PAULINUS A SANCTO BARTHOLOMAEO (Fra. Paolino da S. Bartolomeo, lay Filip Vezdin [or Johann Philip Vesdin, not Verdin or Werdin]). Hof am Leithaberge (Cimov) 25.4.1748 — Rome 7.2.1806. Austrian (Croatian) Missionary and Pioneer of Indology. Carmelite missionary in Kerala 1776-89, then in Rome. Born in Niederösterreich as son of Jurje Vezdin and Helena Bregunić, educated in Sopron in Burgenland (now Hungary) and in Linz, where he took orders as Discalced Carmelite and, after his novitiate, in 1768 the monastic name P. a S. B. Now studies of theology in Prague and of Oriental languages in Rome. In 1774 he was sent to Malabar Mission and, after 13 months’ forced waiting in Lisbon, arrived at Verapoly (now Varapuzha) in 1776. In 1779-82 Rector of Verapoly Seminary, then Vicar-General and Apostolic Visitator of Malabar. Returned to Rome in 1789 to report of the mission, he became in 1790 Professor of Oriental Languages at the Mission Seminary of San Pancrazio and 1797 Procurator for Missions. In 1798 the pressure of French military authorities forced him to move to Padova and Vienna (where he taught some Sanskrit to Alter). Back in Rome in 1800 in his old office, he became Prefect of studies at the Urban College of Propaganda in 1803 and remained there until his death. Died on heart attack at the monastery of Santa Maria de Scala.
PSB was a productive author. After 13 years in Kerala he knew Malayālam well. He wrote the first printed (in Grantha) Sanskrit grammars: the Sidharubam in 1790 followed the system of Indian grammar, while the more spacious Vyacarana in 1804 gave a more Western approach. The first work also contained a specimen from the beginning of the 10th book of the Bhāgavatapurāṇa in Sanskrit and Latin. His 1791 book on Indian religion with its 32 plates remained for a long time an important source. In his explanations he resorted to the ideas of original monotheism and nature mythology. In addition to religion he discussed Indian castes, coins, scripts, etc. The work was really suppressed only by von Bohlen, Benfey and Lassen. Two short etymological pamphlets in 1798 and 1802 put him among the pioneers of comparative IE linguistics, too. His Amarakośa in 1798, founded on 3 MSS., was the first Sanskrit edition published in Europe.
He was a true scholar and made an earnest attempt to lay foundations on Indian philological studies, but was soon overshadowed by the British pioneers of Indology and, with the undeservedly severe criticism by these, soon forgotten. The British wrote Sanskrit according to Bengali orthography (and even phonology), and could not understand the Malayālam based system of PSB, which was wrongly explained as his ignorance of Sanskrit. At the same time he was himself a sharp and hostile critic of his predecessors and contemporaries (e.g. of Anquetil Duperron). He was very sure of himself and probably provocated criticism.
Publications: a ms. Grammatica Malavaringieza e Portuguesa–Engleza (Malayālam grammar and glossary), 299 p. 1784, is preserved in two mss., both in Rome; a Malayālam–Latin dictionary and Christian works in Malayālam.
– Sidharubam seu Grammatica Samscrdamica. 188 p. R. 1790.
– Systema Brahmanicum, Liturgicum, Mythologicum, Civile, ex monumentis Indicis Musei Borgiani. 326 p. R. 1791, German transl. by J. R. Forster, Gotha 1797.
– Centum Adagia Malabarica cum textu originali et versione Latina. 12 p. R. 1791.
– Examen historico-criticum Codicum Indicorum Bibliothecae Sacrae congregationis de Propaganda fide. 80 p. R. 1792; Musei Borgiani Velitris codices manuscripti [Indiani]. 12+266 p. R. 1793.
– India Orientalis Christiana, continens fundationes Ecclesiarum, seriem Episcoporum, Missiones, Schismata, Persecutiones, Reges, Viros Illustres. 24+280 p. R. 1794.
– De veteribus Indis dissertatio, in qua cavillationes auctoris Alphabeti Tibetani castigantur. 54 p. R. 1795.
– Viaggio alle Indie Orientali. 20+404 p. R. 1796, German tr. by J. R. Forster, 1798, English L. 1800, French P. 1808.
– ed. Amara Sinha, sectio prima de Coelo. 12+60 p. Romae 1798.
– De antiquitate et affinitate linguae Zendicae, Samscrdamicae et Germanicae dissertatio. 32/56 p. Patavii 1798/99; De Latini sermonis origine et cum Orientalibus linguis connexione dissertatio. 8+24 p. R. 1802.
– Monumenti indici del Museo Naniano illustrati. 28 p. 1799; Mumiographia Musei Obiciani. 65 p. 1799.
– Vyacarana seu locupletissima Samscrdamicae linguae institutio. 24+333 p. R. 1804.
– Vitae synopsis Stephani Borgiae S.R.E. Cardinalis. 36+75 p. R. 1805; a few short writings.
– Dissertation on the Sanskrit Language. Ed. and transl. from the Siddharubam with introd. and notes by L. Rocher. 1977.
– by P. a S. B. is apparently also the anonymous Alphabeta Indica, id est Granthamicum seu Samscrdamico-Malabaricum, Indostanum sive Vanarense, Nagaricum vulgare et Talinganicum. 24 p. Romae 1791.
Sources: *Ambrosius a S. Teresia, Nomenclator missionariorum ordinis Carmelitarum Discalcatorum. R. 1944 (books and mss. listed as nod 285-291) & *Bio-Bibliographia Missionaria ordinis C. D. 1585–1940. R. 1940, 237-251; *Giuseppe Barone, Vita, precursori ed opere del P. P. da S.B. (Filippo Werdin). 246 p. Napoli 1888 (cf. F. Müller, WZKM 2, 1888, 262-264); D. Fernandez, “Father P. a S. B., OCD”, ICHR 12, 1978, 109-120; Branko Franolić, Filip Vezdin’s Contribution to Indic Studies at the turn of the 18th Century in Europe. 22 p. Paris 1991 (with portait); *M. Jauk-Pinhak, “Some notes on the Pioneer Indologist Philip Vesdin (P. a S.B.)”, IT 12, 1984, 129-1??; Thankappan Nair 1973, 131-134; *L. Rocher, “P. a S. B. on the Kinship of the Languages of India and Europe”, ALB 25, 1961, 131-134; *Vyncke, Annuaire 20, 1973, 528f.; *L. Wetzl, Der österreichische Karmelit P. a S. B. Persönlichkeit und Werk. Wien 1936; Windisch 20-22; Wikipedia with portrait, but also with some mistakes.
Last Updated on