MUIR, John. Glasgow 5.2.1810 — Edinburgh 7.3.1882. British (Scottish) Indologist in India (1829-54) and in Edinburgh. Son of William Muir (d. 1820), a merchant, and Helen Macfie, elder brother of Sir William Muir (1819–1905) who also served in India and was a well known scholar of Arabic and Islam. Educated at Irvine in North Ayrshire, then studies at Glasgow University and Haileybury, went to India in 1829. After College of Fort William in Calcutta served in North-West Province: Assistant Secretary to the Board of Revenue in Allahabad, Commissioner for the investigation of the claims for the holding of land rent-free in Meerut, Collector in Azimghar. From 1844 the first Principal of Queen’s College (Sanskrit College) in Benares, for one year only, then Civil and session Judge in Fatehpur. Retired in 1854 and settled in Edinburgh concentrating on Sanskrit studies which he had started in India. He financed Indological grants and awards and in 1862 caused the establishment of the Sanskrit chair at Edinburgh (as he was not himself interested the chair was then given to Aufrecht). He also supported missionary work and probably saw Indology mainly as its helper. D.C.L. 1855 Oxford. LL.D. Edinburgh 1861. C.I.E. 1878. Unmarried.
Muir’s major work, the Original Sanskrit Texts, is a selection of texts and translations arranged according to the subject matter. Although now forgotten, it was in its times useful and much used source book. Many of its parts were first published in the JRAS. Like many in that time he saw historical development in India as degeneration. In India he wrote several works in Sanskrit verse.
Publications: A Sketch of the Argument for Christianity against Hinduism. Calcutta 1839.
– In Sanskrit verse: The Fountain of the Water of Intelligence, a Description of England. 1839; A sketch of the History of India. 1840; Brief Lectures on Mental Philosophy. 1843; A short life of the Apostle Paul, with a summary of Christian doctrine. 1850; Mata-Parîkshâ, or Examination of Religions. 1-2. 1852-54 (a fragment 1840).
– “On the Genuine Character of the Horá Sástra, as regards the use of Greek terms”, JASB 14:2, 1845, 809–811.
– Notes of a trip to Kedarnath and other parts of the snowy range of the Himalayas in the autumn of 1853 With some account of a journey by way of Ajunte, Ellora and Carlee in 1854. 72 p. Edinburgh 1855.
– Collected, translated and annotated: Original Sanskrit Texts on the origin and progress of the religion and institutes of India. 1-4. L. 1858-63: 1. The mythical and legendary accounts of caste. 9+204 p. 1858; 2. Trans-Himalayan origin of the Hindus and their affinity with the Western branches of the Arian Race. 25+495 p. 1860; 3. 28+240 p. 1861; 4. Comparison of the Vedic with the later representations of the principal Indian deities. 12+439 p. 1863; much rev. & enl. 2nd ed. Original Sanskrit Texts on the origin and history of the people of India, their religion and institutions. 1-5. L. 1872-74
– “Verses from the Sarva-darśana-sangraha, the Vishnu Purāna, and the Rāmāyana, illustrating the tenets of the Chārvākas or Indian Materialists”, JRAS 19, 1862, 299-314; “Does the Vaiśeshika Philosophy acknowledge a Deity or not?”, JRAS 20, 1863, 22-30.
– “On Manu, the progenitor of the Aryyan Indians, as represented in the hymns of the Rigveda”, JRAS 20, 1863, 406-430; “Contributions to a knowledge of the Vedic Theogony and Mythology”, JRAS N.S. 1, 1865, 51-140 & 2, 1866, 1-25; “Progress of the Vedic Religion towards Abstract Conceptions of the deity”, JRAS N.S. 1, 1865, 339-391; “Yama and the Doctrine of a future life according to the Vedas”, JRAS N.S. 1, 1865, 287-315; “On the Relations of the Priests to the other classes of Indian society in the Vedic Age”, JRAS N.S. 2, 1866, 257-302; “On the Interpretation of Veda”, JRAS N.S. 2, 1866, 303-402.
– Translated: “Legends, chiefly from the Śatapatha Brāhmaṇa”, JRAS 20, 1863, 31-48; “Miscellaneous Hymns from the Rig- and Atharva-Veda”, JRAS 2, 1866, 26-43; Vedic and epic texts in the IA.
– Religious and Moral Sentiments metrically rendered from Sanskrit writers. 128 p. L. 1875; Metrical Translations from Sanskrit Writers; with an introduction, prose versions and parallel passages from classical authors. 44+376 p. L. 1879.
– Additional moral & religious passages metrically rendered from the Sanskrit. 31 p. Edinburgh 1875; Miscellaneous extracts, metrically and freely translated or paraphrased, from the Mahābhārata. 32 p. Edinburgh 1877.
Sources: *A. Barth, BSL 5, 1885, 107-127 (= Œuvres 3, P. 1917, 416-434); C.B[endall], D.N.B. 39, 1894, 267; Buckland, Dictionary; *Max Müller, Biogr. Essays. 2nd ed. as Chips 2, 1895, 468-490; *A.A. Powell, Scottish Orientalists and India: The Muir Brothers, Religion, Education and Empire. Rochester 2010 and *Oxford D.N.B.; *v. Prantl, SBaAW 1882:1, 412-414; Stache-Weiske 2017, 546; Windisch 310-316; JRAS 14, 1882, Proc. ix-xiv; *RHR 5, 1882, 411; Wikipedia.
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