KERN, Johan Kaspar Hendrik

KERN, Johan Kaspar Hendrik. Poerworedjo, Bagelen, Central Java 6.4.1833 — Utrecht 4.7.1917. Dutch Indologist and Indonesian Scholar. Professor in Leiden. Son of a colonial officer, Johan Hendrik Kern (1799–1863) and Marta Corradina Schindler (1803/04–1894), came from Java to the Netherlands with his parents in the age of seven to start school there. From 1850 studies at Utrecht and from 1851 at Leiden, in addition to classical and German philology learnt Sanskrit (from Rutgers) and Slavic. After Ph.D. in October 1855 further studies at Berlin under Weber. Back in 1857 he became Docent of German at Utrecht and one year later school-teacher of Greek in Maastricht. In 1862 he went to London to prepare his Varāhamihira edition and in 1863 to Benares as Anglo-Sanskrit Professor at Queen’s College. As teacher Bhaṭṭa-Karṇa was a success, but himself felt deeply disappointed in India and returned after two years. In 1865 he was appointed the first holder of the new chair of Sanskrit at Leiden (first in the Netherlands), also taught Indonesian languages. In 1903 he had to retire, although reluctantly, and was succeeded by Speyer. In retirement he lived in Utrecht, where he soon was invalided in a minor accident, but kept his ability to work. Married, father of —> J. H. Kern. Death of his wife in 1916 broke his spirit.

As an Indologist HK made his main work on Buddhism, though he was really more interested in Hindu India. He was well known, but controversial authority, who claimed the Buddha to be a Solar deity and interpreted his legend wholly on astral terms. Prompted by van der Tuuk he started Kavi studies in 1868 and soon became one of the leading Indonesian philologists and of the founders of comparative Malayo-Polynesian linguistics. He was also an epigraphist and edited many Sanskrit and Kavi inscriptions from India, South-East Asia and Indonesia. Among his students were Speyer, Caland, Uhlenbeck and Warren in Indology, Adriani, Brandes, Hazeu, Jonker, Juynboll and van Ronkel in Indonesian.

Publications: diss. Specimen historicum exhibens scriptores graecos de rebus persicis Achaemenidarum monumentis collatos. 1855.

tr.: Çakuntala of het herkenningsteeken, door Kâlidâsa. 6+217 p. Haarlem 1861.

– “On some fragments of Āryabhaṭṭa”, JRAS 20, 1863, 371-387.

ed.: Varāhamihira, Bṛhat-samhitā. 64+508+77 p. B.I. 46. Calcutta 1864-65; Āryabhaṭīya. A manual of astronomy, with the commentary Bhaṭadīpikā of Paramādīçvara. 12+107 p. Leiden 1874; “Die Yogayâtrâ des Varâhamihira”, ISt 10, 1868, 161ff.; 14, 1876, 312ff.; 15, 1878, 167ff.

– “The Bṛhat-Samhitā; or Complete System of Natural Astrology of Varāhamihira. Translated from Sanskrit into English”, JRAS 4, 1870, 430-479; 5, 1871, 45-90, 231-288; 6, 1873, 36-91, 279-338; 7, 1875, 81-134; Verspr. Geschr. 2, 104ff.

Kawi-Studiën. Arjuna-wiwâha. Zang I en II in tekst en vertaaling. ’s-Gr. 1871; Wṛtta-Sañc’aya, oudjavaansch leergedicht over versbouw in Kawi-tekst en Ned. vertaaling. Leiden 1875.

Over de jaartelling der zuidelijke Buddhisten en de gedenkstukken van Açoka den Buddhist. 120 p. VKNAW 8. Amsterdam 1875.

Geschiedenis van het Buddhisme in Indië. 1-2. Haarlem 1882-84, German tr. by H. Jacobi: Der Buddhismus und seine Geschichte in Indien. 1-2. Lp. 1882-84, French tr. A.M.G. 10-11. P. 1901-03 (earlier abridged version in RHR 4-7, 1881-83); Manual of Indian Buddhism. 145 p. Grundr. III:8. Strassburg 1896.

Sad-dharma-pundarika or the Lotus of the True Law. 454 p. S.B.E. 21. Oxf. 1884.

edited: Jātakamālā. H.O.S. 1. Cambridge, Mass. 1890.

De Fidjitaal vergeleken met hare verwandten in Indonesië en Polynesië. VKNAW 16:3. 1889.

edited: Râmâyaṇa. Oudjavaansch heldendicht. den Haag 1900; Dutch transl. of the same in BTLVNI 73, 1917; De legende van Kuñjarakarṇa volgens het oudst­gekende handschrift, met Oudjavaanschen tekst, Ned. vert. en aanteekeningen. VKNAW 3:3. 1901; Nāgarakrtāgama. 1914 (originally in BTLVNI).

edited with B. Nanjio: Saddharma-puṇḍarīka-sūtram. 523 p. Bibl. Buddh. 10. St.P. 1908-10.

Toevoegselen op ’t Woordenboek van Childers. 1-2. 179+140 p. VKNAW 16:4-5. Amsterdam 1916.

schoolbooks on Dutch, articles on German, IE and Iranian.

numerous articles and reviews in JRAS, VKNAW, MKNAW, BTLVNI, De Gids, etc., collected in Verspreide Geschriften. 1-15. 82+5055 p. ’s-Gravenhage 1913-26; 16. Register en Bibliogr. ib. 1929.

also wrote on Dutch linguistics.

Sources: *Kern Vol. 1903 with bibliography; Buckland, Dictionary; *H. F. Hofmann, Lex. gramm. 1996, 509; *King, JRAS 1917, 879; *S. F. Ol’denburg, Izv. Ross. A.N. 6:12, 1918:16 (=Mél. as. 1918), 1761-1766; Peiris, Buddhism 214-216; *Snouck Hurgronje, Bijdr. TLV van Ned.-Indië 73:2, 1917; J.-Ph. Vogel, F. W. Thomas & C. O. Blagden, JRAS 1918, 173-184; *ABIA 8, 1935, 1f.; Wikipedia with portrait


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