ROSEN, Friedrich August. Hannover 2.9.1805 — London 12.9.1837. German Indologist and Oriental Scholar in the U.K. Professor in London. Son of Friedrich Ernst Ballhorn-R. (1774–1845), a lawyer and juridical author, and Charlotte Eisendecher (d. 1818), half-brother of the diplomat and Arabic scholar Georg Rosen (1820–1891), the father of younger —> Friedrich R. In 1817 the family moved to Detmold. After gymnasium in Göttingen Rosen began1822 studies of theology and law at Leipzig, soonbecameinterested in Semitic languages (studied Arabic with Fleischer). In summer holiday 1824 he saw Sanskrit books bought by his father and together with him began to study them. Now moved to Berlin to study Sanskrit under Bopp, now also took Persian. Ph.D. 1826 Berlin (the very first of the university in Sanskrit). In 1827 he went to Paris for further studies under Silvestre de Sacy, but very soon got the new chair of Oriental Languages at London University (soon renamed as University College). His main duty, however, was to teach Persian and Arabic, from 1829 also Hindustani (which he had quickly learnt in London), to youngsters going to India. There were hardly any students interested in scholarship and he was rather disappointed, although continuously also taught Sanskrit. Frustrated he resigned in 1831, but remained in London to continue his work on the Ṛgveda and after two years he was reinstated in the chair. As his health was rapidly decreasing, he finally gave up his chair and intended to return home, but became ill and died soon in the age of 32. Unmarried.
The Radices was the standard work (with many examples culled from actual texts), until Westergaard published his more extensive work (1841). Rosen was the first to understand the importance of the Veda and to start its study. His edition of the first part of the Ṛgveda remained the only one for 10 years. There was the small beginning of 39 hymns published by Stevenson in 1833, but the book was not available in Europe and Rosen was philologically much better. Of course his edition, too, was premature and full of errors. The accents he simply left out. The edition contains the first Aṣṭaka, the commentary only 31 hymns. His papers contained much material for the continuation, which Lassen planned to publish, but then Max Müller’s edition made it unnecessary. Rosen examined the manuscript of Haughton’s Bengali dictionary before its publication. He was also an Arabic scholar and edited the earliest known Arabic text on algebra, which also clearly showed the dependence of Arabs of Indian mathematics. He studied often manuscripts in London collections. At the time of his death he was preparing an edition of Ibn Khallikan and a book on Indian law. In England he became a disciple and friend of old Colebrooke. He was diplomatic character (kept good relations both with Bopp and von Schlegel) and was always ready to help his many British, German and French friends.
Publications: Diss. specimen: Corporis radicum sanscriticarum prolusio. 54 p. B. 1826, the whole work: Radices sanscritae illustratas. 20+378 p. B. 1827.
– Reviews of Indralokágamana by Bopp, Jb. f. Wiss. Kritik 1827:2, 303-316 and of Yaj’n’adattavad’a by Chézy in Jb. f. Wiss. Kritik 1828:1, 127-139.
– Edited: Rigvedae specimen. 27 p. L. 1830 (7 hymns); Rigvêda-Sanhi`tâ, liber primus, Sanskritè et Latinè. L. 1838 (contains the first aṣṭaka).
– Anonymously: Catalogue of the Sanskrit Manuscripts collected during his residence in India by the late Sir Robert Ch, with a brief memoir by Lady Chambers. L. 1838.
– Edited: The Hindoos. 1-2. Library of Entertaining Knowledge. L. 1834-35 (wrote himself on literature, vol. 2, 1835, 300-322); wrote on Oriental subjects in Penny Cyclopedia 1833-38; a few articles and reviews in Asiatic Journal and Quart. Journal of Education.
– Edited & transl. The Algebra of Mohammed ben Musa. 16+208+123 p. L. 1831; with others: Catalogus codd. mss. orientalium qui in Museo Britannico asservantur. 1. Codd. Syriacos et carshunicos complectens. 1838 (his name not mentioned on the title page); a few lesser writings not related with India.
Sources: J. Klatt, A.D.B. 29, 1889, 192-195; S.L[ane]-P[oole], D.N.B. 49, 1897, 247, *rev. by J.B. Katz, Oxford D.N.B. 47, 2004, 773; G. Pelger, N.D.B. 22, 2005, 50f.; Windisch; Wikipedia with drawing (more details in German version); bust in Rau 13, also in Indology in G.D.R. 1978.
R. Rocher, assisted by A. Stache-Weiske, For the Sake of the Vedas. The Anglo-German Life of Friedrich Rosen 1805–1837. A.K.M. 118. Wb. 2020 (with two drawings).
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