Ludwig Alsdorf and Indian Studies

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Item Code: NAH583
Author: Klaus Bruhn, Magdalene Duckwitz and Alberecht Wezler
Publisher: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers Pvt. Ltd.
Language: English
Edition: 1990
ISBN: 8120806816
Pages: 116
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details 8.8 inch x 5.8 inch
Weight 320 gm
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About The Book

PROF. DR. LUDWIG ALSDORF (1904-1978) was probably the most versatile among Western Indologists of the 20th century. His many-sided interests in Indian Studies comprised Vedic and Classical Sanskrit texts as well as Buddhist Pali literature and Jaina Apabhramsa in which he had specialized. His dialects of the Asoka inscriptions to modern vernaculars like Hindi and Urdu which he combined with a living knowledge of the historical, religious, artistic and literary development on the subcontinent, gave him a rare universality. The comprehensiveness of his academic activities was complemented by his mastery of the most subtile philological method which enabled him to see and discover what was often overlooked by others. Prof. Alsdorf’s warm and scholarly personality was permeated by an intensive dynamism which manifested itself in his zest for adventure and scientific achievement.

The booklet is meant to commemorate a great German scholar and to acquaint a wider public with his academic work in the field of Indian Studies.

About The Editors

PROF. DR. KLAUS BRUHN was born in Hamburg and pursued Indian Studies at the university of his hometown with Prof. W. Schubring and Prof. L. Alsdorf. Since 1966 he is Professor of Indology at the Institute for Indian Philology and History of Indian Art of the Free University of Berlin (West). Among his publications are Silanka’s Cauppannamahapurisacariya (1954) and The Jina Images of Deogarh (1969). He is co-editor of the Indological series Indologia Berolinensis. Along with A. Wezler he compiled the Commemoration Volume for L. Alsdorf “Studien zum Jainismus und Buddhismus" (1981). Prof. Bruhn has specialised in Jaina literature, Jaina art and Indian iconography.

MAGDALENE DUCKWITZ was born in Bremen and studied Indology under Prof. J. Nobel (Marburgj and Prof. L. Alsdorf (Berlin, Munster and Hamburg). She joined the German Foreign Service in 1953 and spent 35 years in India until her retirement in 1988 as Cultural Attache of her country's Embassy in New Delhi. She is co-editor of German Scholars in India Vol. I & II (1973 & 1976).

PROF. DR. ALBRECHT WEZLER was born in Munich and did his doctorate in Indology under Prof. P. Thieme at Tubingen University. In 1972 he succeeded Prof. L. Alsdorf as Head of the Institute for the Culture and History of India and Tibet at Hamburg University. Among others, he is the author of Paribhasa, as well as of a specialised study on Panini. Prof. Wezler edited L. Alsdorf's Kleine Schriften and is co-editor of the journal "Studien zur Indologie und Iranistik" (Studies in Indology and Iranistics). Specialisedin Sanskrit grammar, linguistics and Indian philosophy, Prof. Wezler is also in charge of the Nepal- German Manuscript Preservation Project (Kathmandu).

Editors’ Note

LUDWIG ALSDORF (1904-1978) was one of the most active and competent exponents of recent German Indology. He has made lasting contributions to various branches of Indian studies- we mention only Jainism, Buddhism and Veda. But he has also studied and described Indian history and civilization as a whole. The greater part of his writings is meant for the specialist. But he was also fully aware of the need to inform a wider public. L. Alsdorf's researches are deeply rooted in the tradition of German scholarship but he was too original a thinker to conform to any established pattern. His range of interests was wide and his activities were manifold.

The numerous articles and reviews from his pen had been published in a great number of European and Indian journals. In order to bring this material together, his collected articles were published in 1974 on the occasion of his 70th birthday. This was to be followed by a Felicitation Volume published five years later and presented to him on his 75th birthday. L. Alsdorf's unexpected death in 1978 made it necessary to change these plans. As a consequence, a Commemoration Volume was published in 1981, three years after his death.* The concept of this brochure originated in the course of the work on that volume. The basic idea was to give broad information on all the aspects of L. Alsdorf's work both to the learned general public and to co-specialists who had no adequate access to his own writings. Under the circumstances, the present book- let could not be quite uniform in all its parts. Furthermore, it shows here and there the traits of an experiment. The editors are nevertheless confident that it will help to focus attention on a great scholar and at the same time encourage later Indologists to utilize L. Alsdorf's writings to their fullest possible extent. The publication is a digest which consists of several parts different in character and contributed by various scholars. For a number of reasons it proved necessary to supply for most chapters additional informations of one type or the other which might have been presented as foot-notes, prolegomena, etc. It seemed, however, simpler to collect this material in the "Editors' Note" instead of providing the various parts with supplements of differing character.

(1) The Obituary on pp. 5-13 is the revised English version of the original German text (Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenlandischen Gesellschaft [Journal of the German Oriental Society], Vol. 129. 1979, pp. 1-7). Basically it is a "reprint", and not an article specially written for the present publication. We have to add, that work on the Critical Pali Dictionary is being continued: fascicle II 10 was published after Alsdorf's death, still carrying his name. Fascicles II 11-12 (uparima-uposathakiriya uposathakumara-ulumpa) have been published since then and 13 is under preparation. The Editor-in-Chief for fasc. II 11 foil. is K.R. Norman. The obituary included in IT 11 (also by K.R. Norman) describes in detail Alsdorf's work for the Critical Pali Dictionary.

(2) The Bibliography on pp. 15-31 is mainly a reprint (pp. V foll.) from Ludwig Alsdorf, Kleine Schriften ed. by A. Wezler ( = Glasenapp-Stiftung Vol. 10, Franz Steiner Verlag GmbH, Wiesbaden 1974). As far as this was technically possible, we have replaced the German captions by their English equivalents. Two supplements have been added under Nos. IV and V. For the purpose of easier referencing we have provided the titles with numbers running from 1 up to 161. These numbers have been used extensively for the sake of reference in our digest ("Bibl. No.1" etc.). Books etc. edited by Alsdorf -sometimes with considerable sacrifices of time and energy - have been left unnumbered. The page numbers of the Kleine Schriften (e.g. "S.464" in the case of Bib I. No. 11), indicating inclusion into the original volume, have been retained.

(3) The Chronology on pp. 33-34 shows the distribution of Alsdorf's writings over the full period of his academic activity (1928-1978). We have made a formal distinction between original contributions (standing first) and reviews (added at the end). For reasons which require no explanation we have included here and in the two following parts (Bibliography of Reviews, Reviews Reprinted) Varuna I-II and Critical Pali Dictionary II 5-10-two instances of editorial activity-into the survey. The Chronology can also be used in order to identify incomplete references to Alsdorf's writings (provided the reference contains the year). However, the Chronology invariably mentions the year of publication which may be later than the year quoted in a reference (e.g. compare Bibl. No. 14).

(4) The Bibliography of Reviews on pp. 35-44 helps to trace criticisms but also gives an idea of the influence Alsdorf's writings had. Before the fifties, reviews appeared mainly in German language. Later on reviewing was international. Alsdorf's more general publications appeared under rather different conditions during and after World War II. We are refer- ring mainly to Indien (1940), Deutsch-indische Geistesbeziehungen (1942), Indien und Ceylon (1943), Vorderindien (1955), and to his contribution for the Geschichte Asiens (1950, Bibl. No. 55). For the Nazis, India had both theoretical and practical importance: Nazi ideologists had adopted the myth of the Aryan race, and political circles attached importance to the opposition against British rule under Subhas Chandra Bose (see p. 6). As a consequence, there was a need for information about India, and Alsdorf's publications filled this gap. His book Indien was even translated into Italian (Bibl. No. 51), Italy then being Germany's closest ally. Alsdorf's publications were widely reviewed in con- temporary journal literature. But neither did Alsdorf make any concessions to the ideology of the Third Reich nor were all the reviews very political. Much of the reviewing was routine work in the form of short summaries and glosses, All this was possible because Alsdorf was needed as a specialist and because his writings reflected an element of nationalism (as it was not uncommon in those days even amongst the critics of the regime) which can be described in his case as a combination of German and Indian nationalism. Alsdorf took pride in Germany's contributions to Indology and he felt that India should become a free nation with Hindi as its national language. Under the circumstances, some scope was left to discuss even political subjects in a normal manner.---After the end of World War II, the international scene changed radically and in the new context experts for Third World countries were needed more than ever. Besides, there was a growing demand in Germany and elsewhere for better contacts between the specialist and the public. Alsdorf was (in the field of Oriental Studies) one of the few academic teachers in Germany who left the ivory-tower of purely scholarly activities, both by way of his writings and by public lectures. As a consequence, the .response to his activities, as reflected in journals, was very positive. It must be added that his book Vorderindien also evoked academic criticism and discussion as can be seen in the list and in the two reprints (pp. 51-53 and pp.81-82).

The Bibliography of Reviews also calls for a few technical explations. Reviews have been traced for all independent publications, viz. Bibl. Nos. 1-14 (except Nos. 5 & 8). Apart from this section, R.P. Das has considered Bibl. No. 55 and the two projects mentioned already (Varuna 1-2 and Critical Pali Dictionary). No. 55 is only a part of the relevant volume Geschichte Asiens (History of Asia), and therefore the reviews of this volume should not be expected to dwell upon Alsdorf's essay. By contrast, reviews of other collective publications (felicitation volumes, etc.) have not been included. Let us, therefore, add at this place that Alsdorf answered one such review in his writings. J. Nobel had criticized Alsdorf's paper Bibl. No. 48 in his review of the Winternitz Felicitation Volume of which it formed a part (J. Nobel, Deutsche Literaturzeitung 1936, S. 1129-30). Alsdorf not only referred to this critical remark in his Apabhramsa-Studien (Bibl.No.3), in fact - to quote A. Mette - these studies were partially conceived as an answer to Nobel's criticism (p. 88). ---In the case of Vorderindien (Bibl, No.9) the Bibliography of Reviews is based mostly on material collected by the publisher and kindly lent to R.P. Das by Mrs. Mechthild Alsdorf (Gottingen). A few clippings could not be identified and a few notes (meant for private use in libraries but not for publication) have not been listed. -- Needless to add that a bibliography like this - even if prepared with utmost care - can never claim to be quite complete. It must also be mentioned that "review" is a formal definition. Much criticism, often very competent, occurs outside the traditional reviews. -- An asterisk before the title indicates that a review has been reprinted in the present digest. Whenever re- prints have been published elsewhere (e.g. H. Lommel on Varuna I) we have put the asterisk in parentheses.

(5) The Reviews reprinted on pp. 45-82 (seethe list in the Table of Contents) were selected on the basis of the Bibliography prepared by R.P. Das, In the case of three scholars (C. Caillat, J.W. de Jong, K.R. Norman) we have reprinted reviews covering two of Alsdorf's publications. In a number of cases the English reviews were so short that we had to select, for fuller information, French and German reviews. In the case of O. von Hinuber's review of Critical Pali Dictionary II 6-10 we have only included the introductory portion but not the long list of observations on individual articles (from ahatanapannatti up to uparidhare). One review (J.W. de Jong on Bibl. Nos. 13-14) has been reprinted for a second time, and Bibl. No. 13 has been considered twice (c. Caillat: Nos. 13/12; J.W. de Jong: 13-14).

(6) A photograph showing Alsdorf in his later years has been published along with the obituaries in Zeitschr. d. Dtsch. Morgenland. Ges. 1979 and Critical Pali Dictionary II 11. Our frontispiece shows Alsdorf in earlier years (by courtesy of the. Osterreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften [Austrian Academy of Sciences]). The photograph between pp. 4 and 5 (by courtesy of Mechthild Alsdorf) recalls past days. We see Alsdorf together with Prof. Jetly and Muni Punyavijaya on his second visit to Jaisalmer in 1951. Alsdorf had Seen many parts of India but the medieval beauty of the city in the desert with its rich collections of Jaina manuscripts was amongst his most lasting impressions.


Editor's Notevii
1Condolence Meeting at the Max Muller Bhavan, New- Delhi (M. Duckwitz) .1
2Obituary (K. Bruhn)5
3Bibliography of the Writings of L. Alsdorf (A. Wezler)15
4Chronology of the Writings of L. Alsdorf (K. Bruhn)33
5Bibliography of Reviews of L. Alsdorf's Independent Publications (R.P. Das)35
6Ludwig Alsdorf's Oeuvre-Reviews Reprinted
(J. Bloch, C. Caillat, R.N. Dandekar, A.M. Ghatage, J.C. Heesterman, O. von Hinuber, J.W. de Jong, C. Krause, K.R. Norman, L. Renou, J.E. Spencer)45
7L.Alsdorf and Vedic Studies (P. Thieme).83
8L. Alsdorf and Jainological Studies (A. Mette).85
9L. Alsdorf and Asokan Studies (K.R. Norman).95
10L. Alsdorf and Pali Studies (K.R. Norman).99
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