POLEY, Karl August Ludwig (Louis). Crottorf, Halberstadt 180? — Deutsch-Altenburg, Austria 14.8. 1885. German Indologist. Illegitimate son of German judicial officer Poley and, according to his own, perhaps not too reliable, account, a Frenchwoman. He also gave his year of birth as 1812, but this was probably because he was slightly too old to apply for an academic position (in 1867). He was educated at Gymnasium of Aschersleben, and was noted for his talent. From 1825 studies of classical philology (Beckh, Bekker, etc.) and Sanskrit (Bopp) at Berlin, himself teacher of Adalbert Kuhn, who was still at school. He is said to have led unstable life and was removed from university register in 1829. Himself he claimed to have defended his thesis in 1831 and actually published a dissertation, but at least Berlin University has not conferred a doctorate to him. Then further studies under Burnouf and Silvestre de Sacy in Paris and in 1837-41 in London and Oxford. For a while served in Prussian embassy in London. In 1844 he came to Bonn and published his Upaniṣad book (including the editio princeps of BĀU), based on London manuscripts. He returned to France and lived 20 years in France and England, working i.al. as teacher of German in French schools. His planned major work about Indian religion and philosophy was not achieved.
In 1866 Poley started teaching of Indian philology at Padua, but when the Austrian university was soon closed, moved in 1867 to Vienna, where he became PD of Indian antiquities, religion and philosophy. Though recommended by —> Fr. Müller, he was not given an eo. chair and, in order to obtain his living, he also taught French at University and Technical Military Academy. He continued his Indological teaching until his death and planned a great work about Sāṁkhya philosophy.
Poley had a checquered life and never gained much attention. According to L. v. Schroeder his works on Vedānta and Upaniṣads were in fact quite good and showed his skill in explaining difficult text, but in any case they attracted little attention.
Publications: Devimahatmyam – Markandeyi Purani sectio, edidit, latinam interpretationem annotationesque adjecit. 13+132 p. B. c. 1831.
– Review of Vans Kennedy’s Researches into the Nature and Affinity of Ancient and Hindu Mythology. Jb. f. wiss. Kritik 1, 1832, 199-220.
– Translated: Oupanichats, théologie des Védas, texte sanscrit commenté par Sankara, traduit. 1-2. P. 1835-37: Kathaka-Oupanichat. Extrait de Yadjour-Véda. 39+199+40 p. P. 1835 (although not indicated in the title, also included Muṇḍaka, and Sanskrit text of both Upaniṣads and of Śaṅkara’s commentary).
– Anonymous Preface to Rosen’s posthumous Rigveda. L. 1838.
– Edited: Vrihadáran’yakam, Káthakam, Íça, Kena, Mun’d’akam oder fünf Upanishads aus dem Yagur-Sáma und Atharva-Veda. 144 p. Bonn 1844.
– Edited: Védânta-Soûtras. Philosophie des Védas, texte Sanskrit commenté par Sankara. 1. 40 p. P. 1835 (title page promises translation, but only the text part came out).
– Yadjour Véda: Kathaka Çâkhâ ou Kathavallî. 39 p. P. 1849.
– Translated Colebrooke’s Abhandlung über die heiligen Schriften der Indier. Nebst Fragmenten der ältesten religiösen Dichtungen der Indier. 176 p. Lp. 1847.
– Ed. & transl.: “Sadánanda: Vedánta-sára”, SWA 63, 1869, 33-156.
– Articles on Oriental subjects in Revue indépendente (about Old Persian Cuneiform, with transl. of the Behistan inscription, 1848), Encyclopédie catholique, Encyclopédie nouvelle, Berliner Jahrbücher (Indological reviews).
Sources: Bihl 34f.; L. v. Schroeder, “L. P. Ein biographisches Abriss”, WZKM 30, 1917/18, 318-330, with notes by L. v. Schroeder & E. Kuhn in ZDMG 74, 1920, 220f.; Stache-Weiske 2017, 551; Windisch 94f. & 207.
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