Page:Dictionary of National Biography. Sup. Vol III (1901).djvu/168

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Max Müller
Max Müller

historical and comparative study of religions on a sound basis. Among the ‘Sacred Books’ are several of the earliest Indian legal works and texts on domestic ritual. The series is thus also a valuable source for the comparative study of law and custom. By its publication Max Müller therefore rendered an inestimable service to the science of anthropology. Of the fifty-one volumes of the series, all but one and the two concluding index-volumes had appeared before the death of the editor. Over thirty volumes represent the Indian religions of Brahmanism, Buddhism, and Jainism, being translations from Sanskrit, Pali, and Prakrit; but the series also includes versions of Chinese, Arabic, Zend, and Pahlavi works. Max Müller himself contributed three complete volumes and part of two others to the series.

Though debarred by his defeat in 1860 from officially representing Sanskrit in the university, Max Müller continued to promote Sanskrit studies in many ways. In the first place he finished in 1873 his ‘Rigveda,’ a second revised edition of which was completed in 1892. This was his magnum opus, which will secure him a lasting name in the history of Sanskrit scholarship. He also published several important Sanskrit texts. Thus he initiated the Aryan series in the ‘Anecdota Oxoniensia’ with four publications of his own, partly in collaboration with pupils; and the three other contributions which had appeared down to the end of 1900 were all undertaken at his instigation. He also brought out some Sanskrit books of an educational character, besides publishing several translations of Sanskrit works. In 1883 he further printed a series of lectures on the value of Sanskrit literature, which he had delivered at Cambridge, under the title of ‘India, what can it teach us?’ The main importance of this book lies in the ‘Renaissance theory’ which it propounds. He endeavours to prove that for several hundred years there was a cessation of literary activity in India, owing to the incursions of foreigners, but that there was a great revival in the sixth century A.D. This theory, though now disproved by the evidence of inscriptions, exercised a decidedly stimulating influence on Indian chronological research. Max Müller was, moreover, always ready, in spite of his dislike of regular teaching, to help students of Sanskrit informally. Thus he gave up much of his valuable time to directing the studies of three young Japanese who came to Oxford on purpose to learn Sanskrit, and all of whom published valuable work connected with ancient India under his guidance. One of them, Bunyiu Nanjio, translated, at his instance, in 1882, the Chinese catalogue of the many hundreds of Buddhist Sanskrit books which were rendered into Chinese from the first century A.D. onwards. Another, Kenyiu Kasawara, compiled a list of Sanskrit Buddhistic technical terms, which was edited by him in the ‘Anecdota Oxoniensia’ series; while the third, Takakusu, at his instigation, translated from the Chinese, in 1896, the travels of the pilgrim I-tsing, who visited India during the years 671-690 A.D. Again, the first three Sanskrit books published by Monier-Williams's successor in the Boden chair were undertaken under Max Müller's influence. It was through him also that most of the European Sanskrit scholars who went out to India in the sixties and seventies received their appointments. As one of the delegates of the Clarendon Press he acted as literary adviser to the university on Indian subjects for more than twenty years (1877-98). He constantly stirred up scholars to search for rare and important Sanskrit manuscripts. This insistence led, for example, to the discovery in Japan of a Sanskrit manuscript dating from the sixth century, the oldest known at that time (1880). He himself acquired, in connection with his edition of the ‘Rigveda,’ a valuable collection of Vedic manuscripts from India, to the number of nearly eighty.

Max Müller had a great literary gift, doubtless inherited from his father. A foreigner by birth and education, he attained command of an English style excelled by few native writers. This he displayed in numerous contributions to English journals, especially the ‘Edinburgh’ and ‘Contemporary’ reviews, in the ‘Fortnightly’ and the ‘Nineteenth Century.’ Most of these were subsequently republished in a collected form in his ‘Chips from a German Workshop’ (4 vols.) Some of the most attractive of his articles, consisting of reminiscences, appeared only a year or two before his death in book form, under the title of ‘Auld Lang Syne’ (vol. i. 1898, vol. ii. 1899). The poetical colouring of his temperament was perhaps most clearly exhibited in ‘Deutsche Liebe’ (1857), one of his early works, which, in its original German, has passed through thirteen editions, and has been translated into French, Italian, and Russian, as well as English. This romance describes, in the form of recollections, the love of a young student for an invalid princess; and though the scene is laid in the old castle of Dessau, the story is purely imaginary.

Max Müller also now and then discussed important public questions, such as the