WILLIAMS, Robert Hamilton Blair

WILLIAMS, Robert Hamilton Blair. Buckland, East Tilbury, Essex 21.8.1915 — 1975. British Indologist. At S.O.A.S. in London. Graduated B.A. 1937 from S.O.A.S. in Indo-Aryan (under Turner). Assistant Keeper in India Office Library (Sanskrit, Pāli and Prākrit books) in 1939-46 and again 1954-57 and, although formally in library, 1940-45 as volunteer on loan in Army Intelligence in Cairo (learned Arabic) and 1945-46 in Ministry of Works and Buildings. Lecturer in Indo-Aryan and Jaina Studies at S.O.A.S. in 1949-53 and 1958-62. Ph.D. there 1951. In 1953-54 in administrative post in U.N. in New York, returned to the U.K. to take care of his mother after his father’s demise. He did not thrive well in his various positions and suffered of chronic migraine and eye problems. In 1962 he resigned and spent his remaining years in early retirement. Married.

Although he published little, his work is of great importance in Jaina studies. He also knew Hindi and Tamil (with Malayālam). Turner characterized him as extremely modest person (1951) and Wright as an unusually shy and reticent, but also highly respected person (1975).

Publications: diss. rev. as Two Prakrit Versions of the Maṇipati-Carita. 12+370 p. James G. Forlong Fund 26. L. 1959 (ed.).

completed C. A. Menon’s Catalogue of the Malayalam Manuscripts in the India Office Library. L. 1954.

Jaina Yoga. A survey of the medieval Sravakacaras. 326 p. L.O.S. 14. Oxford 1963 (with glossary by W. Bollée, Intern. Journal of Jaina Studies 4:3, 2008, 1-53).

– “Haribhadra”, BSOAS 28, 1965, 101-111; “Before Mahāvīra”, JRAS 1966, 2-6; “Accounts of the Jainas taken from Sixteenth and Seventeenth Century Authors”, Mahāvīra and his Teachings. Ed. A. N. Upadhye et al. Bombay 1977, 259-266.

Sources: Peter Flügel in CoJS Newsletter 9, March 2014 with bibliography and the only known (group) photo of him and including J. C. Wright’s anonymous obituary from The Times 1975 (http://eprints.soas.ac.uk/18285/1/Pioneer%20of%20Jaina%20Studies%20at%20SOAS%20JAINA%20STUDIES%209%202014.pdf).

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