POŠKA, Antanas Jonas

POŠKA, Antanas Jonas (until 1929 Paškevicius). Gripkeliai, dt. Panévezys 24.3.1903 — Vilnius 16.10.1992. Lithuanian Oriental Scholar, Anthropologist and Archaeologist. Born in a peasant family, in 1926-29 studied physical Anthropology at Kaunas University. Interested in the affinity of Lithuanian and Sanskrit he started in 1929 with his motorcycle to India, traveling via Egypt, Palestine, Irak and Iran. In 1931-33 studied Anthropology at Bombay. He is often said to have participated in Aurel Stein’s last Central Asian expedition, but in the 1930s Stein worked in Iran. In any case, AP visited Nepal, Burma, Nicobars and Andamans. Doctoral student at Calcutta, but never completed the degree. In 1935 he returned (on camel) via Afghanistan, Iran and Turkey, where he was arrested as British spy and held several months in prison. He lost thus all his books, papers (including a Lithuanian translation of the Bhagavadgītā) and diaries. Back in Lithuania he worked as journalist and librarian, during Nazi occupation he was hiding Jews. For a while Head of Libraries of (Soviet) Lithuanian Ministry of Education. Arrested by Russians in 1945 (he refused to destroy books now forbidden), he was 9 months in prison and was in 1946 sentenced to five years’ exile, which he spent in Vol’sk, Vorkuta (Komi) and Kazakhstan. In 1948-58 in museum work in Kazakhstan and Tadzhikistan, also conducted some archaeological excavations. In 1960 he returned to Lithuania, settled in Vilnius, worked as journalist and gave popular lectures. Until 1987 he was not allowed to publish his writings in Soviet Lithuania. A selection of Rigvedic hymns translated into Lithuanian remains unpublished. From early age an eager Esperantist. Posthumously hon. D.Litt. 2014 Calcutta.

Publications: Nuo Baltijos iki Bengalijos. 1-2. 1939-40 (From Baltic to Bengal, in Lithuanian, planned in 10 vols, the rest published in 2002-12).

diss. The Physical Affinities of Shina-Speaking People of Western Himalaya. MS. 1940? (completed, but the war prevented him from passing Ph.D., the MS. is said to be in British Library).

Atman-yoga. 1989 (written in the late 1940s); Indoeuropiečių istorijos pėdsakais. Vilnius 1988 (Tracing the Culture of Indo-Europeans); Requiem. Vilnius 1978 (in Canada), 2nd 3d. 1989 (in Lithuanian).

Esperanto raktas. Kaunas 1929 (The Key to Esperanto); a few articles in English in the 1930s.

Mano gyvenimo pasaka. Vilnius 2003 (The Tale of My Life).

Sources: an unpublished account, by courtesy of Ja. V. Vasil’kov; Wikipedia with several photos.

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