BERGAIGNE, Abel-Henri-Joseph

BERGAIGNE, Abel-Henri-Joseph. Vimy (Pas-de-Calais) 31.8.1838 — La Grave (Hautes Alpes) 6.8.1888. French Indologist. Professor in Paris. Son of a registrar, educated in Amiens. He abandoned the financial career planned by his father and went in 1864 to Paris in order to study IE and Indian philology under Bréal and Hauvette-Besnault. From 1868 taught Sanskrit and Indian religions at É.P.H.É., Séction des sciences religieuses. Served in Franco-German war 1870. Ph.D. 1877 Paris. Maître de conférences at Faculté des lettres (Sorbonne) 1877. From 1885 member of A.I.B.L. and Professor of Sanskrit and Comparative IE Linguistics at Sorbonne (on a new chair). Died in a mountain accident, fell into a ravine during vacation in the Alps. Married 1877, soon widower.

Bergaigne was a Vedic philologist, one of the foremost Rigvedic scholars of the period, also interested in classical languages, and in his early years in comparative IE. With reason he emphasized the importance of ritual, although developed his theory into a kind of Procrustean bed. Rejecting the poetic and nature mystic IE interpretation of the Rigveda, he interpreted it as an Indian text composed by priests, dating it between 1500–1000 BCE. The key concepts were ritual, liturgy, and mythology. He criticized Roth and demanded that a word must, if possible, to have always the same meaning. Pointed out that the hymns are not necessarily simple. Considered later Vedas important for interpretation, but did not accept Sāyana. Influenced on Renou. The plan of a Rigveda translation remained unachieved. Together with Barth and Senart he studied on the Sanskrit inscriptions of Cambodge and tried to reconstruct the history. Among his students were Darmesteter, Henry, Lévi, Meillet, Ovsjaniko-Kulikovskin, Regnaud, and Sabbathier.

Publications: Transl. G, Curtius’ La chronologie dans la formation des langues indo-germaniques. B.É.H.É. 1. 1868;.

– Essai sur la construction grammaticale. Manuscript 1873, publ. in two parts as “Du rôle de la dérivation dans la déclinaison indoeuropéenne”, MSL 2, 1875, 358-379 and “Essai sur la construction grammaticale”, MSL 3, 1878, 1-51, 124-154, 169-186; other articles in MSL.

Ed. & trans. Bhâminî Vilâsa. 124 p. B.É.H.É. 9. P. 1872.

La religion védique d’après les hymnes du Rig-Véda. 1-3. 26+329+512+367 p. P. 1877-83 (the first part being his dr. diss.); De coniunctivi et optativi in Indo-Europaeis linguis informatione  vi antiquissima. P. 1877 (diss. II).

Translations: Nâgânanda, La joie des serpents, drame bouddhique. 16+144 p. Bibl. elzév. P. 1879; Sakoûntalâ, drame en sept actes. 11+195 p. P. 1884.

Manuel pour étudier la langue sanscrite. 13+335 p. P. 1884; with V. Henry, Manuel pour étudier la langue védique. P. 1890.

– “Quelques observations sur les figures de rhétorique dans le Rig-Véda”, MSL 4, 1881, 96-136; “Études sur la lexique du Rig-Veda”, JA 8:2-4, 1883-84; “M. Ludwig et la chronologie du Rig-Veda”, JA 8:6, 1885, 272-384; “La Saṁhitā primitive du Rig-Veda”, JA 8:8, 1886, 193-271, 543f.; “Nouvelles recherches sur la Saṁhitā primitive du Rig-Veda”, JA 8:9, 1887, 191-287, 518f.; “Recherches sur l’histoire de la liturgie védique”, JA 8:13, 1889, 5-32, 121-197; “La syntaxe des com­paraisons védiques”, Mélanges renier 1887?, 75-101; and numerous short articles especially in JA and MSL.

With Barth & Aymonier: Inscriptions sanscrites du Cambodge. 177 p. 1885 (partly in JA 1880-82).

Edited by V. Henry: Quarante hymnes du Rig-Veda. 134 p. P. 1895 (sep. from MSL 8, 1894, 1-44, 264-276, 348-368, 393-424, 479-485).

Sources: *Barbier de Meynard, JA 8:12, 1888, 205-207; A. Barth, RHR 18, 1888, 97f.; *M. Bréal, BSL 6, 1888, 228-233 (cf. 10, 1898, 160-176); *Charle, Les professeurs de la Faculté des lettres de Paris. 1. 197?; J. Darmesteter, JA 8:16, 1890, 23-30; *V. Henry, L’Oeuvre d’A. Bergaigne. 27 p. P. 1889; H. Oldenburg, BB 16, 1890, 349-351; G.-J. Pinault, D.O.L.F. 90-92; Prevost, D.B.F. 5, 1951, 1504f.; L. Renou, Maitres 1928, 21-41; S. Lévi, *Revue bleue 45, 1890, 261-268, again in Mémorial S.L. 1937, 1-15; *H. Wallon, CRAI 1896, 529-557; French Wikipedia.

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