DUBOIS, Jean-Antoine. S.-Remèze (Ardèche) bapt. 10.1.1766 — Paris 17.2.1848. Abbé. French Missionary and Pioneer of Indology in South India. Educated at College de Bourg-Saint-Andéol and the seminary of Missions etrangères in Paris. Ordained priest in 1791, in January 1792 left for India. Worked in Pondichéry and Tranquebar, from 1799 in Mysore. He used to live close to the people, assuming Indian cloth and way of life and avoiding Europeans. From 1813 he was director of the seminary in Pondichéry, in 1819 returned to Paris, disappointed with the meagre result of his labours. In 1823 director of the seminary of Missions étrangères in Paris, 1824-29 procurator, from 1929 assistant to the supérieur. In 1830-32 on a mission in England, from 1836 supérieur of Missions étrangères, from 1839 again assistant to the supérieur. His Letters in 1823 caused a scandal as he plainly stated that, after two centuries of colonial enterprise and plundering, the missionary work had no longer any changes of succes in India. He detested the French revolution and admired the British colonial power in India.
The Description, though heavily prejudiced, was and is the best account of South India in this period and brought him great fame, especially after the 2nd English edition. However, in 1977 Sylvia Murr showed that the most of it was in fact copied from the manuscript of Desvaulx, who in turn heavily depended on Cœurdoux.
Publications: Description of the character, manners and customs of the people of India and of their institutions, religious and civil. English transl. L. 1817; in French 1-2. P. 1825; in Spanish 18??; rev. 2nd ed. by Henry K. Beauchamp, Hindu manners, customs and ceremonies. 34+741 p. 1897 (including revisions from 1819).
– “An Account of the Ordeals prevailing among the Hindus”, Tr. Lit. Soc. of Madras 1, 1827, 108-118.
– Letters on the State of Christianity in India. 8+222 p. L. 1823.
– Exposé de quelques-uns des principaux articles de la théogonie des Brahmes, contenant la description détaillée du grand sacrifice du cheval, appelé Assua-Méda, de l’origine et des grandeurs du Gange, du temple célèbre du Gaya, des principaux Avataras, ou incarnations de Vichnou, etc., extrait et traduit des meilleurs originaux, écrits en langue du pays. 143 p. P. 1825.
– Translated from Tamil: Le Pantcha-Tantra ou Les cinq ruses, fables du Brahme Vichnou-Sarma; Aventures de Paramarta et autres contes. 16+415 p. P. 1826.
Sources: Buckland, Dictionary; *JA 4:11, 1848, 465f.; R. Limouzin-Lamothe, D.B.F. 11, 1967, 945f.; *S. Murr, “N.-J.D. (1745–1817), véritable auteur des Mœurs… de l’Abbé Dubois”, Purushartha 3, 1977, 245-267; I.G. Zupanov, D.O.L.F. 317-319; N.B.G. 14; Wikipedia /French version with drawing).