ROST, Reinhold. Eisenberg, Sachsen-Altenburg 2.2.1822 — Canterbury 7.2.1896. German Indologist and South-East Asian Scholar in the U.K. Son of Karl R., a Lutheran minister. After school in Altenburg studies of theology and Oriental languages at Jena. Ph.D. 1847 Jena. In 1847 went to England to study Sanskrit manuscripts. From 1851 or 1853 to death taught many Asian languages at St. Augustine’s Missionary College in Canterbury. In 1864-69 Secretary of R.A.S. In 1869 succeeded F. Hall as the Librarian of India Office, retired in 1893. He was also the philological advisor of Secretary of State for India and thus had great inflence on decisions in scholarships and publication. Hon. M.A. Oxon., LL.D. 1877 Edinburgh. C.I.E. 1888. Married 1863 with Minna Laue, seven children (including Ernest Rost, who served as physician in Burma and studied lepra and Buddhism).
RR was a many-sided scholar who published very little himself, but was always helpful to others. He “elected to turn himself into an Oriental encyclopaedia, which no one consulted in vain.” He knew a great number of languages, in Canterbury he is said to have taught Sanskrit, Tamil, Chinese, Malay, Hindustani, Persian, Marathi, Portuguese, Dutch, Arabic, Burmese, Sinhalese, Pāli, and Tibetan; also knew Telugu, Urdu, Thai, Swahili, and Malagasy. According to JRAS, his main interest was Sanskrit, according to Windisch, Pāli and Indonesian languages. He was also interested in archaeology, ethnology and history. In India Office he had few duties, but one of the world’s largest manuscript collections at his use and an ex officio contact with scholars all over the world.
Publications: an unpublished diss. on Sinhalese. 1847.
– “Über den Manusāra”, ISt 1:2, 1850, 315-320 (Burmese Manu rendering in Pāli).
– A Descriptive Catalogue of the Palm Leaf MSS. belonging to the Imperial Public Library of St. Petersburg. 1852.
– Treatise on the Indian Sources of the Ancient Burmese Laws. 1850.
– edited: H. H. Wilson, Essays. Analytical, Critical and Philological on Subjects Connected with Sanskrit Literature. 1-3. 408+406+392 p. 1864; B. H. Hodgson, Essays on Indian Subjects. 1-2. 1880; with others: Miscellaneous Papers relating to Indo-China. 1886-87.
– articles on Oriental philology in Enc. Britannica and the Athenaeum.
Sources: Windisch 361f. ; Buckland, Dictionary; JRAS 1896, 367-369 (from Academy 15.2.1896); *TP 7, 1896; A. N. Wollaston, D.N.B. 49, 1897, 290f.; *O. Weise, Der Orientalist R.R., sein Leben, sein Streben. Lp. 1897; picture in Rau 30 (from Weise); Wikipedia with same portrait, more details in German version.