BALLANTYNE, James Robert. Kelso, Teriotdale 13.12.1813 — London 18.2.1864. British (Scottish) Indologist in India. Son of Alexandet Thomson B., journalist and printer, and his wife Anne (sister of —> J. Michael), his younger brother was Robert Michael Ballantyne (1825–1894), a noted author of juvenile fiction. Educated at Kelso and Edinburgh. Studies in Edinburgh (Academy and College), then Oriental languages at Haileybury. He failed to secure an E.I.C. cadetship and taught instead Indian languages at the Scottish Naval and Military Academy in 1832-45 and wrote several textbooks. Ph.D. 1845 Glasgow. In 1845 he went to India and became the Principal of Benares College, on the recommendation of H. H. Wilson. He was many-sided, much interested in science, in 1848 even taught elementary chemistry. In 1861 he returned to Europe (his successor in Benares was Griffith) and became the Librarian of the East India House (India Office), but died after a few years. Also (unpaid) Professor of Sanskrit and Bengali at King’s College in London 1861-64. Married twice, several children.
In Benares Ballantyne developed an interest in Sanskrit, the elements of which he knew from Haileybury, especially in grammatical literature (he read even Patañjali). He was one of the first Western scholars to have and give in his writings an accurate idea of Indian philosophy (although always with missionary aims). He edited philosophical Sūtras on the basis of commentaries and consulting pandits. He wanted to introduce Western science in India and developed Sanskrit terms for its concepts. But he was also a committed Christian and saw the conversion of Hindus as his foremost task, using Sanskrit also for this purpose.
Publications: Grammar of the Hindustani Language. 78 p. 1838, rev. 1842; Hindustani Selections, in the Neskhi and Devanagari Character. L. 1840, 2nd ed. 28+4+12 p. L. 1845; Hindustani Letters in the Naskh-Taleek and Shikustu-Amez Character, with Translations. L. 1840; Elements of Hindi and Braj Bhakha Grammar. 4+38 p. L. 1839, 2nd ed. 1868; Pocket Guide to Hindustani Conversation. L. 1839, 2nd ed. 1845; The Practical Oriental Interpreter, or hints on the art of translating from English into Hindi and Persian. 54 p. L. 1843; ed. of B. Lal’s Hindi transl. of Hitopadesa, Book I (1851).
– A Grammar of the Mahratta Language. 4+52 p. Edinburgh 1839; First Lessons in Sanskrit Grammar. Mirzapore 1842, 2nd ed. L. 1862; same in Hindi. Mirzapore 1848; A Catechism of Sanskrit Grammar. L. 1843; a couple of Persian text books.
– Edited and transl.: The Laghukaumudī, a Sanskrit Grammar by Varadarāja. 1-3. 413 p. Mirzapore 1849-52; edited: The Mahabhashya with the Commentary of Bhashya Pradipa and the Commentary thereon the Pradipodyota. Vol. 1. containing the Navahnika. 832 p. Mirzapore 1856.
– Translated: Sāhityadarpana (BI 1851); Introduction to Indian Logic (1847), to Metaphysic (1848); Kapila. The Sankhya Aphorisms. With Extracts from Vijñānabhikṣu’s Commentary. 175 p. B.I. 41. Calcutta 1861-63.
– Edited: A Lecture on the Nyaya philosophy, embracing the text of the Tarka Sangraha. 63 p. Allahabad 1849; The Aphorisms of the Nyaya Philosophy by Gautama. 56 p. Allahabad 1850; A Lecture on the Sankhya philosophy, embracing the text of the Tattwa Samasa. 65 p. Mirzapur 1850; The Tarka Sangraha of Annam Bhatta, with a Hindi Paraphrase and English version. 24+48 p. Allahabad 1851; The Aphorisms of the Vedanta Philosophy by Badarayana, with illustrative extracts from the Commentary in Sanscrit and English. 51 p. Mirzapore 1851; A Lecture on the Vedanta, embracing the text of the Vedanta Sara. 84 p. Allahabad 1851; The Aphorisms of the Vaiseshika Philosophy of Kanada, with illustrative extracts from the Commentary by Sankara Misra. 34 p. Mirzapore 1851; The Aphorisms of the Mimamsa Philosophy by Jaimini, with illustrative extracts from the Commentaries in Sanscrit and English. 36 p. Allahabad 1851; Bhāsāpariccheda 1851; plain text of the Sāmkhyasūtra also Allahabad 1852 (158 p.); The Aphorisms of the Yoga Philosophy, of Patanjali, with illustrative extracst from the commentary of Bhoja Raja. 1. Allahabad 1852-53; The Aphorisms of Ṥāṇḍilya with the Commentary of Svapneśwara. 74 p. B.I. 35. Calcutta 1861 (Bhaktisūtra).
– In Sanskrit: A Synopsis of Science, in Sanskrit and English, reconciled with the truths to be found in the Nyaya Philosophy. 2nd ed. 33+151+4+311 p. Mirzapore 1856; Christianity and Indian traditions (1859), Genesis, chapters 1–3 (1860); even an English grammar, Iṅglaṇḍīyabhāṣāvyākaraṇam. 57 p. Mirzapore 1847.
– Epigraphical articles in JASB 17 & 18.
Sources: JRAS N.S. 1, 1865, v-vii; Gosche, ZDMG, Wiss. Jahrb. für 1862–67, 59–62; S.L[ane]-P[oole], D.N.B. 3, 1885, 81f.; *Athenaeum 1864, March 12, p. 373; British Biogr. Archives; Michael S. Dodson, Orientalism, Empire, and National Culture. India 1770–1880. Palgrave Macmillan 2007, 94ff.; Wikipedia with portrait.