OPPERT, Gustav Salomon

OPPERT, Gustav Salomon. Hamburg 30.7.1836 — Berlin 17.3.1908. German (Jewish) Indologist in India. Professor in Madras. Son of Eduard O. and Henriette Gans, brother of —> Jules O. and Ernst Jacob O. (1832–1903) who was a merchant in Shanghai and visited three times Korea. Studies 1858-60 at Leipzig, Halle and Berlin, mainly history and Oriental languages. Ph.D. In 1860 he came to England and worked as Assistant Librarian in Bodleian Library in Oxford, then in Queen’s Library in Windsor. In 1872 went to India as Professor of Sanskrit at Presidency College in Madras and taught there until 1894. Also Curator of Government Oriental Manuscript Library. From 1873 Fellow of Madras University, from 1878 Telugu Translator to the Government. In 1893 returned to Europe via East Asia and America. From 1894 PD für nichtarische  Sprachen (i.e. Dravidian), Berlin.

Gustav Oppert was industrious, but not important as a scholar. Many of his publications were harshly criticized. He advocated the idea of Dravidians being the original inhabitants of India and related to “Turanians”. He believed that the Śukranīti was a genuine ancient text and that fire arms were known and used in India in ancient times.

Publications: Der Presbyter Johannes in Sage und Geschichte. B. 1864, 2nd ed. 8+228 p. B. 1870.

– “On the classification of languages”, MJLS 1878, 1-137, “On the ancient commerce of India”, MJLS 1878, 188-231.

– “On the weapons, army organization and political maxims of the ancient Hindus, with special reference to gunpowder and firearms”, MJLS 1879, 167-308 (248-310 Śukranīti ch. 5 ed. & tr.).

List of Sanskrit MSS. in Private Libraries of South India. 1-2. Madras 1880-85.

– “Two Inscriptions deciphered, translated and explained”, MJLS 1881, 205-278, 1 pl.

Edited: Śukranīti. Madras 1882 (transl. 1890); “Nītiprakāśikā”, MJLS 1881, 1-80 (sep. 84 p. Madras 1882); The Vaijayantī of Yādavaprakāśa. 10+895 p. Madras 1892: The Grammar of Sākatāyana with the Pratitjāsangraha Commentary of Abhayacandra­sūri. 14+376 p. Madras 1892.

On the original inhabitants of Bharatavarsa or India. 15+711 p. Westminster 1893 (first in MJLS 30, 1887-88, 29-137 & 31, 1888-89, 83-246).

– “Sur les Sālagrāmas, pierres sacrées des aborigènes de l’Inde devenues emblèmes du dieu Vishnou”, RHR 43, 1901, 325-332; “Über die vedische Göttin Aditi”, ZDMG 57, 1903, 508-519; “Die Gottheiten der Inder”, Z. für Ethnographie 1905, 108 p.; “Zur Schiesspulverfrage im alten Indien, auf Grund literarischer Belege”, Mitt. zur Geschichte der Medizin und Naturwiss. 4, 1905, 421-437.

Tarshish und Ophir. 7+87 p. B. 1903.

Sources: Buckland, Dictionary; E. Fi, Enc. Iud. 12, 1971, 1434; H. Speyer, Jüdisches Lexikon 4:1, 1930, 593; Stache-Rosen 1990, 81f.; *Jewish Encyclop. 9, 419f.; briefly D.B.E. 7, 1998, 501; Wikipedia briefly; parents in geni.com; photo in Rau 38 (from Internat. Taschenbuch der Or. 1910), also in Sardesai.

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