HOFFMANN, Helmut. Flensburg 24.8.1912 — Holzkirchen (Oberbayern) 8.10.1992. German Indologist and Tibetologist in the U.S.A. Professor in Munich and Bloomington. Gymnasium in Flensburg. From 1931 studies of Sanskrit and classics ar Freiburg i.Br., soon Indology, Iranian and Central Asian languages at Berlin, student of Lüders. Tibetan he learned from F. Lessing, Iranian from Schaeder. Ph.D. 1938 Berlin. In 1937-42 Assistant in Berlin working on Central Asian manuscripts. In 1941-45 Wissenschaftlicher Referent of SS-Ahnenerbe, but afterwards succesfully defended claiming to have kept strict scholarly view and criticized the fantasies of others. Was not member of NSDAP. After one year at Marburg from 1946 PD of Indology and Tibetology at Hamburg. In 1948-68 Professor of Indology at Munich (as successor of Wüst). From 1949 member of Mainz AW and from 1954 of Bavarian AW. In 1968 left the university in unclear circumstances. From 1969 Professor in Department of Uralic and Altaic studies at Indiana University in Bloomington. A severe accident in 1973 seriously affected his work. Retired in 1980, later again living in Munich. Visited India and Nepal several times. Married, only one daughter, Ingeborg H.
Although Hoffmann’s research mostly concentrated on Tibet, his teaching was mainly on Sanskrit, also Old and Middle Iranian. He emphasized the importance of Indian influence in Tibetan culture, but also delved into the native Bon religion. Among his students B. N. Banerjee (1959), Bechert (1956), Berger (1953), Cammann (1959), Gail (1968), Grönbold (1969), Hahlweg (1954), G. Roth (1952), M. Saigusa (1962), v. Stietencron (1965) and Uebach (1967) completed their doctorate under him at Munich. In Bloomington his students included Chr. I. Beckwith and E. H. Sperling.
Publications: Diss. B. 1939 publ. Bruchstücke des Āṭānāṭikasūtra aus dem zentralasiatischen Sanskritkanon der Buddhisten. 212 p. Kleinere Skr.-Texte 5. B. 1939.
– Habil. diss. 1944 publ. as Quellen zur Geschichte der tibetischen Bon-Religion. 319 p. 11 pl. AWLMainz 1950:4.
– Mi-la ras-pa. Sieben Legenden. 127 p. Munich 1950.
– Die Religionen Tibets. Bon und Lamaismus in ihrer geschichtlichen Entwicklung. 6+214 p. Freiburg & Munich 1956; English transl. The Religions of Tibet. 1961.
– Translated: Märchen aus Tibet. 212 p. Die Märchen der Weltliteratur. Düsseldorf – Köln 1965.
– Symbolik der tibetischen Religionen und des Schamanismus. 173 p. Symbolik der Religionen 12. St. 1967.
– Edited with K. Sedláček R. Shafer’s Introduction to Sino-Tibetan. 1-5. 408 p. Wb. 1966-74.
– Tibet. A Handbook. Bloomington 1975; 2nd printing 271 p. Indiana Univ. Asian Studies Res. Inst. Or. Series 5. Bl. 1994.
– A number of articles, chapters on Pre-Islamic India and Tibet in Saeculum Weltgeschichte. 1965-75.
Sources: H. Franke, Jahrbuch Ba. A.W. for 1992, 1993, 247-253; German Scholars on India 1973, 418; *M. Walter, bibliography, Bloomington 1982 (earlier bibl. also in CAJ 21, 1977, 86-88); www.trimondi.de/Lamaismus/NS-Tibet-7-Tibetologen.htm; very briefly in German Wikipedia.