FRANK, Othmar (born Johann Georg Frank). Bamberg 8.5.1770 — Vienna 16.9.1840. German Pioneer of Indology. Professor in Munich. Son of Konrad Frank, a master tailor, and Maria-Anna Köberlein. After school he entered the Benedictine monastery of Banz (now taking the new name Othmar Frank), and was ordained there as priest in 1793. Taught philosophy and mathematics at his monastery until its suppression in 1803 and from 1804 at Bamberg Gymnasium, soon (1805) vicar (Kommorantpriester) in Nürnberg. After secularization concentrated on Oriental studies, which he had already started earlier, and published four volumes of vagaries of his fantasy. In 1809 he still styled himself Professor of Philosophy in Bamberg, but Babinger shows otherwise. In 1813 the Bavarian state sent him to Paris and in 1814 to England, now learned Sanskrit. In 1817 returned to Munich. From 1821 Professor philosophiae ac philologiae Orientalis, Indicae imprimis ac Persicae at Würzburg, and from 1826 at the new Munich University. In 1840 he was sent to Vienna to examine a collection of Indian antiquities, which the king intended to buy, but died there.

OF was too fond of obscure philosophizing, which often mars his work. On the other hand he knew Sanskrit rather well and with the meagre help then available achieved quite much. In his early works (1809) he already discussed Sanskrit and comparative linguistics on the basis of Paulinus a S. Bartholomaeo, As. Res. and Foerster’s Śakuntalā. He published the first chrestomathy and grammar of Sanskrit in Germany and tried to begin the study of Indian philosophy and iconography, but was severely criticized by his contemporaries and soon forgotten. In lack of types he used lithography for his Devanāgarī works. Among his few students were A. Holtzmann and Markus Joseph Müller.

Publications: Das Licht vom Orient. 182 p. Nürnberg & Lp. 1808; Fragmente eines Versuchs der dynamischen Spracherzeugung nach Vergleichungen der Persischen, Indischen und Teutschen Sprachen und Mythen. 129 p. N. 1813.

De Persidis Linguâ et Genio. Commentationes Phaosophico-Persicae. 325 p. Norimbergae 1809 (ch. III:1, 119-152 “De affinitate qua lingua Samscrdamica cum Persarum ita conjuncta est”, referring i.al. to Paulinus a S.B., Sir William Jones and Forster’s Sakontala; p. 153-188 comments upon F. Schlegel’s Sprache und Weisheit).

Chrestomathia Sanscrita quem ex codicibus manuscriptis adhuc ineditis Londini exscripsit atque in usum tironum versione, expositione, tabulis grammaticis etc. illustratam edidit. 1-2. 12+194+147 p. Monachii 1820-21.

Vyākaraṇaṁ śāstracakṣuṣ. Grammatica Sanscrita, nunc primum in Germania edidit. 16+218 p. Wirceburgi 1823.

Vjāsa, über Philosophie, Mythologie, Literatur und Sprache der Hindu. 1:1-3. Munich 1826-30 (a journal, nearly all written by OF himself, and the major part is filled by the philosophical article “Über den wissenschaftlichen Gehalt der Sanskrit-Literatur”)

Die Philosophie der Hindu; Vaedanta-sara von Sadananda. Ed., transl. und annotated. 12+21+98 p. Munich 1835.

– “Über das Bild des Weltbaumeister Viśvakarman, in einem Felsentempel bey Illora in Indien”, ABaAW 1, 1835, 763-800 (on Śiva); “Über ein Denkmal der indischen Mythologie, nach einer indischen Zeichnung”, ABaAW 2, 1837, 301-379 (on Viṣṇu); “Über einige indische Idole des K. Antiquarium in München und zwei indische Köpfe in der Glyptothek S.M. des Königs”, Ibid. 381-397; “Über die indischen Verwandtschaften im Ägyptischen, besonders in Hinsicht auf Mythologie”, ABaAW 3, 1840, 99-154.

Sources: Windisch 63-67; F. Babinger, “O.F. (1770-1840); ein Beitrag zur Geschichte der morgenländischen Studien in Bayern”, Zeitschrift für bayerische Landesgeschichte 22, 1959, 77-123; *E. Brucker: “Die Universität Würzburg und die Sanskritphilologie. Othmar Frank und die erste Sanskritgrammatik Deutschlands”, H. Brückner & K. Steiner (ed.), 200 Jahre Indienforschung – Geschichte(n), Netzwerke, Diskurse. Wb. 2012, 225-230; Leskien, A.D.B. 7, 1878, 260.