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Heinrich Lueders – Famous German Indologist

Heinrich Lueders (1869 – 1943) was a famous German Indologist who held the Chair of Indology at the University of Berlin for more than 25 years. He was ably assisted in his work by his wife, Else Lueders. It is noteworthy that Heinrich Lueders dealt with a variety of subjects, including Vedas, Vedangas, the Mahabharata, Sanskrit drama and Indian inscriptions.

Education And Career Of Heinrich Lueders

Born in Luebeck, Lueders studied German philology in Munich and later switched over to the study of Sanskrit at the University of Gottingen.

The Kiel University awarded him a prize for his dissertation Die Vyasasiksa in threm Verhaeltnis zum Taittiriya Pratisakhya (Vyasasiksa in its relation to Taittiriya Pratisakhya) in 1895.

Later, he went to England and worked as librarian at the Indian Institute of Oxford University for some time before returning to Germany and working at the universities of Rostock and Kiel.

In 1906, he became the secretary of the prestigious Berlin Academy of Sciences and later its president.

He was appointed professor of Indology at the University of Berlin in 1909, a post he held till 1935 when he retired.

Heinrich Lueders Work As Indilogist

From researches in Vedic and Pali linguistics, Lueders switched over to studies in the Mahabharata and together with Moriz Winternitz of Prague prepared a proposal for a critical edition of the great epic of India for the International Association of Academic and Learned Societies. He also prepared a specimen volume of the critical edition in 1908, but the project had to be abandoned on account of Germany’s involvement in the First World War.

Lueder’s interest turned to Indian inscriptions, and he wrote a number of articles for the reputed journal Epigraphia Indica. He also interested himself in Buddhist and Pali literature and Buddhist Paintings in the Ajanta caves.

In association with his wife, Else, who was herself a Sanskrit scholar, he worked on the reconstruction of manuscript fragments discovered during four German expeditions to Turfan in Central Asia.

Several Sanskrit works, including the drama Sariputra Prakarana of poet Ashwaghosh of the 1st century, were identified by the Lueders couple in these fragments and were edited by them.

Admirers of Lueders prepared a compilation of his best articles under the title Philooga Indica and presented it to Lueders in 1940 on his seventieth birthday.
Else Leuders continued the unfinished work of her husband till she passed away in 1945.

  • India and German: 500 years of Indo – German Contact (1971) Walter Leifer – Shakuntala Publishing House – Mumbai
  • German Indologists (1981) by Valentina Stache Rosen – Max Mueller Bhavan, New Delhi
  • Encyclopedia Of Hinduism Volume VI page 308 published by IHRF