Work in Progress: Editing Klatt’s Jaina-Onomasticon

Published: 28.12.2016

Centre of Jaina Studies Newsletter: SOAS - University of London

The German Indologist Johannes Klatt (1852- 1903) gave his magnum opus the title Jaina Onomasticon.[1] There's no need for any further consideration of the term 'Jaina' since the work deals without exception with the literature and history of the Jains. The second part of the title, 'Onomasticon', is derived from the Greek 'onoma' or 'name' and can be translated as 'collection of names'. In fact, Klatt's work lists in alphabetical order the proper names of people and places, titles of texts, names of gacchas, gaṇas, etc. But he does much more than submitting a mere list of names. To every name he adds historical, biographical and bibliographical data. Therefore we can rightly classify the Onomasticon as an encyclopaedia, an extensive reference book on the history of the Jaina religion and literature. Considering the historical character of his work, it is no surprise that Klatt had to put the main emphasis on the post-canonical Jaina history, on which reliable historical data can be obtained. Klatt dealt with material he could gather from manuscripts, monographs and articles, and the contents of the Onomasticon cover a period of time from the earliest inscriptions and oldest manuscripts up to the end of the 19th century, i.e. Jaina authors and their works contemporary to Klatt. It is no exaggeration to say that the Onomasticon is a milestone in scholarly research in the field of Jaina studies.

At SOAS, through a generous grant from the Leverhulme Trust to the Centre of Jaina Studies, a printedition of Klatt's work, which is to this day unpublished, is in preparation.[2] The manuscript, handwritten in English, consists of 5,338 pages.[3] Klatt laboured on it for at least 10 years. In 1892 he fell severely ill and he never recovered enough to complete his task. The incompleteness affects the form and the conception of the work, but hardly the contents as such. In parts  we miss  a  consistent alphabetical order of the entries, and, what is more crucial, there is no bibliography, i.e. no organized and detailed listing of the source materials the author refers to in his text. This is all the more regrettable as Klatt names his sources in most of the cases by using abbreviations only. With regard to the content we can state that the proper names, which are given in a vast number of entries, are distributed in accordance with the letters of the Devanāgarī alphabet, i.e. a – h, and that there is no hint whatsoever of a premature or abrupt ending to Klatt's compiling his material.

The edition of Klatt's manuscript currently underway requires first of all a literal transcription. Fortunately, all in all Klatt's handwriting is legible. It is likely that the manuscript is a copy of earlier drafts of the text which might have been discarded by the author himself. Nevertheless, there are quite a few unreadable passages, words and numbers. In most of the cases this is due to later additions by the author, carried out when there was little space left on the pages, so that Klatt had to write in very small letters right between the lines. Besides, owing to the binding of the manuscript sometimes information at the margins was cut off.

In preparing the transcription, the headings of the entries which were written by Klatt in Devanāgarī characters are being transcribed according to today's common practice, i.e. using Ś, ś, Ṣ, ṣ, ṛ and so on. However, Klatt's writing of Ç, ç, Sh, sh, ṛi and so on in the accompanying articles is copied true to the original.

The editors are using square brackets to indicate corrections of misspellings or amendments to the text. Quite often entries have to be re-sequenced in the print edition to put them in correct alphabetical order.[4]  In these cases the corresponding page numbers in the original manuscript are added next to the heading.

The search for Klatt's sources is indispensable, not only to check doubtful readings. but first and foremost to produce a bibliography. The vast material used by the author to write his encyclopaedia will result in a very extensive bibliography. Working as librarian in Berlin he had access to hundreds of Jaina manuscripts housed there and to the most relevant secondary literature as well. In addition he searched for information in other libraries in Germany, France and Italy, got manuscripts on loan from India,[5] and colleagues helped him by sending information by letter.[6]

In the second half of the 19th century the publishing of and the research on inscriptions as well as providing a survey and cataloguing of manuscripts reached their climax. These works were carried on by both Indian and European scholars. At least some of them should be named here: Ramakrishna Gopal Bhandarkar (1837-1925), Georg Bühler (1837-1898), Franz Kielhorn (1840-1908), Rudolf Hoernle (1841-1918), Eugen Hultzsch (18571927), Rajendralal Mitra (1824-1891), Peter Peterson (1882-1899) and Lewis Rice (1837-1927). All their catalogues, books and articles were extensively exploited by Klatt.  Albrecht Weber (1825-1901) deserves special mention. He was Klatt's teacher in Berlin and the author of outstanding studies on Jaina literature. His catalogue of manuscripts, kept in Berlin, is probably the most cited source in the Onomasticon.

In the print-edition all primary sources used by Klatt, i.e. books and manuscripts which had been in his hands, will be set in small capitals. Thus the reader can easily distinguish Klatt's sources from the bulk of titles of works named in the articles as well. To make clear the editorial rules just mentioned the following examples might be helpful:

ŚIVAVARDHANAGAṆI VS 1724, pupil of Lakshmīvallabha-gaṇi, his pupil Vinayapriya wrote VS 1744 JYOTISHA-RATNA-MĀLĀ, Jacobi's Manuscript, folio 28b.[7]

ŚUBHAŚĪLAGAṆI Pupil of Munisundara-sūri († VS 1503) of the Tapā-gaccha, author of Snātṛi-pañcāçikā, PETERSON 1887: 2[3]5, of Dānādi-kathā, ib. p. 405 no. 598, of Bhoja-prabandha, ib. p. 405 no. 621. Composed VS 1509 Bharatādi-kathā or Kathā-koça, BÜHLER 1877: XLVIII no. 753, MITRA 1886: 163-5, Uṇādināma-mālā, JACOBI 1879: 696, Vikramāditya-carita, BÜHLER 1877: XLIX no. 765, Bharaheçara-vṛitti, ib. p. XLVIII no. 753. Pupil of Lakshmīsāgara, composed VS 1521 Pañca-çatī-prabodha, WEBER 1892: 1112-8.

All the proper names and titles of works mentioned in the two articles presented here can be looked up again separately in the Onomasticon, and the reader will get further information there. Considering the scope of information Klatt has gathered for his Jaina Onomasticon and the accuracy and carefulness of his way of working, there can be no doubt that once this encyclopaedia is published the scholarly world will have an extremely useful tool at hand for future studies in the history of Jaina religious, literary and social traditions.

Kornelius Krümpelmann is Research Assistant, Leverhulme Project, SOAS Centre of Jaina Studies.


Balbir, Nalini. Catalogue of the Jain Manuscripts of the British Library. Including the holdings of the British Museum and the Victoria & Albert Museum. Vols. 1-3. British Library & Institute of Jainology. London 2006.

Bühler, Georg. Detailed Report of a Tour in Search of Sanskrit Mss. Made in Kaśmīr, Rajputana, and Central India. Extra Number of the Journal of the Bombay Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society. No. XXXIVA,Vol. XII.Bombay / London 1877.

Flügel, Peter. 'Johannes Klatt's Jaina-Onomasticon.' Jaina Studies. Newsletter of the Centre of Jaina Studies 6 (2011) 58-61.

Flügel, Peter. 'Johannes Klatt's Jaina-Onomasticon.' Jaina Studies. Newsletter of the Centre of Jaina Studies 8 (2013) 51.

Jacobi, Hermann. 'Liste der indischen Handschriften im Besitze des Prof. H. Jacobi in Münster i. W.' Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft 33 (1879) 693-697.

Jyotisha-ratna-mālā, by Śrīpati, British Library, Or. 5209.

Klatt, Johannes. 'Extracts from the Historical Records of the Jains'. Indian Antiquary 11 (1882) 245-256.

Mitra, Rājendralāla. Notices of Sanskrit Mss. Under the Orders of the Government of Bengal. Volume VIII. Calcutta: The Baptist Mission Press, 1886.

Peterson, Peter. 'A Third Report of Operations in Search of Sanskrit Mss. in the Bombay Circle, April 1884-March 1886'. Journal of the Bombay Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society. Extra Number. Bombay / London 1887.

Weber, Albrecht. Verzeichniss der Sanskrit- und PrākṛtHandschriften. Die Handschriften-Verzeichnisse der Königlichen Bibliothek zu Berlin. Band 5.2-3. Berlin 1892.


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CoJS Newsletter • March 2014 • Issue 9
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