WESTERGAARD, Niels Ludvig

WESTERGAARD, Niels Ludvig. Copenhagen 27.10.1815 — Copenhagen 9.9.1878. Danish Indologist and Iranian Scholar. Professor in Copenhagen. Son of a master carpenter. As a schoolboy he became interested, from the example of Rask, in comparative linguistics and Oriental languages. From 1833 studied at Copenhagen Scandinavian and Indian languages (Johannsen), in 1838-39 further studies at Bonn (Lassen), Paris, London and Oxford. From the former missionary, rev. Möhl, he learnt Hindustani and Tamil. In 1841 he obtained a travel grant from Danish government and left for India (Bombay, Gujarat, meeting Parsis) and Iran (1843, for a while seriously ill), returning in 1844. From 1845 eo. Professor and from 1850 ord. i indisk-orientalsk Filologi (new chair) at Copenhagen University, taught until his death, in 1867-68 its Rector. Member of the Danish Constitutional Committee. Hon. Ph.D. 1868 Lund. Stadsraad 1869. Married in 1845 (widower 1856), four children.

The Radices, with examples culled from literature, in 1841 was an important pioneer work, which even included a number of Vedic texts (RV, VS), studied from manuscripts. During his long travels he collected Indian and Iranian manuscripts, inscriptions of Maharashtra, Old Persian inscriptions (of Persepolis; also the first copy of the inscrition of Darius’ grave). His ed. princeps of the Avesta was a great achievement in its time. He was one of the first pioneers of Elamite (which he called Medin or Scythian) studies. Among his other interests were history and chronology (the Buddha died c. 370-368 B.C.).

The dispute about Slesvig-Holstein and then the war (1864) estranged NLW from German and even from British colleagues and led him to start writing his studies in Danish. Domestic duties took time from work as he as a widower personally supervised the education of his children. He had an important role as a organizer of Danish scholarship, starting, i.al., a new historical journal and a new Danish dictionary. Among his students were Brandes, Fausbøll, Sørensen, Thomsen, and Wimmer.

Publications: Radices linguae Sanscritae ad decreta grammaticorum definivit atque copia exemplorum exquisitiorum illustravit. Bonn 1841 (an appendix contains a critical ed. of the Pāṇinean Dhātupāṭha).

– “On the connection between Sanskrit and Icelandic”, Oldskriftselskabets Mémoires 1840-44, 41-74; a travel account ibid.

with L.G. Jacob: “Aśoka Inscriptions of Girnar”, JBRAS 1843; other inscriptions.

Kortfattet Sanskrit Formlære. 2+112 p. Kjöbenhavn 1846; Sanskrit Læsebog, med tillhörende Ordsamling. 2+216 p. Kjöbenhavn 1846.

Codices Indici Bibliothecae Regiae Havniensis. 1. Havniae 1846, with an appendix “Codices Indici Bibliothecae Universitatis Havniensis” (97-115).

ed. Zendavesta or the Religious Books of the Zoroastrians. 1. The Zend texts. Copenhagen 1852-54; Bundehešn. Liber Pehlevicus. Copenhagen 1851.

Om de ældste Tidsrum i den indiske Historie med Hensyn til Litteraturen; Om Buddhas Dødsaar og nogle andre Tidspunkter i Indiens ældre Historie. 1860, German tr. Über den ältesten Zeitraum der indischen Geschichte; Über Buddhas Todesjahr und andere Zeitpunkte in der älteren Geschichte Indiens. Breslau 1861.

– “De indiske Kejserhuse fra det fjerde til det tiende Aarhundrede”, Kgl. Danske Vid. Selsk. Skrifter 5:3, 1869, 239-406; “Bidrag til de indiske Lande Málavas og Kanyakubjas Historie”, Univ. Progr. 1868.

on Elamic: “On the decipherment of the second Achaemenian or Median species of Arrowheaded Writing”, Oldskriftselskabets Mémoires 1840-44, 271-439; “Zur Entzifferung der Achämenidischen Keilschrift zweiter Gattung”, ZKM 6, 1845, 337-466; “Om den anden eller sakiske art af Akhaemenidernes Kileskrift”, K.D.Vid.Selsk.Skr. 5:2, 1856, 39-178.

Sources: Buckland, Dictionary. ; A. Christensen & V. Seeman, D.B.L. 25:2, 1953, 415-422; E. Pauly, Køb. Univ. 8, 1992, 531-536; R. Schmitt, “Dänische Forscher bei der Erschliessung der Achaimeniden-Inschriften”, AO 47, 1986, 13-26 & Enc. Iran. online ed. 2015; *F. Spiegel, Augsb. Allg. Zeitung 26.10.1878, Beilage; A.E. Strandberg, AO 39, 1978, 5-22 with photo; *V. Thomsen, K.D.Vid.Selsk. 1878, 87-114 & *BB 5, 187?, 248-264; JRAS Proc. 1879, xivf.; Wikipedia with portrait, more details in German version.

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