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. 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 Burnouf together with Roth, Goldstücker, Gorresio and Nève. At that time Burnouf saw the edition of the RV as one of the most urgent tasks of Indology and the young German scholar was entrusted with the task. In June 1846 he moved 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 RV edition through press. From 1851 Deputy Professor and from 1854 Professor of Modern European Languages and Literature at Oxford. 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 MM obtained a new chair of Comparative Philology at Oxford. In 1872 Visiting Professor at Strassburg for one term, but rejected an offer of the chair there. Retired in 1876. Married in 1859 Georgina Grenfell (1831-1916), one son, three daughters (two died rather early).
Though somewhat dilettantish in his linguistic and religious studies MM was really good as a philologist (Windisch). The great edition of the RV was the foundation of his great fame. He suggested the Vedic chronology which has shown to be surprisingly durable. 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 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 marred his ideas. 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 criticised, 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 students were Nanjio and Kasawara.
Publications: diss. on the third book of Spinoza’s Ethics. Paris 1843.
– translated: Hitopadesa. 1844; Meghaduta oder der Wolkenbote von Kalidasa, eine altindische Elegie. 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. 1849-74, 2nd ed. 1-4. 1890-92; editio minor, S. and Pada texts only. 1-2. 1873 (1. S., 2. Pada), 2nd ed. with S. & 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.
– “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 and translation. 1866.
– A History of Ancient Sanskrit Literature. 1859, 2nd ed. 1860.
– On ancient Hindu Astronomy and Chronology. 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. 1861-63, German tr. 1863; new rev. ed. Science of Language. 1-2. 1891, German 1892-93.
– Sanskrit Grammar for beginners. London 1866, 2nd ed. 1870, German tr. 18??.
– Chips from a German Workshop. 1-?. 1867-75; a selected edition: Selected Essays on Language, Mythology, and Religion. 1881; Introduction to the Science of Religion. 1873, 2nd ed. 1880; Lectures on the Origin and Growth of Religion, as illustrated by the religions of India. Hibbert Lectures 1878, German tr. 1880; Gifford Lectures. 1-4. 1889-93 (1. Natural Religion. 1889; 2. Physical religions. 1891; 3. Anthropological Religion. 1892; Theosophy or Psychological Religion. 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. 1882, German tr. Indien in seiner weltgeschichtlichen Bedeutung. 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: Vajracchedikâ and Sukhâvativyûha. Anecd. Oxon. 1-2. 1881-83; Hrdayas. & Ushnîshavijayadharani. An. Ox. 3. 188?.
– translated with E. B. Cowell & J. Takakusu: Buddhist Mahayana Texts. 207+208 p. S.B.E. 49. Oxford 1894.
– Three Lectures on the Vedanta Philosophy. 1894; Ramakrishna. 1898.
– The Six Systems of Indian Philosophy. 1899.
– Auld Lang Syne. 1-2. 1898-99, German tr. Alte Zeiten, alte freunde. 1901; My Autobiography. A Fragment. 1901, Indian ed. 11+315 p. Chowkh. Or. Studies 2. Varanasi 1974, German Aus meinem Leben. 1902.
– The Science of Thought. 1887, German 1888; translated: Kant, Critique of Pure Reason. 1881.
Sources: *A. A. Macdonell, JRAS 1901, 364-372; *Bréal, BSL 11, 1901, 191-196; Buckland, Dictionary; *Kielhorn, NGGW 1901, 35-39 (also in his Kleine Schr. 1034-1036); *J.R[éville], RHR 42, 1900, 475-478; Windisch 270-304; *Winternitz in Biogr. Jahrb. 5, 1900, 273–288.
— Autobiographies above; *L. van den Bosch, Friedrich Max Müller: A Life Devoted to Humanities. Leiden 2002; N. C. Chaudhuri, Scholar Extraordinary. 1974; *H. Rau, Der verehrte Pandit M.M. Heidelberg 1967; *H. Rau (ed.), F.M.M. What he can teach us? 1974; *F. Schlender, Traumflieger ohne Landeplatz: Max Müller – eine deutsche Legende in Indien. Berlin 2000; *J. R. Stone, The Essential Max Müller: On Language, Mythology, and Religion. L. 2002; *J. H. Voigt, Max Müller. The Man and His Ideas. Calcutta 1967, 2nd ed. 1981.
— *S. G. Alter, “The Battle with Max Müller”. William Dwight Whitney and the Science of Language. Baltimore, 174-207; *D.H. Bishop, “F.M.M., 19th century Universalist”, I-aCult 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); *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; Peiris, Buddhism 26-30; *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; *D. Vidal, “Max Müller 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; *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.; briefly D.B.E. 7, 1998, 258; *Wikipedia with four pictures; photo in Rau 31 (from *Alsdorf, Deutsch-Indische Geistesbeziehungen. 1942).
— Two paintings, by Edmund Havell (1865) and Hubert von Herkomer reproduced in Chaudhuri’s biography 1974
Last Updated on