articles of wide scientific interest in a 'glossy' format. The full list of journals published (both currently and historically) by the RAS, with abbreviations as used for the NASA ADS bibliographic codes is:

• Memoirs of the Royal Astronomical Society (MmRAS): 1822–1977[3]
• Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society (MNRAS): Since 1827
• Geophysical Supplement to Monthly Notices (MNRAS): 1922–1957
• Geophysical Journal (GeoJ): 1958–1988
• Geophysical Journal International (GeoJI): Since 1989 (volume numbering continues from GeoJ)
• Quarterly Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society (QJRAS): 1960–1996
• Astronomy & Geophysics (A&G): Since 1997 (volume numbering continues from QJRAS)

Membership

Fellows


Full members of the RAS are styled Fellows, and may use the post-nominal letters FRAS. Fellowship is open to anyone over the age of 18 who is considered acceptable to the society. As a result of the society's foundation in a time before there were many professional astronomers, no formal qualifications are required. However, around three quarters of fellows are professional astronomers or geophysicists. The society acts as the professional body for astronomers and geophysicists in the UK and fellows may apply for the Science Council's Chartered Scientist status through the society. The fellowship passed 3,000 in 2003.

Friends

In 2009 an initiative was launched for those with an interest in astronomy and geophysics but without professional qualifications or specialist knowledge in the subject. Such people may join the Friends of the RAS, which offers popular talks, visits and social events.

Meetings

See also: National Astronomy Meeting

The Society organises an extensive programme of meetings:

The biggest RAS meeting each year is the National Astronomy Meeting, a major conference of professional astronomers. It is held over 4-5 days each spring or early summer, usually at a university campus in the United Kingdom. Hundreds of astronomers attend each year.

More frequent smaller 'ordinary' meetings feature lectures about research topics in astronomy and geophysics, often given by winners of the society's awards. They are normally held in Burlington House in London on the afternoon of the second Friday of each month from October to May. The talks are intended to be accessible to a broad audience of astronomers and geophysicists, and are free for anyone to attend (not just members of the society). Formal reports of the meetings are published in The Observatory magazine.[4]

Specialist discussion meetings are held on the same day as each ordinary meeting. These are aimed at professional scientists in a particular research field, and allow several speakers to present new results or reviews of scientific fields. Usually two discussion meetings on different topics (one in astronomy and one in geophysics) take place simultaneously at different locations within Burlington House, prior to the day's ordinary meeting. They are free for members of the society, but charge a small entry fee for non-members.[4]

The RAS holds a regular programme of public lectures aimed at a general, non-specialist, audience. These are mostly held on Tuesdays once a month, with the same talk given twice: once at lunchtime and once in the early evening. The venues have varied, but are usually in Burlington House or another nearby location in central London. The lectures are free, though some popular sessions require booking in advance.[5]

The society occasionally hosts or sponsors meetings in other parts of the United Kingdom, often in collaboration with other scientific societies and universities.

Library

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The Royal Astronomical Society at the University of London History Day, 2016.

The Royal Astronomical Society has a more comprehensive collection of books and journals in astronomy and geophysics than the libraries of most universities and research institutions. The library receives some 300 current periodicals in astronomy and geophysics and contains more than 10,000 books from popular level to conference proceedings. Its collection of astronomical rare books is second only to that of the Royal Observatory in Edinburgh in the UK. The RAS library is a major resource not just for the society but also the wider community of astronomers, geophysicists, and historians.[6]

Education

The society promotes astronomy to members of the general public through their outreach pages for students, teachers, the public and media researchers. The RAS has an advisory role in relation to UK public examinations, such as GCSEs and A Levels.

Associated groups

The RAS sponsors topical groups, many of them in interdisciplinary areas where the group is jointly sponsored by another learned society or professional body:

• The Astrobiology Society of Britain (with the NASA Astrobiology Institute)
• The Astroparticle Physics Group (with the Institute of Physics)
• The Astrophysical Chemistry Group (with the Royal Society of Chemistry)
• The British Geophysical Association (with the Geological Society of London)
• The Magnetosphere Ionosphere and Solar-Terrestrial group (generally known by the acronym MIST)
• The UK Planetary Forum
• The UK Solar Physics group

Presidents

Main article: President of the Royal Astronomical Society

The first person to hold the title of President of the Royal Astronomical Society was William Herschel, though he never chaired a meeting, and since then the post has been held by many distinguished astronomers. The post has generally had a term of office of two years, but some holders resigned after one year e.g. due to poor health. Francis Baily and George Airy were elected a record four times each. Baily's eight years in the role are a record (Airy served for seven). Since 1876 no-one has served for more than two years in total.

The current president is Emma Bunce, who began her term on 26 June 2020[7] and will serve for two years.[8]

Awards and prizes

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The Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society awarded to Asaph Hall

The highest award of the Royal Astronomical Society is its Gold Medal, which can be awarded for any purpose but most frequently recognises extraordinary lifetime achievement.[9] Among the recipients best known to the general public are Albert Einstein in 1926, and Stephen Hawking in 1985.

Other awards are for particular topics in astronomy or geophysics research, which include the Eddington Medal, the Herschel Medal, the Chapman Medal and the Price Medal. Beyond research, there are specific awards for school teaching (Patrick Moore Medal), public outreach (Annie Maunder Medal), instrumentation (Jackson-Gwilt Medal) and history of science (Agnes Mary Clerke Medal). Lectureships include the Harold Jeffreys Lectureship in geophysics, the George Darwin Lectureship in astronomy, and the Gerald Whitrow Lectureship in cosmology.[10]

Other activities

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The council room at the RAS

The society occupies premises at Burlington House, London, where a library and meeting rooms are available to fellows and other interested parties. The society represents the interests of astronomy and geophysics to UK national and regional, and European government and related bodies, and maintains a press office, through which it keeps the media and the public at large informed of developments in these sciences. The society allocates grants to worthy causes in astronomy and geophysics, and assists in the management of the Paneth Trust.[11]

See also

• Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society
• Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
• National Astronomy Week (NAW)
• List of astronomical societies
• List of geoscience organizations

References

1. "Philip Diamond to be new RAS Executive Director". Retrieved 29 December 2019.
2. "The aims of the Society". ras.ac.uk. Royal Astronomical Society. Retrieved 12 November2018.
3. Tayler, Roger (October 1977). "Editorial: Memoirs of the Royal Astronomical Society". Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. 181 (1): i. Retrieved 21 December 2012.
4. "RAS Meetings". Royal Astronomical Society. Retrieved 14 September 2018.
5. "RAS Public Lectures". Royal Astronomical Society. Retrieved 14 September 2018.
6. "RAS Library home page". Retrieved 14 September 2018.
7. @RoyalAstroSoc (26 Jun 2020). "We are very excited to announce that Professor Emma Bunce has started her two year term as the new president of the Royal Astronomical Society!" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
8. Hollis, Morgan (10 May 2019). "Election results 2019: new RAS Council". ras.ac.uk. Royal Astronomical Society. Retrieved 14 October 2019.
9. "Winners of the 2015 awards, medals and prizes - full details". 9 January 2015. Retrieved 9 January2015.
10. "Awards, Medals and Prizes". http://www.ras.org.uk. Royal Astronomical Society. Retrieved 14 September 2018.
11. RAS Website "Grants for Studies in Astronomy and Geophysics"

External links

• The Royal Astronomical Society
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#2)

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Part 1 of 2

Royal Society
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 8/23/20

In 1759, Anquetil finished his translation of the Avesta at Surat; in 1786 that of the Upanishads in Paris -- he had dug a channel between the hemispheres of human genius, correcting and expanding the old humanism of the Mediterranean basin. Less than fifty years earlier, his compatriots were asked what it was like to be Persian, when he taught them how to compare the monuments of the Persians to those of the Greeks. Before him, one looked for information on the remote past of our planet exclusively among the great Latin, Greek, Jewish, and Arabic writers. The Bible was regarded as a lonely rock, an aerolite. A universe in writing was available, but scarcely anyone seemed to suspect the immensity of those unknown lands. The realization began with his translation of the Avesta, and reached dizzying heights owing to the exploration in Central Asia of the languages that multiplied after Babel. Into our schools, up to that time limited to the narrow Grew-Latin heritage of the Renaissance [of which much had been transmitted to Europe by Islam], he interjected a vision of innumerable civilizations from ages past, of an infinity of literatures; moreover the few European provinces were not the only places to have left their mark in history.59

For the first time, the Orient was revealed to Europe in the materiality of its texts, languages, and civilizations. Also for the first time, Asia acquired a precise intellectual and historical dimension with which to buttress the myths of its geographic distance and vastness. By one of those inevitable contracting compensations for a sudden cultural expansion, Anquetil’s Oriental labors were succeeded by William Jones’s, the second of the pre-Napoleonic projects I mentioned above. Whereas Anquetil opened large vistas, Jones closed them down, codifying, tabulating, comparing. Before he left England for India in 1783, Jones was already a master of Arabic, Hebrew, and Persian. These seemed perhaps the least of his accomplishments: he was also a poet, a jurist, a polyhistor, a classicist, and an indefatigable scholar whose powers would recommend him to such as Benjamin Franklin, Edmund Burke, William Pitt, and Samuel Johnson. In due course he was appointed to “an honorable and profitable place in the Indies,” and immediately upon his arrival there to take up a post with the East India Company began the course of personal study that was to gather in, to rope off, to domesticate the Orient and thereby turn it into a province of European learning. For his personal work, entitled “Objects of Enquiry During My Residence in Asia” he enumerated among the topics of his investigation “the Laws of the Hindus and Mohammedans, Modern Politics and Geography of Hindustan, Best Mode of Governing Bengal, Arithmetic and Geometry, and Mixed Sciences of the Asiaticks, Medicine, Chemistry, Surgery, and Anatomy of the Indians, Natural Productions of India, Poetry, Rhetoric and Morality of Asia, Music of the Eastern Nations, Trade, Manufacture, Agriculture, and Commerce of India,” and so forth. On August 17, 1787, he wrote unassumingly to Lord Althorp that “it is my ambition to know India better than any other European ever knew it.” Here is where Balfour in 1910 could find the first adumbration of his claim as an Englishman to know the Orient more and better than anyone else.

Jones’s official work was the law, an occupation with symbolic significance for the history of Orientalism. Seven years before Jones arrived in India, Warren Hastings had decided that Indians were to be ruled by their own laws, a more enterprising project than it appears at first glance since the Sanskrit code of laws existed then for practical use only in a Persian translation, and no Englishman at the time knew Sanskrit well enough to consult the original texts. A company official, Charles Wilkins, first mastered Sanskrit, then began to translate the Institutes of Manu; in this labor he was soon to be assisted by Jones. (Wilkins, incidentally, was the first translator of the Bhagavad-Gita.) In January 1784 Jones convened the inaugural meeting of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, which was to be for India what the Royal Society was for England. As first president of the society and as magistrate, Jones acquired the effective knowledge of the Orient and of Orientals that was later to make him the undisputed founder (the phrase is A. J. Arberry’s) of Orientalism. To rule and to learn, then to compare Orient with Occident: these were Jones’s goals, which, with an irresistible impulse always to codify, to subdue the infinite variety of the Orient to “a complete digest” of laws, figures, customs, and works, he is believed to have achieved. His most famous pronouncement indicates the extent to which modern Orientalism, even in its philosophical beginnings, was a comparative discipline having for its principal goal the grounding of the European languages in a distant, and harmless, Oriental source:

The Sanscrit language, whatever be its antiquity, is of a wonderful structure; more perfect than the Greek, more copious than the Latin, and more exquisitely refined than either, yet bearing to both of them a stronger affinity, both in the roots of verbs and in the forms of grammar, than could possibly have been produced by accident; so strong indeed, that no philologer could examine them all three without believing them to have sprung from some common source.60


Many of the early English Orientalists in India were, like Jones, legal scholars, or else, interestingly enough, they were medical men with strong missionary leanings. So far as one can tell, most of them were imbued with the dual purpose of investigating “the sciences and the arts of Asia, with the hope of facilitating ameliorations there and of advancing knowledge and improving the arts at home”: 61 so the common Orientalist goal was stated in the Centenary Volume of the Royal Asiatic Society founded in 1823 by Henry Thomas Colebrooke. In their dealings with the modern Orientals, the early professional Orientalists like Jones had only two roles to fulfill, yet we cannot today fault them for strictures placed on their humanity by the official Occidental character of their presence in the Orient. They were either judges or they were doctors. Even Edgar Quinet, writing more metaphysically than realistically, was dimly aware of this therapeutic relationship. “L’Asie a les prophètes,” [Google translate: "Asia has the prophets"] he said in Le Génie des religions; “L’Europe a les docteurs.” [Google translate: "Europe has doctors."] 62 Proper knowledge of the Orient proceeded from a thorough study of the classical texts, and only after that to an application of those texts to the modern Orient. Faced with the obvious decrepitude and political impotence of the modern Oriental, the European Orientalist found it his duty to rescue some portion of a lost, past classical Oriental grandeur in order to “facilitate ameliorations” in the present Orient. What the European took from the classical Oriental past was a vision (and thousands of facts and artifacts) which only he could employ to the best advantage; to the modern Oriental he gave facilitation and amelioration -- and, too, the benefit of his judgment as to what was best for the modern Orient.

-- Orientalism, by Edward W. Said


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The Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge
Coat of arms of the Royal Society. Unlike the coat of arms of the other corporations in Britain that use a closed helmet, the Royal Society uses a barred helmet, reserved for members of the nobility.
Formation: 28 November 1660; 359 years ago
Headquarters: London, SW1, United Kingdom
Membership: 1600 Fellows; 140 Foreign Members; 6 Royal Fellows
President: Venkatraman Ramakrishnan
Website: royalsociety.org
Remarks: Motto: Nullius in verba ("Take nobody's word for it")

Image
Entrance to the Royal Society at 6–9 Carlton House Terrace, London

The Royal Society, formally The Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge,[1] is a learned society and the United Kingdom's national academy of sciences. Founded on 28 November 1660, it was granted a royal charter by King Charles II as "The Royal Society".[1] It is the oldest national scientific institution in the world.[2] The society fulfils a number of roles: promoting science and its benefits, recognising excellence in science, supporting outstanding science, providing scientific advice for policy, fostering international and global co-operation, education and public engagement.

The society is governed by its Council, which is chaired by the Society's President, according to a set of statutes and standing orders. The members of Council and the President are elected from and by its Fellows, the basic members of the society, who are themselves elected by existing Fellows. As of 2016, there are about 1,600 fellows, allowed to use the postnominal title FRS (Fellow of the Royal Society), with up to 52 new fellows appointed each year. There are also royal fellows, honorary fellows and foreign members, the last of which are allowed to use the postnominal title ForMemRS (Foreign Member of the Royal Society). The Royal Society President is Venkatraman Ramakrishnan, who took up the post on 30 November 2015.[3]

Since 1967, the society has been based at 6–9 Carlton House Terrace, a Grade I listed building in central London which was previously used by the Embassy of Germany, London.

History

Founding and early years


Further information: Gresham College and the formation of the Royal Society

The Invisible College has been described as a precursor group to the Royal Society of London, consisting of a number of natural philosophers around Robert Boyle.

Robert Boyle FRS (/bɔɪl/; 25 January 1627 – 31 December 1691) was an Anglo-Irish natural philosopher, chemist, physicist, and inventor. Boyle is largely regarded today as the first modern chemist (a title some give to 8th century Islamic scholar Jabir ibn Hayyan), and therefore one of the founders of modern chemistry, and one of the pioneers of modern experimental scientific method. He is best known for Boyle's law, which describes the inversely proportional relationship between the absolute pressure and volume of a gas, if the temperature is kept constant within a closed system. Among his works, The Sceptical Chymist is seen as a cornerstone book in the field of chemistry. He was a devout and pious Anglican and is noted for his writings in theology...

After spending over three years at Eton, Robert travelled abroad with a French tutor. They visited Italy in 1641 and remained in Florence during the winter of that year studying the "paradoxes of the great star-gazer" Galileo Galilei, who was elderly but still living in 1641.

Robert returned to England from continental Europe in mid-1644 with a keen interest in scientific research. His father, Lord Cork, had died the previous year and had left him the manor of Stalbridge in Dorset as well as substantial estates in County Limerick in Ireland that he had acquired. Robert then made his residence at Stalbridge House, between 1644 and 1652, and conducted many experiments there. From that time, Robert devoted his life to scientific research and soon took a prominent place in the band of enquirers, known as the "Invisible College", who devoted themselves to the cultivation of the "new philosophy". They met frequently in London, often at Gresham College, and some of the members also had meetings at Oxford...

In 1663 the Invisible College became The Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge, and the charter of incorporation granted by Charles II of England named Boyle a member of the council. In 1680 he was elected president of the society, but declined the honour from a scruple about oaths.

He made a "wish list" of 24 possible inventions which included "the prolongation of life", the "art of flying", "perpetual light", "making armour light and extremely hard", "a ship to sail with all winds, and a ship not to be sunk", "practicable and certain way of finding longitudes", "potent drugs to alter or exalt imagination, waking, memory and other functions and appease pain, procure innocent sleep, harmless dreams, etc." They are extraordinary because all but a few of the 24 have come true...


In 1669 his health, never very strong, began to fail seriously and he gradually withdrew from his public engagements, ceasing his communications to the Royal Society, and advertising his desire to be excused from receiving guests, "unless upon occasions very extraordinary", on Tuesday and Friday forenoon, and Wednesday and Saturday afternoon. In the leisure thus gained he wished to "recruit his spirits, range his papers", and prepare some important chemical investigations which he proposed to leave "as a kind of Hermetic legacy to the studious disciples of that art", but of which he did not make known the nature. His health became still worse in 1691, and he died on 31 December that year, just a week after the death of his sister, Katherine, in whose home he had lived and with whom he had shared scientific pursuits for more than twenty years...

Robert Boyle was an alchemist; and believing the transmutation of metals to be a possibility, he carried out experiments in the hope of achieving it; and he was instrumental in obtaining the repeal, in 1689, of the statute of Henry IV against multiplying gold and silver. With all the important work he accomplished in physics – the enunciation of Boyle's law, the discovery of the part taken by air in the propagation of sound, and investigations on the expansive force of freezing water, on specific gravities and refractive powers, on crystals, on electricity, on colour, on hydrostatics, etc. – chemistry was his peculiar and favourite study. His first book on the subject was The Sceptical Chymist, published in 1661, in which he criticised the "experiments whereby vulgar Spagyrists are wont to endeavour to evince their Salt, Sulphur and Mercury to be the true Principles of Things." For him chemistry was the science of the composition of substances, not merely an adjunct to the arts of the alchemist or the physician...

Boyle incorporated his scientific interests into his theology, believing that natural philosophy could provide powerful evidence for the existence of God. In works such as Disquisition about the Final Causes of Natural Things (1688), for instance, he criticised contemporary philosophers – such as René Descartes – who denied that the study of nature could reveal much about God. Instead, Boyle argued that natural philosophers could use the design apparently on display in some parts of nature to demonstrate God's involvement with the world. He also attempted to tackle complex theological questions using methods derived from his scientific practices. In Some Physico-Theological Considerations about the Possibility of the Resurrection (1675), he used a chemical experiment known as the reduction to the pristine state as part of an attempt to demonstrate the physical possibility of the resurrection of the body. Throughout his career, Boyle tried to show that science could lend support to Christianity.

As a director of the East India Company he spent large sums in promoting the spread of Christianity in the East, contributing liberally to missionary societies and to the expenses of translating the Bible or portions of it into various languages. Boyle supported the policy that the Bible should be available in the vernacular language of the people....


Boyle also had a monogenist perspective about race origin. He was a pioneer studying races, and he believed that all human beings, no matter how diverse their physical differences, came from the same source: Adam and Eve. He studied reported stories of parents' giving birth to different coloured albinos, so he concluded that Adam and Eve were originally white and that Caucasians could give birth to different coloured races. Boyle also extended the theories of Robert Hooke and Isaac Newton about colour and light via optical projection (in physics) into discourses of polygenesis, speculating that maybe these differences were due to "seminal impressions". Taking this into account, it might be considered that he envisioned a good explanation for complexion at his time, due to the fact that now we know that skin colour is disposed by genes, which are actually contained in the semen. Boyle's writings mention that at his time, for "European Eyes", beauty was not measured so much in colour of skin, but in "stature, comely symmetry of the parts of the body, and good features in the face". Various members of the scientific community rejected his views and described them as "disturbing" or "amusing".

In his will, Boyle provided money for a series of lectures to defend the Christian religion against those he considered "notorious infidels, namely atheists, deists, pagans, Jews and Muslims", with the provision that controversies between Christians were not to be mentioned (see Boyle Lectures).

-- Robert Boyle, by Wikipedia


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Emblematic image of a Rosicrucian College; illustration from Speculum sophicum Rhodo-stauroticum, a 1618 work by Theophilus Schweighardt. Frances Yates identifies this as the "Invisible College of the Rosy Cross".

Invisible College is the term used for a small community of interacting scholars who often met face-to-face, exchanged ideas and encouraged each other. One group that has been described as a precursor group to the Royal Society of London, consisted of a number of natural philosophers around Robert Boyle. It has been suggested that other members included prominent figures later closely concerned with the Royal Society; but several groups preceded the formation of the Royal Society, and who the other members of this one were is still debated by scholars.

The concept of "invisible college" is mentioned in German Rosicrucian pamphlets in the early 17th century...

In letters in 1646 and 1647, Boyle refers to "our invisible college" or "our philosophical college". The society's common theme was to acquire knowledge through experimental investigation. Three dated letters are the basic documentary evidence: Boyle sent them to Isaac Marcombes (Boyle's former tutor and a Huguenot, who was then in Geneva), Francis Tallents who at that point was a fellow of Magdalene College, Cambridge, and London-based Samuel Hartlib.

The Hartlib Circle were a far-reaching group of correspondents linked to Hartlib, an intelligencer [A bringer of intelligence (news, information); a spy or informant.] They included Sir Cheney Culpeper ...


Sir Cheney Culpeper (1601–1663) was an English landowner, a supporter of Samuel Hartlib, and a largely non-political figure of his troubled times, interested in technological progress and reform. His sister Judith was the second wife of John Colepeper, 1st Baron Colepeper...

Of the Hartlibians, he had most to do with Benjamin Worsley. He was interested in alchemy, but most of all in agricultural topics. While on the Parliamentarian side, he was a moderate, against the more theocratic tendencies. He had contacts in Parliament; but insufficient clout to make a real difference to the attitude to Hartlib's projects.

-- Cheney Culpeper, by Wikipedia


and Benjamin Worsley...

Benjamin Worsley (1618–1673) was an English physician, Surveyor-General of Ireland, experimental scientist, civil servant and intellectual figure of Commonwealth England. He studied at Trinity College, Dublin, but may not have graduated.

His survey of land in Ireland was of land claimed by Oliver Cromwell under the Act of Settlement. Worsley was from 1651 a physician in Cromwell's army, but took to surveying around 1653. His work was too rough-and-ready to be of practical help to arranging land grants to soldiers, and William Petty took over.

He was an alchemical writer, and associate of Robert Boyle, and knew George Starkey from 1650. He was a major figure of the Invisible College of the 1640s.

Worsley associated with the circle around Samuel Hartlib and John Dury, and on their behalf visited Johann Rudolph Glauber in 1648-9. Worsley followed the theories of Michael Sendivogius and Clovis Hesteau. He was a projector in the manufacture of saltpeter (1646). Later, probably in the mid-1650s, he wrote De nitro theses quaedam. He also took up the alchemy of transmutation, with Johann Moriaen and Johannes Sibertus Kuffler.

He was also probably heterodox in religion.

-- Benjamin Worsley, by Wikipedia


George Starkey (1628–1665) was a Colonial American alchemist, medical practitioner, and writer of numerous commentaries and chemical treatises that were widely circulated in Western Europe and influenced prominent men of science, including Robert Boyle and Isaac Newton. After relocating from New England to London, England, in 1650, Starkey began writing under the pseudonym Eirenaeus Philalethes. Starkey remained in England and continued his career in medicine and alchemy until his death in the Great Plague of London in 1665...

After the death of his father in 1637, Starkey was sent to New England, where he continued his early education before enrolling at Harvard College in 1643 at the age of 15. Introduced to alchemical theory, he would later stylise himself as the "Philosopher by Fire." After graduating from Harvard in 1646, Starkey resided in the Boston area and earned a living practising medicine while at the same time experimenting in chemical technology.

Despite his successful medical practice, Starkey immigrated at age 22 to London, England, in November 1650 with his wife, Susanna Stoughton, whom he had married earlier that year. Susanna is believed to be the eldest daughter of Colonel Israel Stoughton, and sister of William Stoughton, a future governor of Massachusetts. It is not entirely known why Starkey decided to leave New England. One clue points to his interest in alchemy and chemical technology. It is known that Starkey was acquiring great skill at building ovens to facilitate alchemical experiments. However, he complained that the region offered unsuitable material needed for their operation, and therefore believed that relocating to England could provide access to better material and higher quality laboratory implements as well. Around this same time he changed his surname to Starkey for reasons that are unknown.

Once in England, Starkey's reputation as an alchemist and chymical furnace maker grew among the scientific community and he soon acquired a network of colleagues from the circle of friends and correspondents of Samuel Hartlib – a group of social reformers, utopians, and natural philosophers. Within a few years, however, Starkey found himself in financial trouble and was consequently incarcerated because of debt—possibly twice sometime in late 1653 and again in mid-1654. Imprisoned for a brief period of time, Starkey returned to the practice of alchemy and medicine upon his release in late 1654. Additionally, he wrote and published a number of popular treatises. Yet, his most important work was written under several pseudonyms during the period prior to imprisonment when he was associated with the Hartlib circle. The most famous of these works, the Introitus apertus ad occlusum regis palatium, was published in 1667 after his death...

He was a devoted follower of the Flemish iatrochemist Jan Baptist van Helmont, and had been tutored in the practical applications of metallurgy.


Jan Baptist van Helmont (12 January 1580 – 30 December 1644) was a chemist, physiologist, and physician from the Netherlands ruled by the Spanish branch of the Habsburgs. He worked during the years just after Paracelsus and the rise of iatrochemistry, and is sometimes considered to be "the founder of pneumatic chemistry". Van Helmont is remembered today largely for his ideas on spontaneous generation, his 5-year willow tree experiment, and his introduction of the word "gas" (from the Greek word chaos) into the vocabulary of science...

On the one hand, Van Helmont was a disciple of Paracelsus (though he scornfully repudiated his errors as well as those of most other contemporary authorities), a mystic and alchemist. On the other hand, he engaged in the new learning based on experimentation that was producing men like William Harvey, Galileo Galilei and Francis Bacon.


-- Jan Baptist van Helmont, by Wikipedia


His medical practice appears to have been highly successful, which included iatrochemistry.

-- George Starkey, by Wikipedia


who were interested, among other matters, in alchemy.[8] Worsley in 1646 was experimenting on saltpetre manufacture, and Charles Webster in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography argues that he was the "prime mover" of the Invisible College at this point: a network with aims and views close to those of the Hartlib Circle with which it overlapped.[9] Margery Purver concludes that the 1647 reference of "invisible college" was to the group around Hartlib concerned to lobby Parliament in favour of an "Office of Address" or centralised communication centre for the exchange of information.[7] Maddison suggests that the "Invisible College" might have comprised Worsley, John Dury and others with Boyle, who were interested in profiting from science (and possibly involving George Starkey).[10]

Richard S. Westfall distinguishes Hartlib's "Comenian circle" from other groups; and gives a list of "invisible college" members based on this identification. They comprise: William Petty, Boyle, Arnold Boate and Gerard Boate, Cressy Dymock, and Gabriel Platte. Miles Symner may have belonged to this circle.

-- Invisible College, by Wikipedia


The concept of "invisible college" is mentioned in German Rosicrucian pamphlets in the early 17th century. Ben Jonson in England referenced the idea, related in meaning to Francis Bacon's House of Solomon, in a masque The Fortunate Isles and Their Union from 1624/5.[4] The term accrued currency for the exchanges of correspondence within the Republic of Letters.[5]

In letters in 1646 and 1647, Boyle refers to "our invisible college" or "our philosophical college". The society's common theme was to acquire knowledge through experimental investigation.[6] Three dated letters are the basic documentary evidence: Boyle sent them to Isaac Marcombes (Boyle's former tutor and a Huguenot, who was then in Geneva), Francis Tallents who at that point was a fellow of Magdalene College, Cambridge,[7] and London-based Samuel Hartlib.[8]

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John Evelyn, who helped to found the Royal Society.

The Royal Society started from groups of physicians and natural philosophers, meeting at a variety of locations, including Gresham College in London. They were influenced by the "new science", as promoted by Francis Bacon in his New Atlantis, from approximately 1645 onwards.[9] A group known as "The Philosophical Society of Oxford" was run under a set of rules still retained by the Bodleian Library.[10] After the English Restoration, there were regular meetings at Gresham College.[11] It is widely held that these groups were the inspiration for the foundation of the Royal Society.[10]

Another view of the founding, held at the time, was that it was due to the influence of French scientists and the Montmor Academy in 1657, reports of which were sent back to England by English scientists attending. This view was held by Jean-Baptiste du Hamel, Giovanni Domenico Cassini, Bernard le Bovier de Fontenelle and Melchisédech Thévenot at the time and has some grounding in that Henry Oldenburg, the society's first secretary, had attended the Montmor Academy meeting.[12] Robert Hooke, however, disputed this, writing that:

[Cassini] makes, then, Mr Oldenburg to have been the instrument, who inspired the English with a desire to imitate the French, in having Philosophical Clubs, or Meetings; and that this was the occasion of founding the Royal Society, and making the French the first. I will not say, that Mr Oldenburg did rather inspire the French to follow the English, or, at least, did help them, and hinder us. But 'tis well known who were the principal men that began and promoted that design, both in this city and in Oxford; and that a long while before Mr Oldenburg came into England. And not only these Philosophic Meetings were before Mr Oldenburg came from Paris; but the Society itself was begun before he came hither; and those who then knew Mr Oldenburg, understood well enough how little he himself knew of philosophic matter.[13]


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Mace granted by Charles II.

On 28 November 1660, the 1660 committee of 12 announced the formation of a "College for the Promoting of Physico-Mathematical Experimental Learning", which would meet weekly to discuss science and run experiments. At the second meeting, Sir Robert Moray announced that the King approved of the gatherings, and a royal charter was signed on 15 July 1662 which created the "Royal Society of London", with Lord Brouncker serving as the first president. A second royal charter was signed on 23 April 1663, with the king noted as the founder and with the name of "the Royal Society of London for the Improvement of Natural Knowledge"; Robert Hooke was appointed as Curator of Experiments in November. This initial royal favour has continued and, since then, every monarch has been the patron of the society.[14]

The society's early meetings included experiments performed first by Hooke and then by Denis Papin, who was appointed in 1684. These experiments varied in their subject area, and were both important in some cases and trivial in others.[15] The society also published an English translation of Essays of Natural Experiments Made in the Accademia del Cimento, under the Protection of the Most Serene Prince Leopold of Tuscany in 1684, an Italian book documenting experiments at the Accademia del Cimento.[16] Although meeting at Gresham College, the Society temporarily moved to Arundel House in 1666 after the Great Fire of London, which did not harm Gresham but did lead to its appropriation by the Lord Mayor. The Society returned to Gresham in 1673.[17]

There had been an attempt in 1667 to establish a permanent "college" for the society. Michael Hunter argues that this was influenced by "Solomon's House" in Bacon's New Atlantis and, to a lesser extent, by J. V. Andreae's Christianopolis, dedicated research institutes, rather than the colleges at Oxford and Cambridge, since the founders only intended for the society to act as a location for research and discussion. The first proposal was given by John Evelyn to Robert Boyle in a letter dated 3 September 1659; he suggested a grander scheme, with apartments for members and a central research institute. Similar schemes were expounded by Bengt Skytte and later Abraham Cowley, who wrote in his Proposition for the Advancement of Experimental Philosophy in 1661 of a "'Philosophical College", with houses, a library and a chapel. The society's ideas were simpler and only included residences for a handful of staff, but Hunter maintains an influence from Cowley and Skytte's ideas.[18] Henry Oldenburg and Thomas Sprat put forward plans in 1667 and Oldenburg's co-secretary, John Wilkins, moved in a council meeting on 30 September 1667 to appoint a committee "for raising contributions among the members of the society, in order to build a college".[19] These plans were progressing by November 1667, but never came to anything, given the lack of contributions from members and the "unrealised—perhaps unrealistic"—aspirations of the society.[20]

18th century

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Sir Isaac Newton FRS, President of Royal Society, 1703–1727. Newton was one of the earliest Fellows of the Royal Society, elected in 1672.

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Lord Hardwicke, leader of the "Hardwicke Circle" that dominated society politics during the 1750s and '60s

During the 18th century, the gusto that had characterised the early years of the society faded; with a small number of scientific "greats" compared to other periods, little of note was done. In the second half, it became customary for His Majesty's Government to refer highly important scientific questions to the council of the society for advice, something that, despite the non-partisan nature of the society, spilled into politics in 1777 over lightning conductors. The pointed lightning conductor had been invented by Benjamin Franklin in 1749, while Benjamin Wilson invented blunted ones. During the argument that occurred when deciding which to use, opponents of Franklin's invention accused supporters of being American allies rather than being British, and the debate eventually led to the resignation of the society's president, Sir John Pringle. During the same time period, it became customary to appoint society fellows to serve on government committees where science was concerned, something that still continues.[21]

The 18th century featured remedies to many of the society's early problems. The number of fellows had increased from 110 to approximately 300 by 1739, the reputation of the society had increased under the presidency of Sir Isaac Newton from 1703 until his death in 1727,[22] and editions of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society were appearing regularly.[23] During his time as president, Newton arguably abused his authority; in a dispute between himself and Gottfried Leibniz over the invention of infinitesimal calculus, he used his position to appoint an "impartial" committee to decide it, eventually publishing a report written by himself in the committee's name.[22] In 1705, the society was informed that it could no longer rent Gresham College and began a search for new premises. After unsuccessfully applying to Queen Anne for new premises, and asking the trustees of Cotton House if they could meet there, the council bought two houses in Crane Court, Fleet Street, on 26 October 1710.[24] This included offices, accommodation and a collection of curiosities. Although the overall fellowship contained few noted scientists, most of the council were highly regarded, and included at various times John Hadley, William Jones and Hans Sloane.[25] Because of the laxness of fellows in paying their subscriptions, the society ran into financial difficulty during this time; by 1740, the society had a deficit of £240. This continued into 1741, at which point the treasurer began dealing harshly with fellows who had not paid.[26] The business of the society at this time continued to include the demonstration of experiments and the reading of formal and important scientific papers, along with the demonstration of new scientific devices and queries about scientific matters from both Britain and Europe.[27]

Some modern research has asserted that the claims of the society's degradation during the 18th century are false. Richard Sorrenson writes that "far from having 'fared ingloriously', the society experienced a period of significant productivity and growth throughout the eighteenth century", pointing out that many of the sources critical accounts are based on are in fact written by those with an agenda.[28] While Charles Babbage wrote that the practice of pure mathematics in Britain was weak, laying the blame at the doorstep of the society, the practice of mixed mathematics was strong and although there were not many eminent members of the society, some did contribute vast amounts – James Bradley, for example, established the nutation of the Earth's axis with 20 years of detailed, meticulous astronomy.[29]

Politically within the society, the mid-18th century featured a "Whig supremacy" as the so-called "Hardwicke Circle" of Whig-leaning scientists held the society's main Offices. Named after Lord Hardwicke, the group's members included Daniel Wray and Thomas Birch and was most prominent in the 1750s and '60s. The circle had Birch elected secretary and, following the resignation of Martin Folkes, the circle helped oversee a smooth transition to the presidency of Earl Macclesfield, whom Hardwicke helped elect.[30] Under Macclesfield, the circle reached its "zenith", with members such as Lord Willoughby and Birch serving as vice-president and secretary respectively. The circle also influenced goings-on in other learned societies, such as the Society of Antiquaries of London. After Macclesfield's retirement, the circle had Lord Morton elected in 1764 and Sir John Pringle elected in 1772.[31] By this point, the previous Whig "majority" had been reduced to a "faction", with Birch and Willoughby no longer involved, and the circle declined in the same time frame as the political party did in British politics under George III, falling apart in the 1780s.[32]

In 1780, the society moved again, this time to Somerset House. The property was offered to the society by His Majesty's Government and, as soon as Sir Joseph Banks became president in November 1778, he began planning the move. Somerset House, while larger than Crane Court, was not satisfying to the fellows; the room to store the library was too small, the accommodation was insufficient and there was not enough room to store the museum at all. As a result, the museum was handed to the British Museum in 1781 and the library was extended to two rooms, one of which was used for council meetings.[33]
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Part 2 of 2

19th century to the present

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Burlington House, where the Society was based between 1873 and 1967

The early 19th century has been seen as a time of decline for the society; of 662 fellows in 1830, only 104 had contributed to the Philosophical Transactions. The same year, Charles Babbage published Reflections on the Decline of Science in England, and on Some of Its Causes, which was deeply critical of the Society. The scientific Fellows of the Society were spurred into action by this, and eventually James South established a Charters Committee "with a view to obtaining a supplementary Charter from the Crown", aimed primarily at looking at ways to restrict membership. The Committee recommended that the election of Fellows take place on one day every year, that the Fellows be selected on consideration of their scientific achievements and that the number of fellows elected a year be limited to 15. This limit was increased to 17 in 1930 and 20 in 1937;[21] it is currently[when?] 52.[34] This had a number of effects on the Society: first, the Society's membership became almost entirely scientific, with few political Fellows or patrons. Second, the number of Fellows was significantly reduced—between 1700 and 1850, the number of Fellows rose from approximately 100 to approximately 750. From then until 1941, the total number of Fellows was always between 400 and 500.[35]

The period did lead to some reform of internal Society statutes, such as in 1823 and 1831. The most important change there was the requirement that the Treasurer publish an annual report, along with a copy of the total income and expenditure of the Society. These were to be sent to Fellows at least 14 days before the general meeting, with the intent being to ensure the election of competent Officers by making it readily apparent what existing Officers were doing. This was accompanied by a full list of Fellows standing for Council positions, where previously the names had only been announced a couple of days before. As with the other reforms, this helped ensure that Fellows had a chance to vet and properly consider candidates.[36] The Society's financial troubles were finally resolved in 1850 when a government grant-in-aid of £1,000 a year was accepted. This was increased to £4,000 in 1876, with the Society officially acting merely as the trustee for these funds, doling them out to individual scientists.[37] This grant has now grown to over £47 million, some £37 million of which is to support around 370 fellowships and professorships.[38][39]

By 1852, the congestion at Somerset House had increased thanks to the growing number of Fellows. Therefore, the Library Committee asked the Council to petition Her Majesty's Government to find new facilities, with the advice being to bring all the scientific societies, such as the Linnean and Geological societies, under one roof. In August 1866, the government announced their intention to refurbish Burlington House and move the Royal Academy and other societies there. The Academy moved in 1867, while other societies joined when their facilities were built. The Royal Society moved there in 1873, taking up residence in the East Wing.[40] The top floor was used as accommodation for the Assistant Secretary, while the library was scattered over every room and the old caretaker's apartment was converted into offices. One flaw was that there was not enough space for the office staff, which was then approximately eighty. When, for example, the Society organised the British contribution to the International Geophysical Year in 1954, additional facilities had to be found for the staff outside Burlington House.[41]

On 22 March 1945, the first female Fellows were elected to the Royal Society. This followed a statutory amendment in 1944 that read "Nothing herein contained shall render women ineligible as candidates", and was contained in Chapter 1 of Statute 1. Because of the difficulty of co-ordinating all the Fellows during the Second World War, a ballot on making the change was conducted via the post, with 336 Fellows supporting the change and 37 opposing.[42] Following approval by the Council, Marjory Stephenson, Kathleen Lonsdale and (later, in 1948) Edith Bülbring were elected as Fellows.[42]

Coat of arms

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The coat of arms of the Royal Society

The blazon for the shield in the coat of arms of the Royal Society is in a dexter corner of a shield argent our three Lions of England, and for crest a helm adorned with a crown studded with florets, surmounted by an eagle of proper colour holding in one foot a shield charged with our lions: supporters two white hounds gorged with crowns, with the motto of nullius in verba. John Evelyn, interested in the early structure of the society, had sketched out at least six possible designs, but in August 1662 Charles II told the society that it was allowed to use the arms of England as part of its coat and the society "now resolv'd that the armes of the Society should be, a field Argent, with a canton of the armes of England; the supporters two talbots Argent; Crest, an eagle Or holding a shield with the like armes of England, viz. 3 lions. The words Nullius in verba". This was approved by Charles, who asked Garter King of Arms to create a diploma for it, and when the second charter was signed on 22 April 1663 the arms were granted to the president, council and fellows of the society along with their successors.[43]

The helmet of the arms was not specified in the charter, but the engraver sketched out a peer's helmet on the final design, which is used. This is contrary to the heraldic rules, as a society or corporation normally has an esquire's helmet; it is thought that either the engraver was ignorant of this rule, which was not strictly adhered to until around 1615, or that he used the peer's helmet as a compliment to Lord Brouncker, a peer and the first President of the Royal Society.[44]

Motto

The society's motto, Nullius in verba, is Latin for "Take nobody's word for it". It was adopted to signify the fellows' determination to establish facts via experiments and comes from Horace's Epistles, where he compares himself to a gladiator who, having retired, is free from control.[45]

Fellows of the Royal Society (FRS)

Main articles: Fellow of the Royal Society, List of Fellows of the Royal Society, and List of female Fellows of the Royal Society

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J. J. Thomson was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1884.

The society's core members are the fellows: scientists and engineers from the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth selected based on having made "a substantial contribution to the improvement of natural knowledge, including mathematics, engineering science and medical science".[46] Fellows are elected for life and gain the right to use the postnominal Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS). The rights and responsibilities of fellows also include a duty to financially contribute to the society, the right to stand for council posts and the right to elect new fellows.[47] Up to 52 fellows are elected each year and in 2014 there were about 1,450 living members in total.[34] Election to the fellowship is decided by ten sectional committees (each covering a subject area or set of subjects areas) which consist of existing fellows.

The society also elects royal fellows, honorary fellows and foreign members. Royal fellows are those members of the British Royal Family, representing the British monarchy's role in promoting and supporting the society, who are recommended by the society's council and elected via postal vote. There are currently[when?] five royal fellows: The Duke of Edinburgh, The Prince of Wales, The Duke of Kent, the Princess Royal, and The Duke of Cambridge.[48] Honorary fellows are people who are ineligible to be elected as fellows but nevertheless have "rendered signal service to the cause of science, or whose election would significantly benefit the Society by their great experience in other walks of life". Six honorary fellows have been elected to date, including Baroness O'Neill of Bengarve.[49] Foreign members are scientists from non-Commonwealth nations "who are eminent for their scientific discoveries and attainments". Eight are elected each year by the society and also hold their membership for life. Foreign members are permitted to use the post-nominal ForMemRS (Foreign Member of the Royal Society) and as of August 2020 number about 185.[50]

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Stephen Hawking was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1974.

The appointment of fellows was first authorised in the second charter, issued on 22 April 1663, which allowed the president and council, in the two months following the signing, to appoint as fellows any individuals they saw fit. This saw the appointment of 94 fellows on 20 May and 4 on 22 June; these 98 are known as the "Original Fellows". After the expiration of this two-month period any appointments were to be made by the president, council and existing fellows.[51] Many early fellows were not scientists or particularly eminent intellectuals; it was clear that the early society could not rely on financial assistance from the king, and scientifically trained fellows were few and far between. It was, therefore, necessary to secure the favour of wealthy or important individuals for the society's survival.[52] While the entrance fee of £4 and the subscription rate of one shilling a week should have produced £600 a year for the society, many fellows paid neither regularly nor on time.[53] Two-thirds of the fellows in 1663 were non-scientists; this rose to 71.6% in 1800 before dropping to 47.4% in 1860 as the financial security of the society became more certain.[54] In May 1846, a committee recommended limiting the annual intake of members to 15 and insisting on scientific eminence; this was implemented, with the result being that the society now consists exclusively of scientific fellows.[55]

Structure and governance

The society is governed by its council, which is chaired by the society's president, according to a set of statutes and standing orders. The members of council, the president and the other officers are elected from and by its fellowship.

Council

The council is a body of 21 fellows, including the officers (the president, the treasurer, two secretaries—one from the physical sciences, one from life sciences—and the foreign secretary),[56] one fellow to represent each sectional committee and seven other fellows.[57] The council is tasked with directing the society's overall policy, managing all business related to the society, amending, making or repealing the society's standing orders and acting as trustees for the society's possessions and estates. Members are elected annually via a postal ballot, and current standing orders mean that at least ten seats must change hands each year.[58] The council may establish (and is assisted by) a variety of committees,[58] which can include not only fellows but also outside scientists.[57] Under the charter, the president, two secretaries and the treasurer are collectively the officers of the society.[59] The current officers[60] are:

• President: Venkatraman Ramakrishnan
• Treasurer: Andy Hopper
• Biological Secretary: Sir John Skehel
• Physical Secretary : Peter Bruce
• Foreign Secretary: Richard Catlow

President

Main article: List of presidents of the Royal Society

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Venkatraman Ramakrishnan has been President of the Society since 2015

The President of the Royal Society is head of both the society and the council. The details for the presidency were set out in the second charter and initially had no limit on how long a president could serve for; under current society statute, the term is five years.[61]

The current president is Venkatraman Ramakrishnan, who took over from Sir Paul Nurse on 30 November 2015.[62] Historically, the duties of the president have been both formal and social. The Cruelty to Animals Act 1876 left the president as one of the few individuals capable of certifying that a particular experiment on an animal was justified. In addition, the president is to act as the government's chief (albeit informal) advisor on scientific matters. Yet another task is that of entertaining distinguished foreign guests and scientists.[63]

Permanent staff

The society is assisted by a number of full-time paid staff. The original charter provided for "two or more Operators of Experiments, and two or more clerks"; as the number of books in the society's collection grew, it also became necessary to employ a curator. The staff grew as the financial position of the society improved, mainly consisting of outsiders, along with a small number of scientists who were required to resign their fellowship on employment.[64] The current Executive Director is Dr Julie Maxton CBE.[65]

Functions and activities

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The Royal Society Collections at the University of London History Day, 2019.

The society has a variety of functions and activities. It supports modern science by disbursing nearly £42 million to fund approximately 600 research fellowships for both early and late career scientists, along with innovation, mobility and research capacity grants.[66] Its Awards, prize lectures and medals all come with prize money intended to finance research,[67] and it provides subsidised communications and media skills courses for research scientists.[68] Much of this activity is supported by a grant from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, most of which is channelled to the University Research Fellowships (URF).[38] In 2008, the society opened the Royal Society Enterprise Fund, intended to invest in new scientific companies and be self-sustaining, funded (after an initial set of donations on the 350th anniversary of the society) by the returns from its investments.[69]

Through its Science Policy Centre, the society acts as an advisor to the UK Government, the European Commission and the United Nations on matters of science. It publishes several reports a year, and serves as the Academy of Sciences of the United Kingdom.[70] Since the middle of the 18th century, government problems involving science were irregularly referred to the Society, and by 1800 it was done regularly.[71]

Carlton House Terrace

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The current premises of the Royal Society, 6–9 Carlton House Terrace, London (first four properties only)

The premises at 6–9 Carlton House Terrace is a Grade I listed building and the current headquarters of the Royal Society, which had moved there from Burlington House in 1967.[72] The ground floor and basement are used for ceremonies, social and publicity events, the first floor hosts facilities for Fellows and Officers of the Society, and the second and third floors are divided between offices and accommodation for the President, Executive Secretary and Fellows.[73]

The first Carlton House was named after Baron Carleton, and was sold to Lord Chesterfield in 1732, who held it on trust for Frederick, Prince of Wales. Frederick held his court there until his death in 1751, after which it was occupied by his widow until her death in 1772. In 1783, the then-Prince of Wales George bought the house, instructing his architect Henry Holland to completely remodel it.

When George became King, he authorised the demolition of Carlton House, with the request that the replacement be a residential area. John Nash eventually completed a design that saw Carlton House turned into two blocks of houses, with a space in between them.[74] The building is still owned by the Crown Estates and leased by the Society; it underwent a major renovation from 2001 to 2004 at the cost of £9.8 million, and was reopened by the Prince of Wales on 7 July 2004.[14]

Carlton House Terrace underwent a series of renovations between 1999 and November 2003 to improve and standardise the property. New waiting, exhibition and reception rooms were created in the house at No.7, using the Magna Boschi marble found in No.8, and greenish grey Statuario Venato marble was used in other areas to standardise the design.[73] An effort was also made to make the layout of the buildings easier, consolidating all the offices on one floor, Fellows' Rooms on another and all the accommodation on a third.[75]

Kavli Royal Society International Centre

In 2009 Chicheley Hall, a Grade I listed building located near Milton Keynes, was bought by the Royal Society for £6.5 million, funded in part by the Kavli Foundation.[76] The Royal Society spent several million on renovations adapting it to become the Kavli Royal Society International Centre, a venue for residential science seminars. The centre held its first scientific meeting on 1 June 2010 and was formally opened on 21 June 2010.

Publishing

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Title page of the first edition of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society published in 1665

The society introduced the world's first journal exclusively devoted to science in 1665, Philosophical Transactions, and in so doing originated the peer review process now widespread in scientific journals. Its founding editor was Henry Oldenburg, the society's first secretary.[77][78]

Through Royal Society Publishing, the society publishes the following journals:[79]

• Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A (mathematics and the physical sciences)
• Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B (biological sciences)
• Proceedings of the Royal Society A
• Proceedings of the Royal Society B
• Biology Letters
• Open Biology
• Royal Society Open Science
• Journal of the Royal Society Interface
• Interface Focus
• Notes and Records
• Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society

Philosophical Transactions is the oldest and longest-running scientific journal in the world, having first been published in March 1665 by the first secretary of the society, Henry Oldenburg. It now publishes themed issues on specific topics and, since 1886,[80] has been divided into two parts; A, which deals with mathematics and the physical sciences,[81] and B, which deals with the biological sciences.[82] Proceedings of the Royal Society consists of freely submitted research articles and is similarly divided into two parts.[83] Biology Letters publishes short research articles and opinion pieces on all areas of biology and was launched in 2005.[84] Journal of the Royal Society Interface publishes cross-disciplinary research at the boundary between the physical and life sciences,[85] while Interface Focus,[86] publishes themed issue in the same areas. Notes and Records is the Society's journal of the history of science.[87] Biographical Memoirs is published twice annually and contains extended obituaries of deceased Fellows.[88] Open Biology is an open access journal covering biology at the molecular and cellular level. Royal Society Open Science is an open access journal publishing high-quality original research across the entire range of science on the basis of objective peer-review.[89] All the society's journals are peer-reviewed.

Honours

Main article: Awards, lectures and medals of the Royal Society

The Royal Society presents numerous awards, lectures, and medals to recognise scientific achievement.[67] The oldest is the Croonian Lecture, created in 1701 at the request of the widow of William Croone, one of the founding members of the Royal Society. The Croonian Lecture is still awarded on an annual basis and is considered the most important Royal Society prize for the biological sciences.[90] Although the Croonian Lecture was created in 1701, it was first awarded in 1738, seven years after the Copley Medal. The Copley Medal is the oldest Royal Society medal still in use and is awarded for "outstanding achievements in research in any branch of science".[91]

See also

• Fellows of the Royal Society
• Royal Fellows of the Royal Society
• List of Fellows of the Royal Society
• List of female Fellows of the Royal Society
• List of presidents of the Royal Society
• Academy of Medical Sciences
• British Academy
• British Association for the Advancement of Science
• History of science
• Laputa, a fictional island full of absurd inventions put by Jonathan Swift in Gulliver's Travels to mock the Royal Society.
• Learned societies
• List of British professional bodies
• List of Royal Societies
• Royal Institution
• Royal Society of Arts
• Royal Academy of Engineering, UK
• Society Islands
• The Baroque Cycle, a series of historical novels by Neal Stephenson, in which many of the founders of the Royal Society appear.
• The Royal Society Range, a mountain range in Antarctica named after the Society
• Glossary of areas of mathematics
• Glossary of astronomy
• Glossary of biology
• Glossary of calculus
• Glossary of chemistry
• Glossary of engineering
• Glossary of physics

References

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2. Hunter, Michael. "Royal Society". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 24 February 2018.
3. "The Fellowship," The Royal Society 2016. Retrieved 4 September 2016.
4. Yates, Frances (1984). Collected Essays Vol. III. p. 253.
5. David A. Kronick, The Commerce of Letters: Networks and "Invisible Colleges" in Seventeenth- and Eighteenth-Century Europe, The Library Quarterly, Vol. 71, No. 1 (Jan., 2001), pp. 28-43; JSTOR 4309484
6. http://www-history.mcs.st-and.ac.uk/Societies/RS.html JOC/EFR: The Royal Society, August 2004 retrieved online: 2009-05-14
7. "Tallents, Francis (TLNS636F)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
8. Margery Purver, The Royal Society: Concept and Creation (1967), Part II Chapter 3, The Invisible College.
9. Syfret (1948) p. 75
10. Syfret (1948) p. 78
11. "London Royal Society". University of St Andrews. Retrieved 8 December 2009.
12. Syfret (1948) p. 79
13. Syfret (1948) p. 80
14. "Prince of Wales opens Royal Society's refurbished building". The Royal Society. 7 July 2004. Retrieved 7 December 2009.
15. Henderson (1941) p. 29
16. Henderson (1941) p. 28
17. Martin (1967) p. 13
18. Hunter (1984) p. 160
19. Hunter (1984) p. 161
20. Hunter (1984) p. 179
21. Henderson (1941) p.30
22. "Newton biography". University of St Andrews. Retrieved 28 December 2009.
23. Lyons (April 1939) p.34
24. Martin (1967) p.14
25. Lyons (April 1939) p.35
26. Lyons (April 1939) p.38
27. Lyons (April 1939) p.40
28. Sorrenson (1996) p.29
29. Sorrenson (1996) p.31
30. Miller (1998) p.78
31. Miller (1998) p.79
32. Miller (1998) p.85
33. Martin (1967) p.16
34. "Fellows – Fellowship – The Royal Society". The Royal Society. Retrieved 24 March 2014.
35. Henderson (1941) p.31
36. Lyons (November 1939) p.92
37. Hall (1981) p.628
38. J "Parliamentary Grant". The Royal Society. Retrieved 28 October 2014.
39. "Parliamentary Grant Delivery Plan 2011–15 (PDF)" (PDF). The Royal Society. Retrieved 28 October 2014.
40. Martin (1967) p.17
41. Martin (1967) p.18
42. "Admission of Women into the Fellowship of the Royal Society". Notes and Records of the Royal Society of London. 4 (1): 39. 1946. doi:10.1098/rsnr.1946.0006.
43. J.D.G.D. (1938) p.37
44. J.D.G.D. (1938) p.38
45. "History". The Royal Society. Retrieved 29 October 2015.
46. "Criteria for candidates – Criteria for candidates – The Royal Society". The Royal Society. Retrieved 5 December2009.
47. "The rights and responsibilities of Fellows of the Royal Society". The Royal Society. Retrieved 5 December 2009.
48. "Royal Fellows". The Royal Society. Retrieved 5 December 2009.
49. "Honorary Fellows". The Royal Society. Retrieved 5 December 2009.
50. "Foreign Members". The Royal Society. Retrieved 16 May 2013.
51. de Beer (1950) p.172
52. Lyons (1939) p.109
53. Lyons (1939) p.110
54. Lyons (1939) p.112
55. Lyons (1938) p.45
56. Poliakoff, Martyn. "The Royal Society, the Foreign Secretary, and International Relations". sciencediplomacy.org. Science & Diplomacy.
57. "How is the Society governed?". The Royal Society. Archived from the original on 9 June 2008. Retrieved 6 December 2009.
58. "The Council". The Royal Society. Archived from the original on 9 June 2008. Retrieved 6 December 2009.
59. Lyons (1940) p. 115
60. "Council". The Royal Society. The Royal Society. Retrieved 1 October 2017.
61. "The role of President of the Royal Society". The Royal Society. Archived from the original on 9 June 2008. Retrieved 6 December 2009.
62. "The Royal Society". http://www.facebook.com.
63. "The Presidency of the Royal Society of London". Science. 6 (146): 442–3. 1885. Bibcode:1885Sci.....6..442.. doi:10.1126/science.ns-6.146.442. PMID 17749567.
64. Robinson (1946) p.193
65. "Staff". The Royal Society. Retrieved 1 October 2017.
66. "Grants". The Royal Society. Retrieved 28 October 2014.
67. "Awards, medals and prize lectures". The Royal Society. Retrieved 7 December 2009.
68. "Communication skills and Media training courses". The Royal Society. Retrieved 7 December 2009.
69. "The Royal Society Enterprise Fund". The Royal Society Enterprise Fund. Archived from the original on 19 June 2010. Retrieved 7 December 2009.
70. Science Policy Centre – 2010 and beyond. The Royal Society. 2009. p. 3.
71. Hall (1981) p.629
72. "General". The Royal Society. Retrieved 7 December 2009.
73. Fischer (2005) p.66
74. Summerson (1967) p.20
75. Fischer (2005) p.67
76. ""Royal Society snaps up a stately hothouse", Times Online, 29 March 2009". Timesonline.co.uk. Retrieved 17 August 2012.
77. Wagner (2006) p. 220-1
78. Select Committee on Science and Technology. "The Origin of the Scientific Journal and the Process of Peer Review". Parliament of the United Kingdom. Retrieved 5 December 2014.
79. "Royal Society Publishing". Royal Society Publishing. Retrieved 27 December 2009.
80. "Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London". rstl.royalsocietypublishing.org. Retrieved 14 December2016.
81. "Philosophical Transactions A – About the journal". The Royal Society. Archived from the original on 3 July 2013. Retrieved 11 December 2009.
82. "Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B". The Royal Society. Retrieved 11 December 2009.
83. "Proceedings A – about the journal". The Royal Society. Retrieved 11 December 2009.
84. "Biology Letters – about this journal". The Royal Society. Archived from the original on 3 May 2013. Retrieved 11 December 2009.
85. "Journal of the Royal Society Interface – About". The Royal Society. Archived from the original on 22 May 2013. Retrieved 11 December 2009.
86. "Interface Focus – About". The Royal Society. Archived from the original on 23 December 2011. Retrieved 24 February 2012.
87. "About Notes and Records". The Royal Society. Archived from the original on 19 July 2012. Retrieved 11 December 2009.
88. "Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society". The Royal Society. Retrieved 11 December 2009.
89. "ROYAL SOCIETY OPEN SCIENCE | Open Science". rsos.royalsocietypublishing.org. Retrieved 14 December2016.
90. "The Croonian Lecture (1738)". The Royal Society. Retrieved 7 February 2009.
91. "The Copley Medal (1731)". The Royal Society. Retrieved 4 February 2009.

Bibliography

• Bluhm, R.K. (1958). "Remarks on the Royal Society's Finances, 1660–1768". Notes and Records of the Royal Society of London. 13 (2): 82. doi:10.1098/rsnr.1958.0012.
• de Beer, E.S. (1950). "The Earliest Fellows of the Royal Society". Notes and Records of the Royal Society of London. 7 (2): 172. doi:10.1098/rsnr.1950.0014.
• J.D.G.D. (1938). "The Arms of the Society". Notes and Records of the Royal Society of London. 1 (1): 37. doi:10.1098/rsnr.1938.0007.
• Fischer, Stephanie (2005). "Report: The Royal Society Redevelopment". Notes and Records of the Royal Society of London. 59 (1): 65. doi:10.1098/rsnr.2004.0077.
• Hall, Marie Boas (1981). "Public Science in Britain: The Role of the Royal Society". Isis. 72 (4): 627–629. doi:10.1086/352847. JSTOR 231253.
• Henderson, L.J. (1941). "The Royal Society". Science. 93(2402): 27–32. Bibcode:1941Sci....93...27H. doi:10.1126/science.93.2402.27. PMID 17772875.
• Hunter, Michael (1984). "A 'College' for the Royal Society: The Abortive Plan of 1667–1668". Notes and Records of the Royal Society of London. 38 (2): 159. doi:10.1098/rsnr.1984.0011.
• Lyons, H.G. (1938). "The Growth of the Fellowship". Notes and Records of the Royal Society of London. 1 (1): 40. doi:10.1098/rsnr.1938.0008.
• Lyons, H.G. (April 1939). "Two Hundred Years Ago. 1739". Notes and Records of the Royal Society of London. 2 (1): 34. doi:10.1098/rsnr.1939.0007.
• Lyons, H.G. (November 1939). "One Hundred Years Ago. 1839". Notes and Records of the Royal Society of London. 2 (2): 92. doi:10.1098/rsnr.1939.0016.
• Lyons, H.G. (1939). "The Composition of the Fellowship and the Council of the Society". Notes and Records of the Royal Society of London. 2 (2): 108. doi:10.1098/rsnr.1939.0017.
• Lyons, H.G. (1940). "The Officers of the Society (1662–1860)". Notes and Records of the Royal Society of London. 3 (1): 116. doi:10.1098/rsnr.1940.0017.
• Martin, D.C. (1967). "Former Homes of the Royal Society". Notes and Records of the Royal Society of London. 22(1/2): 12. doi:10.1098/rsnr.1967.0002.
• Miller, David Philip (1998). "The 'Hardwicke Circle': The Whig Supremacy and Its Demise in the 18th-Century Royal Society". Notes and Records of the Royal Society. 52 (1): 73. doi:10.1098/rsnr.1998.0036.
• A.C.S. (1938). "Notes on the Foundation and History of the Royal Society". Notes and Records of the Royal Society of London. 1 (1): 32. doi:10.1098/rsnr.1938.0006.
• Sorrenson, Richard (1996). "Towards a History of the Royal Society in the Eighteenth Century". Notes and Records of the Royal Society of London. 50 (1): 29. doi:10.1098/rsnr.1996.0003.
• Sprat, Thomas (1722). The history of the Royal Society of London: for the improving of natural knowledge. By Tho. Sprat. Samuel Chapman. OCLC 475095951.
• Stark, Ryan. "Language Reform in the Late Seventeenth Century," in Rhetoric, Science, and Magic in Seventeenth-Century England (Washington, DC: The Catholic University of America Press, 2009), 9–46.
• Summerson, John (1967). "Carlton House Terrace". Notes and Records of the Royal Society of London. 22 (1): 20. doi:10.1098/rsnr.1967.0003.
• Syfret, R.H. (1948). "The Origins of the Royal Society". Notes and Records of the Royal Society of London. 5 (2): 75–137. doi:10.1098/rsnr.1948.0017. JSTOR 531306.
• Robinson, H.W. (1946). "The Administrative Staff of the Royal Society, 1663–1861". Notes and Records of the Royal Society of London. 4 (2): 193. doi:10.1098/rsnr.1946.0029.
• Wagner, Wendy Elizabeth (2006). Rescuing Science from Politics: Regulation and the Distortion of Scientific Research. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521855204.

External links

• Official website
o List of Fellows of the Royal Society
o Complete List of Royal Society Fellows 1660–2007 in PDF
o The Royal Society's 350th anniversary
• The Royal Society Publishing website
• The Royal Society of London (a brief history)
• Scholarly Societies Project: Royal Society of London
• A visualisation of the Royal Society's publications from 1665 to 2005
• The Royal Society, BBC Radio 4 discussion with Stephen Pumphrey, Lisa Jardine & Michael Hunter (In Our Time, Mar. 23, 2006)
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#2)

Postby admin » Mon Aug 24, 2020 8:05 am

Part 1 of 3

The Absent Vedas
by Will Sweetman
University of Otago
Journal of the American Oriental Society 139.4 (2019) 781
2019

NOTICE: THIS WORK MAY BE PROTECTED BY COPYRIGHT

YOU ARE REQUIRED TO READ THE COPYRIGHT NOTICE AT THIS LINK BEFORE YOU READ THE FOLLOWING WORK, THAT IS AVAILABLE SOLELY FOR PRIVATE STUDY, SCHOLARSHIP OR RESEARCH PURSUANT TO 17 U.S.C. SECTION 107 AND 108. IN THE EVENT THAT THE LIBRARY DETERMINES THAT UNLAWFUL COPYING OF THIS WORK HAS OCCURRED, THE LIBRARY HAS THE RIGHT TO BLOCK THE I.P. ADDRESS AT WHICH THE UNLAWFUL COPYING APPEARED TO HAVE OCCURRED. THANK YOU FOR RESPECTING THE RIGHTS OF COPYRIGHT OWNERS.




[Key Points]:

At the end of 1543 … Xavier encountered a Brahmin who revealed to him their secret monotheism: there was only a single God, creator of heaven and earth, and they worshipped this God and not the idols, which were demons. This doctrine was taught in their schools, but the Brahmins were obliged not to reveal it. Xavier added that they had books [scripturas], written in a learned tongue, which contained the commandments.…

It was only toward the end of the sixteenth century that the Vedas are first mentioned, by Agostinho de Azevedo, an Augustinian… The Brahmins, the “masters of their religion,” teach a unified doctrine of God, creation, and the corruption of creatures…

Azevedo’s brief account of the content of the four “origins” makes clear that he had no real access to the Vedas themselves. When he comes to elaborate on the content of the fourfold Veda, he in fact names a series of other texts—all in Tamil…

They say that this first cause is God, and that he is a pure spirit, incorporeal, infinite, full of all power and knowledge and truth, and present everywhere, which they call Carvēsparaṉ [Xarves Zibarum] which means the creator of all…

Despite his claim, then, that the Vedas are the original scriptures that prescribe what the gentiles of India are to believe and what rites they are to perform, Azevedo’s actual sources are all much later Tamil sources…

Bernier … notes that having learned Sanskrit,

they ordinarily put themselves to reading the puranas, which are an interpretation and abridgement of the Vedas, which are very large, at least if they are those which were shown to me in Benares. They are also very rare, so much so that my agha could never find them for sale, whatever diligence he used; for they keep them well hidden, fearing that the Mahometans should get hold of and burn them, as they have done several times…

[T]he Brahmins’ texts—and the teachings they contained—were kept secret….

[W]hen Jesuits first gained access to Vedic texts, in the early seventeenth century, this was through the personal mediation of converted Brahmins who may have known the texts—thus from memory rather than manuscripts...

The first Jesuit to name the Vedas is Jacome Fenicio, who had been in India since 1584… In 1603 Fenicio reports writing a manual of Hindu mythology, in which he mentions that he has copied three hundred verses critical of idolatry from a text in Malayalam ascribed to Pākkanār... Fenicio also mentions and names the four Vedas in connection with the mythology of Brahmā, but he does not otherwise show any knowledge of Vedic sources…

Nobili is the first European known to have read parts of the Vedas…he cites directly from the texts associated with the Black Yajur Veda….Nobili’s access to these texts was mediated by the Telugu Brahmin convert who taught him Sanskrit, Śivadharma or Bonifacio…Śivadharma who made the texts available to him, on the basis of Nobili’s orthography in his Responsio…Śivadharma, who had fallen out with Nobili, assisted Fernandes with scriptural quotations in his 1616 treatise attacking Nobili…as Fernandes did not know Sanskrit, the texts were translated into Tamil by Śivadharma and only thence into Portuguese…This kind of mediated access to Sanskrit texts, likely the same method used by Azevedo and Rogerius, would be repeated in the following century by other missionaries.

Having at last obtained access to the texts hinted at by Xavier half a century earlier, Nobili discovered that while some parts of them did indeed refer to “God in the true and absolute sense” (Brahma)—and even contained “an adumbration of the recondite mystery of the most Holy Trinity”—other parts described superstitious rites directed to false deities (Brahmā) so that “the sayings they record are in striking contradiction one with another.”… Significantly, Nobili also notes that the term Veda refers not only to the “law” of the Brahmin but also to knowledge (scientia) more broadly. It was for this reason that he used it in coining many terms to refer to aspects of Christian life and practice, and even to Christianity itself… This usage was followed by Protestants in the following century and beyond…

He concludes that … by metonymy all these works are identified with the Vedas…

[ I]n September 1706 Ziegenbalg reported that books were being copied out for him by the elderly schoolmaster he had engaged to teach him Tamil…

It is clear, both from the fact that the works were being copied in Tamil and from Ziegenbalg’s later catalogue of his library, that these were not the Vedas. As he began reading Tamil texts, Ziegenbalg’s interest in the Vedas receded, and he even came to doubt their very existence… Ziegenbalg says that he doubts the “lawbooks” exist because none of the many thousands of Tamils to whom he has spoken had seen them. They have only been told by the Brahmins that they exist, but none of the Brahmins Ziegenbalg had spoken to had access to them either… He adds that while the Brahmins make much of the four Vedas, they do not allow others even to see, much less to read, them…

In 1711 one of the Jesuits in this mission, Jean-Venant Bouchet, argued that Hindu religious texts were a diabolic imitation of the Christian scriptures. Although he had not been able to obtain copies of the Vedas, he had been able to learn enough of their contents from “certain teachers” to be able to pronounce it an imitation of the books of Moses…

Louis de Bourzes… [states] that to communicate the Veda to others was a crime punishable by many millions of years in hell… He corrects Bouchet (without mentioning his name) on the question of whether there were at first five Vedas, saying that he has been assured constantly that there are only four… he writes that the name Veda is applied by extension to a whole range of other texts that are not, strictly, Veda… The Vedas proper are never read and expounded to the people—they would not be capable of understanding them…

The reputation of the Vedas in Europe around the turn of the eighteenth century demonstrates what Dorothy Figueria has aptly called “the authority of an absent text.” An intriguing demonstration of this is a mention of the Vedas in a text that was as much sought after—and as much discussed in ignorance of its actual contents—as were the Vedas themselves: De tribus impostoribus. The idea of a blasphemous treatise that grouped Jesus Christ, Moses, and Muhammad as the three impostors who had fooled the world begins with an encyclical from Pope Gregory IX against the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II in 1239. For the next four centuries, accusations of having authored such a treatise—or even just having possessed a copy of it—swirled around Europe, applied to anyone whose orthodoxy was in doubt—from Thomas Scoto (a Franciscan friar accused, arrested, and probably burned to death in Lisbon in 1335) to Michael Servetus and Giordano Bruno, burned alive in Geneva in 1553 and in Rome in 1600, respectively. The text itself, however, proved elusive. When a version of this notorious text was finally printed, in 1753, it bore a false date of 1598. Caland dated De tribus impostoribus sixty years earlier still, to 1538, and therefore suggested that that De tribus impostoribus was likely the first European text to mention the Vedas. In fact, the reference to the Vedas in De tribus impostoribus is one reason for dating it much later, most likely to a manuscript of 1688 by Johann Müller. ..

From Ziegenbalg, Lacroze learned that the Indians, despite their outward idolatry, preserved also a knowledge of the real nature of the supreme being. Rogerius, Baldaeus, and the Jesuits persuaded him that this could be proven, if only the Vedas could be found and translated… Mosheim acknowledged the reputation of Oriental philosophers for wisdom, but regretted that little more could be said until the “very ancient book of the Brachmans called Vedam” was translated into another language…

In 1726 Gargam told Souciet he had been offered a translation of the Vedas. Even though he had not yet read it, he thought it would be of “very great use to all the missionaries . . . in refuting the errors of the Gentiles.”…

Calmette refers to the Brahmins’ secrecy about the Vedas:

Ever since India has been known, it does not appear that the Europeans have been able to unearth this book which the Brames scruple to communicate and which they transcribe superstitiously in the woods or in remote places where they cannot be seen by any who are not of their caste. (1730: 25v)

I have at last recovered the four Vedas, of which the first is called Rougvedam, the second Ejourvedam, the third Samavedam, the fourth Adarvanavedam. The fourth is that which, so long as there have been missionaries in India, has been said to have been thrown into the sea by the Brahmins. Thus, that which the Brahmins have until now kept hidden more than the Jews have the books of Moses, that which they have communicated to no other nation of the world, not even to Indians if they are not of their caste, finally falls into our hands and the sea itself has given up its prey. (1732: 35r).

Calmette described how he had confirmed the authenticity of the texts he had purchased by having young Brahmins who were learning the Vedas recite them to him (1732: 35v). In his letter he describes how both Gargam, his close colleague in the northern reaches of the Carnatic mission, and Jean-François Pons, a Jesuit collecting Sanskrit texts in Bengal, had been deceived into buying texts purporting to be Vedas… while Calmette did obtain the Rg, Yajur, and Sama Veda samhitas, his “Adarvana Vedam” is in fact an assortment of tantric and magical texts connected with goddess worship called Atharvanatantraraja and Atharvanamantraśāstra….

[Calmette] adds that it was remarkable how few Brahmins understood Vedic Sanskrit… Some of these works, like others sent by the Jesuits, were not so much copies of actual Indian texts as verbal abstracts of the texts recited by scholars and recorded, on paper not palm-leaves, by converts who adorned them with Christian symbols…

[T]he Jesuits had thus finally succeeded in obtaining for European libraries at least parts of the Vedas…

The growing reputation of the Vedas in Europe was not without effect in India, however. Among the Jesuits, Gargam and Calmette were convinced of the value of obtaining the Vedas, or at least of responding to the demand for them from Europe. This is perhaps reflected also in that the works of preparatio evangelica composed, probably in French, by the Carnatic Jesuits were labelled “Vedam”… Although Francis Whyte Ellis saw these texts in Pondicherry in 1816, only the Ezour-Vedam survives. While their author cannot be determined with certainty, Ludo Rocher has demonstrated that they were probably produced among the Jesuits of the Carnatic mission…

[T]he Tranquebar missionaries gave a brief account of the Vedas. They report that despite their efforts to see the Vedas, they have been told that they are not written, but that boys (who can only be Brahmins) learn sections of them from a priest by repeating it constantly. The language in which they are recorded, which they call Grantha, is so old that no one can understand it without referring to the sastra. Few learn the fourth part, because it consists of sorcery…

[ I]n 1737, four of these missionaries announced that they had obtained a translation of the Yajur Veda… the text that was published in the Hallesche Berichte had, according to Albrecht Weber, “not the slightest thing to do with the Yajurveda,” instead representing “an encyclopedic and systematically ordered representation of the modern Brahmanical world and life-view.”…

[T]he Vedas [Le Gac] dispatched to Europe… Although catalogued, on the basis of the Jesuits’ descriptions of the texts... remained unread throughout the eighteenth century… Paulinus saw them in late 1789, but … was not permitted enough time to examine them closely.


For Paulinus a Sancto Bartholomaeo, the word "Veda" "does not signify exclusively a sacred book but implies in general as much as a sacred law, whether observed by Indians or other nations" (p. 65). Of course, Paulinus famously (and wrongly) argued that "the Vedas" do not exist as a specific set of ancient Indian scriptures and that the Indians call many texts, even non-Indian ones, "Vedas." But modern southern Indian usage agrees with Paulinus's view about the word, as the entries in the University of Madras Tamil Lexicon cited by Rocher(1984:65) show:

vetam: 1. The Vedas; 2. The Jaina scriptures; 3. The Bible; ...
veta-k-karan: Christian (the only meaning!)
veta-pustakam: 1. The Vedas; 2. The Bible.
veta-vakkiyam: 1. Vedic text; 2. Gospel truth.
veta-vakkiyanam: 1. Commentaries on the Vedas; 2. Expounding the bible.

-- The Birth of Orientalism, by Urs App


Anquetil did not limit himself to revealing to us, through his luminous dissertations, what had been the empire of the Achaemenids and the Sassanids, he also introduced us to India, which we did not know in the last century even more than Persia. Voltaire did not take the sanscrit, which was then called Sanscretan, for a book, and was he not duped by the forger who had composed Ezour-Vedam, and surprised the religion of Father Nobili? The Vedas themselves were so ignored that Father Paulinus of Saint-Barthélemy did not believe in their existence, and considered them mythical books. ['Voy. Hem. de l'Acad., t. L, p. 1 and following.]

We can say that the discoveries are in the air and that when they occur, alongside their authors, a crowd of researchers met who had approached them and who would have been called upon to make them, if the discoverer had not been taken from the world before reaching his goal. Thus, at the same time as Anquetil du Perron lifted the veil which hid ancient India from us, Abbé Étienne Mignot, a learned theologian that the Academy had enrolled among its members, shed light in five memoirs published successively by his Collection, the history of Hindu doctrines. [He should not be confused with Father Vincent Mignot, Voltaire's nephew.] An independent mind, who had shaken off the yoke of the Sorbonne, Mignot sometimes succeeded, in spite of very incomplete documents, in unraveling the speculations of these ancient Indian thinkers whose boldness he loved, and which took a century of study to be known and understood.

Anquetil had only been able to advance on the threshold of Hindu literature, with the help of Persian translations; but on the other hand he had collected a prodigious number of information on India and the East, which he put to use and which have earned us works which have remained indispensable to the study of Asia. [its Eastern Legislation and India in relation to Europe.] As his reputation spread, oriental manuscripts and documents from Hindustan and Persia flocked to him in greater numbers; he ended up becoming in Europe the true representative and the literary agent of these countries, which one did not know before with us only by the connections of Bernier, Tavernier, Chardin, merchants or tourist philosophers who had neither the ardor of the French orientalist, nor the taste for erudition. If Anquetil had been able to learn Sanskrit, the last century would already have enjoyed some of the discoveries which have been the exclusive patrimony of ours; but having at its disposal an incomplete vocabulary that had been communicated to him by Cardinal Antonelli, prefect of the Congregation of Propaganda, he tried in vain to translate the Vedas, and had to be content to let us know the Upanishads [We see from a letter from Father Cœurdoux to Anquetil du Perron, which was addressed to him from the Indes in 1771, that the translation of the Vedas was then regarded as an almost impossible undertaking: The true Vedam, writes this missionary, is, in the opinion of Father Calmette, of a Sanserutan (Sanskrit) so old that it is almost unintelligible, and that what is cited is from Vedantam, that is to say introductions and comments made there.]; one of his correspondents had transmitted the text to him in 1775. Thanks to these curious but obscure treatises, Anquetil gave the Academy an idea of the religious philosophy of the Hindus, and he later published a Latin version. [See Handwritten correspondence from Anquetil du Perron, kept at the Imperial Library.]

De Guignes, through another source of information, Chinese documents, sought to shed light on the darkness of the Hindu religion. For want of being able to understand the original books, we were, as we see, reduced to asking the knowledge of Brahmanism and its philosophy from the neighboring peoples of Hindustan, who had only had one idea - perfect; so all the schools and all the sects were confused; we did not even know how to distinguish the Vedic religion from Buddhism; for for a long time we had no idea of this latter religion. It was in 1753 that De Guignes read his memoir on the Samaanian philosophers at the Academy, where the first glimpses of knowledge of Buddhism appeared, the teachings of which he had rediscovered in China. However, he associated with the information provided to him by China some indications which he obtained directly from India. He had in his hands the translation of the Bhagavata-Pourana, made on a Tamil version, and due to an indigenous interpreter from Pondicherry, four years later, in 1776, De Gui named Méridas Poullé. He owed it to Minister Bertin, who had given it to him in 1769. De Guignes endeavored to bring out data for the Indian chronology and communicated them in 1772 to his colleagues. But, as was inevitable, this orientalist, who had at his disposal none of the elements suitable to enlighten his progress, without realizing it, a complete shipwreck. Four years later, in 1776, De Guignes named Méridas Poullé. He owed it to Minister Bertin, who had given it to him in 1769. [See, on the Upanichads, Max Muller, A history of ancient Sanskrit literature, 2nd ed., P. 316-319. These books, which are metaphysical commentaries on the Vedas intended for the teaching of young disciples of Brahmam science, belong to the class of writings called Aranyakas, and enjoy the greatest authority in India.] [Under the title of Oupnek'hat, 1802, in-10. See the analysis given by Lanjuinais in his oEuvres, t. 1V, p. 216.]

De Guignes was no happier in his Historical Researches, Indian religion, and on the fundamental books of this religion, published by the Academy. Indeed, without knowledge of Sanskrit, one could only have incomplete and confused notions about India. It was up to England to endow us at last with documents which placed India in its true light. But the dawn of that day was barely breaking when De Guignes was writing his memoirs, and the misfortune for the reputation of this orientalist was to have come too early.

It was only in the last years of the Academy, in 1785, that the works of Ch. Wilkins began to penetrate us. Parraud gave, in 1787, the French translation of the English version of the Indian poem entitled: Bhagavadgîte, that is to say, song of the blessed, epilogue of one of the great Sanskrit epics, the Mahâbhàrata, which A.W. de Schlegel was to make us better known in the following century. An eminent compatriot of Wilkins, William Jones, who had been in India to complete his acquaintance, gave in Calcutta, in 1789, the translation of the famous drama of Kâlidâsa, Sacountala, and published in 1793 the version of Laws of Manu.

-- Histoire de l'Académie des Inscriptions et Belles Lettres (1865), by Louis Ferdinand Alfred Maury


In 1847 the Jesuit Julien Bach commented wryly: “No Indianist is tempted to make use of it, and it is from these books that we can say: Sacred they are, because no one touches them.”…

It is to these books that Voltaire's mischief could rightly apply:
"Sacred they are, because no one touches them."

-- The Father Calmette and the Indianist Missionaries, by Father Julien Bach


Voltaire received a manuscript in French entitled Ezour-Vedam in late 1760… Pierre Sonnerat correctly identified the Ezour-Vedam as “definitely not one of the four Vedams” but rather “a book of controversy, written by a missionary”… Abraham Hyacinthe Anquetil Duperron, the leading French Orientalist of his time …defended the authenticity of the Ezour-Vedam as late as 1808… In Surat, Anquetil Duperron was offered, through a Parsi intermediary, manuscripts containing extracts of the four Vedas. He declined… because the Brahmin—and Jain—scholars whom he asked to certify the authenticity of the texts assured him they were incomplete…

While the Ezour Vedam was being discussed by Voltaire and others, the Vedas sent by Calmette languished unread in the Bibliotheque Imperiale. They were even excluded from the catalogue of Sanskrit manuscripts prepared by Alexander Hamilton and Louis-Mathieu Langlès in 1807, again because they were mostly not in Devanagari script...

In 1781–82 Antoine-Louis-Henri Polier, a Swiss Protestant who served in the English East India Company’s army until 1775, had had copies of the Vedas made for him at the court of Pratap Singh at Jaipur. Polier’s intermediary was a Portuguese physician, Don Pedro da Silva Leitão… Jai Singh had assembled a substantial collection of manuscripts from religious sites across India, and in the time of his successor Pratap Singh the library had contained the samhitas of all four Vedas in manuscripts dating from the last quarter of the seventeenth century…

Polier records that he had sought copies of the Veda without success in Bengal, Awadh, and on the Coromandel coast, as well as in Agra, Delhi, and Lucknow and had found that even at Banaras “nothing could be obtained but various Shasters, [which] are only Commentaries of the Baids”…

It is perhaps significant that it was in a royal library, rather than in a Brahmin pathasala, that Polier found manuscripts of the Vedas. But the same is not true of the manuscripts acquired in Banaras only fifteen years later by Henry Thomas Colebrooke, during the period (1795–97) when he was appointed as judge and magistrate at nearby Mirzapur…

I cannot conceive how it came to be ever asserted that the Brahmins were ever averse to instruct strangers; several gentlemen who have studied the language find, as I do, the greatest readiness in them to give us access to all their sciences. They do not even conceal from us the most sacred texts of their Vedas.

The several gentlemen would likely have included General Claude Martin, Sir William Jones, and Sir Robert Chambers. These were all East India Company employees who obtained Vedic manuscripts (Jones from Polier) in the last decades of the eighteenth century.

Why was it so much easier for Polier, Colebrooke, and others to obtain what it had been so difficult for the Jesuits and impossible for the Pietists?...


Despite Calmette’s statement about no European having been able to unearth this text “since India has been known,” the evidence suggests rather that no European other than Nobili had seriously sought to obtain the Vedas. The “false” Vedas obtained by the Pietists two years after Calmette—and by Gargam and Pons six years before—are explicable by the flexibility of the term Veda; we do not need to postulate either duplicity or secrecy on the part of those who transmitted these texts.

The question of the availability of the texts in manuscript form touches on the hotly debated issue of the oral transmission of the Vedas. That there was a powerful presumption against writing down Hindu texts, and the Vedas in particular, is not controversial. “One who reads from a written text” (likhita-pathaka) is included among a list of the six worst types of those who recite the Vedas…. We do not have to fall into what Johannes Bronkhorst calls “the brahmanical trap” —imagining that the Vedas were never written down—in order to accept that the brahminical prejudice against writing down the Vedas would have meant that it was far less likely that European scholars would come across manuscripts of the Vedas than manuscripts of other texts…

Many Europeans—both Jesuits from Xavier to Bouchet and Calmette, and Protestants from Rogerius to Ziegenbalg and his Pietist successors, as well non-clerical authors like Bernier and Alexander Dow—mentioned restrictions on who could hear the Vedas. This alone would have made the Vedas harder to find; most Hindus would not have had access to them either. But we should not overlook that many of the same writers also stated that even among Brahmins the Vedas were not widely known. Thus, in addition to the reasons suggested above, it seems that one reason, other than religious scruple, for the difficulty Europeans experienced in attempting to obtain copies of the Vedas was a simple lack of knowledge of the Vedas, despite their acknowledged authority, on the part of many Indians. In this sense, the Veda was an “absent text” not only for Europeans, but for many Indians too.


-- The Absent Vedas, by Will Sweetman


The Vedas were first described by a European author in a text dating from the 1580s, which was subsequently copied by other authors and appeared in translation in most of the major European languages in the course of the seventeenth century. It was not, however, until the 1730s that copies of the Vedas were first obtained by Europeans, even though Jesuit missionaries had been collecting Indian religious texts since the 1540s. I argue that the delay owes as much to the relative absence of the Vedas in India—and hence to the greater practical significance for missionaries of other genres of religious literature—as to reluctance on the part of Brahmin scholars to transmit their texts to Europeans.

By the early eighteenth century, a strange dichotomy was apparent in European views of the Vedas. In Europe, on the one hand, the best-informed scholars believed the Vedas to be the most ancient and authoritative of Indian religious texts and to preserve a monotheistic but secret doctrine, quite at odds with the popular worship of multiple deities. The Brahmins kept the Vedas, and kept them from those outside their caste, especially foreigners. One or more of the Vedas was said to be lost—perhaps precisely the one that contained the most sublime ideas of divinity. By the 1720s scholars in Europe had begun calling for the Vedas to be translated so that this secret doctrine could be revealed, and from the royal library in Paris a search for the texts of the Vedas was launched.

In India, on the other hand, the missionaries, who—overwhelmingly—were responsible for the best information on Indian religious literature that had reached Europe, took a quite different view. Many doubted whether the Vedas still existed; some that they had ever existed. All realized the much greater significance for daily religious life in India of other texts, mostly texts in vernacular languages. The missionaries reported that most Brahmins knew little of the Vedas and often did not well understand even the little that they did know. The only European to have read parts of the Vedas before the 1720s—the Jesuit Roberto Nobili—knew the Vedas described sacrifices to multiple deities. He called these deities idols and thought Vedic ideas superstitious rather than sublime. It was another Jesuit, Étienne Le Gac, who responded to the call from Paris in the 1720s for copies of the Vedas. In his first response he wrote that the whole venture was useless. Five years later, even as he dispatched copies of the Vedas to Paris, he predicted—accurately—that the books would serve only as a spectacle in Europe, and he repeated that he thought acquiring them a waste of money.

What accounts for this dichotomy in European views of the Vedas? Here I argue that it is ultimately the absence of the Vedas, in Europe but also in India, that explains both views. Until well into the eighteenth century the view from Europe was shaped primarily by just one early report of the Vedas. This was contained in an account of “the opinions, rites and ceremonies of the Gentiles of India,” written by a Portuguese friar, Agostinho de Azevedo, most likely in the late 1580s. His brief statement on the Vedas was recycled in every major European language throughout the seventeenth century and even late in the eighteenth century, half a century after the first manuscripts of the Vedas had arrived in Europe. But Azevedo, like almost all missionaries writing on Hinduism prior to the 1720s, in fact relied on vernacular—in his case, Tamil—texts for his own account of Indian religious belief. References to these sources were, however, excised by those who repeatedly plagiarized his account.

The view from India was shaped by the absence of the Vedas in most Indian religious practice. The best seventeenth- and eighteenth-century accounts of Indian religion, penned mostly by missionaries in the south of India, were primarily based on other literature—Vedic only in the broadest sense. Their works were mostly not published until long after missionary Orientalism was superseded by Company Orientalism and the Vedas proper were finally studied by British Orientalists in north India in the last years of the eighteenth century. In the meantime, Europe’s obsession with the Vedas had elevated a pseudo-Veda—the Ezour-Vedam, a work produced among the same group of Jesuits who first acquired the actual Vedas as a kind of preparatio evangelica [preparation evangelica]—to the status of an important source for European discussions of Hinduism.

This article begins by examining European engagement with Hindu texts in the sixteenth century, demonstrating that despite Azevedo’s early report on the Vedas and contrary to what is sometimes stated, it was vernacular texts that Europeans—including Azevedo—obtained, read, and translated. It will then be shown how the repeated copying of Azevedo’s report in published European works on Indian religion in the seventeenth century established the reputation of the Vedas in Europe. By this time Jesuits had gained access to the Vedas and discovered they were far from monotheistic, but their works remained unpublished in the seventeenth century. The Protestant mission in India began in the early eighteenth century and at first followed the Catholic pattern of using vernacular texts. By the second quarter of the eighteenth century both Catholics and Protestants had to respond to demands from Europe that the Vedas be found and translated. The Vedas were obtained, but missionaries continued to emphasize the importance of other texts, and the texts sent to Europe remained unread. The article concludes by examining the relative ease with which collectors and scholars associated with the English East India Company obtained copies of the Vedas in the 1780s and 1790s and questions the view that it was primarily the prohibition on transmission of the Vedas to non-Brahmins that accounts for the gap of two centuries between the first European report of the Vedas and the first published scholarly studies of them.


The Sixteenth Century: The Portuguese in India

One of the earliest Portuguese writers on India, Duarte Barbosa, describes the Brahmins in Malabar as “learned in their idolatry,” adding that they possessed many books and were held in great esteem by the rulers of the land. 1 In this respect they were quite different from the other idolatrous “Indians” the Spanish were encountering in the New World. In time, the literacy of Asian civilizations would force recognition of the need for quite different strategies of evangelization there, but in the 1520s the first episcopal visitor to Goa, Duarte Nunes, proposed that the Portuguese should proceed in the same way as the conquistadores in the Americas: destroying the temples of the idolaters and expelling from Goa any who would not convert. 2 It was not, in fact, until the early 1540s that orders were given for the destruction of temples in areas under Portuguese control and the diversion of their revenues to newly built Christian institutions. 3 It was in this context that Francis Xavier arrived in Goa in May 1542. At the end of 1543 Xavier was to add some critical details to Barbosa’s image of the literate Brahmin idolater. Xavier encountered a Brahmin who revealed to him their secret monotheism: there was only a single God, creator of heaven and earth, and they worshipped this God and not the idols, which were demons. This doctrine was taught in their schools, but the Brahmins were obliged not to reveal it. Xavier added that they had books [scripturas], written in a learned tongue, which contained the commandments.4



Already by the 1540s, then, Europeans had begun to establish an image of the Brahmins as literate and in possession of texts that taught a secret monotheism. It was these elements that would lead to calls for the Vedas to be obtained and translated. Only the idea of the antiquity of these texts, and their designation as Veda, were lacking at this point.

As soon as missionaries managed to obtain Hindu religious texts, however, a quite different image emerged. These were acquired by confiscation, in the context of competition and conflict between the Portuguese colonial and clerical establishments and their prominent clients and converts in Goa. In 1548 the Bishop of Goa, the Franciscan Juan de Albuquerque, described the seizure of some “gentile books” from the house of a prominent Hindu on the island of Divar, an area where many temples had been destroyed. The books were taken to António Gomes, recently installed as the head of the Jesuit College of Saint Paul, founded in 1541 with the revenues from the destroyed temples of Goa. Before Gomes could find someone to read the texts, the Governor, Garcia de Sá, ordered that they be returned. 5

Further texts were seized in the same way a decade later, during the period when the so-called “rigor of mercy,” or forcible conversion of Goa, reached its height. In 1558 a Jesuit brother, Pedro d’Almeida, described the imprisonment, impoverishment, and even enslavement of those found in possession of images or other Hindu artefacts during raids that took place at the time of festivals such as Ganesh Chaturthi and Divali. 6 It was during Divali that a copy of a text called Anādipurāṇa, in two volumes of more than a hundred folios, was seized in the house of a prominent Gentile. 7 This work is likely lost, but Almeida writes that a translation of the text had already begun, and copies were sent to Europe. 8 This was probably prepared for the new rector of the Jesuit college, Francisco Rodrigues, who took possession of this and other texts seized the following year. 9

These latter texts represent the first targeted acquisition by the Jesuits of Hindu religious works. The texts were stolen by a young Brahmin, who had recently converted and taken the name Manuel d’Oliveira. The Jesuits reported more than three thousand conversions in Goa in 1559, but d’Oliveira’s had been eagerly anticipated as he was reputed to be one of the most intelligent and learned of the Brahmins in Goa. With the Governor’s permission, d’Oliveira led an expedition to steal books belonging to a Brahmin living outside the area under Portuguese control. This Brahmin had spent eight years assembling and translating from different ancient authors the works of “their principal prophet, who they call Veaço [Vyāsa], who wrote the eighteen books of their law.” 10 Having brought the books to the college, d’Oliveira began translating them, and Rodrigues quickly put them to use in preaching to Brahmins who were obliged by order of the Governor to assemble in the college on Sunday afternoons. Copies were also made and sent to Europe, but Fróis notes that these were done by young students in the college who made many errors, and that there had not been time to improve the translations or compare them to the original. 11 The copies extant in Europe include texts in both Marathi and Konkani, mostly episodes from the Mahābhārata and Rāmayāṇa, as well as translations into Portuguese. 12

These texts became important sources for the Jesuits in Goa. As well as being put to use in sermons against the Brahmins, Jesuits used these texts well into the seventeenth century. They served as models for Christian works in Marathi like Thomas Stephens’s Kristapurāṇa (1616) and Étienne de la Croix’s Discursos sobre a vida do Apostolo Sam Pedro (1629), 13 and as sources for vocabularies like those composed by Diogo Ribeiro (1626) and Miguel d’Almeida. 14 Together with the Anādipurāṇa, they informed the accounts of Indian religion in Jesuit histories by Alessandro Valignano (1584) and Sebastiam Gonçalves (1614). 15 It is important to note the character of these texts—including a local purāṇa and vernacular versions of the epics—as a hasty reading of the Jesuit letters has sometimes led to the conclusion that the Jesuits had acquired Sanskrit versions of the Bhagavad-Gītā, the Mahābhārata, or the Rāmayāṇa.

The First European Account of the Vedas

It was only toward the end of the sixteenth century that the Vedas are first mentioned, by Agostinho de Azevedo, an Augustinian. Azevedo’s biography has been reconstructed by Georg Schurhammer, who thinks it possible he first went to India as a soldier before joining the Augustinian order in Goa in the 1570s. Azevedo was sent back to Portugal to ordain and train, returning to India in 1586. From 1589 to 1600 he was in Hormuz, from where he returned overland to Portugal, where he completed a Relação do Estado da Índia. 16 Azevedo’s report provides an overview of Portuguese settlements in Asia from the Arabian Gulf to the spice islands, devoting particular attention to Hormuz and Ceylon. It is notable that in his accounts of both, Azevedo draws on local textual sources. For Hormuz, he claims that he read these sources himself, 17 but for Ceylon he relied on an interpreter’s simultaneous translation of Sinhalese chronicles recited for him when he met Sinhalese princes in Goa around 1587. 18 There is a similar emphasis on textual sources in his section on India, entitled “Of the opinions, rites, and ceremonies of all the gentiles of India between the river Indus and the Ganges and that which is contained in their original scriptures which their learned men teach in their schools.” 19 The Brahmins, the “masters of their religion,” teach a unified doctrine of God, creation, and the corruption of creatures. They have, writes Azevedo,

many books in their Latin, which they call Geredão [Grantha] which contain everything they are to believe, and all the ceremonies they are to perform. These books are divided into bodies, limbs, and joints, whose origins are some [books] which they call Veados, which are divided into four parts, and these further into fifty-two parts in the following manner: six are called Xastra, which are the bodies; eighteen are called Purana, which are the limbs; twenty-eight called Agamon which are the joints.


Azevedo’s brief account of the content of the four “origins” makes clear that he had no real access to the Vedas themselves. When he comes to elaborate on the content of the fourfold Veda, he in fact names a series of other texts—all in Tamil. 20 The first part of the Vedas, he writes, deals with the first cause

according to the books which they have called Tirumantiram and Tiruvācakam, which are summas of their theology which they read in the schools. They say that this first cause is God, and that he is a pure spirit, incorporeal, infinite, full of all power and knowledge and truth, and present everywhere, which they call Carvēsparaṉ [Xarves Zibarum] which means the creator of all. 21


For the second part of the Vedas, “dealing with the regents who have dominion over all things,” Azevedo again cites a Tamil text: “They say that this supreme [being] which they call God has infinite names, given in a particular book called Tivākaram.” 22 His account of the third part of the Vedas, on moral doctrine, singles out the author of Tirukkuṟaḷ as the great teacher of moral precepts. Like many later missionary authors, Azevedo suggests Tiruvaḷḷuvar had derived these from St Thomas. 23 Finally, Azevedo refers to a further book, Cātikaḷ Tōṭṭam, on castes. This text is difficult to identify, but its southern provenance is confirmed by the names of the four primary castes: kings, brahmins, chettis, and vellalas. 24

Despite his claim, then, that the Vedas are the original scriptures that prescribe what the gentiles of India are to believe and what rites they are to perform, Azevedo’s actual sources are all much later Tamil sources: Tirumantiram, Tiruvācakam, Tivākaram, Tirukkuṟaḷ, and the text on caste. This combination—identification of the Vedas as the oldest authoritative sources, together with a reliance on quite different texts for the actual details of the religious practices of those who so acknowledged the Vedas—would be repeated in the works of many of those who wrote from India. But the identification of the Vedas as the oldest and most authoritative works meant that it was only the Vedas that gained widespread recognition in Europe as the sacred texts of the Indians.

Azevedo In Other Authors

Although Azevedo’s work was not published until the twentieth century, it had an extraordinary impact on European understanding of the Vedas in the seventeenth century. Diogo do Couto, who had met Azevedo in Goa, used Azevedo’s work in his continuation of João de Barros’s chronicle of the Portuguese Asian empire, the Décadas da Ásia (see n. 16 above). The third and fourth chapters of the sixth book of Couto’s fifth decade, published at Lisbon in 1612, are taken almost verbatim from Azevedo. 25 Couto’s work, in turn, was used by João de Lucena in his life of Xavier. 26 The Dutch chaplain, Abraham Rogerius, followed one or the other of these works very closely in the account of the Vedas in his De Open-Deure tot het Verborgen Heydendom (1651), adding only the names of the Vedas, which he is the first to report in print in Europe. Through his primary informant, a Tamil Brahmin named Padmanābha, Rogerius was even able to give a paraphrase of part of a Sanskrit text (the Nītiand Vairāgya-śatakas of Bhartṛhari), although he again relies on other sources including some in Tamil. While Rogerius emphasizes that the Brahmins “must submit themselves to the Veda, and cannot contradict it in the least or object when a text from it is cited,” he adds that there are often strong disputes over the sense of the text: “one interprets a word thus, the other so,” so that to resolve such disputes reference is made to the “śāstra, which betokens so much as an explanation or exposition.” 27 This was perhaps suggested to him to explain why texts other than the Vedas were those to which he was referred, despite the Veda’s acknowledged ultimate authority. Burnell suggests that, rather than the Vedas, Rogerius’s work in fact reflects the Tamil Vaiṣṇava canonical collection, the Nālāyira Tiviyappirapantam.28 Rogerius’s work gives a great deal of detailed information on brahminical Hinduism, but it was his repetition of Azevedo’s summary content of the Vedas that was most important for their reputation in Europe.

Rogerius’s work was quickly translated into German (1663) and French (1670), plagiarized in Dutch by Philip Baldaeus (1672) 29 and Olfert Dapper (1672), 30 and extracted in English and French in the works of John Ogilby (1673) 31 and of Jean-Frédéric Bernard and Bernard Picart (1723, 1731). 32 Each of these included Azevedo’s summary of the Vedas, and in this way it was very widely disseminated in Europe. 33 Even late in the eighteenth century, Azevedo’s account of the Vedas was repeated almost verbatim in the work of the Italian Capuchin, Marco della Tomba. 34 Although Couto, who repeats almost the whole of Azevedo’s account, retained all the references to Tamil texts, none of these subsequent works (with the partial exception of Lucena, who retains only the reference to Tiruvaḷḷuvar) mention any of the Tamil sources, despite Azevedo’s claim that these are the “summas of their theology.” In this way the idea was firmly established in Europe that it was the Vedas, above all and almost to the exclusion of other texts, that were the sacred books of India.


Other Published Seventeenth-Century Accounts

The only other significant independent account of the Vedas published in the seventeenth century was that of François Bernier. 35 Bernier had met the Jesuit Heinrich Roth in Agra and noted his study of “the books of the gentiles.” 36 He also acknowledges having read Rogerius, but the major details in his account are independent of the Azevedo /Rogerius text, 37 and it was an Indian pandit, Kavīndrācārya Sarasvatī, who was his primary informant. 38 Although Bernier repeatedly makes the “Beths” the source of “the doctrine of the Indous or Gentiles of Hindoustan,” he notes that having learned Sanskrit,

they ordinarily put themselves to reading the purāṇas, which are an interpretation and abridgement of the Vedas, which are very large, at least if they are those which were shown to me in Benares. They are also very rare, so much so that my agha could never find them for sale, whatever diligence he used; for they keep them well hidden, fearing that the Mahometans should get hold of and burn them, as they have done several times. 39


Bernier was not the first to mention that the Vedas were kept hidden; Rogerius had given details on which of the varṇas were entitled to learn, teach, read, or hear the Vedas. 40 Bernier and Rogerius thus confirmed Xavier’s account that the Brahmins’ texts—and the teachings they contained—were kept secret.

It is certainly true that there were restrictions on who could hear the Vedas. One of the most notorious expressions of this is the verse stating that the ears of a Śūdra who hears the Veda are to be filled with lead. The verse is widely, but falsely, attributed to the Manusmṛti. 41 More relevant, perhaps, for Europeans in the early modern period and those who revealed the Vedas to them, was the fact that, while Manu’s code does forbid the recitation of the Vedas in the presence of Śūdras (4.99, 108), the penance for “misusing” the Veda, i.e., disclosing it to someone unauthorized to hear it, is fairly mild. It is found not among the grievous sins listed at the beginning of the chapter on sin and penance but rather in the “motley list of sins and infractions” at the end of the chapter, an excursus “which is clearly an interpolation.” 42 Moreover, given that Europeans first obtained Hindu texts by seizure or theft, Brahmin reluctance to transmit the Vedas would be irrelevant, if we can assume that the texts were indeed available in manuscript. However, when Jesuits first gained access to Vedic texts, in the early seventeenth century, this was through the personal mediation of converted Brahmins who may have known the texts—thus from memory rather than manuscripts.

Jesuits In The South: Fenicio And Nobili

The first Jesuit to name the Vedas is Jacome Fenicio, who had been in India since 1584, for the most part in Cochin and Calicut. In 1603 Fenicio reports writing a manual of Hindu mythology, in which he mentions that he has copied three hundred verses critical of idolatry from a text in Malayalam ascribed to Pākkanār. 43 Texts of this sort held an obvious appeal for missionaries —a century after Fenicio, the Protestant Bartholomäus Ziegenbalg was to seize on texts like Tirumantiram and Civavākkiyam because of their opposition to image worship. 44 Some of Pākkanār’s verses are included in Fenicio’s Livro da Seita dos Indios Orientais, probably completed in 1609. Here Fenicio also mentions and names the four Vedas in connection with the mythology of Brahmā, but he does not otherwise show any knowledge of Vedic sources. Fenicio writes that the four laws, “iréa, ueressa, samam, edaruna,” came from the four heads of Brahmā, but as Īśvara cut off one head, the Brahmins lack the fourth law, which is the one “pertaining to God.” 45 It may have thus have been from Fenicio that his more famous colleague, Roberto Nobili, first heard the idea that one of the Vedas was lost. Nobili, who spent three months recuperating in Cochin in early 1606, wrote in 1608 that, of the four Vedas, only three were extant, and the fourth—which was required for salvation—was lost. 46

Nobili is the first European known to have read parts of the Vedas. In a number of his works defending his strategy of tolerating aspects of Brahminical lifestyle among his converts, he cites directly from the texts associated with the Black Yajur Veda. Thus, for example, in his Informatio de quibusdam moribus nationis indicae (1613) he quotes from the account of the aśvamedha in Taittirīya Brāhmaṇa 3.8.5. 47 Nobili’s access to these texts was mediated by the Telugu Brahmin convert who taught him Sanskrit, Śivadharma or Bonifacio. 48 While it was Śivadharma who made the texts available to him, on the basis of Nobili’s orthography in his Responsio, Caland thought it probable that “Nobili himself had copied the passages [in Sanskrit] quoted by him, and that these passages had not been dictated to him by some Brahman . . . [and therefore] that Nobili has himself drawn his argumentative passages from the Sanskrit texts.” 49 Margherita Trento contrasts this with the method of Nobili’s opponent in the debate over accommodation, Gonçalo Fernandes. Śivadharma, who had fallen out with Nobili, assisted Fernandes with scriptural quotations in his 1616 treatise attacking Nobili. 50 The first part (O sumário das serimonias) describes the lifecycle rites of Brahmins from birth, through initiation and marriage, to entry into the state of a sannyāsīn, with a description of some of the daily and other rites performed by and for brahmin sannyāsīns. It includes a translation of the first six verses of the third chapter of the Taittirīya Upaniṣad. 51 The second, much shorter, section (O compendio de ditos de graves autores) describes penances (prāyaścitta) according to the dharmaśāstra of Parāśara. Śivadharma is again the source, but, as Fernandes did not know Sanskrit, the texts were translated into Tamil by Śivadharma and only thence into Portuguese by Fernandes with his assistant Andrea Buccerio. 52 This kind of mediated access to Sanskrit texts, likely the same method used by Azevedo and Rogerius, would be repeated in the following century by other missionaries.

Having at last obtained access to the texts hinted at by Xavier half a century earlier, Nobili discovered that while some parts of them did indeed refer to “God in the true and absolute sense” (Brahmă)—and even contained “an adumbration of the recondite mystery of the most Holy Trinity”—other parts described superstitious rites directed to false deities (Brahmā) so that “the sayings they record are in striking contradiction one with another.” 53 He was nonetheless able to name the four Vedas, including the Śukla, or White, recension of the Yajur Veda. 54 Significantly, Nobili also notes that the term Veda refers not only to the “law” of the Brahmin but also to knowledge (scientia) more broadly. 55 It was for this reason that he used it in coining many terms to refer to aspects of Christian life and practice, and even to Christianity itself (dēva vēdam, or ñāna vētam) and to the Bible (often simply vētam in Nobili’s works). This usage was followed by Protestants in the following century and beyond. Further evidence of the extent of Nobili’s knowledge of the Veda is to be found in Jesuit correspondence of the eighteenth century, discussed below.

Nobili was, however, also keenly aware of the importance of other texts. He associated the Vedas especially with Advaita Vedāntins, but he reported that the religious texts for the Śaivas were the Āgamas, for Vaiṣṇavas the Tiruvāymoḻi, and for the Dvaitins Madhva’s commentary on the Brahmasūtra. 56 He concludes that although by metonymy all these works are identified with the Vedas—more specifically with the Upaniṣads—there is a wide variety of sacred texts.

metonymy: the substitution of the name of an attribute or adjunct for that of the thing meant, for example suit for business executive, or the track for horse racing.


Thus, even though he is almost certainly the first European to have had direct access to the Vedas themselves, like other missionaries in India Nobili acknowledged the practical significance of other texts for contemporary Hindus, and thus also for his missionary task.

Nobili’s works were not published until long after his death, but Fenicio’s brief account of Brahmā’s revelation of the Vedas, and the loss of his head and with it one Veda, did reach print in Dutch, Spanish, and English in the second half of the seventeenth century in the works of Baldaeus (1672) and Manuel de Faria e Sousa (1675, 1695). 57

The Eighteenth Century: Protestant Mission

Through Baldaeus, Azevedo’s and Fenicio’s accounts of the Vedas were briefly important for the first Protestant missionary in India, Bartholomäus Ziegenbalg. Ziegenbalg arrived in the Danish enclave of Tranquebar, in Tanjore, in July 1706. The only European work on India that we know for sure Ziegenbalg had read by 1706 is the German translation of Baldaeus, but this was enough to ensure that he very early set out to acquire the Vedas. 58 Already in September 1706 Ziegenbalg reported that books were being copied out for him by the elderly schoolmaster he had engaged to teach him Tamil. Ziegenbalg’s letter includes parts of both Fenicio’s account of Brahmā’s revelation of four books (one of which was lost) and Azevedo’s brief summary of the contents of the Vedas. 59 Ziegenbalg later admitted he had taken these details from Baldaeus, but then only to emphasize the contrast between Baldaeus’s “very false relations of these heathen” and what he had learned from his own extensive reading of Tamil sources in the intervening five years. 60 While one published version of this letter states that when Ziegenbalg asked the schoolmaster to transcribe the remaining three of these for him “he could not bring himself to do it, for it would be against their law to allow a Christian to have access to them,” 61 in the longer version edited by Christian Bergen, we read that the three books are being written out for him—but in Tamil—and Ziegenbalg states only that this had never before been done for any Christian. 62
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It is clear, both from the fact that the works were being copied in Tamil and from Ziegenbalg’s later catalogue of his library, that these were not the Vedas. As he began reading Tamil texts, Ziegenbalg’s interest in the Vedas receded, and he even came to doubt their very existence. These doubts are first expressed in records of conversations that took place in 1708, which Ziegenbalg had published in 1715. In a discussion with a Brahmin, Ziegenbalg says that he doubts the “lawbooks” exist because none of the many thousands of Tamils to whom he has spoken had seen them. They have only been told by the Brahmins that they exist, but none of the Brahmins Ziegenbalg had spoken to had access to them either. 63 Some years later, in an annotation to a letter received from a Tamil correspondent in 1712 that mentions the names of the four Vedas, Ziegenbalg comments that, because they are in Sanskrit, even the names of the Vedas are known only to the learned. He adds that while the Brahmins make much of the four Vedas, they do not allow others even to see, much less to read, them. Instead, the worship of the Tamils is established on the purāṇas, together with the āgamas and śāstras, which are found “in all sorts of languages” among the common, non-Brahmin, people. 64

The Eighteenth-Century Jesuits

In the eighteenth century French Jesuits established the new Carnatic mission in the Tamil- and Telugu-speaking hinterland of the French possession of Pondicherry. In 1711 one of the Jesuits in this mission, Jean-Venant Bouchet, argued that Hindu religious texts were a diabolic imitation of the Christian scriptures. Although he had not been able to obtain copies of the Vedas, he had been able to learn enough of their contents from “certain teachers” to be able to pronounce it an imitation of the books of Moses . He says the Vedas were divided into four parts but that many Indian scholars think there was formerly a fifth part, now lost, and thus he was confident that the Vedas were nothing other than an imitation of the Pentateuch. 65

The Abbé Étienne Souciet, librarian and professor of mathematics at the Jesuit college Louis-le-Grand, was in regular correspondence with Jesuits in the missions on all manner of subjects. In 1719 the superior of the Madurai mission, Louis de Bourzes, responded to some of Souciet’s questions about the Vedas. His detailed account of “le Vedam” was mostly derived, he admits, from Nobili. 66 Bourzes begins by reiterating the trope of Brahmin secrecy, stating that to communicate the Veda to others was a crime punishable by many millions of years in hell. He refers also to the oral transmission of the text, although he adds that one Brahmin has told him the contrary. He corrects Bouchet (without mentioning his name) on the question of whether there were at first five Vedas, saying that he has been assured constantly that there are only four, and mentions also Bernier’s report of the “four Beths.” He notes, however, that a fifth Veda is spoken of in the same way as we might refer to a poet as “a second Virgil.” Following Nobili again, he writes that the name Veda is applied by extension to a whole range of other texts that are not, strictly, Veda. He gives examples, from Nobili, which include purāṇic literature. The Vedas proper are never read and expounded to the people—they would not be capable of understanding them— instead they read other texts to which the name Veda is lent, above all the Rāmāyaṇa, which is called the Veda of the Śūdras, the people. He further downplays the Veda when giving reasons why it is not advisable for the missionaries to learn Sanskrit—Tamil is essential, Sanskrit difficult and not likely to aid in the conversion of the Indians. Few Brahmins know more than a fourth of the Veda; one who knows three is regarded as a prodigious scholar.

Bourzes repeats that he knows little of the Veda, but then proceeds to give what is probably the most detailed account yet to reach Europe of a Vedic rite, the sacrifice of a goat. 67 Insofar as this is based on texts, the proximate source is almost certainly again Nobili, or rather Śivadharma, but Bourzes also includes details—such as the cost of the ritual—that are likely based on observation (whether by Bourzes or his Indian informants) of contemporary rituals. Bourzes’s letter also includes an account of Indian chronology—which was one of the reasons for the intense interest in ancient, non-Christian scriptures in the early eighteenth century—suggesting that it owed something to Chinese chronology. 68

The Vedas Between Europe and India

The reputation of the Vedas in Europe around the turn of the eighteenth century demonstrates what Dorothy Figueria has aptly called “the authority of an absent text.” 69 An intriguing demonstration of this is a mention of the Vedas in a text that was as much sought after—and as much discussed in ignorance of its actual contents—as were the Vedas themselves: De tribus impostoribus.The idea of a blasphemous treatise that grouped Jesus Christ, Moses, and Muhammad as the three impostors who had fooled the world begins with an encyclical from Pope Gregory IX against the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II in 1239. 70 For the next four centuries, accusations of having authored such a treatise—or even just having possessed a copy of it—swirled around Europe, applied to anyone whose orthodoxy was in doubt—from Thomas Scoto (a Franciscan friar accused, arrested, and probably burned to death in Lisbon in 1335) to Michael Servetus and Giordano Bruno, burned alive in Geneva in 1553 and in Rome in 1600, respectively. 71 The text itself, however, proved elusive. When a version of this notorious text was finally printed, in 1753, it bore a false date of 1598. Caland dated De tribus impostoribus sixty years earlier still, to 1538, 72 and therefore suggested that that De tribus impostoribus was likely the first European text to mention the Vedas. 73 In fact, the reference to the Vedas in De tribus impostoribus is one reason for dating it much later, most likely to a manuscript of 1688 by Johann Müller. 74

The history of De tribus impostoribus itself demonstrates the authority that an absent text can exert. The mention of the Vedas in Müller’s text also shows that the Vedas too had begun to exert an authority in Europe while still very much absent there. Further evidence of the Vedas’ reputation in Europe can be found in the 1720s. In 1724 Mathurin Veyssière de Lacroze included a chapter on “the idolatry of the Indies” in his Histoire du christianisme des Indes. Lacroze, a former Benedictine who had converted to Protestantism in 1696, was Librarian Royal at the Prussian court. His account of Indian idolatry drew on the published works of the Jesuits, Rogerius, and Baldaeus as well as Ziegenbalg’s then-still-unpublished manuscripts. From Ziegenbalg, Lacroze learned that the Indians, despite their outward idolatry, preserved also a knowledge of the real nature of the supreme being. Rogerius, Baldaeus, and the Jesuits persuaded him that this could be proven, if only the Vedas could be found and translated. 75 Lacroze’s opinion was echoed in 1726 by Johann Lorenz von Mosheim, professor of theology at Helmstedt, in the first published volume of his ecclesiastical history. By the time his Institutionum historiae ecclesiasticae antiqui et recentioris was completed, in 1755, Mosheim was chancellor of the university at Göttingen and one of the most renowned theologians and church historians in Europe. In giving an account of the state of philosophy at the time of Christ, Mosheim acknowledged the reputation of Oriental philosophers for wisdom, but regretted that little more could be said until the “very ancient book of the Brachmans called Vedam” was translated into another language. 76 Thus despite the doubts expressed by Ziegenbalg and Bourzes about the practical importance—even the very existence— of the Vedas, 77 the reputation of the Vedas was firmly established in Europe by the beginning of the eighteenth century and would be affirmed repeatedly throughout the century, despite no one in Europe being able to read them—or rather, I would suggest, precisely because no one there could read them. 78

It was the Vedas’ reputation in Europe that prompted the efforts of another royal librarian to obtain them. Jean-Paul Bignon, titular abbot of Saint-Quentin-en-l’Isle, was appointed royal librarian in Paris—a post held by his father and grandfather—in November 1718. The library had fallen into disorder under his predecessor, and Bignon was instructed to restore order and to make the library “more worthy of the magnificence of a great prince.” 79 One of his first acts as librarian was to have Étienne Fourmont, professor of Arabic at the Collège royal, draw up a list of Oriental works to be acquired for the library. 80 Since 1691 Bignon had been President of the Acadèmie des Sciences, established by Jean-Baptiste Colbert early in the reign of Louis XIV. Bignon followed Colbert’s model for royal collections. From the 1660s Colbert had set out on a grand scale to establish collections that would reflect the king’s magnificence. He employed a network of agents to collect systematically “rocks and plants for the gardens of Versailles . . . exotic animals for the royal menageries, and manuscripts for the royal libraries.” 81 Colbert’s efforts in collecting manuscripts were focused primarily on texts relevant for biblical scholarship, although his wider efforts to promote Oriental scholarship were also driven in part by practical considerations arising from trade. 82 Both Bignon and Fourmont, by contrast, were personally most intensely interested in Chinese texts. It was the need to demonstrate the full scope of the king’s “curiosity” that meant that other texts, including the Vedas and other Indian works, were sought.

In 1719 Fourmont, evidently drawing on Rogerius, drew up a list of works to be obtained which included the Vedas, the Rāmāyaṇa, a pañcāṅkam, and the works of Bhartṛhari. 83 China, however, took priority, and the list of works was first sent there. It was not until November 1727 that Fourmont made efforts to obtain texts from India, at first through the Compagnie des Indes. 84 The Compagnie’s “commandant général” in Pondicherry, Pierre Christoph Le Noir, initially tried to obtain them through the Compagnie’s own networks, but in September 1728 he turned to the Jesuits. 85

The superior of the Jesuit Carnatic mission, Étienne Le Gac, had already been approached for copies of the Vedas by Souciet a little less than two years earlier, in December 1726. 86 In his response to Souciet, Le Gac expressed his doubts about the utility of copying the Vedas. If copies were sent in an Indian script, no one in Paris would be able to read them, and to have them translated would be too difficult because so few learned Brahmins understood them. Although the Brahmin children are taught to read, the sense of the Veda is not explained to them, because the teacher often does not understand it.

It is enough that they make them able to pronounce it well and to learn by heart certain things which they will need later, such as certain stanzas of verse which they will have to recite while performing certain ceremonies during marriages, burials, sacrifices.


Souciet had been in regular contact with other French Jesuits in the Carnatic mission. Bourzes had recommended Memmius René Gargam, to whom Souciet had directed a series of questions on subjects such as astronomy, fossils, Indian languages, and whether the Brahmins were descended from the Jews. 87 In 1726 Gargam told Souciet he had been offered a translation of the Vedas. Even though he had not yet read it, he thought it would be of “very great use to all the missionaries . . . in refuting the errors of the Gentiles.” 88 The cost exceeded Gargam’s means, however, and his superior Le Gac refused to invest in the project both because the mission had had high expenses that year and also because a translation of the Vedas appeared to him “useless for the conversion of souls.” 89 Although the missions were perpetually short of funds, the resistance to imparting the Vedas seems here to have been Jesuit, rather than Brahmin.

By the end of 1728 Le Gac’s resistance had given way in the face of the resources and authority of Bignon and Le Noir. In his response to Bignon in January 1729, Le Gac expressed his confidence that he would be able to acquire the Vedas and, to a greater or lesser extent, the other works which had been requested. 90 In August of the following year, Calmette reported that he had obtained copies of the first two Vedas, which he calls “Rougvédam” and “Ejourvédam,” and two years later, in August 1732, he was able to add the “Samavédam” and the “Adarvanavédam.” 91 In both letters, Calmette refers to the Brahmins’ secrecy about the Vedas:

Ever since India has been known, it does not appear that the Europeans have been able to unearth this book which the Brames scruple to communicate and which they transcribe superstitiously in the woods or in remote places where they cannot be seen by any who are not of their caste. (1730: 25v)

I have at last recovered the four Vedas, of which the first is called Rougvédam, the second Ejourvédam, the third Samavédam, the fourth Adarvanavédam. The fourth is that which, so long as there have been missionaries in India, has been said to have been thrown into the sea by the Brahmins. Thus, that which the Brahmins have until now kept hidden more than the Jews have the books of Moses, that which they have communicated to no other nation of the world, not even to Indians if they are not of their caste, finally falls into our hands and the sea itself has given up its prey. (1732: 35r)


Calmette described how he had confirmed the authenticity of the texts he had purchased by having young Brahmins who were learning the Vedas recite them to him (1732: 35v). In his letter he describes how both Gargam, his close colleague in the northern reaches of the Carnatic mission, and Jean-François Pons, a Jesuit collecting Sanskrit texts in Bengal, had been deceived into buying texts purporting to be Vedas (1732: 35r). Nevertheless, while Calmette did obtain the Ṛg, Yajur, and Sāma Veda saṃhitās, his “Adarvana Vedam” is in fact an assortment of tantric and magical texts connected with goddess worship called Ātharvaṇatantrarāja and Ātharvaṇamantraśāstra. 92

Calmette twice states that money alone would not have sufficed to obtain the Veda (1732: 35r, 37r). It was only thanks to “hidden Christians” (1732: 37r) among the Brahmins that he had been able to obtain copies of the Vedas. 93 Nevertheless, he also remarks that the further the Jesuits advanced into the hinterland the easier it was to deal with the Brahmins and to make overtures regarding what they knew and their books (1730: 25r). 94 He notes that not since the time of Nobili had the missionaries had dealings with learned Brahmins (śāstris), for which both a knowledge of Sanskrit and following Brahmin customs (including keeping Brahmin servants, which he and Gargam could not do in such a small mission) were prerequisites (1732: 37v). In 1733, in a published letter, Calmette noted that once Brahmin scholars recognized his and Gargam’s knowledge of Sanskrit, and of Sanskrit learning, they began to engage them in debate. He adds that it was remarkable how few Brahmins understood Vedic Sanskrit and notes the status of those who had studied Patañjali’s Mahābhāṣya and thus were able to understand it. 95 Despite the difficulties, Calmette predicted that having “found the vein,” with time he would succeed in finding whatever Souciet and Bignon requested, and he did send several other works—mostly philosophical—to the Bibliothèque Royale. Some of these works, like others sent by the Jesuits, were not so much copies of actual Indian texts as verbal abstracts of the texts recited by scholars and recorded, on paper not palm-leaves, by converts who adorned them with Christian symbols. 96 The method would have been familiar to Azevedo, Fernandes, and Ziegenbalg. 97

Although the Jesuits had thus finally succeeded in obtaining for European libraries at least parts of the Vedas, Le Gac remained unconvinced of the value of having done so. When in 1732 he wrote to the Souciet to report on the cost of the additional copies he had had made for the library of the college Louis-le-Grand, he reiterated his comments from five years earlier:

between ourselves, this is a useless expense. These books can serve as nothing more than a spectacle in a library. For I cannot believe that anyone in Europe could come to understand them properly, whatever aptitude one may have for languages. 98


Le Gac was quite correct, not least because the texts which had been obtained, although in Sanskrit, were mostly written in Telugu-Kannada script, and even someone who could read Vedic Sanskrit, and Devanāgarī script, would find them unintelligible without knowing Telugu-Kannada script. Pons, who had long experience of India and had sought copies of the Vedas in Bengal, described those collected by Calmette as “en arabe,” in a justly famous account of Hindu thought in a 1740 letter to Jean-Baptiste Du Halde. 99 This was sufficient to mislead even Caland into thinking this was a reference to an Arabic translation of the Vedas when what Pons presumably intended was the use of Telugu script. 100

Souciet and Le Gac thus encapsulate the difference between scholars in Europe and writers in India with respect to the Vedas. Souciet—like Bignon, Fourmont, Lacroze, and Mosheim—was attracted by the Vedas’ already established reputation as the most authoritative texts of Indian religion. Le Gac—like other writers in India including Rogerius, Bernier, Nobili, Bourzes, and Ziegenbalg—emphasized the greater practical significance of other texts. This can also be seen in the missionaries’ own writings in Indian languages. It is notable that when, in 1726, Beschi completed his Tēmpāvaṇi, a Christian epic on the life of Joseph, it was in Tamil not in Sanskrit. 101 In this respect he was following the example of Stephens, who had composed his Kristapurāṇa in Marathi a century earlier. 102 Ziegenbalg may have borrowed the term Veda for his translations of the Bible and of theological works, but it was Tamil into which he translated them. 103

The growing reputation of the Vedas in Europe was not without effect in India, however. Among the Jesuits, Gargam and Calmette were convinced of the value of obtaining the Vedas, or at least of responding to the demand for them from Europe. This is perhaps reflected also in that the works of preparatio evangelica composed, probably in French, by the Carnatic Jesuits were labelled “Vedam” and, when translated, it was into Sanskrit, rather than Telugu or Tamil. 104 Although Francis Whyte Ellis saw these texts in Pondicherry in 1816, only the Ezour-Vedam survives. While their author cannot be determined with certainty, Ludo Rocher has demonstrated that they were probably produced among the Jesuits of the Carnatic mission. 105

A similar shift is apparent among the Protestants of this period, and the influence on them of scholarly opinion in Europe is perhaps more directly observable. Ziegenbalg was aware of the Vedas and their significance for Brahmins, but he found Tamil texts more important for most of those he sought to convert, and he seems never to have regarded it as important even to learn Sanskrit. 106 In general his successors in the Tranquebar mission evinced much less interest in Indian literature than did Ziegenbalg. Although Christoph Walther inventoried the remains of Ziegenbalg’s library in 1731, five years earlier he had reported that the Tamil section had been allowed to fall into disrepair, and that many manuscripts had been stolen, or even burnt. 107 In their writings on Hinduism, the Tranquebar missionaries of this generation cite more often “the learned Mr. la Croze” than their predecessor Ziegenbalg. 108 It is, then, not surprising that they remained interested in the Vedas.

In an appendix to their diary for 1734, published under all their names in the Hallesche Berichte, the Tranquebar missionaries gave a brief account of the Vedas. They report that despite their efforts to see the Vedas, they have been told that they are not written, but that boys (who can only be Brahmins) learn sections of them from a priest by repeating it constantly. The language in which they are recorded, which they call Grantha, is so old that no one can understand it without referring to the śāstra. Few learn the fourth part, because it consists of sorcery. 109 They gloss the word Wedam (i.e., Veda), as “Höllandisch Wet”—a clear indication that they are here following the mid-seventeenth-century account of Rogerius, 110 which had stoked the idea in Europe—sparked by Couto’s publication of Azevedo—that it was the Vedas which were the key texts, despite their predecessor Ziegenbalg’s rather better-informed view of Hindu, especially Tamil, literature.

Three years later, in 1737, four of these missionaries announced that they had obtained a translation of the Yajur Veda. 111 They were very likely conscious of the Jesuits’ success in obtaining copies of the Vedas, announced in Calmette’s letter in the Lettres édifiantes et curieuses in 1734. 112 The text had been translated for them by a Brahmin named Kṛṣṇa, after much persuasion. His reluctance alone provided assurance, they argued, this was indeed the “veritable Veda.” In fact, although Kṛṣṇa appears—like Nobili’s informant Śivadharma—to have been a Brahmin of the Taittirīya branch of the Yajur Veda, the text that was published in the Hallesche Berichte had, according to Albrecht Weber, “not the slightest thing to do with the Yajurveda,” instead representing “an encyclopedic and systematically ordered representation of the modern Brahmanical world and life-view.” 113 It is striking that these missionaries are responding to the desire for the Vedas expressed from Europe at the very time that, in their hands, Ziegenbalg’s Tamil library was falling into ruin. None of them produced works on Hinduism that bear comparison with those by Ziegenbalg.

Conclusion: Vedas Real and Imagined

Le Gac’s doubts about the usefulness of the Vedas he dispatched to Europe were well-founded. Although catalogued, on the basis of the Jesuits’ descriptions of the texts, as soon as 1739, 114 they remained unread throughout the eighteenth century. 115 One of the few who might have been able to read them was the Carmelite Paulinus a Sancto Bartholomaeo. He knew both Sanskrit and the Tamil and Malayalam scripts, and may have recognized Telugu, even if he had not learned it. Paulinus saw them in late 1789, but in the chaos of the revolution was not permitted enough time to examine them closely.116

For Paulinus a Sancto Bartholomaeo, the word "Veda" "does not signify exclusively a sacred book but implies in general as much as a sacred law, whether observed by Indians or other nations" (p. 65). Of course, Paulinus famously (and wrongly) argued that "the Vedas" do not exist as a specific set of ancient Indian scriptures and that the Indians call many texts, even non-Indian ones, "Vedas." But modern southern Indian usage agrees with Paulinus's view about the word, as the entries in the University of Madras Tamil Lexicon cited by Rocher(1984:65) show:

vetam: 1. The Vedas; 2. The Jaina scriptures; 3. The Bible; ...
veta-k-karan: Christian (the only meaning!)
veta-pustakam: 1. The Vedas; 2. The Bible.
veta-vakkiyam: 1. Vedic text; 2. Gospel truth.
veta-vakkiyanam: 1. Commentaries on the Vedas; 2. Expounding the bible.


-- The Birth of Orientalism, by Urs App


Anquetil did not limit himself to revealing to us, through his luminous dissertations, what had been the empire of the Achaemenids and the Sassanids, he also introduced us to India, which we did not know in the last century even more than Persia. Voltaire did not take the sanscrit, which was then called Sanscretan, for a book, and was he not duped by the forger who had composed Ezour-Vedam, and surprised the religion of Father Nobili? The Vedas themselves were so ignored that Father Paulinus of Saint-Barthélemy did not believe in their existence, and considered them mythical books. ['Voy. Hem. de l'Acad., t. L, p. 1 and following.]

We can say that the discoveries are in the air and that when they occur, alongside their authors, a crowd of researchers met who had approached them and who would have been called upon to make them, if the discoverer had not been taken from the world before reaching his goal. Thus, at the same time as Anquetil du Perron lifted the veil which hid ancient India from us, Abbé Étienne Mignot, a learned theologian that the Academy had enrolled among its members, shed light in five memoirs published successively by his Collection, the history of Hindu doctrines. [He should not be confused with Father Vincent Mignot, Voltaire's nephew.] An independent mind, who had shaken off the yoke of the Sorbonne, Mignot sometimes succeeded, in spite of very incomplete documents, in unraveling the speculations of these ancient Indian thinkers whose boldness he loved, and which took a century of study to be known and understood.

Anquetil had only been able to advance on the threshold of Hindu literature, with the help of Persian translations; but on the other hand he had collected a prodigious number of information on India and the East, which he put to use and which have earned us works which have remained indispensable to the study of Asia. [its Eastern Legislation and India in relation to Europe.] As his reputation spread, oriental manuscripts and documents from Hindustan and Persia flocked to him in greater numbers; he ended up becoming in Europe the true representative and the literary agent of these countries, which one did not know before with us only by the connections of Bernier, Tavernier, Chardin, merchants or tourist philosophers who had neither the ardor of the French orientalist, nor the taste for erudition. If Anquetil had been able to learn Sanskrit, the last century would already have enjoyed some of the discoveries which have been the exclusive patrimony of ours; but having at its disposal an incomplete vocabulary that had been communicated to him by Cardinal Antonelli, prefect of the Congregation of Propaganda, he tried in vain to translate the Vedas, and had to be content to let us know the Upanishads [We see from a letter from Father Cœurdoux to Anquetil du Perron, which was addressed to him from the Indes in 1771, that the translation of the Vedas was then regarded as an almost impossible undertaking: The true Vedam, writes this missionary, is, in the opinion of Father Calmette, of a Sanserutan (Sanskrit) so old that it is almost unintelligible, and that what is cited is from Vedantam, that is to say introductions and comments made there.]; one of his correspondents had transmitted the text to him in 1775. Thanks to these curious but obscure treatises, Anquetil gave the Academy an idea of the religious philosophy of the Hindus, and he later published a Latin version. [See Handwritten correspondence from Anquetil du Perron, kept at the Imperial Library.]

De Guignes, through another source of information, Chinese documents, sought to shed light on the darkness of the Hindu religion. For want of being able to understand the original books, we were, as we see, reduced to asking the knowledge of Brahmanism and its philosophy from the neighboring peoples of Hindustan, who had only had one idea - perfect; so all the schools and all the sects were confused; we did not even know how to distinguish the Vedic religion from Buddhism; for for a long time we had no idea of this latter religion. It was in 1753 that De Guignes read his memoir on the Samaanian philosophers at the Academy, where the first glimpses of knowledge of Buddhism appeared, the teachings of which he had rediscovered in China. However, he associated with the information provided to him by China some indications which he obtained directly from India. He had in his hands the translation of the Bhagavata-Pourana, made on a Tamil version, and due to an indigenous interpreter from Pondicherry, four years later, in 1776, De Gui named Méridas Poullé. He owed it to Minister Bertin, who had given it to him in 1769. De Guignes endeavored to bring out data for the Indian chronology and communicated them in 1772 to his colleagues. But, as was inevitable, this orientalist, who had at his disposal none of the elements suitable to enlighten his progress, without realizing it, a complete shipwreck. Four years later, in 1776, De Guignes named Méridas Poullé. He owed it to Minister Bertin, who had given it to him in 1769. [See, on the Upanichads, Max Muller, A history of ancient Sanskrit literature, 2nd ed., P. 316-319. These books, which are metaphysical commentaries on the Vedas intended for the teaching of young disciples of Brahmam science, belong to the class of writings called Aranyakas, and enjoy the greatest authority in India.] [Under the title of Oupnek'hat, 1802, in-10. See the analysis given by Lanjuinais in his oEuvres, t. 1V, p. 216.]

De Guignes was no happier in his Historical Researches, Indian religion, and on the fundamental books of this religion, published by the Academy. Indeed, without knowledge of Sanskrit, one could only have incomplete and confused notions about India. It was up to England to endow us at last with documents which placed India in its true light. But the dawn of that day was barely breaking when De Guignes was writing his memoirs, and the misfortune for the reputation of this orientalist was to have come too early.

It was only in the last years of the Academy, in 1785, that the works of Ch. Wilkins began to penetrate us. Parraud gave, in 1787, the French translation of the English version of the Indian poem entitled: Bhagavadgîte, that is to say, song of the blessed, epilogue of one of the great Sanskrit epics, the Mahâbhàrata, which A.W. de Schlegel was to make us better known in the following century. An eminent compatriot of Wilkins, William Jones, who had been in India to complete his acquaintance, gave in Calcutta, in 1789, the translation of the famous drama of Kâlidâsa, Sacountala, and published in 1793 the version of Laws of Manu.

-- Histoire de l'Académie des Inscriptions et Belles Lettres (1865), by Louis Ferdinand Alfred Maury


In 1847 the Jesuit Julien Bach commented wryly: “aucun indianiste n’est tenté d’en fair usage, et c’est de ces livres qu’on peut dire: Sacrés ils sont, car personne n’y touche.” [Google translate: No Indianist is tempted to make use of it, and it is from these books that we can say: Sacred they are, because no one touches them.]117

It is to these books that Voltaire's mischief could rightly apply:
"Sacred they are, because no one touches them."

-- The Father Calmette and the Indianist Missionaries, by Father Julien Bach


But the importance among scholars in Europe in the eighteenth century of the idea of the Vedas as the most authoritative texts of Indian religion is amply demonstrated by the career of another set of Vedas linked to the Jesuits. Voltaire received a manuscript in French entitled Ezour-Vedam in late 1760. Believing, or choosing to believe, it to be a translation from Sanskrit, it became one of his primary sources on India. 118 Although shortly after its publication in 1778, Pierre Sonnerat correctly identified the Ezour-Vedam as “definitely not one of the four Vedams” but rather “a book of controversy, written by a missionary,” 119 it became an important source for some eighteenth-century writers. Abraham Hyacinthe Anquetil Duperron, the leading French Orientalist of his time, had another copy. He defended the authenticity of the Ezour-Vedam as late as 1808, even after he had translated the Upaniṣads into Latin from the Persian adaptation prepared in the early seventeenth century at the order of the Mughal prince Dārā Shikōh. In Surat, Anquetil Duperron was offered, through a Parsi intermediary, manuscripts containing extracts of the four Vedas. He declined, both because the Brahmin—and Jain—scholars whom he asked to certify the authenticity of the texts assured him they were incomplete and because he thought the price unreasonable. He did examine the texts and provided a description of the structure of the four saṃhitās, which indicates that the manuscript of the Ṛgveda saṃhitā at least may have been complete. 120

While the Ezour Vedam was being discussed by Voltaire and others, the Vedas sent by Calmette languished unread in the Bibliothèque Impériale. They were even excluded from the catalogue of Sanskrit manuscripts prepared by Alexander Hamilton and Louis-Mathieu Langlès in 1807, again because they were mostly not in Devanagari script. 121

The records given by the Jesuit Fathers helped in the redaction of the general catalogue for the manuscripts kept in the Royal Library. This project was a strong wish of the Abbey Jean-Paul Bignon who wanted to follow the need of describing the collections at a time when the Scientists of the ‘Europe des Lumières’ were describing and organizing the species. In 1739 was published the first volume of the Catalogus Codicum Manuscriptorum Bibliothecae regiae dedicated to the oriental collections. It is a master piece in the field of library science. Etienne Fourmont had translated the brief records given by the Jesuits Fathers into Latin and gave some other bibliographical elements such as the material, paper or palm-leaves. Fourmont adopted the classification system given by Father Pons. In trying to make a concordance between the Jesuit lists and the Catalogus Codicum Manuscriptorum Bibliothecae regiae, it appears that the larger part of the catalogue, namely the ‘Books on Theology’ which contains 111 numbers on the 287 of the ‘Indian Codices’ described, gathers mostly all the manuscripts from South India, even the topics is far from ‘Thelogy’, as if the lack of classification had a direct impact on the cataloguing process. Despite these hesitations, very understandable due to the early date of publication, the Catalogus Codicum Manuscriptorum Bibliothecae regiae is very solid....

In 1807, Alexander Hamilton (1762-1824), after being enrolled in the East India Company, was obliged to stay in France after the break of the Traité d’Amiens which ensured the peace between France and England. He spent his time in describing the Sanskrit collection of the Imperial Library with the help of Langlès.11 The paradox is that the catalogue of Hamilton described less manuscripts than the Catalogus Codicum Manuscriptorum Bibliothecae regiae published seventy years before. The reason is that Hamilton described only the Sanskrit manuscripts in Devanagari and Bengali scripts. He did not treat the manuscripts from South India, in Tamil, Grantha, or Telugu scripts.

Hamilton had time to see all the manuscripts that he wanted to describe, but he gave a detailed description only for the texts he was interested in, like Purana or poetry. We can read this information after the manuscript number 23: “For the others manuscripts, we did not adopt any classification”. He also gave up the fundamental notion of material support. It is impossible to know in reading this catalogue if the manuscripts are written on paper or on palm-leaves while we had this information in the Catalogus Codicum Manuscriptorum Bibliothecae regiae. This catalogue is often seen as the first printed catalogue of Sanskrit manuscripts. It is indeed the first catalogue which is entirely dedicated to the Sanskrit manuscripts but we have seen how the Catalogus Codicum Manuscriptorum Bibliothecae regiae, which is the very first printed catalogue for Indian manuscripts, is stronger from the point of view of the library science....

In November 1833, François Guizot (1787-1874), one of the most influential Minister of Education of the century, asked librarians to give a catalogue of the manuscripts of all kinds that were in their care. It is in this climax that worked Claude Fauriel and Auguste Loiseleur-Deslonchamps. They gave bibliographical details for the manuscripts left aside by Alexander Hamilton or freshly arrived in the library. A particular attention was given to describe the manuscript and the text that it contains. Incipit and explicit are sometimes given in original script or in transcriptions, the material used is mentioned (paper or palm leaves), the date in samvat era, the name of the author, the subject, and some bibliographical information are also given when it was possible.

-- For a History of the Catalogues of Indian Manuscripts in Paris, by Jérôme Petit


By this time, other manuscripts of the Vedas had been obtained in India. In 1781–82 Antoine-Louis-Henri Polier, a Swiss Protestant who served in the English East India Company’s army until 1775, had had copies of the Vedas made for him at the court of Pratap Singh at Jaipur. 122 Polier’s intermediary was a Portuguese physician, Don Pedro da Silva Leitão. A doctor named Pedro da Silva Leitão had been present at the court of Jai Singh in 1728 and played a part in the negotiations with the Portuguese regarding the exchange of scientific knowledge, personnel, and equipment. He was long-lived, but Polier’s friend may rather have been one of his descendants. Jai Singh had assembled a substantial collection of manuscripts from religious sites across India, and in the time of his successor Pratap Singh the library had contained the saṃhitās of all four Vedas in manuscripts dating from the last quarter of the seventeenth century. 123

Although Polier records that he had sought copies of the Veda without success in Bengal, Awadh, and on the Coromandel coast, as well as in Agra, Delhi, and Lucknow and had found that even at Banaras “nothing could be obtained but various Shasters, w.ch are only Commentaries of the Baids,” he connects this not with the reluctance of the Brahmins but rather, like Bernier, with “the persecution the Hindous suffered throughout India” under Aurangzeb, noting that Jaipur had been spared because of the services rendered to the Mughal Emperor by Jai Singh.

By this it may be seen how little a dependence is to be placed in the assertions of those who have represented the Brehmans as very averse to the communication of the principles of their Religion—their Mysteries, and holy books.—In truth, I have always found those who were really men of science and knowledge, very ready to impart and communicate, what they knew to whoever would receive it and listen to them with a view of information, and not merely for the purpose of turning into ridicule, whatever was not perfectly consonant to our European Ideas, tenets and even prejudices—some of w.ch I much fear are thought by the Indians to be full as deserving of ridicule as any they have.—At the same time it must be owned, that all the Hindous,— the Brehmans only excepted, are forbidden by their Religion from studying and learning the Baids—the K’hatrys alone being permitted to hear them read and expounded: This being the case, it will naturally be asked—how came an European who is not even of the same faith, to be favoured with what is denied even to a Hindou?—To this the Brehmans readily reply—That being now in the Cal Jog or fourth age, in w.ch Religion is reduced to nought, it matters not who sees or studies them in these days of wickedness. 124


It is perhaps significant that it was in a royal library, rather than in a Brahmin pathasala, that Polier found manuscripts of the Vedas. 125 But the same is not true of the manuscripts acquired in Banaras only fifteen years later by Henry Thomas Colebrooke, during the period (1795–97) when he was appointed as judge and magistrate at nearby Mirzapur: “A working scholar, he sought manuscripts that ‘had been much used & studied in preference to ornamented & splendid copies imperfectly corrected.’” 126 Moreover, in a letter to his father in February 1797 Colebrooke echoed Polier’s sentiments:

I cannot conceive how it came to be ever asserted that the Brahmins were ever averse to instruct strangers; several gentlemen who have studied the language find, as I do, the greatest readiness in them to give us access to all their sciences. They do not even conceal from us the most sacred texts of their Vedas. 127


The several gentlemen would likely have included General Claude Martin, Sir William Jones, and Sir Robert Chambers. These were all East India Company employees who obtained Vedic manuscripts (Jones from Polier) in the last decades of the eighteenth century.

Why was it so much easier for Polier, Colebrooke, and others to obtain what it had been so difficult for the Jesuits and impossible for the Pietists? There are several differences in the context that might have played a part. Some are geographical: Were Brahmins in the south much more reluctant to transmit the Vedas than those in the north? Or was oral transmission more dominant—and therefore physical copies harder to come by—in the south? Others are historical, political, and economic: Is the lack of resistance encountered by Polier and Colebrooke to be explained by the significant shift in power dynamics as the English East India Company was transformed from a trading company to a territorial power? Anquetil Duperron was offered Vedas he could not afford; Le Gac was restrained by the mission’s parlous finances; but the same did not apply to the wealthy men like Martin and Polier. Finally, there are religious considerations: Did it matter—as Polier suggests—that the East India Company men were not in India to convert Hindus to Christianity?

The difficulty the Jesuits experienced in obtaining copies of the Vedas is often exaggerated. Although Bouchet had reported in 1711 that he had been unable to obtain copies of the Vedas, the reluctance of Le Gac to respond to a request for the Vedas in 1726 from his fellow Jesuit Souciet indicates that in the period after Nobili the Jesuits in India did not regard this as a priority. Le Gac did not mention Brahmin secrecy in his responses to Souciet in 1726 and 1727, but rather the likely cost and doubtful utility of obtaining manuscripts or translations of the Vedas. His attitude changed only in 1728, with the intervention of Bignon and Le Noir. From that point, it took only two years for Calmette to obtain the Ṛg and Yajur Veda saṃhitās.
Despite Calmette’s statement about no European having been able to unearth this text “since India has been known,” the evidence suggests rather that no European other than Nobili had seriously sought to obtain the Vedas. The “false” Vedas obtained by the Pietists two years after Calmette—and by Gargam and Pons six years before—are explicable by the flexibility of the term Veda; we do not need to postulate either duplicity or secrecy on the part of those who transmitted these texts.

The question of the availability of the texts in manuscript form touches on the hotly debated issue of the oral transmission of the Vedas. That there was a powerful presumption against writing down Hindu texts, and the Vedas in particular, is not controversial. “One who reads from a written text” (likhita-pāṭhaka) is included among a list of the six worst types of those who recite the Vedas. 128 Nevertheless, in a survey of Vedic manuscripts, mostly of southern provenance, from c. 1650–1850, Cezary Galewicz notes the paradox of a copyist who cites this very verse in the colophon of a manuscript of 1787 containing the fourth aṣṭaka of the Ṛgveda saṃhitā. 129 Of course, the fact that manuscripts of the Vedas existed by this period does not mean that all Brahmins who knew the Vedas would have had them also in manuscript form, still less that they would have been willing to sell or to transcribe them for Europeans. We do not have to fall into what Johannes Bronkhorst calls “the brahmanical trap” 130—imagining that the Vedas were never written down—in order to accept that the brahminical prejudice against writing down the Vedas would have meant that it was far less likely that European scholars would come across manuscripts of the Vedas than manuscripts of other texts. 131 But the Vedas did exist in manuscript, and Calmette’s “hidden Christians” found there were also Brahmins prepared to part with, or to produce, manuscripts—even if they thought they were doing so only for other Brahmins.

Europeans were first able to acquire Hindu texts, in the 1540s and 1550s, because of Portuguese control in Goa. The extension of the English East India Company’s territorial and military might in the later part of the eighteenth century would have changed the nature of interactions between Europeans and Indians elsewhere. 132 Colebrooke’s experience in Mirzapur is perhaps the clearest instance of the effect of a shift in power dynamics, but Polier’s success at the court of Pratap Singh in 1781—not yet within the direct ambit of British power—seems to owe more to the character of the court. Since the time of Jai Singh in the 1720s, the court at Jaipur had been involved in the exchange—partly mediated by Jesuits—of materials of scientific and scholarly interest with the Portuguese court. In 1734 Jai Singh invited Jean-François Pons and Claude Boudier, French Jesuits stationed in Bengal, to Jaipur. 133 Pons was also engaged in collecting manuscripts for Bignon, and had their trip not been cut short by illness it seems likely he would have preceded Polier in gaining access Jai Singh’s collection of Sanskrit manuscripts.


Many Europeans—both Jesuits from Xavier to Bouchet and Calmette, and Protestants from Rogerius to Ziegenbalg and his Pietist successors, as well non-clerical authors like Bernier and Alexander Dow—mentioned restrictions on who could hear the Vedas. This alone would have made the Vedas harder to find; most Hindus would not have had access to them either. But we should not overlook that many of the same writers also stated that even among Brahmins the Vedas were not widely known. 134 Thus, in addition to the reasons suggested above, it seems that one reason, other than religious scruple, for the difficulty Europeans experienced in attempting to obtain copies of the Vedas was a simple lack of knowledge of the Vedas, despite their acknowledged authority, on the part of many Indians. 135 In this sense, the Veda was an “absent text” not only for Europeans, but for many Indians too.
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#2)

Postby admin » Tue Aug 25, 2020 11:33 pm

Part 3 of 3

Notes:

Author’s note: In preparing this article, I benefitted greatly from discussions with Christophe Vielle, Joan-Pau Rubiés, David Lorenzen, and Linda Zampol D’Ortia. I am grateful to all of them; responsibility for any errors that remain is mine.

1. Duarte Barbosa, O livro de Duarte Barbosa: Edição crı́tica e anotada. Vol.2: Prefácio, texto crítico e apêndice, ed. Maria Augusta da Veiga e Sousa (Lisbon: Instituto de Investigação Cientıf́ca Tropical, 2000), 163. Barbosa, a writer at Cochin and Cannanore in the first decade of the sixteenth century, was renowned for his knowledge of Malayalam but he records no attempt to read any Indian works.

2. António da Silva Rego, ed., Documentação para a história das missões do Padroado Português do Oriente: Índia, vol. 1 (1499–1522) (Lisbon: Agência Geral do Ultramar, 1947), 452.

3. Joseph Wicki, ed., Documenta Indica, vol. I (1540–1549) (Rome: Institutum historicum Societatis Iesu, 1948), 760–71 (henceforth DI).

4. Francis Xavier, Epistolae S. Francisci Xaverii aliaque eius scripta, ed. Georg Schurhammer and Joseph Wicki, vol. I. (1535–1548) (Rome: Monumenta Historica Soc. Iesu, 1944). Xavier’s letter, written in Spanish, was translated into Latin and published in French (Copie d’une lettre missive envoiée des Indes par monsieur maistre François Xavier [Paris, 1545]). In a later French translation of 1660, Xavier’s brief account of texts containing the commandments is elaborated so that the Brahmins are said to have “une espece de Bible, où ils tiennent que les Loix divines sont contenües” (Lettres de S. Francois Xavier [Paris, 1660], 68).

5. Albuquerque to João III, November 28, 1548 in DI, I: 326–29.

6. Almeida, December 26, 1558 in DI, IV: 199–215.

7. The purāṇa is ascribed to Nāmdev, the name of a well-known thirteenth/fourteenth-century Marathi sant. Although in the following year the Jesuits were to acquire works by Nāmdev’s contemporary and friend Jñāndev, references in Almeida’s letter to village deities mentioned in the purāṇa suggest that this work was composed in Goa and had Nāmdev’s name attached to it (Panduronga Pissurlencar, “A propósito dos primeiros livros maratas impressos em Goa,” Boletim do Instituto Vasco da Gama 73 [1956]: 55–79).

8. DI, IV: 203. Two summaries of the Anādipurāṇa are extant. The first (ARSI, Goa 46, 348–65) is described by Joseph Wicki (“Old Portuguese Translations of Marathi Literature in Goa: c.1558–1560,” Indica 12 [1975]: 22–26). Another version of this text, with a few variations in spelling, is extant in the Bibliotheca Pública de Évora (Cod. CXV/2–7, no. 3) and has been transcribed as an appendix to Ricardo Nuno de Jesus Ventura, “Conversão e conversabilidade: Discursos da missão e do gentio na documentação do Padroado Português do Oriente (séculos XVI e XVII)” (Ph.D. diss., Universidade de Lisboa, 2011), vol. II, Anexos, 10–15. It is clearly a summary, rather than a translation, of the purāṇa, as is suggested by the title of the codex: “Seguesse a lei dos Jentios e substancias do que elles cren e en que tem que esta toda sua saluação.”

9. This is stated in the last line of the text (ARSI Goa 46, 352r), where “R.” stands for Reitor, i.e., rector of the College of Saint Paul.

10. Luís Fróis, November 14, 1559 in DI, IV: 335.

11. Ibid., 339.

12. Wicki (“Old Portuguese Translations”) summarizes the Portuguese translations in Rome (ARSI, Goa 46, 354–94). There are also three codices in the Braga Public Library (771, 772, 773), which are described in L. A. Rodrigues, “Glimpses of the Konkani Language at the Turn of the Sixteenth Century XIII: Ramayana and Mahabharata,” Boletim do Instituto Menezes Bragança 163 (1990): 43–72, and Pissurlencar, “Livros maratas impressos em Goa.” The first two codices contain rough and fair copies of stories from the epics, all in Konkani. The third codex contains Marathi works, by Goan authors. One of these may be a version of, or a commentary on, Jñāneśvara’s Marathi version of the Bhagavad-Gītā.

13. Nelson Falcao, Kristapurāṇa: A Christian-Hindu Encounter. A Study of Inculturation in the Kristapurāṇa of Thomas Stephens, S.J. (1549–1619) (Anand: Gujarat Sahitya Prakash, 2003), 12–13.

14. L. A. Rodrigues, “Glimpses of the Konkani Language at the Turn of the Sixteenth Century VI: Pre-Portuguese Konkani Literature,” Boletim do Instituto Menezes Bragança 131 (1982): 3–23, at 18, 22.

15. See Alessandro Valignano, Historia del principio y progresso de la Compañıá de Jesús en las Indias orientales (1542–64), ed. Josef Wicki (Roma: Institutum historicum Societatis Iesu, 1944), II: 30–34, and Sebastião Gonçalves, Primeira parte da História dos Religiosos da Companhia de Jesus, ed. Josef Wicki (1614; Coimbra: Atlântida, 1957–62), III: 34–45, 62–65. Giovanni Pietro Maffei, who used Valignano’s history, mentions the name Parabrammam, identified in the Anādipurāṇa as the sole god (Historiarum Indicarum libri xvi. [Florence, 1588], 27).

16. Georg Schurhammer, Francis Xavier: His Life, His Times, vol. 2: India 1541–1545 (Rome: Jesuit Historical Institute, 1980), 614–16. Two versions of Azevedo’s “Estado da Índia e aonde tem o seu principio,” from manuscripts in the British Library and the Bibliotheca Nacional de Madrid, are printed in António da Silva Rego and Luıś de Albuquerque, eds., Documentação ultramarina portuguesa (Lisboa: Centro de Estudos Históricos Ultramarinos, 1960–63), I: 197–263 and II: 40–147. I cite from the first version, except where noted. Schurhammer (Xavier, 2: 616–20) notes that there are close parallels in three sections of these texts with parts of the fifth of Diogo do Couto’s Décadas da Asiá. In the case of the first two—which relate to the history of Hormuz (210–12) and of Ceylon (235– 54)—Azevedo mentions that Couto had asked him to provide information (205, 235). Couto, who elsewhere does mention his sources, nowhere acknowledges Azevedo. There are also close parallels in the section on Indian religion in Azevedo and Couto and also with that which appears in João de Lucena in his life of Xavier. Lucena’s work was published in 1600, Schurhammer dates the final version of Azevedo’s text to 1603 (Xavier, 2: 616), and Couto’s work did not appear until 1612. Nevertheless it appears that Lucena used the manuscript of Couto’s fifth decade, a version of which was sent to Lisbon as early as 1597 (Marcus de Jong, ed., Década quinta da “Asia”: Texte inédit, publ. d’après un manuscrit de la Bibliothèque de l’Univ. de Leyde [Coimbra: Biblioteca da Universidade, 1937], 47). In a letter sent from Goa in November 1603, Couto complained bitterly about Lucena’s use of information which he claimed to have acquired at great effort and expense from the schools of the Brahmins in the kingdom of Vijayanagara (Schurhammer, Xavier, 2: 620). Despite Couto’s claim here that “in all my Decades I have given to each his due,” it seems likely that he had again used without acknowledgment material provided to him by Azevedo. The account of Indian religion was likely prepared by Azevedo during his second period in India between 1586 and 1589, and later incorporated into his Relação do Estado da Índia, completed in Lisbon by 1603.

17. Azevedo, “Estado da Índia,” 211.

18. Joan-Pau Rubiés, Travel and Ethnology in the Renaissance: South India through European Eyes, 1250– 1625 (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 2000), 279; Azevedo, “Estado da Índia,” 242.

19. Azevedo, “Estado da Índia,” 249.

20. Although he says nothing about this, Azevedo’s access to these texts is more likely to have been akin to his access to the royal chronicles of Ceylon—that is, simultaneous translation of a recited text—than to his direct reading of the histories of Hormuz.

21. The names of the texts in Rego’s transcription are “Ferum Mandramole e Trivaxigao” (Azevedo, “Estado da Índia,” 251) or “Tonem, Mandramolé e Trivaxigao” (Silva Rego, Documentação ultramarina portuguesa, II: 134). In the 1612 editio princeps of Couto these appear as “Terúm, Mandramole, Etrivaxigão.” From Couto’s work, Willem Caland was confident in identifying the latter as Tiruvācakam, less so the first as Tirumantiram (De ontdekkingsgeschiedenis van den Veda [Amsterdam: Johannes Müller, 1918], 273). Although neither Tirumantiram nor Tiruvācakam uses carvēsparaṉ, or the more common carvēccuraṉ (Sanskrit, sarveśvara), to refer to God, there can be no doubt that Tiruvācakam is meant here, and good reason to think that Tirumantiram could also have been intended.

22. Azevedo, “Estado da Índia,” 255. In both Rego’s transcriptions, and Couto, the title of the work is given as Tivarum. Although Caland (Veda, 318) suggests Tēvāram, Azevedo’s description of the content leaves little doubt that it is rather Tivākaram, an important early Tamil lexicon that begins with a list of the divine names, which is meant.

23. Azevedo, “Estado da Índia,” 257.

24. Ibid., 260–61.

25. Da Asia de Diogo de Couto, Decada Quinta, Parte Segunda (Lisbon, 1788), 24.

26. Ioam de Lucena, Historia da vida do padre Francisco de Xavier (Lisbon, 1600), 95.

27. Abraham Rogerius, De Open-Deure tot het Verborgen Heydendom, ed. Willem Caland (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1915), 21.

28. A. C. Burnell, “On Some Early References to the Vedas by European Writers,” Indian Antiquary 8 (1879): 98–100, at 99.

29. As well as Azevedo’s account of the Vedas, Baldaeus included also the brief account of Jacome Fenicio (Albert Johannes de Jong, ed., Afgoderye der Oost-Indische Heydenen door Philippus Baldaeus [The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1917], 176). Baldaeus was also translated into German in 1672.

30. Olfert Dapper, Asia, of naukeurige Beschryving van het Rijk des Grooten Mogols, en een groot gedeelte van Indiën (Amsterdam, 1672), 137.

31. John Ogilby, Asia. The first part being an accurate description of Persia . . . the vast empire of the Great Mogol, and other parts of India (London, 1673), 143. Ogilby used Dapper.

32. An adaptation of Rogerius’s work by Antoine Augustin Bruzen de La Martinière appeared first as “Dissertation sur les Moeurs et sur la Religion des Bramines” in Jean-Frédéric Bernard and Bernard Picart, Cérémonies et coutumes religieuses des peuples idolâtres . . . Second partie du tome premier . . . les pratiques religieuses des Indiens Orientaux (Amsterdam, 1723). Each text was separately paginated. Azevedo’s account of the Vedas is on p. 27. A translation from this version appeared also in John Lockman’s translation, The Religious Ceremonies and Customs of the Several Nations of the Known World, vol. III: Idolatrous Nations (London, 1731), 318.

33. The essence of Azevedo’s account appeared also in Vicenzo Maria di Santa Caterina da Siena, Il viaggio al l’Indie Orientali (Venice, 1678), 282. Caland (Veda, 271) noted the similarity between the accounts of Couto, Lucena, Rogerius, Baldaeus, and Vicenzo Maria. Theodor Zachariae, in his review of Caland, considered the possibility that Couto and Lucena might depend on a common, older source, but dismissed it as improbable (Göttingsche Gelehrte Anzeigen 183 [1921]: 148–65, at 151). Zachariae’s review was translated and published with a few additional comments, mostly relating to the Jesuit Ezour-Vedam, by Henry Hosten (“The Discovery of the Veda,” Journal of Indian History 2, 2 [1923]: 127–57).

34. See Marco della Tomba, Gli scritti del Padre Marco della Tomba, missionario nelle Indie Orientali, ed. Angelo De Gubernatis (Florence, 1878), 100–101.

35. Two other early seventeenth-century sources—both likely independent of Azevedo—mention the idea that the Brahmins have four sacred texts. The first is Edward Terry, whose account first appeared in Samvel Pvrchas, Haklvytvs posthumus, or, Pvrchas his Pilgrimes (London, 1625), 2: 1478. When Terry published his own, much revised version, of his Voyage to East-India (London, 1655), he mentioned not four books, but two, one of which he names as śāstra (349). Four unnamed sacred books are mentioned in a report on Gujarat prepared in the 1620s by a factor of the Dutch East India Company (Willem Caland, ed., De Remonstrantie van W. Geleynssen de Jongh [The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1929], 85). Although not published until Caland’s edition, the work was used by Johan van Twist, in his Generale Beschrijvinghe van Indien (Batavia, 1638), 35.

36. Frédéric Tinguely, ed., Un libertin dans l’Inde moghole: Les voyages de François Bernier (1656–1669) (Paris: Chandeigne, 2008), 332. Roth had studied Sanskrit and brought the Vedāntasāra of Sadānanda (c. 1490) and the Pañca-tattva-prakāśa of Veṇīdatta (1644) to Europe in 1662 (Richard Hauschild, “Notes on the Content of the Three Manuscripts of Heinrich Roth,” in The Sanskrit Grammar and Manuscripts of Father Heinrich Roth S.J. 1610–1668: Facsimile Edition of Biblioteca Nazionale Rome Mss. or. 171 and 172, ed. Jean-Claude Muller and Arnulf Camps [Leiden: Brill, 1988], 17–18). Roth’s letters from India are lost, but in what has survived the descriptions he gives of Indian religion are based on purāṇic sources. See his account of the avātaras of Viṣṇu, Decem fabulosae Incarnationes Dei, quas credunt Gentiles Indiani extra et intra Gangem, published by Kircher in his China illustrata (Amsterdam, 1667), 156–62, and a shorter account of the nine principal Indian gods in Heinrich Roth, Relatio rerum notabilium Regni Mogor in Asia (Aschaffenburg, 1665), 4–5.

37. Following his return from India in 1669, Bernier published the four volumes that have come to be called his Voyages in 1670 and 1671. His “Lettre à Monsieur Chapelain,” dated 1667, which includes the acknowledgement of Rogerius, Kircher, and also Henry Lord’s 1630 account of Vaiṣṇavas in Surat, appeared in the first volume of his Suite des Mémoires du Sieur Bernier sur l’empire du Grand Mogol in 1671. Although Chapelain dispatched books to Bernier in India, it seems more likely that he first read Lord and Rogerius in the French translations that had recently appeared (in 1667 and 1670, respectively), especially as Kircher’s China illustrata was only published in 1667.

38. Kavīndrācārya Sarasvatī was retained by Bernier’s own patron, Danishmand Khān (P. K. Gode, “Kavīndrācārya Sarasvat̄ı at the Mughal Court,” in Studies in Indian Literary History, vol. 2 [Bombay: Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, 1954], 364–79).

39. Bernier, Voyages, 332.

40. Rogerius, Open-Deure, 21–22.

41. It is from the Gautama Dharmasūtra (12.4), but more often cited from Śaṅkara’s Brahmasūtrabhāṣya (I.3.38).

42. Patrick Olivelle, Manu’s Code of Law: A Critical Edition and Translation of the Mānava-Dharmaśāstra (Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 2005), 60, 17.

43. Jarl Charpentier, “Preliminary Report on the ‘Livro da Seita dos Indios Orientais’ (Brit. Mus. Ms. Sloane 1820),” Bulletin of the School of Oriental Studies 2, 4 (1923): 731–54, at 745.

44. Eugene F. Irschick, “Conversations in Tarangambadi: Caring for the Self in Early Eighteenth Century South India,” Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 23, 1–2 (2003): 254–70, at 263–64.

45. Jarl Charpentier, ed., The Livro da seita dos Indios orientais (Brit. mus. MS. Sloane 1820) of Father Jacobo Fenicio, S.J. (Uppsala: Almqvist & Wiksells, 1933), 150. Fenicio also mentions the recovery by Viṣṇu as Matsyāvatāra of “the Law” stolen from the gods by Hiraṇyākṣa (p. 57).

46. Nobili to Laerzio Dec 24, 1608, in Joseph Bertrand, La mission du Maduré d’après les documents inédits (Paris: Poussièlegue-Rusand, 1847–1854), 2: 20. Rogerius also reported this idea (Open-Deure, 21).

47. S. Rajamanickam, ed., Roberto de Nobili on Indian Customs (Palayamkottai: De Nobili Research Institute, 1972), 55.

48. On Nobili’s relation to Śivadharma see Iñes G. Županov, Disputed Mission: Jesuit Experiments and Brahmanical Knowledge in Seventeenth-Century India (New Delhi: Oxford Univ. Press, 1999), and Margherita Trento, “Śivadharma or Bonifacio? Behind the Scenes of the Madurai Mission Controversy (1608–1619),” in The Rites Controversies in the Early Modern World, ed. Iñes G. Županov and Pierre-Antoine Fabre (Leiden: Brill, 2018), 91–120.

49. Willem Caland, “Roberto de’ Nobili and the Sanskrit Language and Literature,” Acta Orientalia 3 (1924): 38–51, at 50–51.

50. Fernandes’s treatise was edited by Josef Wicki under the somewhat misleading title Tratado do Pe. Gonçalo Fernandes Trancoso sobre o Hinduísmo (Madure 1616) (Lisbon: Centro de Estudos Históricos Ultramarinos, 1973). The title of Wicki’s earlier German summary of the text gives a more accurate indication of the content: Die Schrift des P. Gonçalo Fernandes S.J. über die Brahmanen und Dharma-Sastra (Madura 1616) (Münster: Aschendorff, 1957).

51. George Gispert-Sauch, “The Bhṛgu-Vallī of the Taittirīya Upaniṣad: An Early XVII Century European Translation,” Indica 5, 2 (1968): 139–44.

52. Wicki, ed., Tratado, 7, 218–19. On Śivadharma and Buccerio, see further Trento, “Śivadharma,” 106–7.

53. Rajamanickam, Indian Customs, 43–44.

54. Ibid, 42.

55. S. Rajamanickam, ed., Roberto de Nobili on Adaptation (Palayamkottai: De Nobili Research Institute, 1971), 138/139.

56. Rajamanickam, Indian Customs, 47.

57. Baldaeus, Afgoderye, 176. Manuel de Faria e Sousa, Asia Portuguesa, vol. 2 (Lisbon, 1675), 2: 682; John Stevens, The Portugues Asia, 3 vols. (London, 1695), 2: 390. Faria e Sousa used an abridged text prepared by another Jesuit, Manoel Barradas; Baldaeus had access to a different and fuller version. See Charpentier, Livro da seita, lxxvii–lxxxv.

58. Will Sweetman and R. Ilakkuvan, Bibliotheca Malabarica: Bartholomäus Ziegenbalg’s Tamil Library (Paris: IFP/EFEO, 2012), 43–44.

59. There are several printed versions of this letter, the original of which is not extant. The most detailed is in Herrn Bartholomäi Ziegenbalgs und Herrn Heinrich Plütscho, Kön. Dänischer Missionariorum, Brieffe . . . von neuem heraus gegeben von Christian Gustav Bergen (Pirna, 1708), 18–26.

60. Willem Caland, ed., Ziegenbalg’s Malabarisches Heidenthum (Amsterdam: Uitgave van Koninklijke Akademie, 1926), 14.

61. Joachim Lange, ed., Merckwürdige Nachricht aus Ost-Jndien . . . Die andere Auflage (Leipzig, 1708), 11.

62. Bergen, Brieffe, 19. In another letter written later in the same month to August Hermann Francke, Ziegenbalg confirms both that the texts are being copied and that this was possible only because of the “great love” the Tamils had for him (Arno Lehmann, Alte Briefe aus Indien: Unveröffentlichte Briefe von Bartholomäus Ziegenbalg 1706–1719 [Berlin: Evangelische Verlagsanstalt, 1957], 40).

63. The conversation was first published in the so-called Hallesche Berichte (8: 567), a series of letters and reports published at irregular intervals from Halle and edited initially by August Hermann Francke. References to the Hallesche Berichte (henceforth HB) are given to the installment and page number. An earlier similar conversation is recorded in HB 8: 546. In 1724 Benjamin Schultze, one of Ziegenbalg’s successors, expressed similar doubts (HB 20: 504–5).

64. HB 7: 374.

65. Charles le Gobien, ed., Lettres édifiantes et curieuses, écrit des missions étrangères par quelques missionaires de la Compagnie de Jésus (Paris, 1702–1776), 9: 38–39.

66. Bourzes to Souciet, 23 March 1719, Archives de la Province de France de la Compagnie de Jésus, Paris, Fonds Brotier, 86, ff. 42r–43v.

67. Bourzes calls this “Ekiam” (Tamil ekkiyam, Sanskrit yajña).

68. Joan-Pau Rubiés, “From Antiquarianism to Philosophical History: India, China and the World History of Religion in European Thought (1600–1770),” in Antiquarianism and Intellectual Life in Early Modern Europe and China, 1500–1800, ed. Peter N. Miller and François Louis (Ann Arbor: Univ. of Michigan Press, 2012), 313–67.

69. Dorothy M. Figueira, “The Authority of an Absent Text: The Veda, Upavedas, Upangas, and Upnekhata in European Thought,” in Authority, Anxiety, and Canon: Essays in Vedic Interpretation, ed. Laurie L. Patton (Albany: State Univ. of New York Press, 1994), 201–33.

70. Georges Minois, The Atheist’s Bible: The Most Dangerous Book that Never Existed, tr. Lys Ann Weiss (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 2012), 1.

71. Ibid., 39, 61, 55.

72. Caland does not explain why he thinks De tribus impostoribus was already published in 1538. The date is associated with Thomas Campanella, who, in the manuscript preface to his Atheismus Triumphatus (1636), denied that he was the author of De tribus impostoribus—which he claimed to have read—on the grounds that it had been published thirty years before his birth in 1568.

73. He suggested that this might owe something to Arabic sources, given that Averroës was one of the putative authors of De tribus impostoribus (Caland, Veda, 263–64).

74. De imposturis religionum (De tribus impostoribus). Von den Betrügereyen der Religionen: Dokumente, ed. Winfried Schröder (Stuttgart: Frommann-Holzboog, 1999). Müller’s source was most likely Baldaeus. Müller mentions the theft of three Vedas by “a son of the gods” (p. 115). This is perhaps a combination of the two accounts in Fenicio of the loss of one Veda and the theft of “the Law” by Hiraṇyākṣa (see n. 45). Rogerius had identified the stolen law as the four Vedas (Open-Deure, 94), but in his version of Fenicio’s account of the first avatāra of Viṣṇu, Baldaeus combines this with Rogerius’s account of the loss of one of the Vedas, which perhaps accounts for Müller’s idea that the three remaining Vedas were stolen. De tribus impostoribus is to be distinguished from a French text, the Traité des trois imposteurs, which emerged in the same milieu, but does not mention the Vedas.

75. Mathurin Veyssière de Lacroze, Histoire du christianisme des Indes (La Haye, 1724), 427, 454, 473.

76. Institutiones historiae ecclesiasticae Novi Testamenti (Frankfurt, 1726), 56.

77. Doubts about the existence of the Vedas persisted into the late eighteenth century. Around 1774, the Capuchin missionary Marco della Tomba thought it probably they had “never existed, at least as real books” (David N. Lorenzen, “Marco Della Tomba and the Brahmin from Banaras: Missionaries, Orientalists, and Indian Scholars,” Journal of Asian Studies 65, 1 [2006]: 115–43, at 116). Pierre Sonnerat, reporting the Brahmins’ belief that the fourth Veda was lost, wondered if the other three also no longer existed (Voyage aux Indes orientales et à la Chine [Paris, 1782], 2: 32).

78. See, e.g., Tomba, Gli scritti, 99.

79. Jack A. Clarke, “Abbé Jean-Paul Bignon ‘Moderator of the Academies’ and Royal Librarian,” French Historical Studies 8, 2 (1973): 213–35, at 227.

80. Henri Auguste Omont, Missions archéologiques françaises en Orient aux XVIIe et XVIIIe siècles (Paris: Imprimerie nationale, 1902), 809.

81. Nicholas Dew, Orientalism in Louis XIV’s France (Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 2009), 20–21.

82. See, for example, Dew’s account of his efforts to establish a reliable supply of native French speakers of Arabic, Turkish, and Persian (ibid., 24–25).

83. Jean Filliozat, Bibliothèque nationale, Département des manuscrits: Catalogue du fonds sanscrit. Fascicule I, nos 1 à 165 (Paris: Adrien-Maisonneuve, 1941), i.

84. Ibid., ii.

85. Gérard Colas and Usha Colas-Chauhan, Manuscrits telugu: Catalogue raisonné (Paris: Bibliothèque nationale de France, 1995), 7.

86. Le Gac to Souciet, 10 Oct 1727, Fonds Brotier 88, f. 115.

87. Fonds Brotier 82.

88. Gargam to Souciet, 15 Sept 1726, Fonds Brotier 82, f. 72r.

89. Le Gac to Souciet, 10 Oct 1727, Fonds Brotier 88, f. 115v.

90. Bibliothèque nationale de France, naf 6556, f.152r, printed in Omont, Missions archéologiques françaises, 838.

91. Calmette to Souciet, 26 Aug 1730, Fonds Brotier 89, f. 25v; Calmette to Souciet, 25 Aug 1732, Fonds Brotier 89, f. 35r. Further references to these two letters will be given in the text by year and folio. The works were sent to Europe in the early 1730s and remain in the BNF: Ṛgveda (Sanscrit 214); Sāmaveda (Sanscrit 310–12); Yajurveda (Sanscrit 313, 424); Artharvaveda (Sanscrit 177–79, but see below). For details of the contents of the manuscripts see Filliozat, Catalogue du fonds sanscrit, I & II.

92. Filliozat, Catalogue du fonds sanscrit, I, 25.

93. One of these may have been Calmette’s convert Maṅgalagiri Ānanda, who later composed a summary of the Gospels in Telugu verse entitled Vedānta Rasayanam (Léon Besse, “Liste Alphabétique des Missionaires du Carnatic de la Compagnie de Jésus au XVIIIe siècle,” Revue Historique de l’Inde Française 2 [1917/18]: s.v. Calmette; see also C. P. Brown, “Notices of some Roman Catholic Books, existing in the Telugu Language,” The Madras Journal of Literature and Science [July 1840], 54–58).

94. Calmette’s successive stations saw him push further and further to the northwest of Pondicherry. In 1727 and 1728 he wrote from stations in Arcot; by 1730 he was in Ballabaram (now Chikkaballapura, some 60 kilometres north of Bangalore); and his final letter is from Darmavaram, still further north.

95. Lettres édifiantes et curieuses, 21: 457–58.

96. Colas and Colas-Chauhan, Manuscrits telugu.

97. It seems likely that the same method was used by John Marshall in 1674–77 to produce an English version of the Bhāgavata Purāṇa and of another text that he identified as the Sāma Veda. Marshall, an English East India Company factor in Bengal from 1668 until his death in 1688, had been educated at Cambridge and was close to Henry More, one of the Cambridge Platonists. A Bengali Brahmin, Madhusudana, translated orally into Bengali from a Sanskrit original, on the basis of which Marshall produced a written English text (Anna Winterbottom, Hybrid Knowledge in the Early East India Company World [New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016], 95–96). Marshall described the latter text as “the Epittomie or the Sum of the four Beads,” an indication that this is likely not the Sāma Veda.

98. Le Gac to Souciet, 28 September 1732, Fonds Brotier, 89, f. 35r.

99. Lettres édifiantes et curieuses, 26: 233.

100. Caland, Veda, 281.

101. Tēmpāvaṇi uses the conventions of classical Tamil poetry, but Beschi also wrote other works in Tamil in popular genres, such as ammāṉai.

102. On Stephens’s close adherence to the purāṇic model see Ananya Chakravarti, “Between Bhakti and Pietà: Untangling Emotion in Marāṭhī Christian Poetry,” History of Religions 56, 4 (2017): 365–87, at 372–73. Although Étienne de la Croix mentions the four Vedas, like Stephens he composed his Discursos sobre a vida do Apostolo Sam Pedro (1629) in the vernacular and divided it into three “purāṇas.” The Vedas are mentioned in his second purāṇa, and particularly in the canto 31 of book 5.

103. Ziegenbalg’s translation of the Gospels and Acts into Tamil was published in 1714 as Añcu vēta poṣtakkam and his 1717 translation of Johann Freylinghausen’s Grundlegung der Theologie (1703) as Vētacāṣtiram.

104. Although Sanskrit translations of some of these texts were prepared, it appears that the Ezour-Vedam itself was to have been translated into Telugu (Ludo Rocher, Ezourvedam: A French Veda of the Eighteenth Century [Philadelphia: J. Benjamins, 1984], 71).

105. Rocher, Ezourvedam, 57–60.

106. Ziegenbalg does at one place express a desire to be able to translate Sanskrit mantras into German, but notes that no one was able to explain them to him, as only a few learned Brahmins were able to understand them (Malabarisches Heidenthum, 108).

107. Sweetman and Ilakkuvan, Bibliotheca Malabarica, 21.

108. They cite also other European scholars, including Mosheim and Thomas Hyde.

109. HB 39: 418.

110. They cite also Bernier and the Jesuit Lettres édifiantes et curieuses.

111. Their letter is printed in HB 45: 1182–85. The translation of the text appeared in the next installment (HB 46: 1251–94).

112. Although they do not here mention the Lettres édifiantes, they had cited an earlier reference in them to the Vedas in their 1734 diary.

113. Albrecht Weber, “Ein angebliche Bearbeitung des Yajurveda,” Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft 7 (1853): 235–48, at 236.

114. Catalogus codicum manuscriptorum Bibliothecae regiae. Paris 1739. Étienne Fourmont was likely responsible for the entries in the section “Codices Indici.”

115. A fragment of the Vedas—a single hymn from the first maṇḍala of the Ṛg Veda (I, 89)—was collected in Surat by James Fraser in Khambayat in the 1730s (Bodleian Library, MSS. Fraser Sansk. 30). Fraser aspired to translate the Vedas but was aware he had only a fragment of them. He notes that the “Pourans and Shasters are glosses and comments on the Vedh” and of the Gītā he says “This book the Brahmins call The Marrow of the Vedh. It gives a Light into the most mysterious part of their religion, and explains the substance of the Vedh” (A Catalogue of Manuscripts in the Persic, Arabic, and Sanskerrit Languages [London, 1742], 37–39). On Fraser and his collections see Sanjay Subrahmanyam, Europe’s India: Words, Peoples, Empires, 1500–1800 (Cambridge: Harvard Univ. Press, 2017), 144–210.

116. Paulinus a Sancto Bartholomaeo, Examen Historico-criticum Codicum Indicorum Bibliothecae Sacrae Congregationis de Propaganda Fide (Rome, 1792), 5.

117. Julien Bach, “Notice sur la première découverte des Vedas,” Annales de philosophie chrétienne 18e année, 3e série, vol. 16 (1847): 434–43, at 434.

118. Daniel S. Hawley, “L’Inde de Voltaire,” Studies on Voltaire and the Eighteenth Century 120 (1974): 139–78.

119. Sonnerat, Voyage aux Indes orientales, cited in Rocher, Ezourvedam, 13.

120. Anquetil Duperron, Voyage en Inde: 1754–1762: Relation de voyage en préliminaire à la traduction du “Zend-Avesta,” ed. Jean Deloche, Manonmani Filliozat, and Pierre-Sylvain Filliozat (Paris: École Française d’Extrême-Orient, 1997), 378–81.

121. Ângela Barreto Xavier and Iñes G. Županov, Catholic Orientalism: Portuguese Empire, Indian Knowledge (16th–18th Centuries) (New Delhi: Oxford Univ. Press, 2015), 302–3.

122. On Polier, see Subrahmanyam, Europe’s India, 239–68.

123. G. N. Bahura, “Glimpses of Historical Information from Manuscripts in the Pothikhana of Jaipur,” in Cultural Heritage of Jaipur, ed. J. N. Asopa (Jodhpur: United Book Traders, 1982), 107. See also G. N. Bahura, ed., Catalogue of Manuscripts in the Maharaja of Jaipur Museum (Jaipur: Maharaja of Jaipur Museum, 1971).

124. Constantin Regamey, “Un pionnier vaudois des études indiennes: Antoine-Louis de Polier,” in Mélanges offerts à Monsieur Georges Bonnard, professeur honoraire de l’Université de Lausanne, à l’occasion de son quatrevingtième anniversaire (Geneva: Droz, 1966), 202.

125. The Vedas that Bernier had seen in Banaras were likely also connected with Jai Singh. Although Bernier does not say this, it is likely that he saw them when he and Jean-Baptiste Tavernier visited the college in Banaras established by Jai Singh (William Crooke, ed., Travels in India by Jean-Baptiste Tavernier, Baron of Aubonne. 2nd ed. 2 vols. [London: Humphrey Milford, 1925], 2: 183).

126. Ludo Rocher and Rosane Rocher, The Making of Western Indology: Henry Thomas Colebrooke and the East India Company (London: Routledge, 2012), 41. It was from the texts obtained by Polier and Colebrooke that Friedrich August Rosen produced his pioneering edition of the Ṛg Veda Saṃhitās (Rigveda-sanhita, Liber primus, Sanskritè et Latinè [London, 1838]).

127. Thomas Edward Colebrooke, “Notices of the Life of Henry Thomas Colebrooke, Esq., by His Son,” Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland 5, 1 (1839): 1–60, at 29.

128. Sarvasammata-Śikṣā, 36, cited in Madhav M. Deshpande, “From Orality to Writing: Transmission and Interpretation of Pāṇini’s Aṣṭādhyāyī,” in Proceedings of the International Symposium “The Book. Romania. Europa” 20–24 September 2010, ed. Jan E. M. Houben and Julieta Rotaru (Bucharest: Metropolitan Library of Bucharest, 2011), 64.

129. Cezary Galewicz, “Let Śiva’s Favour Be Alike with Scribes and with Reciters: Motifs for Copying and Not Copying the Veda,” in Houben and Rotaru, Proceedings, 116.

130. Johannes Bronkhorst, “Illiteracy as a Socio-Cultural Marker,” in Houben and Rotaru, Proceedings, 47.

131. For a survey of scholarly views on the question of writing in pre-modern India, see Harry Falk, Schrift im alten Indien (Tübingen: Gunter Narr, 1993), esp. chs. 9–10. On Indian manuscript culture and the transmission of texts, see also Gérard Colas and Gerdi Gerschheimer, ed., Écrire et transmettre en Inde classique (Paris: EFEO, 2009), and Saraju Rath, ed., Aspects of Manuscript Culture in South India (Leiden: Brill, 2012).

132. It is nevertheless worth recalling Calmette’s comments that his interactions with Brahmins were easier the further he was from coastal areas where European influence was greatest.

133. A brief account of their trip was first published in the new edition of the Lettres édifiantes et curieuses published in 1781–83 (vol. 15, 336–7).

134. This was one reason why the missionaries among them thought other texts more important to obtain.

135. Caland concluded his 1918 essay by noting the limits of most Brahmins’ knowledge of the Vedas, adding that while it was not that there were no Brahmins who could have given Europeans a better and fuller account of the Vedas “do Couto, Rogerius and all the others knocked on the wrong door” (Veda, 303). Ludo Rocher expressed similar “reservations concerning the weight that has been given to the secrecy argument” (“Orality and Textuality in the Indian Context,” Sino-Platonic Papers, 49 [1994]: 5). Rocher was “convinced that there was, far more often, a second reason why Westerners were denied a knowledge of the Vedas; their Indian contacts, who were supposed to provide them with information on the Vedas, did not possess it themselves, and, therefore, were unable to communicate it” (“Max Müller and the Veda,” in Mélanges d’islamologie: Volume dédié à la mémoire de Armand Abel par ses collègues, ses élèves et ses amis, ed. Armand Abel and Pierre Salmon, vol. 2 [Leiden: Brill, 1974], 223).
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Henri de Saint-Simon [Claude Henri de Rouvroy, comte de Saint-Simon]
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 8/26/20

Image
Henri de Saint-Simon
Born: 17 October 1760, Paris, France
Died: 19 May 1825 (aged 64), Paris, France
Era: 19th-century philosophy
Region: Western philosophy
School: Utopian socialism; Saint-Simonianism
Main interests: Political philosophy
Notable ideas: The industrial class/idling class distinction
Influences: Francis Bacon,[1] René Descartes,[1] John Locke,[1] Isaac Newton,[1] Adam Smith,[2] Augustin Thierry, Anne Robert Jacques Turgot,[3] Emmanuel Sieyès,[3] Joseph de Maistre,[4] Charles Dunoyer, Marquis de Condorcet,[3] Jean-Baptiste Say, Nicolas-Edme Rétif[5]
Influenced: Auguste Comte, Prosper Enfantin, John Stuart Mill,[6] Pierre-Joseph Proudhon,[7] Karl Marx, Pierre Leroux, Michel Chevalier, Péreire brothers, Lorenz von Stein,[8] Thorstein Veblen[9]

Claude Henri de Rouvroy, comte de Saint-Simon, often referred to as Henri de Saint-Simon (French: [ɑ̃ʁi də sɛ̃ simɔ̃]; 17 October 1760 – 19 May 1825), was a French political and economic theorist and businessman whose thought had a substantial influence on politics, economics, sociology and the philosophy of science.

He created a political and economic ideology known as Saint-Simonianism that claimed that the needs of an industrial class, which he also referred to as the working class, needed to be recognized and fulfilled to have an effective society and an efficient economy.[10] Unlike conceptions within industrializing societies of a working class being manual labourers alone, Saint-Simon's late-18th century conception of this class included all people engaged in productive work that contributed to society, that included businesspeople, managers, scientists, bankers, along with manual labourers amongst others.[11] He said the primary threat to the needs of the industrial class was another class he referred to as the idling class, that included able people who preferred to be parasitic and benefit from the work of others while seeking to avoid doing work.[10] Saint-Simon stressed the need for recognition of the merit of the individual and the need for hierarchy of merit in society and in the economy, such as society having hierarchical merit-based organizations of managers and scientists to be the decision-makers in government.[11] He strongly criticized any expansion of government intervention into the economy beyond ensuring no hindrances to productive work and reducing idleness in society, regarding intervention beyond these as too intrusive.[10]


Saint Simon's conceptual recognition of broad socio-economic contribution, and his Enlightenment valorization of scientific knowledge, soon inspired and influenced utopian socialism,[11] liberal political theorist John Stuart Mill,[6] anarchism through its founder Pierre-Joseph Proudhon who was inspired by Saint-Simon's thought[7] and Marxism with Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels identifying Saint-Simon as an inspiration to their ideas and classifying him among the utopian socialists.[11]

Utopian socialism is the first current of modern socialism and socialist thought as exemplified by the work of Henri de Saint-Simon, Charles Fourier, Étienne Cabet, Robert Owen and Henry George.[1][2] Utopian socialism is often described as the presentation of visions and outlines for imaginary or futuristic ideal societies, with positive ideals being the main reason for moving society in such a direction. Later socialists and critics of utopian socialism viewed utopian socialism as not being grounded in actual material conditions of existing society and in some cases as reactionary. These visions of ideal societies competed with Marxist-inspired revolutionary social democratic movements.

As a term or label, utopian socialism is most often applied to, or used to define, those socialists who lived in the first quarter of the 19th century who were ascribed the label utopian by later socialists as a pejorative in order to imply naiveté and to dismiss their ideas as fanciful and unrealistic. A similar school of thought that emerged in the early 20th century which makes the case for socialism on moral grounds is ethical socialism.

One key difference between utopian socialists and other socialists such as most anarchists and Marxists is that utopian socialists generally do not believe any form of class struggle or social revolution is necessary for socialism to emerge. Utopian socialists believe that people of all classes can voluntarily adopt their plan for society if it is presented convincingly. They feel their form of cooperative socialism can be established among like-minded people within the existing society and that their small communities can demonstrate the feasibility of their plan for society.

-- Utopian socialism, by Wikipedia


Saint-Simon's views also influenced 20th century sociologist and economist Thorstein Veblen, including Veblen's creation of institutional economics that has included prominent economists as adherents.[12]

Biography

Early years


Henri de Saint-Simon was born in Paris as a French aristocrat. His grandfather's cousin had been the Duke of Saint-Simon.[13] "When he was a young man, being of a restless disposition ... he went to America where he entered into American service and took part in the siege of Yorktown under General Washington."[14]

From his youth, Saint-Simon was highly ambitious. He ordered his valet to wake him every morning with, "Remember, monsieur le comte, that you have great things to do."[15] Among his early schemes was one to connect the Atlantic and the Pacific oceans by a canal, and another to construct a canal from Madrid to the sea.[16]

During the American Revolution, Saint-Simon joined the Americans, and believed that their revolution signaled the beginning of a new era.[17] He fought alongside the Marquis de Lafayette between 1779 and 1783, and was imprisoned by British forces.
After his release, he returned to France to study engineering and hydraulics at the Ecole de Mézières.[18]

At the beginning of the French Revolution in 1789, Saint-Simon quickly endorsed the revolutionary ideals of liberty, equality and fraternity. In the early years of the revolution, Saint-Simon devoted himself to organizing a large industrial structure in order to found a scientific school of improvement. He needed to raise some funds to achieve his objectives, which he did by land speculation. This was only possible in the first few years of the revolution because of the growing instability of the political situation in France, which prevented him from continuing his financial activities and indeed put his life at risk. Saint-Simon and Talleyrand planned to profiteer during the Terror by buying the Cathedral of Notre-Dame, stripping its roof of metal, and selling the metal for scrap. Saint-Simon was imprisoned on suspicion of engaging in counter-revolutionary activities. He was released in 1794 at the end of the Terror.[17] After he recovered his freedom, Saint-Simon found himself immensely rich due to currency depreciation, but his fortune was subsequently stolen by his business partner. Thenceforth he decided to devote himself to political studies and research. After the establishment of the Ecole Polytechnique in 1794, a school established to train young men in the arts of sciences and industry and funded by the state, Saint-Simon became involved with the new school.[19]

Life as a working adult

Image
Henri de Saint-Simon, portrait from the first quarter of the 19th century

When he was nearly 40 he went through a varied course of study and experiment to enlarge and clarify his view of things. One of these experiments was an unhappy marriage in 1801 to Alexandrine-Sophie Goury de Champgrand, undertaken so that he might have a literary salon. After a year, the marriage was dissolved by mutual consent. The result of his experiments was that he found himself completely impoverished, and lived in penury for the remainder of his life. The first of his numerous writings, mostly scientific and political, was Lettres d'un habitant de Genève, which appeared in 1802. In this first work, he called for the creation of a religion of science with Isaac Newton as a saint.[19] Around 1814 he wrote the essay "On Reconstruction of the European Community" and sent it to the Congress of Vienna. He proposed a European kingdom, building on France and the United Kingdom.[20]

In 1817, in a treatise entitled L'Industrie, he began to propound his socialist views, which he developed further in L'Organisateur (1819), a periodical on which Augustin Thierry and Auguste Comte collaborated. One of Saint-Simon's major beliefs was that the world should be linked with canals.[19]

L'Industrie caused a sensation, but brought few converts. A couple of years later in his writing career, Saint-Simon found himself ruined, and was forced to work for a living. After a few attempts to recover his money from his former partner, he received financial support from Diard, a former employee, and was able to publish in 1807 his second book, Introduction aux travaux scientifiques du XIX siècle. Diard died in 1810 and Saint-Simon found himself poor again, and this time also in poor health. He was sent to a sanatorium in 1813, but with financial help from relatives he had time to recover his health and gain some intellectual recognition in Europe. In February 1821 Du système industriel appeared, and in 1823–1824 Catéchisme des industriels.[21]

Death and legacy

Image
Saint-Simon's grave in Père Lachaise Cemetery, Paris

On March 9, 1823, disappointed by the lack of results of his writing (he had hoped they would guide society towards social improvement), he attempted suicide in despair.[22] Remarkably, he shot himself in the head six times without succeeding, losing his sight in one eye.[23]

Finally, very late in his career, he did link up with a few ardent disciples. The last and most important expression of his views is Nouveau Christianisme (1825), which he left unfinished.

He was buried in Le Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris, France.

Ideas

Industrialism


In 1817 Saint-Simon published a manifesto called the "Declaration of Principles" in his work titled L'Industrie ("Industry").[10] The Declaration was about the principles of an ideology called industrialism that called for the creation of an industrial society led by people within what he defined as the industrial class.[10] The industrial class, also referred to as the working class, was defined as including all people engaged in productive work that contributed to society, emphasizing scientists and industrialists, but including engineers, businesspeople, managers, bankers, manual workers, and others.[11]

Saint-Simon said the primary threat to the needs of the industrial class was another class he referred to as the idling class, that included able people who preferred to be parasitic and benefit from the work of others while seeking to avoid doing work.[10] He saw the origins of this parasitic activity by idlers in what he regarded as the natural laziness of humanity.[10] He believed the principal economic roles of government were to insure that productive activity in the economy is unhindered and to reduce idleness in society.[10]

In the Declaration Saint-Simon strongly criticized any expansion of government intervention into the economy beyond these two principal economic roles, saying that when the government goes beyond these roles, it becomes a "tyrannical enemy of industry" and that the industrial economy will decline as a consequence of such excessive government intervention.[10] Saint-Simon stressed the need for recognition of the merit of the individual and the need for hierarchy of merit in society and in the economy, such as society having hierarchical merit-based organizations of managers and scientists to be the decision-makers in government.[11] His views were radical for his time. He built on Enlightenment ideas which challenged church doctrine and the older regime with the idea of progress from industry and science[19]

Heavily influenced by the absence of social privilege he saw in the early United States, Saint-Simon renounced his aristocratic title and came to favor a form of meritocracy, becoming convinced that science was the key to progress and that it would be possible to develop a society based on objective scientific principles.[24] He claimed that feudal society in France and elsewhere needed to be dissolved and transformed into an industrial society.[25] As such, he invented the conception of the industrial society.[25]

Saint-Simon's economic views and ideas were influenced by Adam Smith whom Saint-Simon deeply admired, and referred to him in praise as "the immortal Adam Smith".[2] He shared with Smith the belief that taxes needed to be much reduced from what they were then in order to have a more just industrial system.[2] Saint-Simon desired the minimization of government intervention into the economy to prevent disruption of productive work.[2] He emphasized more emphatically than Smith that state administration of the economy was generally parasitic and hostile to the needs of production.[25] Like Adam Smith, Saint-Simon's model of society emulated the scientific methods of astronomy, and said "The astronomers only accepted those facts which were verified by observation; they chose the system which linked them best, and since that time, they have never led science astray."[26]

Saint-Simon reviewed the French Revolution and regarded it as an upheaval driven by economic change and class conflict. In his analysis he believed that the solution to the problems that led to the French Revolution would be the creation of an industrial society where hierarchy of merit and respect for productive work would be the basis of society, while ranks of hereditary and military hierarchy would lessen in importance in society because they were not capable to lead a productive society.[11]

Karl Marx identified Saint-Simon as being among whom he called the "utopian socialists", though historian Alan Ryan regards certain followers of Saint-Simon, rather than Saint-Simon himself, as being responsible for the rise of utopian socialism that based itself upon Saint-Simon's ideas.[11] Ryan also distinguishes between Saint-Simon's conceptions and Marxism's, as Saint-Simon did not promote independent working-class organization and leadership as a solution to capitalist societal problems, nor did he adhere to the Marxist definition of the working class as excluded by fundamental private property law from control over the means of production.[11] Unlike Marx, Saint-Simon did not regard class relations, vis the means of production, to be an engine of socio-economic dynamics but rather the form of management.[11] Furthermore, Saint-Simon was not critical of capitalists as exclusive owners, collaborators, controllers, and decision-makers. Rather, he regarded capitalists as an important component of the "industrial class."[27] Ryan further suggests that by the 1950s it was clear that Saint-Simon had presaged the "modern" understanding of industrial society.[11]

Feudalism and aristocracy

In opposition to the feudal and military system—the former aspect of which had been strengthened by the restoration—he advocated a form of technocratic socialism, an arrangement whereby industrial chiefs should control society - similar to Plato's philosopher kings. In place of the medieval church, spiritual direction of society should fall to the men of science. Men who are fitted to organize society for productive labour are entitled to rule it. The conflict between labour and capital emphasized by later socialism is not present in Saint-Simon's work, but it is assumed that the industrial chiefs, to whom the control of production is to fall, shall rule in the interest of society. [SOURCE] Later on, the cause of the poor receives greater attention until, in his greatest work, Nouveau Christianisme (The New Christianity), it takes on the form of a religion. This development of his ideas occasioned his final quarrel with Comte.

Religious views

Prior to the publication of the Nouveau Christianisme, Saint-Simon had not concerned himself with theology. In this work he starts from a belief in God, and his object in the treatise is to reduce Christianity to its simple and essential elements. He does this by clearing it of the dogmas and other excrescences and defects that he says gathered round the Catholic and Protestant forms of it. He propounds as the comprehensive formula of the new Christianity this precept: "The whole of society ought to strive towards the amelioration of the moral and physical existence of the poorest class; society ought to organize itself in the way best adapted for attaining this end."[28] This principle became the watchword of the entire Saint-Simon school of thought.

Influence

See also: Saint-Simonianism

During his lifetime the views of Saint-Simon had very little influence; he left only a few devoted disciples who continued to advocate the doctrines of their master, whom they revered as a prophet. The most acclaimed disciple of Saint-Simon was Auguste Comte.[29] Others included Olinde Rodrigues, the favoured disciple of Saint-Simon, and Barthélemy Prosper Enfantin who together had received Saint-Simon's last instructions. Their first step was to establish a journal, Le Producteur, but it was discontinued in 1826. The sect had begun to grow, and before the end of 1828 had meetings not only in Paris but in many provincial towns.

An important departure was made in 1828 by Amand Bazard, who gave a "complete exposition of the Saint-Simonian faith" in a long course of lectures in Paris, which was well attended. His Exposition de la doctrine de St Simon (2 vols., 1828–1830), which is by far the best account of it, won more adherents. The second volume was chiefly by Enfantin, who along with Bazard stood at the head of the society, but who was superior in philosophical acumen and was prone to push his deductions to extremities. The revolution of July (1830) brought a new freedom to the socialist reformers. A proclamation was issued demanding community of goods, abolition of the right of inheritance and enfranchisement of women.

Early next year the school obtained possession of Le Globe through Pierre Leroux, who had joined the school. The school now counted among its number some of the ablest and most promising young men in France, many of the pupils of the École Polytechnique having caught its enthusiasm. The members formed themselves into an association arranged in three grades, and constituting a society or family, which lived out of a common purse in the Rue Monsigny. Before long dissensions began to arise in the sect. Bazard, a man of stolid temperament, could no longer work in harmony with Enfantin, who desired to establish an arrogant and fantastic sacerdotalism with lax notions as to marriage and the relations between the sexes. In the name of progress, Enfantin announced that the gulf between the sexes was too wide and this social inequality would impede rapid growth of society. Enfantin called for the abolition of prostitution and for the ability for women to divorce and obtain legal rights. This was considered radical for the time.[30]

After a time Bazard seceded and many of the strongest supporters of the school followed his example. A series of extravagant entertainments given by the society during the winter of 1832 reduced its financial resources and greatly discredited it in character. They moved to Ménilmontant, to a property of Enfantin, where they lived in a communalistic society, distinguished by a peculiar dress. Although the monks of Enfantin's school were required to be celibate, rumors were spread that they engaged in orgies.[31] Shortly after, the chiefs were tried and condemned for proceedings prejudicial to the social order and the sect was entirely broken up in 1832. Many of its members became famous as engineers, economists and men of business. Enfantin would go on to organize an expedition of the disciples to Constantinople, and then to Egypt, where he influenced the creation of the Suez Canal.[32]

French feminist and socialist writer Flora Tristan (1803–1844) claimed that Mary Wollstonecraft, author of A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, anticipated Saint-Simon's ideas by a generation.[33][dubious – discuss]

In Fyodor Dostoyevsky's novel The Possessed, 'Saint-Simonist' and 'Fourierist' are used as derogatory insults of others by many of the politically active characters.

Works

Saint-Simon wrote various accounts of his views:

• Lettres d'un habitant de Genève à ses contemporains (1803),
• L'Industrie (1816-1817),
• Le Politique (1819),
• L'Organisateur (1819-1820),
• Du système industriel, 1822
• Catéchisme des industriels (1823-1824),
• Nouveau Christianisme (1825).
• An edition of the works of Saint-Simon and Enfantin was published by the survivors of the sect (47 vols., Paris, 1865–1878).

See also

• French Revolution
• Meritocracy
• Positivism
• Scientism
• Society of the Friends of Truth
• Utopian socialism

Notes

1. Jeremy Jennings. Revolution and the Republic: A History of Political Thought in France Since the Eighteenth Century. Oxford University Press, 2011. p. 347.
2. Gregory Claeys. Encyclopedia of Nineteenth-century Thought. Oxon, UK: Routledge, 2005. p. 136.
3. Pilbeam, Pamela M. (2014). Saint-Simonians in Nineteenth-Century France: From Free Love to Algeria. Springer. p. 5.
4. John Powell, Derek W. Blakeley, Tessa Powell. Biographical Dictionary of Literary Influences: The Nineteenth Century, 1800-1914. Greenwood Publishing Group, 2001. p. 267.
5. Jean-René Suratteau, "Restif (de la Bretonne) Nicolas Edme", in: Albert Soboul (ed.), Dictionnaire historique de la Révolution française, Paris, PUF, 1989, 2nd ed. Quadrige, 2005, pp. 897–898.
6. Nicholas Capaldi. John Stuart Mill: A Biography. Cambridge University Press, 2004. pp. 77–80.
7. Rob Knowles. Political Economy from Below: Economic Thought in Communitarian Anarchism 1840-1914: Economic Thought in Communitarian Anarchism, 1840-1914. Routledge, 2013. p. 342.
8. Koslowski, Stefan (2017). "Lorenz von Stein as a disciple of Saint-Simon and the French Utopians". Revista europea de historia de las ideas políticas y de las instituciones públicas. 11.
9. Horowitz, Irving Louis, Veblen's Century: A Collective Portrait (2002), p. 142
10. Keith Taylor (ed, tr.). Henri de Saint Simon, 1760-1825: Selected writings on science, industry and social organization. New York, USA: Holmes and Meier Publishers, Inc, 1975. pp. 158–161.
11. Alan Ryan. On Politics. Book II. 2012. pp. 647–651.
12. Vincent Mosco. The Political Economy of Communication. SAGE, 2009. p. 53.
13. "Britannica".
14. Isaiah Berlin, Freedom and Its Betrayal, Princeton University Press, 2002, p. 109
15. Busky, Donald F.: "Communism in History and Theory: From Utopian Socialism to the Fall of the Soviet Union"
16. Manuel, Frank E.: "The Prophets of Paris", Harper & Row 1962
17. Karabell, Zachary (2003). Parting the desert: the creation of the Suez Canal. Alfred A. Knopf. p. 25. ISBN 0-375-40883-5.
18. Hasan, Samiul; Crocker, Ruth; Rousseliere, Damien; Dumont, Georgette; Hale, Sharilyn; Srinivas, Hari; Hamilton, Mark; Kumar, Sunil; Maclean, Charles (2010), "Saint-Simon, Claude-Henri de Rouvroy (Comte de)", in Anheier, Helmut K.; Toepler, Stefan (eds.), International Encyclopedia of Civil Society, Springer US, pp. 1341–1342, doi:10.1007/978-0-387-93996-4_811, ISBN 9780387939940
19. Karabell, Zachary (2003). Parting the desert: the creation of the Suez Canal. Alfred A. Knopf. p. 26. ISBN 0-375-40883-5.
20. Dosenrode, Søren (1998). Danske EUropavisioner. Århus: Systime. p. 11. ISBN 87-7783-959-5.
21. Saint-Simon, Henri (2012-11-14). Œuvres complètes de Saint-Simon: 4 volumes (in French). Presses Universitaires de France. ISBN 978-2-13-062090-7.
22. Pickering, Mary (2006-04-20). Auguste Comte: Volume 1: An Intellectual Biography. Cambridge University Press. p. 231. ISBN 978-0-521-02574-4.
23. Trombley, Stephen (2012-11-01). Fifty Thinkers Who Shaped the Modern World. Atlantic Books. ISBN 978-1-78239-038-1.
24. Newman, Michael. (2005) Socialism: A Very Short Introduction, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-280431-6
25. Murray E. G. Smith. Early Modern Social Theory: Selected Interpretive Readings. Toronto, Canada: Canadian Scholars Press, Inc, 1998. p. 80.
26. Murray E. G. Smith. Early Modern Social Theory: Selected Interpretive Readings. Toronto, Canada: Canadian Scholars Press, Inc, 1998. pp. 80–81.
27. Arthur Bernie. An Economic History of Europe 1760-1930. Routledge, 1930 (original), 2010. p. 113.
28. Saint-Simon (1825). Nouveau christianisme (New Christianity). Paris, France.
29. Karabell, Zachary (2003). Parting the desert: the creation of the Suez Canal. Alfred A. Knopf. p. 27. ISBN 0-375-40883-5.
30. Karabell, Zachary (2003). Parting the desert: the creation of the Suez Canal. Alfred A. Knopf. p. 29. ISBN 0-375-40883-5.
31. Karabell, Zachary (2003). Parting the desert: the creation of the Suez Canal. Alfred A. Knopf. p. 30. ISBN 0-375-40883-5.
32. * Karabell, Zachary (2003). Parting the desert: the creation of the Suez Canal. Alfred A. Knopf. pp. 28, 31–37. ISBN 0-375-40883-5.
33. Promenades dans Londres, first published 1840. Page 276, Broché edition (2003) from La Découverte.

References

• This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Kirkup, Thomas; Shotwell, James (1911). "Saint-Simon, Claude Henri de Rouvroy, Comte de". In Chisholm, Hugh (ed.). Encyclopædia Britannica. 24 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 45–47.

External links

• Saint-Simon and Saint-Simonism Catholic Encyclopedia article
• Saint-Simon and Saint-Simonism: A Chapter in the History of Socialism in France by Arthur John Booth
• 'Henri de Saint-Simon: The Great Synthesist by Caspar Hewett
• New Christianity, 1825, Henri de Saint-Simon
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#2)

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Abraham Hyacinthe Anquetil-Duperron
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 8/26/20

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Abraham Hyacinthe
Anquetil-Duperron
Born: 7 December 1731, Paris, France
Died: 17 January 1805 (aged 73)
Occupation: Orientalist

Abraham Hyacinthe Anquetil-Duperron (7 December 1731 – 17 January 1805) was the first[1] professional French Indologist. He conceived the institutional framework for the new profession. He inspired the founding of the École française d'Extrême-Orient a century after his death. The library of the Institut français de Pondichéry is named after him.

Early life

Abraham Hyacinthe Anquetil was born in Paris on 7 December 1731[2] as the fourth of seven children of Pierre Anquetil, a spice importer.[3] As was the custom of the time, the name of one of his father's estates, 'Duperron', was added to his name to distinguish him from his brothers.[3] Anquetil-Duperron initially distinguished himself in the study of theology at Paris[2] and Utrecht with the intention of becoming a priest like his elder brother Louis-Pierre Anquetil.[4] In the course of his studies, however, he acquired such an interest in Latin, Hebrew, and Greek that he chose to devote himself entirely to philology [study of language] and classical studies and discontinued his clerical training.[2] He travelled to Amersfoort near Utrecht to study oriental languages, especially Arabic, with the Jansenites who were exiled there.[3]

Jansenism was a theological movement within Catholicism, primarily active in France, that emphasized original sin, human depravity, the necessity of divine grace and predestination. The movement originated from the posthumously published work of the Dutch theologian Cornelius Jansen, who died in 1638. It was first popularized by Jansen's friend Abbot Jean du Vergier de Hauranne, of Saint-Cyran-en-Brenne Abbey, and, after du Vergier's death in 1643, was led by Antoine Arnauld. Through the 17th and into the 18th centuries, Jansenism was a distinct movement away from the Catholic Church. The theological centre of the movement was the convent of Port-Royal-des-Champs Abbey, which was a haven for writers including du Vergier, Arnauld, Pierre Nicole, Blaise Pascal and Jean Racine.

Jansenism was opposed by many in the Catholic hierarchy, especially the Jesuits. Although the Jansenists identified themselves only as rigorous followers of Augustine of Hippo's teachings, Jesuits coined the term Jansenism to identify them as having Calvinist affinities. The apostolic constitution, Cum occasione promulgated by Pope Innocent X in 1653, condemned five cardinal doctrines of Jansenism as heresy—especially the relationship between human free will and efficacious grace, wherein the teachings of Augustine, as presented by the Jansenists, contradicted the teachings of the Jesuit School. Jansenist leaders endeavored to accommodate the pope's pronouncements while retaining their uniqueness, and enjoyed a measure of peace in the late 17th century under Pope Clement IX. However, further controversy led to the apostolic constitution Unigenitus Dei Filius, promulgated by Pope Clement XI in 1713.

-- Jansenism, by Wikipedia


On returning to Paris, his attendance at the Royal Library (Bibliothèque du Roi, now the National Library) attracted the attention of the keeper of the manuscripts, Abbé Sallier, who hired Anquetil-Duperron as an assistant on a small salary.[2]

Early interest in Indian manuscripts

In 1754, Michelangelo-André Le Roux Deshauterayes who at the time was professor for Arabic at the Collège Royal, showed Anquetil a facsimile of four leaves of a Vendidad Sade[n 1] that had been sent to Deshauterayes's uncle Michel Fourmont in the 1730s in the hope that someone might be able to decipher it. The original was at Oxford's Bodleian Library, but the script was not recognized, and so the manuscript was placed in a box chained to a wall near the library's entrance and shown to everyone who might be able to identify the curiosity.[5] Also at the Bodelian was the manuscript collection of James Fraser (1713–1754), who had lived in Surat (present-day Gujarat, India) for over sixteen years, where he had been a Factor of the British East India Company and later Member of Council. Fraser had returned to Britain with some 200 Sanskrit and Avestan manuscripts, which he intended to translate, but he died prematurely on 21 January 1754.

FRASER, JAMES (1713–1754), author and collector of oriental manuscripts, born in 1713, was the son of Alexander Fraser (d. 1733) of Reelick, near Inverness. He paid two visits to India, where he resided at Surat. During his first stay (1730-40) he acquired a working knowledge of Zend from Parsi teachers and of Sanskrit from a learned Brahman. He also collected materials for an account of Nadir Shah, who invaded India in 1737-8. Coming home for about two years, he published his book. He then went out again as a factor in the East India Company's service, and became a member of the council at Surat, where he remained for six years. After his return in 1749 he expressed the intention of compiling an ancient Persian (Zend) lexicon, and of translating the Zendavesta from the original. He also spoke of translating the 'Vedh' (Veda) of the Brahmans; he seems, however, to have had no direct knowledge of the Vedas, but to have been acquainted with post-Vedic works only. Nothing came of these plans owing to his premature death, which took place at his own house, Easter Moniack, Inverness-shire, on 21 Jan. 1754 (Scots Mag. 1754, p. 51).

Fraser married in London, in 1742, Mary, only daughter of Edward Satchwell of Warwickshire, by whom he had issue one son and three daughters. A portrait of him is still in the possession of his descendants at Reelick House. James Baillie Fraser [q. v.] and William Fraser (1784?-1835) [q. v.] were his grandsons.

Fraser's book is entitled 'The History of Nadir Shah, formerly called Thamas Kuli Khan, the present Emperor of Persia; to which is prefixed a short History of the Moghol Emperors' (London, 1742). It contains a map of the Moghul empire and part of Tartary. It was the first book in English treating of Nadir Shah, 'the scourge of God.' It is important not only as a first-hand contribution to the history of contemporary events, but also for the number of original documents which it alone has preserved.

At the end of his book the author gives a list of about two hundred oriental manuscripts, including Zend and Sanskrit, which he had purchased at Surat, Cambay, and Ahmedabad. His claim that his 'Sanskerrit' manuscripts formed 'the first collection of that kind ever brought into Europe' appears to be valid, though single Sanskrit manuscripts had reached England and France even earlier. After his death his oriental manuscripts were bought from his widow for the Radclifte Library at Oxford; they were transferred to the Bodleian on 10 May 1872. One of Fraser's manuscripts, containing 178 portraits of Indian kings down to Aurengzebe, found its way directly into the Bodleian as early as 1737, in which year it was presented to the library by the poet Alexander Pope, its then possessor. Fraser's Sanskrit manuscripts, forty-one in number and all post-Vedic, were the earliest collection in that language which came into the possession of Oxford University: the first Sanskrit manuscript, however, which the Bodleian acquired was given to it in 1666 by John Ken, an East India merchant of London. It was in order to inspect Fraser's Zend manuscripts that the famous French orientalist, Anquetil Duperron, visited Oxford in 1702, when brought a prisoner of war to England.

-- Preface and appendix to Fraser's History of Nadir Shah; manuscript notes, written about 1754 by S. Smalbroke (son of Dr. Richard Smalbroke [q. v.], bishop of Lichfield and Coventry) in a copy of that work now in the possession of W. Irvine, esq.; Note on James Fraser in the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, 1899, pp. 214-20, by W. Irvine; Burke's Landed Gentry; Macray's Annals of the Bodleian Library, Oxford, 1890, pp. 216, 372, note 1; Aufrecht's Bodleian Sanskrit Catalogue, pp. 358, 403-4.


In his later travelogue, Anquetil is sharply critical of the English, both of Fraser's "failure"[5] to accomplish what he intended, and of the Bodelian's failure to realize that Thomas Hyde's manuscripts, which the Bodelian also had in its possession, included a transliteration table for Avestan script.[5] Playing on the French antipathy towards the English, in his travelogue he later claimed that after seeing the facsimile pages of the Oxford manuscript, he resolved to "enrich [his] country with that singular work" and the translation of it.apud [6] There was a government interest in obtaining eastern manuscripts;[n 2] Anquetil-Duperron obtained a mission from the government to do so but, unable to afford his own passage to India, he enlisted as a common soldier for the French East India Company on 2[3] or 7[2] November 1754. He marched with the company of recruits from the Parisian prisons to the Atlantic port of L'Orient, where an expedition was preparing to depart.[3] His friends secured his discharge and, on 7 February 1755, the minister, touched by his romantic zeal for knowledge, granted him free passage, a seat at the captain's table, an allowance of 500 livres from the library, and a letter of introduction to the French governor in India which would entitle him to a small salary while there.[2] Anquetil-Duperron left France as a free passenger on 24 February 1755.

First travels

After a passage of six months, Anquetil-Duperron landed on 10 August 1755 at the French colony at Pondicherry, on the coast in south-eastern India.[4] From his private correspondence it appears that he intended to become "master of the religious institutions of all Asia", which in the 18th-century were still imagined to all derive from the Indian Vedas.[6] For that, Anquetil-Duperron knew he would need to learn Sanskrit.[6] He initially studied Persian[2] (the lingua franca of Moghul India), which Europeans in the 18th century still presumed to have descended from Sanskrit. His plan was then to visit the Brahmins in Benares to learn Sanskrit "at some famous pagoda."apud [6] Half a year later, he was living on rice and vegetables and saving his money so that he might "find some Brahmin" to become the disciple of. As he also wanted to "study the Indian books", he decided to travel to the French colony at Chandannagar also known in French as Chandernagor in Bengal, where he arrived in April 1756.[6] He promptly fell sick; by coincidence, he landed in the hospital of the Jesuit missionary Antoine Mozac, who some years earlier had copied the "Pondicherry Vedas".[6] Anquetil-Duperron remained in the hospital until September or October 1756 and began to wonder whether he should not instead become a priest as he had intended years earlier.[6] Meanwhile, the outbreak of the Seven Years' War in Europe had renewed hostilities between French and British forces in India, where the conflict is known as the Third Carnatic War. The British East India Companyunder Robert Clive and the British Navy under Charles Watson bombarded and captured Chandannagar on 23 March 1757 and Anquetil-Duperron resolved to leave the territory.[2] Unable to gain access to the Vedas, Anquetil-Duperron planned to travel to Tibet and China to find the ancient Indian texts there.[6] Discouraged by news that there were no texts to be found there, Anquetil-Duperron returned overland to Pondicherry over the course of a hundred-day trek.[2] There, he found his brother Etienne Anquetil de Briancourt, who had been named consul at Surat.[3][6]

As Etienne assured Abraham that the Zoroastrian priests of Surat would teach him their sacred texts as well as the languages in which they were written,[7] he resolved to accompany his brother. Wanting to explore the country, however, he disembarked from his brother's ship at Mahé and travelled overland the rest of the way on foot[2] and on horseback.[3] He arrived in Surat on 1 March 1758, at a time when the Indian Zoroastrians (Parsis) were embroiled in a bitter dispute over intercalation, what is now called the "Kabiseh controversy".[7] Each side cultivated ties with competing European traders. The one faction (the shahenshahis, led by a certain Muncherji Seth) had ties to the Dutch East India Company. The other (the kadmis, led by a certain Darab Kumana) maintained ties to the British and Armenians. In the travelogue, Darab's co-operation with Anquetil-Duperron is attributed to a need for assurance of French protection.[7] It seems that Darab (and another priest, a certain Kaus) attempted to provide Anquetil-Duperron with an education similar to that given to priests.[7] His essay Exposition du Systeme Theologique aligns itself with the texts and provides only glimpses of what the Parsis actually believed at the time.[7] Anquetil complains of the priests' interest with law and ritual rather than philosophy or abstract ideas.[7] Anquetil grew impatient with the methodical methods of the priests and with his inability to obtain manuscripts. According to his travelogue, the priests also had no desire to teach him Avestan and no expectations that he would master it well enough to translate their texts.[7] Also according to Anquetil, the priests were committing a great sacrilege in acquainting him with the texts and lessons were conducted in Persian so that the priest's Zoroastrian servant would not be aware of what was transpiring.[7] Kaus's anxiety increased when Anquetil demanded proper interpretation and not just translation.[7] Via Persian, the two priests taught him what they knew of Avestan (which was not much)[3] and of Zoroastrian theology (which was even less).[7] In June 1759, 16 months after his arrival in Surat, he sent news to Paris that he had completed (in three months) a translation of the "Vendidad".[3][n 3] The same June, the priest Darab arranged for Anquetil-Duperron to attend—in disguise but armed with a sword and pistol—a ceremony in a fire temple "in exchange for a small present and the hope of promenading the city in my palanquin".apud [7] Anquetil also suggests that Darab attempted to convert him, but that he "courageously refused to waver".apud [7] Two centuries later, J. J. Modi would explain Anquetil's invitation into a temple as only possible if the sacred fire had been temporarily removed because the temple was being renovated.cf. [3] On the other hand, Anquetil states that he was given a sudra and kusti and he may have been formally invested with them, which would have made him a Zoroastrian in the priest's view, and thus would have been acceptable in a functioning temple.[7]


Duel and legal problems

In late 1759, Anquetil-Duperron killed a fellow countryman in a duel, was badly wounded himself, and was forced to take refuge with the British. Anquetil's own brother demanded that he be handed over, but the British refused. In April 1760, the French authorities dropped the charges and allowed him to return to the French sector. In the meantime, Anquetil had travelled all over Gujarat. At Surat and in his travels, he collected 180 manuscripts, which not only included almost all known Avestan language texts and many of the 9th/10th-century works of Zoroastrian tradition, but also other texts in a multitude of Indian languages.[3] Anquetil-Duperron finished his translation in September 1760, and decided to leave Surat. From Surat, he intended again to travel to Benares[2][6] but the widow of the Frenchman he had killed was bringing charges against him, which Anquetil then used as an excuse to seek refuge again with the British and obtain passage on one of the English ships destined for Europe. He paid for his journey by calling in debts that others had made to his brother.[7] Just before his departure, the priest Kaus lodged a complaint with the British that Anquetil had failed to pay for all the manuscripts that he had purchased. The British seized his goods, but released them when Anquetil's brother guaranteed payment.[7] Anquetil-Duperron left Surat on 15 March 1761. He arrived at Portsmouth eight months later, where was interned but allowed to continue working.[3] After his release, he traveled to Oxford to check his copies of the Avestan language texts against those of the Bodelian. He then set out for France and arrived in Paris on 14 March 1762. He deposited his manuscripts in the Royal Library the next day.[3][6]

Report and fame

In June 1762, his report was published in the Journal des Scavans, and Anquetil-Duperron became an instant celebrity.[6] The title of his report indicated that he had gone to India to "discover and translate the works attributed to Zoroaster."[6] It appears that this mischaracterization of his objective was in order to be seen as having achieved what he intended.[6] The librarian Jean-Jacques Barthélemy procured a pension for him and appointed him interpreter of oriental languages at the Royal Library.[2] In 1763, he was elected an associate of the Academy of Inscriptions and began to arrange for the publication of the materials he had collected during his travels.[2] In 1771, he published his three-part Zend Avesta of works ascribed to Zoroaster, which included not only a re-translation of what the priests had translated into Persian for him but also a travelogue (Journal du voyage de l’Auteur aux Indes orientates), a summary of the manuscripts that he collected (Notice des manuscrits), a biography of Zoroaster (Vie de Zoroastre), a translation of the Bundahishn, and two essays (Exposition des usages civils etreligieux des Parses and Système cérémonial et moral des livres zends et pehlvis).

Controversy

A heated dispute broke out at once, in which Duperron was accused of perpetrating (or having been duped in) an elaborate fraud. At the fore in this dispute was William Jones, at the time still a student at Oxford. The future founder of the Royal Asiatic Society and future discoverer of the Indo-European language group was deeply wounded by Duperron's scornful treatment of Jones's countrymen and, in a pamphlet written in French, Jones dismissed Duperron's manuscripts as the rhapsody of some mindless Hindu. For the contemporaries of Voltaire, the silly tales of gods and demons and outlandish laws and rules seemed impossible to relate to the idealized Enlightenment-era view of Zoroaster or to a religion which they associated with simplicity and wisdom.[8] Other scholars attacked Duperron on philological grounds. Duperron was vindicated by Rasmus Rask in 1820, 15 years after Duperron's death. The debate would rage for another 30 years after that. Anquetil's "attempt at a translation was, of course, premature",[3] and, as Eugène Burnouf demonstrated sixty years later, translating the Avesta via a previous translation was prone to errors. However, Anquetil was the first to bring an ancient oriental sacred text other than the Bible to the attention of European scholars.[3]

Later years

Following his Zend-Avesta and until his death in 1805, Anquetil was occupied with studying the laws, history, and geography of India.[3] He was greatly affected by the Revolution.[2] "In his youth a kind of Don Juan, he now led the life of a poor, ascetic bachelor, combining Christian virtue with the wisdom of a Brahmin."[3] During that period he abandoned society, and lived in voluntary poverty on a few pence a day. In 1778, he published at Amsterdam his Legislation orientale, in which he endeavored to prove that the nature of oriental despotism had been greatly misrepresented by Montesquieu and others.[2] His Recherches historiques et géographiques sur l'Inde appeared in 1786 and formed part of Thieffenthaler's Geography of India.[2] In 1798, he published L'Inde en rapport avec l'Europe (Hamburg, 2 vols.), a work considered notable by the British for its "remarkable" invectives against them and for its "numerous misrepresentations".[2] His most valuable achievement[3] was a two-volume Latin retranslation and commentary of a Persian translation of fifty Upanishads received from India in 1775, which Anquetil had translated by 1796. Called the "Oupnek'hat or Upanischada" by Anquetil, these were subsequently published in Strasbourg in 1801-1802 and represent the first European language translation of a Hindu text, albeit in an approximate rendering.[3] Anquetil's commentaries make up half the work. A 108-page French paraphrase of Anquetil's Oupnek'hats by Jean-Denis Lanjuinais appeared in Millin's Magasin Encyclopédique of 1805. Arthur Schopenhauer encountered Anquetil's Oupnek'hats in the spring of 1814 and repeatedly called it not only his favorite book but the work of the entire world literature that is most worthy of being read.[n 4] In India, Anquetil's Oupnek'hats precipitated a revival in the study of the Upanishads.[3]

Political and institutional activity

When the Institut de France was reorganized, Anquetil was voted in as a member but soon resigned. In 1804, Anquetil refused to swear allegiance to Napoleon, stating that "his obeisance [was] to the laws of the government under which he lived and which protected him."apud [3]

Death

Abraham Hyacinthe Anquetil-Duperron died in Paris on 17 January 1805.[2] His work became one of the most important references for nineteenth century spiritualists and occultists in France.

Notes

1. A Vendidad Sade is a particular variant of a Yasna text into which sections of the Visperad and Vendidad are interleaved. A Vendidad Sade contains only Avestan text, without exegetical commentary. The pages that Anquetil-Duperron were shown were a copy of part of a manuscript that had been purchased in Surat, India by George Boucher in 1719 and brought to England by Richard Cobbe in 1723. Cobbe presented it to Oxford's Bodleian Library, where it became known by the misnomer 'Oxford Vendidad'.
2. Fifty years earlier, J. F. Pétis de la Croix had been ordered to bring back manuscripts from Iran, but had not been successful.[3]
3. Anquetil referred here to the Vendidad Sade (see note above) from which he had previously seen a copy of four leaves and not to the Vendidad proper.
4. See the book-length study of the Oupnek'hat’s influence on the genesis of Schopenhauer's philosophy by App[9]

References

1. T. K. John, "Research and Studies by Western Missionaries and Scholars in Sanskrit Language and Literature," in the St. Thomas Christian Encyclopaedia of India, Vol. III, Ollur[Trichur] 2010 Ed. George Menachery, pp.79 - 83
2. "Abraham Hyacinthe Anquetil du Perron" , Encyclopædia Britannica, 9th ed., Vol. II, New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1878, pp. 90–91.
3. Duchesne-Guillemin, Jaques (1985), "Abraham Hyacinthe Anquetil-Duperron", Encyclopedia Iranica, vol. II, Cosa Mesa: Mazda, pp. 100–101.
4. Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Anquetil Duperron, Abraham Hyacinthe" . Encyclopædia Britannica. 2 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 80–81.
5. Deloche, Jean; Filliozat, Manonmani; Filliozat, Pierre-Sylvain, eds. (1997), Voyage en Inde, 1754-1762: Anquetil-Duperron: Relation de voyage en preliminaire a la traduction du Zend-Avesta, Collection Peregrinations asiatiques, Paris: École française d'Extrême-Orient / Maisonneuve & Larose / Royer, pp. 15–32, ISBN 2-7068-1278-8.
6. App, Urs (2010), "Anquetil-Duperron's Search for the True Vedas", The Birth of Orientalism, Philadelphia: UP Press, pp. 363–439, ISBN 978-0-8122-4261-4.
7. Stiles Manek, Susan (1997), The Death of Ahriman, Bombay: K.R. Cama Oriental Institute, pp. 134–142.
8. Darmesteter, James (1880), Introduction. Zend-Avesta, part I: Vendidad (SBE, vol. IV), Oxford: Clarendon, pp. I.xiv-I.xii.
9. App, Urs (2014), Schopenhauer's Compass. An Introduction to Schopenhauer's Philosophy and its Origins, Wil: UniversityMedia, ISBN 978-3-906000-03-9.
• Stuurman, Siep (2007), "Cosmopolitan Egalitarianism in the Enlightenment: Anquetil Duperron on India and America", Journal of the History of Ideas, 68: 255–278.
• Abbattista, Guido (1993), Anquetil-Duperron, Considérations philosophiques, historiques et géographiques sur les deux mondes, edizione critica con Introduzione e annotazione di Guido Abbattista, Pisa: Edizioni della Scuola Normale Superiore, 1993.

External links

• Works by or about Abraham Hyacinthe Anquetil-Duperron in libraries (WorldCat catalog)
• Anquetil-Duperron, Abraham Hyacinthe (1771), Zend-Avesta, (3 vols.), Paris: N. M. Tilliard, at the Internet Archive.
• "Anquetil Duperron, Abraham Hyacinthe" . New International Encyclopedia. 1905.
• Filliozat, Pierre-Sylvain (2005). "Anquetil Duperron, un pionnier du voyage scientifique en Inde". Comptes rendus des séances de l'Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres. 149 (4): 1261–1280.
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#2)

Postby admin » Thu Aug 27, 2020 6:12 am

James Fraser (1713-1754)
by Wikisource
Accessed: 8/26/20

[from Preface and appendix to Fraser's History of Nadir Shah; manuscript notes, written about 1754 by S. Smalbroke (son of Dr. Richard Smalbroke [q. v.], bishop of Lichfield and Coventry) in a copy of that work now in the possession of W. Irvine, esq.; Note on James Fraser in the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, 1899, pp. 214-20, by W. Irvine; Burke's Landed Gentry; Macray's Annals of the Bodleian Library, Oxford, 1890, pp. 216, 372, note 1; Aufrecht's Bodleian Sanskrit Catalogue, pp. 358, 403-4.]

FRASER, JAMES (1713–1754), author and collector of oriental manuscripts, born in 1713, was the son of Alexander Fraser (d. 1733) of Reelick, near Inverness. He paid two visits to India, where he resided at Surat. During his first stay (1730-40) he acquired a working knowledge of Zend from Parsi teachers and of Sanskrit from a learned Brahman. He also collected materials for an account of Nadir Shah, who invaded India in 1737-8. Coming home for about two years, he published his book. He then went out again as a factor in the East India Company's service, and became a member of the council at Surat, where he remained for six years. After his return in 1749 he expressed the intention of compiling an ancient Persian (Zend) lexicon, and of translating the Zendavesta from the original. He also spoke of translating the 'Vedh' (Veda) of the Brahmans; he seems, however, to have had no direct knowledge of the Vedas, but to have been acquainted with post-Vedic works only. Nothing came of these plans owing to his premature death, which took place at his own house, Easter Moniack, Inverness-shire, on 21 Jan. 1754 (Scots Mag. 1754, p. 51).

Fraser married in London, in 1742, Mary, only daughter of Edward Satchwell of Warwickshire, by whom he had issue one son and three daughters. A portrait of him is still in the possession of his descendants at Reelick House. James Baillie Fraser [q. v.] and William Fraser (1784?-1835) [q. v.] were his grandsons.

Fraser's book is entitled 'The History of Nadir Shah, formerly called Thamas Kuli Khan, the present Emperor of Persia; to which is prefixed a short History of the Moghol Emperors' (London, 1742). It contains a map of the Moghul empire and part of Tartary. It was the first book in English treating of Nadir Shah, 'the scourge of God.' It is important not only as a first-hand contribution to the history of contemporary events, but also for the number of original documents which it alone has preserved.

At the end of his book the author gives a list of about two hundred oriental manuscripts, including Zend and Sanskrit, which he had purchased at Surat, Cambay, and Ahmedabad. His claim that his 'Sanskerrit' manuscripts formed 'the first collection of that kind ever brought into Europe' appears to be valid, though single Sanskrit manuscripts had reached England and France even earlier. After his death his oriental manuscripts were bought from his widow for the Radclifte Library at Oxford; they were transferred to the Bodleian on 10 May 1872. One of Fraser's manuscripts, containing 178 portraits of Indian kings down to Aurengzebe, found its way directly into the Bodleian as early as 1737, in which year it was presented to the library by the poet Alexander Pope, its then possessor. Fraser's Sanskrit manuscripts, forty-one in number and all post-Vedic, were the earliest collection in that language which came into the possession of Oxford University: the first Sanskrit manuscript, however, which the Bodleian acquired was given to it in 1666 by John Ken, an East India merchant of London. It was in order to inspect Fraser's Zend manuscripts that the famous French orientalist, Anquetil Duperron, visited Oxford in 1702, when brought a prisoner of war to England.
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