Jainstudies In Germany

Published: 26.10.2007
Updated: 02.07.2015

Jain Studies in Germany

From the very beginning, Jain studies and Prâkrit were a special domain of German Indology starting in 1847 with Bohtlingk's and Rieu's edition and translation of Hemachandra's (12th century) Abhidhâna-cintâmani, a synonymic dictionary of Prâkrit, the language of the older Jain scriptures. His contemporary, Albrecht Hofer in Greifswald, was also linguistically inclined, for example in his study of the Setubandha, an epic poem. After him, much was done by Albrecht Weber (1825-1901), professor in Berlin, who was the first scholar to edit extracts from the Viyahapannatti, a canonical text of the Shvetambara Jains, one of the two Jain confessions. He subsequently analysed all their holy scriptures in his Indische Studien (Indian Studies) and dedicated himself in particular to the erotic Prâkrit poet Hala (1-2nd century CE?). Richard Pischel (1849-1908) who taught in Kiel, Halle and Berlin, also showed an interest in linguistic aspects and we owe him the Grammar of the Prâkrit Languages, which is still a standard work.

The first translator of four old and basic texts of the Shvetambaras in the 'Sacred Books of the East' series was Hermann Jacobi (1850-1937), whom the Jains called "the sun of the Jain Doctrine" (Jaina-darshana-divâkara). Three of them are dealing with rules for the renouncers and the life of Mahâvîra. His Ausgewählte Erzählungen in Maharashtn (Selected Stories in Maharashtri), with its grammar and glossary, the only work of this kind, has enabled students the study of Prâkrit since 1886, and it is still valid even today. This was followed by many subsequent texts in Prâkrit, Apabhramsha and Sanskrit in addition to works on the Jain religion, its history and philosophy. Jacobi, who taught in Munster and Bonn, was a prolific author and most of his studies are still current.

Georg Buhler, a student of Benfey in Gottingen, collected many manuscripts in India between 1863 and 1880. Some 500 of these, many of which are Shvetambara, found their way to Berlin. Much of the Jainistic research of the Swiss scholar Ernst Leumann (Strasbourg; 1884-1918), a pupil of Weber, remained in his literary heritage of 555 notebooks. He edited two canonical texts in exemplary manner, but his pioneering work on the Avassaya (monastic duties) literature was posthumously edited by Walther Schubring, who studied under Leumann and Jacobi. In his Berlin days, Schubring had edited a list of the Jain manuscripts in the Royal Prussian Library.

In Hamburg, Schubring worked mainly in the field of Jain studies from 1920-50. We owe him the Doctrine of the Jainas based on the old sources, his magnum opus, besides many editions of canonical texts.

Johannes Hertel, who studied with Ernst Windisch in Leipzig and succeeded him in 1919, translated many Jain fairy tales. His pupil Charlotte Krause, went to India after her post-doctoral studies in 1925 and, wrongly thought to be a Jain laywoman, stayed there writing particularly on Jain hagiography and hymns, which were compiled and edited after her death in Gwalior by Banthia and Luitgard Soni. The latter also teaches Prâkrit in Marburg, while her husband, Jayendra Soni, has edited a volume of Essays on Jainism for Professor Vasantha Raj. Together with the author of this article he has also edited, an English translation of Schubring's Worte Mahâvîras (Mahâvîra's Words, 2004).

Helmuth von Glasenapp (Bonn, Königsberg, Tübingen), who studied with Jacobi and others, dealt mainly with Jainism as a religion and philosophy, while Schubring's pupil and successor Ludwig Alsdorf, who had wide-ranging interests, first devoted his attention to the Apabhramsha texts and later especially to older texts with metrical peculiarities. Among other things he provided us with important studies on vegetarianism (the Jains are strict vegetarians) and a series of lectures (Etudes Jaina.. 1965) delivered in Paris which summarise the work done so far and define future tasks (an English translation of both works is presently being printed). These included the further study of the Âvassaya commentarial literature, begun by Leumann, and that of the ancient Digambara texts in Apabhramsha. These tasks continue to be urgent despite the literary notes by Klaus Bruhn (Berlin) and Thomas Oberlies' (Göttingen) glossary on the Âvassaya principles. With the help of film material which Alsdorf had made in India, Gustav Roth, a student of Helmuth Hoffmann (Munich), was able to get his PhD in 1952 with a thesis on Mallî-jnâta, chapter 8 of the canonical Nâyâdhammakahâo, for which he also referred to the Digambara versions.

Alsdorf's pupils Richard Hamm (Bonn) and Adelheid Mette (Munich and Munster) worked on monastic discipline and the routine for begging alms of the Shvetambara renouncer respectively, while R.P. Jain and Kiyoaki Okuda graduated in Digambara dogmatics. Mette's pupil Kornelius Krumpelmann received his PhD degree for an edition of the earliest satire of the Jains, Dhuttakkhâna (Story of the Tricksters, by Haribhadra, 8th century CE). Klaus Butzenberger, who studied under Bruhn, specialises in Jain philosophy and now teaches in Tubingen.

Educational disinterest and subsequent economy measures after the 1968 student revolt in Germany continue to affect Indology: chairs of long standing such as at Münster were abolished, as was Alsdorf's chair, of which he said in 1965 that it was the only one in Germany where Jain studies were being pursued on a notable scale.

Acarya Hemacandra Suri Award for Prof. Willem Bollée

Disinguished indologist Professor Willem B. Bollée was awarded the much-coveted Acarya Hemacandra Suri Award for his lifetime's work on Jainism in New Delhi on November 27, 2004. He has been renowned for his scholarship, exemplary research and editing work in Jaina studies.

About the author:

Prot Dr W. Bollée. Alsdorf's collaborator on the Critical Pâli Dictionary, is - after his Habilitation in Heidelberg in 1974 - dedicating himself to philological studies of canonical Jain texts and their commentaries. especially those dealing with heterodox teachings.

German News 2005/02 German Embassy, Delhi, India
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Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Acarya
  2. Adelheid Mette
  3. Albrecht Weber
  4. Apabhramsha
  5. Berlin
  6. Bonn
  7. Delhi
  8. Digambara
  9. Discipline
  10. Ernst Leumann
  11. Gwalior
  12. Haribhadra
  13. Heidelberg
  14. Helmuth von Glasenapp
  15. Hemacandra
  16. Hermann Jacobi
  17. JAINA
  18. Jacobi
  19. Jain Philosophy
  20. Jaina
  21. Jainism
  22. Johannes Hertel
  23. Klaus Bruhn
  24. Leumann
  25. Ludwig Alsdorf
  26. Luitgard Soni
  27. Marburg
  28. Munich
  29. Munster
  30. New Delhi
  31. Richard Pischel
  32. Sanskrit
  33. Schubring
  34. Shvetambara
  35. Tübingen
  36. Vegetarianism
  37. W. Bollée
  38. Walther Schubring
  39. Willem Bollée
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