OPPERT, Gustav

OPPERT, Gustav Salomon. Hamburg 30.7.1836 — Berlin 1.3.1908 (or 17.3.). German Indologist in India. Professor in Madras. Son of Eduard Oppert (originally Oppenheimer) and Henriette Gans, brother of —> Jules O. and Ernst Jacob O. (1832–1903) who was a merchant in Shanghai and visited three times Korea. Educated at Johanneum in Hamburg. Studies in 1858-60 at Leipzig, Halle and Berlin, mainly history and Oriental languages. Ph.D. 1860 Halle. In 1861-62 in Venice collecting material for his 1864 book in Marcus library. In 1866 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 (in 1882-83 furlough in Europe). 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 1895 PD für nichtarische  Sprachen (i.e. Dravidian), Berlin, also active at Lehranstalt für die Wissenschaft des Judentums. Died after long illness. Unmarried.

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. In the last part of his life he gave much attention to Jewish history.

Publications: Diss. Philipp II., König der Makedonier. Halle 1860.

Der Presbyter Johannes in Sage und Geschichte. Ein Beitrag zur Völker- und Kirchenhistorie und zur Heldendichtung des Mittelalters. 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.).

– “Index to Sixty-two Manuscript Volumes deposited in the Government Oriental Manuscript Library”, MJLS 1878, i-xlviiList 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: Śukranītisāra. 1. Text. 22+285 p. 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.

– “Die Verschiedenheiten des Sprachcharacters und deren natürliche Ursache”, ZfEthnol. 16, 1884, 1-17; “Ueber die Toda und Kōta in den Nīlagiri oder den blauen Bergen”, ZfEthnol. 28, 1896, 213-221.

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 (cf. CRAI 44, 1900, 472-485); “Über die vedische Göttin Aditi”, ZDMG 57, 1903, 508-519; “Die Gottheiten der Inder”, ZfürEthnol. 37, 1905, 296-353, 501-503, 717-754; “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 (from ZfürEthnol. 35, 1903, 50-72, 212-265).

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

*G. Pelger, “Deutsch-jüdische Gelehrte zwischen Tradition und Emanzipation: Das Beispiel des Indologen G.S.O.”, p. 15-23 (in web.archive.org, accessed Ferb. 2023, original context not indicated)

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