MÜLLER, Friedrich Max. Dessau 6.12.1823 — Oxford 28.10.1900. German Indologist, Linguist and Scholar of Comparative Religion in England. Professor in Oxford. Son of the poet Wilhelm M. (1794–1827) and Adelheid Basedow, grew up in the small Saxonian principality of Anhalt-Dessau. After Nikolaischule in Leipzig (1836-41) studied classical philology at Leipzig (under Gottfried Hermann et al.), soon also Sanskrit under Brockhaus. Ph.D. 1843 Leipzig. In 1844 moved to Berlin, studying philosophy (Schelling), Persian (Rückert) and comparative linguistics, but was disappointed with Bopp and soon (March 1845) proceeded to Paris where he listened to Burnouf together with Roth, Goldstücker, Gorresio and Nève. At that time Burnouf saw the edition of the Rigveda as one of the most urgent tasks of Indology and the young German scholar was entrusted with the task. In June 1846 he moved for manuscript studies to London, where the Prussian Ambassador K. von Bunsen took him under his wings and prompted him to start the study of comparative religion. In 1848 moved to Oxford in order to see the Rigveda edition through press. From 1851 Deputy Professor and from 1854 Professor of Modern European Languages and Literature at Oxford. Naturalized as British citizen 1855. From 1858 Fellow of All Souls’ College. In 1860 he applied for the Boden chair (in succession to Wilson) and to his great disappointment was beaten by Monier Williams, who was much inferior as a scholar, but considered more reliable as confirmed conservative Christian. In 1868 Max Müller obtained a new chair of Comparative Philology at Oxford. In 1872 Visiting Professor at Strassburg for one term, but rejected the offer of a chair there. Retired in 1876.Hon. Ph.D. 1883 Leipzig.Married in 1859 Georgina Grenfell (1831-1916), one son and three daughters (two died rather early).

Although rather dilettantish in his linguistic and religious studies Max Müller was really good as a philologist (Windisch). The great edition of the Rigveda was the foundation of his great fame. He suggested the Vedic chronology which has shown to be surprisingly durable, although somewhat arbitrary. He wrote one of the first good surveys of Indian literary history, mainly on the basis of manuscripts. In 1882 he put forth the well-known (but also often challenged) theory of a Sanskrit Renaissance. He was among the pioneers in the study of Indian philosophy. Also in comparative religion Veda was his speciality and he explained it mainly as nature mythology. Occasionally his stereotypic European and Christian thinking distorted his ideas (although he was often attacked as supposed anti-Christian). He thus spoke of the innate Aryan tendency to monotheism. Editing of the S.B.E. was one of his main achievements, and his many books were important in popularizing. As a linguist he never accepted the neogrammarian ideas and often proposed quite fanciful etymologies. He considered the origin of language and invented the unnecessary idea of Turanian languages. His work was much criticized, and deservedly, by the more competent among contemporary scholars, but at the same time he enjoyed an enormous popularity and many of his ideas had very far-reaching influence. He never visited India. The relation to his German colleagues like Böhtlingk, Roth and Weber remained cool. Among his many students were Macdonell, Peterson, Thibaut and Zachariae, also Nanjio, Kasawara and Takakusu from Japan. In various times Aufrecht, Brunnhofer, Eggeling and Winternitz were his Assistants.

Publications: Diss. on the third book of Spinoza’s Ethics. Paris 1843.

Translated: Hitopadesa: eine alte indische Fabelsammlung. 18+185 p. Lp. 1844; Meghadûta oder der Wolkenbote, eine altindische Elegie, dem Kalidasa nachgedichtet. 22+79 p. Königsberg 1847.

– “Prospectus” for the Rigveda edition, JA 4:9, 1847, 67-80.

Edited: Rigveda. Saṁhitā and Pada texts and Sāyaṇa’s commentary and index. 1-6. L. 1849-74, 2nd ed. 1-4. 1890-92; editio minor, Saṁhitā and Pada texts only. 1-2. L. 1873 (1. S., 2. Pada), 2nd ed. with Saṁhitā & Pada on opposite pages. 1-2. 1877.

– “Beiträge zur Kenntniss der indischen Philosophie 1. Kaṇâda’s Vaiçeshika-Lehre”, ZDMG 6, 1852, 1-34, 219-242 & 7, 1853, 287-313.

Suggestions for the assistance of officers in learning the languages of the seat of war. 18+134 p. L. 1854, 2nd ed. as The languages of the seat of the war in the East. With a survey of the three families of language, Semitic, Arian and Turanian. 96+151 p. L. 1855.

– “Die Todtenbestattung der Brahmanen”, ZDMG 9, 1855, i-lxxxii.

Edited & translated: Rig-Veda-Pratisakhya. 1-3. 128+301+7 p. Lp. 1856-69; The Hitopadesa. With transliteration, grammatical analysis and English translation of book 1. 1-2. L. 1864-65.

Comparative Mythology. Oxford 1856, new ed. 184 p. L. 1909.

A History of Ancient Sanskrit Literature. 607 p. L. 1859, 2nd ed. 1860.

On ancient Hindu Astronomy and Chronology. 80 p. Oxford 1862.

Translated: Rig-Veda-Sanhita. The sacred hymns of the Brahmans. 1. 152+263 p. L. 1869; new ed. as Vedic Hymns. 681 p. S.B.E. 32. L. 1891; The Upanishads. 1-2. 421+452 p. S.B.E. 1 & 15. Oxford 1879-84.

– “The Hymns of the Gaupâyanas and the Legend of King Asamâti”, JRAS 2, 1866, 426-479; “Rigveda I, 6”, JRAS 3, 1868, 199-240; brief articles about the RV in KZ 12-19, 1863-70.

Lectures on the Science of Language. L. 1861-63, German tr. 1863; new rev. ed. Science of Language. 1-2. 1891, German 1892-93.

Sanskrit Grammar for beginners. 24+307 p. L. 1866, 2nd ed. 1870, German transl. by F. Kielhorn & G. Oppert. Lp. 1868.

Chips from a German Workshop. 1-4. L. 1867-75 (n.b. “On the Migration of Fables”, Chips 4. 139-198); a selected edition: Selected Essays on Language, Mythology, and Religion. 1-2. L. 1881; Introduction to the Science of Religion. 10+403 p. L. 1873, 2nd ed. 1880; Lectures on the Origin and Growth of Religion, as illustrated by the religions of India. 16+394 p. L. 1878 (Hibbert Lectures), German tr. 1880; Gifford Lectures. 1-4. Oxford 1889-93 (1. Natural Religion. 19+608 p. 1889; 2. Physical religion. 12+410 p. 1891; 3. Anthropological Religion. 27+464 p. 1892; 4. Theosophy or Psychological Religion. 23+585 p. 1893).

Editor of the S.B.E. 1879ff., briefly also of the S.B.B.

Translated: Dhammapada. A collection of verses. With V. Fausbøll: Sutta Nipata. A collection of discourses. 154+240 p. S.B.E. 10. L. 1881 (first published in Rogers’ Buddhaghosa’s Parables. 1870).

India, what can it teach us. 11+402 p. L. 1882, German tr. Indien in seiner weltgeschichtlichen Bedeutung. Lp. 1884.

Edited with others: Buddhist technical terms: an ancient Buddhist text [Dharma­sangraha] ascribed to Nagarjuna. Annotated by K. Kasawara, ed. by F. M. Müller and H. Wenzel. 80 p. Oxford 1885; with B. Nanjio: Buddhist Texts from Japan: Vajracchedikâ. 46 p. Anecd. Oxon. 1. Oxford 1881; Sukhâvativyûha. 24+100 p. Anecd. Oxon. 2. 1883; The Ancient Palm-Leaves containing the Pragñâ-pâramitâ-hridaya-sûtra and the Ushnîsha-vigaya-dhâranî. 95 p. Anecd. Oxon. 3. Oxford 1884.

Biographies of Words and the Home of the Aryas. 27+278 p. L. 1888

Translated with E. B. Cowell & J. Takakusu: Buddhist Mahayana Texts. 207+208 p. S.B.E. 49. Oxford 1894 (by M.M.: two versions of the Sukhāvatīvyūha and the Hṛdayasūtra, Vajracchedikā).

Three Lectures on the Vedanta Philosophy. 6+95 p. L. 1894.

Contributions to the Science of Mythology. 1-2. L. 1897.

– Ramakrishna. His Life and Sayings. 10+200 p. L. 1898.

The Six Systems of Indian Philosophy. 646 p. L. 1899, 2nd ed. 478 p.  L. 1903.

Auld Lang Syne. 1-2. L. 1898-99, German tr. Alte Zeiten, alte freunde. Goth 1901; My Autobiography. A Fragment. 15+327 p. L. 1901, Indian ed. 11+315 p. Chowkh. Or. Studies 2. Varanasi 1974, German Aus meinem Leben. Gotha 1902.

Last Essays. 375 p. L. 1901.

Popular Tales from the Norse. 1859; Tales of the West Highlands. 1861; Folklore. 1863; Zulu Nursery Tales. 1867; Myths and Songs from the South Pacific. 1876

The Science of Thought. 24+664 p. L. 1887, German 1888; translated: Kant, Critique of Pure Reason. L. 1881.

Sources: *Th. Bloch, ProcASB 1901, 35-40; *M. Bréal, CRAI 44, 1900, 558-564 and BSL 11, 1901, 191-196; Buckland, Dictionary;*A. De Gubernatis, GSAI 14, 1901, 249-263; *G. Dugat, Histoire des orientalistes. 2. P. 1870, 107-191; E. W. Hopkins, *Nation 7, 1900, 343f. (republ. in Sebeok 1966:1, 395-399); *F. Kielhorn, NGGW 1901, 35-39 (also in his Kleine Schr. 1034-1036); *A. Longnon, CRAI 44, 1900, 553-555; *A.A. Macdonell, JRAS 1901, 364-372 and in Man 1901, 18-23 (with photo); *F.L. Pullé, Rivista d’Italia 3:3, 1904, 577-594 (with portrait); *P. Renaud, Revue long. 34, 1901, 82-84; *J.R[éville], RHR 42, 1900, 475-478; G. Schlegel, TP N.S. 1, 1900, 491-492; *M. Winternetz in Biogr. Jahrb. 5, 1900, 273–288 & *MittAnthrGesWien 31, 1901, 80-87 & *Bursians Jahresber. 115, 1903, 7-39 & *Biogr. Jahrb. u. Dt. Nekrolog 5, 1903, 273-288.

Autobiographies above; *B. Bharti, M.M.: A Lifelong Masquerade. N.D. 1992; *L. van den Bosch, F.M.M.: A Life Devoted to Humanities. Leiden 2002; N. C. Chaudhuri, Scholar Extraordinary. 1974; *J.R. Davis & A. Nicholls (eds.), F.M.M. and the Role of Philology in Victorian Thought. Routledge 2017; *A. Molendijk, F.M.M. and the Sacred Books of the East. O.U.P. 2016; *H. Rau, Der verehrte Pandit M.M. Heidelberg 1967; *H. Rau (ed.), F.M.M. What he can teach us? Bombay 1974; *F. Schleuder, Traumflieger ohne Landeplatz: M.M. – eine deutsche Legende in Indien. Berlin 2000; *J. R. Stone, The Essential M.M.: On Language, Mythology, and Religion. L. 2002; *J. H. Voigt, M.M. The Man and His Ideas. Calcutta 1967, 2nd ed. 1981.

*S. G. Alter, “The Battle with M.M.”. William Dwight Whitney and the Science of Language. Baltimore 1905, 174-207; *D.H. Bishop, “F.M.M., 19th century Universalist”, Indo-Asian Cult. 18:2, 1969, 24-30; *B. Bissoondayal, “M.M., a friend of India”, I-ACult 14, 1965, 232-239; *G.M. Cawthra, Lex. gramm. 1996, 658f.; *R. N. Dandekar, “M.M. Comparative Religion and Mythology”, CASS Studies 2, Poona 1974, 179-185 (cf. 185-187); *J.R. Davis & A. Nicholls, “F.M.M. The career and intellectual trajectory of a German Philologist in Victorian Britain”, Publ. of the English Goethe Soc. 85:2-3, 2016, 67-97; *G. Ducœur, “M.M. (1823-1900), de l’édition textuelle du Rig Veda à l’histoire comparée des religions”, Source(s), Cahiers de l’équipe de recherche Arts, Civilisation et Histoire de l’Europe 2, 2013, 81-104; *C. Haas: “Madame Blavatsky, Max Müller und die göttliche Weisheit des alten Indien”, H. Brückner & K. Steiner (ed.), 200 Jahre Indienforschung – Geschichte(n), Netzwerke, Diskurse. Wb. 2012, 181-196; *H.-W. Jäger, N.D.B. 18, 1997, 322f.; *C.G. Kashikar, “M.M.: The Doyen of Sanskrit Editors”, BhVi 31(32?), 1971(72?), 1-10; *C.G. Kashikar, “M.M.: The Philosopher Linguist”, BDCRI 34, 1974, 75-??; Macdonell, D.N.B. 3, 1901, 151-157; *Rama Rao Pappu, “M.M. on the concept and origin of Religion”, GI 2, 1978, 5-11; Piers, Buddhism 26-30; Renou, Maitres 1928, 19-21; *L. Rocher, “M.M. and the Veda”, Mélanges Armand Abel. 3. Ld. 1978, 221-235; *H. Rüstau, “M.M. und Indien”, WZBerlin 14, 1965, 359-363; *J.N. Sarkar, “F.M.M.: The Man and his Ideas”, QRHS 8, 1968, 117-123; *M. Schetelich, “M.M’s Schul- unf Studienjahre in Leipzig”, Max-Müller-Ehrung der Stadt Dessau. Dessau 1995, 39-51; *Gr. Schrempp, “The Re-Education of F.M.M.: Intellectual Appropriation and Epistemological Antinomy in Mid-Victorian Evolutionary Thought”, Man 18, 1983, 90-110; Sengupta 1996, 104-120; Stache-Rosen 1990, 61-63; *A. Stache-Weiske: “‘Da die Herren Sanskritisten zornige Leute sind…’ Bemerkungen zum Verhältnis von Otto Böhtlingk und Max Müller aus Briefen und anderen Quellen”, H. Brückner & K. Steiner (ed.), 200 Jahre Indienforschung – Geschichte(n), Netzwerke, Diskurse. Wb. 2012, 69-94; Stache-Weiske 2017, 546; Trautmann 1997, 172-181, 194-198; *H.W. Tull, “F. M.M. and A. B. Keith: ‘Twaddle’, the ‘Stupid’ Myth, and the Disease of Indology”, Numen 38, 1991, 27-58; *D. Vidal, “M.M. and the Theosophists”, J. Assayag & R. Lardinois & D. Vidal: Orientalism and Anthropology. From Max Müller to Louis Dumont. Pondy Papers in Social Sciences 24. Pondichéry 1997, 2nd impr. 2001, 17-29; *J.M. Voigt, Max Müller. Calcutta 1967; *G.R. Welbon, “Comments on Max Müller’s interpretation of the Buddhist Nirvāṇa”, Numen 12, 1965, 179-200; F. Wilhelm, N.D.B. 18, 322f.; Windisch 270-304; briefly D.B.E. 7, 1998, 258; *Wikipedia with four pictures and further references (see also German version); photo in Rau 31 (from *Alsdorf, Deutsch-Indische Geistesbeziehungen. 1942); photo also in Leumann 1909, 25.

— Ed. by *G. Müller (his widow): Life and Letters of F.M.M. 1-2. L. 1902.

Two paintings, by Edmund Havell (1865) and Hubert von Herkomer reproduced in Chaudhuri’s biography 1974

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