GELDNER, Karl Friedrich. Saalfeld (Sachsen-Meiningen) 17.12.1852 — Marburg/Lahn 5.2.1929. German Indologist and Iranian Scholar. Professor in Marburg. Son of Friedrich G. (1821–1890), a minister (archdeacon), and Emma Müller (1822–1876). After school in Hildeburghausen studied from 1871 at Leipzig (under Brockhaus and Windisch), from 1872 at Tübingen (Roth). Ph.D. there 1875. From 1878 PD at Tübingen, but as he did not obtain a chair there, he moved (umhabilitation) in 1887 to Halle, where he befriended with Pischel. In 1889/90 ao. Professor at Halle, but in 1890 to Berlin succeeding Oldenberg as ao. Professor there. He was popular as a teacher and himself happy, but in 1907 he moved at a request of his young wife to Marburg, where he taught (as ord. and from 1921 as emeritus) until his death. Married in 1907 Hildegard Kattner (1875–1911), one daughter, again 1912 her sister Hedwig (1871–1962). Never travelled much, not even in Europe.
Though mainly an Indologist Geldner accepted Roth’s offer to edit the Avesta, but the great number of manuscripts (120) prolonged the work so that he did not enjoy it and later characterized it as a waste of time in his career. Vedische Studien 1 published in 1889 together with Pischel was a revolution in Vedic philology. Together they condemned the neglect of Indian tradition (Roth), the overemphasis of linguistic method (Delbrück and Grassmann), the exaggerated antiquity (Max Müller, Brunnhofer, Whitney), the identification of Rigvedic with IE (Zimmer), and the overemphasis of IE or common Indo-Iranian element in Vedic mythology. In many respect they also took too extreme position, but the result was beneficial. During his later years Geldner calmed down and occasionally even returned to Roth’s interpretations. In his Rigveda translation he “ist nicht mehr der ungestüme Draufgänger der Vedischen Studien und der Rigveda im Auswahl” (Sieg). Inflation stopped the publication of this translation, his magnum opus, in Germany, and the printing was carried out in the U.S.A. under the supervision of Lanman, his friend from Tübingen years (but again much belated through the war). Among his many students were e.g. J. Nobel and N. Tsuji.
Publications: Translated with A. Kaegi & R. Roth: Siebenzig Lieder des Rigveda. 14+176 p. Tübingen 1875.
– Articles, mainly in ZDMG and KZ, e.g. “Beiträge zur altbaktrischen Lexicographie”, KZ 24, 1879, 128-158; “Vedisch vidátha”, ZDMG 52, 1898, 730-761; “Zur erklärung des Rigveda”, ZDMG 71, 1917, 315-346.
– Über die Metrik des jüngeren Avesta, nebst Übersetzung ausgewählter Abschnitte. 17+174 p. Tübingen 1877.
– Studien zum Avesta. 1. 9+181 p. Strassburg 1882.
– Edited: Avesta: Die heilingen Bücher der Parsen. 1-3. St. 1886-95 (at the same time also an English edition); translated: Drei Yasht aus dem Zendavesta. 142 p. St. 1884; further translations in the 1880s in KZ.
– With R. Pischel: Vedische Studien. 1-5. St. 1889-1901.
– “Awestalitteratur”, Grundriss der iranischen Philologie. 2. Strassburg 1895-1904, 1-53.
– Der Rigveda im Auswahl. 1. Glossar. 2. Kommentar. St. 1907-09.
– In Religionsgeschichtliches Lesebuch: Zoroasters Religion. 185 p. R.L. 9. Tübingen 1908, 2nd ed. 1926; Vedismus und Brahmanismus. Tüb. 1911, 2nd enl. ed. 9+176 p. Tüb. 1928.
– Translated: Der Rigveda. 1-4. H.O.S. 33-36. Cambridge, Mass. 1951 (vol. 1 first publ. in Quellen der Religionsgeschichte. Göttingen 1923; vol. 4 Indices by J. Nobel)
– A. F. Stenzler: Elementarbuch der Sanskritsprache: Grammatik, Texte, Wörterbuch. Fortgeführt von R. Pischel, umgearbeitet von K. F. G. 8+120 p. Giessen 1915, 17th ed. B. 1980.
Sources: H. Hoffmann, N.D.B. 6, 1964, 172f.; *J. Nobel, Idg. Jb. 14, 1930, 363-371 (with photo); IHQ 5, 1929, 170f.; Renou, Maitres 1928, 41-56; B. Schlerath, Encyclop. Iranica 10, 2000, 394-396 (online); E. Sieg, ZII 7, 1929, 1-7 and *Dt. biogr. Jahrb. 1929, 110-113; Stache-Rosen 1990, 119f. with photo; Stache-Weiske 2017, 522; briefly D.B.E. 3, 1996, 615; Wikipedia; photo in Rau 63, another in Sardesai.
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