ROST, Ernst Reinhold. Eisenberg, Sachsen-Altenburg 2.2.1822 — Canterbury 7.2.1896 (thus both Wikip., Weise & Wollaston; Stache-W. 2007 d. London 15.2.1896). German Indologist and South-East Asian Scholar in the U.K. Son of Christian Friedrich Rost, a Lutheran minister. After school in Altenburg studies of theology and Oriental languages at Jena (under Gildemeister). 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 (succeeded by Tawney). There he organized the cataloguing of the vast collections of manuscripts and printed books, often in printed catalogues. He was also the philological advisor of Secretary of State for India and thus had great influence on decisions in scholarships and publication. In 1869-79 also (unpaid) Professor of Sanskrit at King’s College, London. Hon. M.A. Oxon., LL.D. 1877 Edinburgh. C.I.E. 1888. Married 1863 Minna Laue, five daughters and two sons (including Ernest Rost, who served as physician in Burma and studied lepra and Buddhism).
Rost 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, beside German and Hebrew, 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Publications: An unpublished diss.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 grammar. 1847.
– “Ueber den Genitiv in den dekhanischen Sprachen”, Jahresbericht der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft 1846, 209-2??.
– “Über den Manusāra”, ISt 1:2, 1850, 315-320 (Pāli transl. of Burmese Manu rendering).
– “A descriptive catalogue of the palm leaf manuscripts belonging to the Imperial Public Library of St. Petersburg”, Catalogue des Manuscrits et Xylographes orientaux de la Bibliothèque Impériale de St. Petersbourg. St.P. 1852, section XVI-XXIV, 629-657.
– 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 (with notes); B. H. Hodgson, Essays on Indian Subjects. 1-2. 1880; with others: Miscellaneous Papers relating to Indo-China. ???+311 p. L. 1886-87.
– Catalogue of the Library of the India Office. II:1. Sanscrit books. L. 1897.
– Articles on Oriental philology in Enc. Britannica and the Athenaeum.
Sources: A.J. Arberry, The Library of the India Office. L. 1938, 66-69; Br. Baentsch, A.D.B. 53, 1907, 525-529; Buckland, Dictionary; *W. v. Christ, SBaAW 1896, 152; *J.B. Katz, Oxford D.N.B.; Stache-Rosen 1990, 60; Stache-Weiske 2017, 554; *R. Temple et al., “Memorial to Dr. Rost”, JRAS 1904, 375-379; *O. Weise, Der Orientalist R.R., sein Leben, sein Streben. Lp. 1897; Windisch 361f.; A.N.W[ollaston], D.N.B. 49, 1897, 290f.; JRAS 1896, 367-369 (from Academy 15.2.1896); *TP 7, 1896; Wikipedia with same portrait, more details in German version; photo in Leumann 1909, 17; picture in Rau 30 (from Weise).