GUNDERT, Hermann

GUNDERT, Hermann Karl. Stuttgart 4.2.1814 — Calw 25.4.1893. German Missionary and Indologist (Dravidian Scholar). Worked for Basel Mission in Kerala. Son of Franz Ludwig G. (1783–1854), a merchant and founder of the Württemberg Bibel­anstalt, and Christina Ensslin (1792–1833). Educated at Stuttgart Gymnasium and from the age of 14 at Maulbronn Seminar. Studies of theology at Tübingen, theol. examen and Ph.D. 1835 there. Left immediately for India and started working at British Mission in Tinnevelly under Rhenius. After a brief time in Chittur, Tamil Nadu, he moved in 1838 to Basler Mission in Malabar (North Kerala). Now he learnt soon Malayālam, eventually to a great perfection. Worked in Nettur and from 1849 in Chirakkal. He was an eager educationalist, who became in 1857 Government’s School Inspector for Malabar and Kanara. In 1859 an illness forced him to return to Germany, where he headed Calwer Verlag from 1860 until his death. Died after long illness. Married 1838 in Tinnevelly the Swiss missionary teacher Julie Dubois (1809–1885), five sons and one daughter. Their daughter Marie was the mother of Hermann Hesse and another grandson was the Japanologist Wilhelm Gundert (1880–1971).

Gundert is mainly remembered as the great pioneer of Malayālam studies, whose grammatical and lexicographical works are still in use. Of particular importance is the great dictionary, with its etymologies and more or less phonetic system of transliteration, its many exact references to texts, etc.

Publications: Hundert Lieder. 1842 (own hymns in Malayālam); One Thousand Malayalam Proverbs. 67 p. Mangalore 1868 (first ed. 1845?).

– “Translation and Analysis of the ancient documents engraved on copper in possession of the Syrian Christians and Jews of Malabar”, MJLS 13:1, 1844-45, 115-146, 5 pl.; other articles in MJLS.

Translated “Eine malayâḷische Romanze”, ZDMG 16, 1862, 505-524; “Die dravidischen Elemente in Sanskrit”, ZDMG 23, 1869, 517-530.

Malayāla Bhāṣā Vyākaraṇam. Malayālam Grammar. 1851, rev. & completed 2nd ed. 29+413 p. Mangalore 1868 (in Malayālam); A Catechism of Malayālam Grammar. 155 p. 1860, 2nd rev. & enl. ed. 319 p. Mangalore 1870, 3rd ed. rev. by L. Garthwaite.

Translated: Biblia Malayalamica. Lithographed 1844, printed Mangalore 1868 (N.T. whole, in the 1880s also parts of O.T.).

A Malayālam and English Dictionary. 1-2. 1130 p. Mangalore 1871-72 and new editions.

Edited: Missions-Magazin. 1865-1874.

H. Mögling, ein Missionsleben in der Mitte des Jahrhunderts. 390 p. Calw 1882.

A number of religious books in Malayālam.

Edited by A. Frenz: Schriften und Berichte aus Malabar mit Meditationen und Studien. 259 p. St. 1983; Tagebuch aus Malabar 1837–1859. 399 p. St. 1983; Calwer Tagebuch 1859–1893. St. 1986; Reise nach Malabar: von Stuttgart nach Talasseri an der Malabarküste. Briefe aus den Jahren 1835–1839. 376 p. Ulm 1998.

Sources: *H. Anton, “H.G. – ein deutscher Dravidologe des 19. Jahrhundert”, ZDMG Suppl. 3, 1977, 770-801; R.E. Asher, E.L.L. 1513f.; Brückner et al., Indienforschung im Zeitenwandel. 2003, 41-48; Buckland, Dictionary; *Eppler, A.D.B. 49, 1904, 632-634; *A. Frenz, “Eine Würdigung des Werkes von H.G.”, ZDMG Suppl. 6, 1985, 272f.; Herring 1994, 60-63; G. Rosenkranz, N.D.B. 7, 1966, 316; Stache-Rosen 1990, 44f.; briefly in D.B.E. 4, 1996, 258; Wikipedia with photo (another in German version); photo in Rau 22.

*A. Frenz, H.G.: Biography. Kottayam 1991; *A. Frenz & Scarin Zacharin (ed.), Dr. H. G. and Malayalam Language. 307 p. Changanassery 1993; *J-H. Hesse, Aus Dr, H.G.’s Leben. 2nd rev. ed. Calw & St. 1907.

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