1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Csoma de Koros, Alexander

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21628541911 Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 7 — Csoma de Koros, Alexander

CSOMA DE KÖRÖS, ALEXANDER (c. 1790–1842), or, as the name is written in Hungarian, Körösi Csoma Sándor, Hungarian traveller and philologist, born about 1790 at Körös in Transylvania, belonged to a noble family which had sunk into poverty. He was educated at Nagy-Enyed and at Göttingen; and, in order to carry out the dream of his youth and discover the origin of his countrymen, he divided his attention between medicine and the Oriental languages. In 1820, having received from a friend the promise of an annuity of 100 florins (about £10) to support him during his travels, he set out for the East. He visited Egypt, and made his way to Tibet, where he spent four years in a Buddhist monastery studying the language and the Buddhist literature. To his intense disappointment he soon discovered that he could not thus obtain any assistance in his great object; but, having visited Bengal, his knowledge of Tibetan obtained him employment in the library of the Asiatic Society there, which possessed more than 1000 volumes in that language; and he was afterwards supported by the government while he published a Tibetan-English dictionary and grammar (both of which appeared at Calcutta in 1834). He also contributed several articles on the Tibetan language and literature to the Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, and he published an analysis of the Kah-Gyur, the most important of the Buddhist sacred books. Meanwhile his fame had reached his native country, and procured him a pension from the government, which, with characteristic devotion to learning, he devoted to the purchase of books for Indian libraries. He spent some time in Calcutta, studying Sanskrit and several other languages; but, early in 1842, he commenced his second attempt to discover the origin of the Hungarians, but he died at Darjiling on the 11th of April 1842. An oration was delivered in his honour before the Hungarian Academy by Eötvös, the novelist.