Indian Catholic News

German Jesuit’s Sanskrit grammar released

The over 300-year-old work is considered one of the earliest missionary grammars in Sanskrit.


A Sanskrit grammar written by a German Jesuit was released in Belgium.

Grammarian, lexicographer and philologist Jesuit missionary Fr Johann Ernst Hanxleden, popularly known as Arnos Padre, had written the grammar, which was released in Belgium on April 10.

The over 300-year-old work is considered one of the earliest missionary grammars in Sanskrit, said Jesuit Fr Roy Thottathil, Director of Arnos Padre Academy in Thrissur.

Fr Thottathil said that he received an official communication in this regard from Prof Christphe Vielle and Prof Toon Van Hal of the Catholic University of Louvain, Belgium, editors and publisher of the book.

The 88-page manuscript of 'Grammatica Grandonica' was found missing for over three centuries and it was recovered last year by Hal from a Carmelite monastery's library in Montecompatri (Rome), the priest said.

Born in Ostercappeln near Osnabruck in Hanover, Germany, Fr. Hanxleden arrived in India on December 13, 1700 as a Jesuit missionary.

He built the Saint Francis Xavier's church at Velur in 1712 and spent his remaining days there.

The two Professors had visited the church in January last year and other places related to the activities of the Jesuit missioner, said John Kalliath, Secretary of the Arnos Padre Research Institute.

The church and the building were declared as protected monuments by the Kerala government in 1994.

Proficient in German, Sanskrit, Malayalam, Latin, Syriac, Portuguese and Tamil, Fr. Hanxleden compiled Malayalam-Portuguese and Sanskrit-Portuguese dictionaries.

He mastered Sanskrit when even learning it was taboo for non-Brahmins and wrote several essays in Latin based on Ramayana and the Mahabharata.

Fr. Hanxleden, who died of a snake bite at Pazhuvil near here in March 1732, made efforts to spread awareness among European scholars and thinkers about India's cultural heritage and importance of Sanskrit.


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