WOODROFFE, John George (pen-name Arthur Avalon). Calcutta 13.2./15.12. 1865 — Beausoleil, France 16/18.1.1936. Sir. British Lawyer and Indologist in India. Son of of James Tisdall Woodroffe, then Advocate-General of Bengal (1899-1904), and Florence Hume. Educated at Woburn Peak Catholic public school, studies at University College, Oxford (B.C.L. 1888, M.A.). In 1889 admitted at Inner Temple and from 1890 barrister at Calcutta High Court. In 1904-22 Puisne Judge at Calcutta High Court. Also Fellow and Tagore Law Professor, University of Calcutta (from 1897). Retired in 1922 and returned to England. In 1923-30 Reader in Indian Law at Oxford. In retirement living in France from 1933. Married 1902 Ellen Elizabeth Grimson (1877–1941), a concert pianist who wrote as Ellen Avalon. They had at least one son.
Woodroffe was a pioneer of the study of Hindu Tantras, who defended them against the poor and condescent opinion of many Indologists. His works were written in close collaboration with Atal Behari Ghose, a practising Śākta.
Publications: The Law Relating to Receivers in British India. 18+335 p. Calcutta 1903; Criminal Procedure in British India. 24+827 p. Calcutta & Simla 1926; The law relating to injunctions in British India. 37+480 p. Tagore Law Lectures1897. Calcutta & Simla 1929.
– With Syed Ameer Ali: The law of evidence applicable to British India. 105+1060 p. Calcutta 1915; and similar works.
– AA with Ellen A.: Hymns to the Goddess. 12+335 p. L. 1913.
– AA: edited (with Indian scholars): Tantrābhidhāna with Vījanighantu and Mudrānighantu. 8+130 p. Tantrik Texts 1. Calcutta 1913; The Serpent Power, Being the Ṣaṭcakranirūpaṇa and the Pādukāpañchaka. Tantrik Texts 2. 1913, 2nd ed. Madras 1924; Prapañcasāra Tantra. T.T. 3. Calcutta & L. 1914; Kulacūḍāmaṇi Tantra. 14+357 p. T.T. 4. 1915; Kulārṇava Tantra. 14+357 p. T.T. 5. 191?; Mahānirvāṇatantra. T.T. 13. 1929.
– AA: translated: Mahānirvāṇa Tantra: the Great Liberation. 14+384 p. L. 1913, 2nd ed. 454 p. 1927; Introduction to Tantraśāstra. 1913; The serpent Power Being the Shat-Chakra-Nirupana and Paduka-Panchaka; Two works on tantrik yoga. 8+183 p. L. 1919.
– AA: Principles of Tantra. The Tantratattva of Śrīyukta Śiva Candra Vidyārṇava Bhaṭṭācārya. 1-2. 81+393+??? p. L. 1914-16.
– JW: Shakti and Shākta. Essays and Addresses on the Shākta Tantrashāstra. L. 1918, 2nd ed. Madras & L. 1920, 3rd ed. M. & L. 1929; Tantrarāja Tantra and Kāmakalāvilāsa. 19??.
– Garland of letters (varṇamālā). Studies in the Mantra-śāstra. 11+294 p. Madras & L. 1922.
Sources: *K. Taylor, Sir J.W., Tantra and Bengal. An Indian Soul in a European Body? 319 p. 2001; Who Was Who 1929–1940; tititudorancea.com; Wikipedia with portrait. Photo in the Indian ed. of his Garland.
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