BÜHLER, Johann Georg

BÜHLER, Johann Georg. Borstel bei Nienburg (Hannover) 19.7.1837 — Bodensee 8.4.1898. German Indologist in India (1863-80) and Austria. Professor in Vienna. Son of Johann Georg B., a minister. Educated in Hannover, where he had among his teachers the philologists Ahrens and Kühner. In 1855 he came to Göttingen and began to study classical philology (E. Curtius et al.), Sanskrit (Benfey), Germanistics (Leo Meyer), Persian and Armenian (Ewald), Arabic (Wüstenfeld), archaeology, and philosophy. Ph.D. 1858 there in Greek, in autumn went to Paris and in 1859 to England to copy manuscripts, now also worked as tutor and librarian. Remained in England until fall 1862, then back to Göttingen, where he was employed as an assistant in the University Library. However, the mediation of Max Müller brought him the chair of Oriental Languages at Elphinstone College in Bombay.

In Bombay from 1863, taught Sanskrit, Prākrit, and comparative grammar. He learnt quick­ly Marathi and studied practical Sanskrit under pandits. He succesfully taught his Indian students modern philological methods. For the government he compiled an extensive manual of Indian law. In 1866 he began travels on the search for the Sanskrit manuscripts. With Kielhorn he founded the Bombay Sanskrit Series. In 1868 GB left Elphinstone College and became acting Educational Inspector, from 1870 on a permanent basis, used his inspection tours also for scholarly exploration, especially in the search for the Sanskrit manuscripts, together with Kielhorn. From December 1869 to 1870 he was on a leave in Europe because of an illness. During his field trips he learnt Gujarati and became interested in epigraphy. Collected great amount of inscriptions in Gujarat, also visited Rajasthan and Kashmir, and collected no less than 2876 manuscripts for the government. In 1877-79 again in Europe on a leave, married in 1878 in Switzerland Mathilde Forrer, no children (Sengupta claims he had a son). He returned to India, but had to retire in 1880 because of a liver illness. C.I.E. 1878.

In 1880 he returned to Europe and in 1881 got the Sanskrit chair at Vienna University, where he soon had many students and time for his research work, especially on the Dharmaśāstra, but also on palaeography, epigraphy and Jainism. He was one the founders of the WZKM and the first editor of the Grundriss (succeeded by Kielhorn). Bühler was one of the most important Sanskrit scholars and epigraphists of his time, and much encouraged German scholars to travel in India. He drowned during a rowing excursion on Bodensee (alone, no details known, also suicide has been suggested, but an accident is well possible). Among his many students were Th. Bloch, Cartellieri, Dahlmann, Führer, Haberland, Hultzsch, Kirste, v. Mankowski, Morison, Schönberg, Ščerbatskoj, and Winternitz.

Publications: Diss. Das griechische Sekundärsuffix ΤΗΣ. 43 p. Göttingen 1858.

With R. West: A Digest of Hindu Law, from the replies of the Shastris and the several Courts of Bombay Presidency. 1-2. 70+362 & 6+37+118 p. Bombay 1867-69, 3rd ed. 1884.

Edited: Pañcatantra. B.S.S. 1 & 3. Bombay 1868, 4th ed. 1891 (books 2-5, book 1 ed. by Kielhorn); The Daśakumāracarita of Daṇḍin. 1. B.S.S. ?. Bo. 1873, 2nd ed. 1887 (vol. 2 by Peterson); Bilhaṇa, Vikramâṅkadevacarita, a life of king Vikramâditya. 46+168 p. B.S.S. 14. Bo. 1875; “The Pâiyalachchhî Nâmamâlâ, a Prakrit-Kosha by Dhanapâla. Edited with critical notes, an introd. and a glossary”, BB 4, 1878, 70-166; with Pischel: Hemacandra: Deśīnāmamālā. 1. B.S.S. 17. Bombay 1880.

Edited & translated: Āpastamba. Aphorisms on the Sacred Law of the Hindus. 1-2. 118+154 p. Bo. 1868-91, 2nd ed. B.S.S. 44 & 50. Bo. 1892-94.

Translated: The Sacred Laws of the Āryas. 1. Āpastamba and Gautama. 369 p. S.B.E. 2. L. 1879, 2nd ed. 1897; II. Vāsiṣṭha and Baudhāyana. 405 p. S.B.E. 14. L. 1882; The Laws of Manu. 758 p. S.B.E. 25. Oxf. 1886.

Detailed Report of a tour in search of Sanskrit Manuscripts made in Kaśmír, Rajputana, and Central India. JBRAS 12, Extra-Number 34A. Bombay & L. 1877

Third Reading Book for the Use of high Schools. With a glossary by Vishnu S. Pandit. 122+103 p. Bombay 1868, 3rd ed. Bombay 1888; Leitfaden für den Elementarcursus des Sanskrit. Wien 1883; 2nd ed. rev. by J. Nobel. 182 p. Wien 1927; Russian transl. Stockholm 1920/Moscow 1960; Polish transl. 1977.

A catalogue of Sanskrit MSS. contained in the Private Libraries of Gujarat, Kathiawad, Kachchh, Sindh, and Khandes. 1-4. Bombay 1871-73; printed Reports of the search for Sanskrit MSS.

– “Ueber das Leben des Jaina-Mönches Hemachandra”, DWA 37, 1889, 171-258.

Das Sukṛitasaṁkîrtana des Arisiṁha. 58 p. SWA 119:7. Vienna 1889; Indian Studies. 1. The Jagadūcharita of Sarvāṇanda, a historical romance from Gujarat. 74 p. SWA 125:5. Vienna 1892.

Die indische Inschriften und das Alter der indischen Kunstpoesie. 98 p. SWA 122:11. Wien 1890.

Indische Paläographie. 100 p. 17 pl. Grundriss I:11. Strassburg 1896, English tr. by Fleet. Bombay 1904; “Palaeographical remarks on the Horiuzi Palm-leaf MSS.”, Max Müller & B. Nanjio, The Ancient Palm-Leaves containing the Prajñâ-Pâramitâ-Hridaya-Sûtra. Oxford 1884, 63-95; On the Origin of the Indian Brāhma Alphabet. 92 p. S.W.A. 132:5. Wien 1895.

A great number of articles on Vedic mythology (Tr.Philol.Soc., Or. & Occ., MJLS), Dharmaśāstra (JASB, JBRAS, ZDMG), Indian grammar (IA, Öst. Monatsschrift für Orient, WZKM, JRAS), manuscripts (JBRAS, IA, SWA, ZDMG), Indian poetry (JBRAS, IA, SWA, ZDMG), Veda (IA, WZKM, SWA), epigraphy (IA, ZDMG, JRAS, EI, WZKM, SWA), palaeography (IA, WZKM, SWA, JRAS), Jainism (WZKM 1-4), Buddhism, etc.

Sources: Bihl 47-49; J. Jolly, G.B. 1837–1898. 23 p. Grundriss I:1A, Strassburg 1899 (life and bibliography); W. Kirfel, N.D.B. 2, 1955, 726f.; F.M.M[üller], JRAS 1898, 695-707; A.Ch. Natu, “Georg Bühler’s Death: Perceptions and Possibility”, CoJS Newsletter 14, 2019, 42f. (conclusion: no suicide); *S.F. Oldenburg, ZVORAO 11, 1897-98 (1899), 313-319 (with photo); Sengupta 1996, 151-162; *M. Winternitz, A.D.B. 47, 1903, 339-348 (and briefly in Biogr. Jb.); several obituary notices and evaluations (by Bendall, Bloomfield, Burgess, Grierson, Jacobi, Jolly, Kaegi, Knauer, Leumann, Macdonell, Max Müller, Rhys Davids, Senart, Tawney, and Winternitz) in IA 27, 1898; briefly in Ö.B.L. 2 and D.B.E. 2, 1995, 200; Wikipedia with photo, the same (from Jolly 1899) also in Rau 40.

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