Helmuth von Glasenapp

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Helmuth von Glasenapp, around 1960

Otto Max Helmuth von Glasenapp (born September 8, 1891 in Berlin ; † June 25, 1963 in Tübingen ) was a German Indologist and religious scholar who taught as a professor in Königsberg (1928–1944) and Tübingen (1946–1959). Some of his books, with which he also addressed a broader audience, are still considered standard works today and are repeatedly reprinted in several languages.


Helmuth von Glasenapp came from the widespread Pomeranian noble family Glasenapp and was the son of the later Vice President of the Reichsbank Otto von Glasenapp and his wife Lilli nee. Jähns .

From 1910 to 1914 Glasenapp studied Sanskrit , Pali and general religious studies at the Eberhard Karls University in Tübingen , the Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich , the Friedrich Wilhelms University in Berlin and the Rhenish Friedrich Wilhelms University . In 1914 he was in Bonn at Hermann Jacobi with a dissertation on the doctrine of Karman in the philosophy of Jain doctorate . During the First World War he was an employee of the Foreign Office in its newly founded intelligence center for the Orient . Due to his expertise in the Punjabi and Hindi languages , he also became part of the Royal Prussian Phonographic Commission . The aim of the commission was to record the approximately 250 languages ​​spoken among the internees of the German prisoner-of-war camps.

1918 habilitation he did in Bonn with a thesis on Madhva's system of Vishnu faith and held in May 1918 his inaugural lecture, but could not record teaching due to the chaos of war and finally in April 1920 to Berlin umhabilitiert where he was until 1928 a lecturer taught. In 1927/28 he traveled to India with his cousin Udo von Alvensleben .

In 1928 Glasenapp was appointed to the extraordinary professorship for Indology at the Albertus University in Königsberg , which he held until the end of the war, as the successor to Rudolf Otto Franke . On May 6, 1946, he received the chair for Indology and Comparative Religious Studies of his former teacher Richard von Garbe in Tübingen, which had become vacant due to Jakob Wilhelm Hauer's discharge . In 1959 he was retired ; yet he held until his death in 1963 further lectures , especially in the field of religious studies, while the field of Indology by his successor Paul Thieme was acquired.

Glasenapp traveled to India for the first time in 1927 and undertook numerous other study and lecture trips to various countries in the Orient and to Africa in the decades that followed.

Remained unmarried, succumbed to v. Glasenapp at the age of 72 the consequences of a traffic accident. He found his final resting place in the Bergfriedhof (Tübingen) . His autobiography was published posthumously in 1964 under the title Meine Lebenreise. People, countries and things that I saw.

Scientific importance

In addition to numerous individual historical and philological studies on works of Sanskrit literature and German translations of classic Sanskrit poetry, Glasenapp published a number of comprehensive overview presentations on the religions Hinduism , Jainism and Buddhism and their respective philosophies, some of which are still considered standard works today, and which have seen numerous new editions in various languages met with wide reception in India. Glasenapp also examined in several publications the relationship between German intellectuals like Immanuel Kant or Johann Gottfried von Herder and Indian philosophy.


Glasenapp's grave

Helmuth von Glasenapp Foundation

In his will, Glasenapp ordered the establishment of a foundation through the Deutsche Morgenländische Gesellschaft , which he endowed with 150,000 Deutsche Mark share capital and all future royalties from his publications, combined with the condition that the proceeds should be used exclusively and directly to promote German India research. The non-profit foundation was constituted in 1964 and has its seat in Wiesbaden . After Wolfgang Voigt (1964–1980), Heinz Bechert (1981–1987) and Claus Vogel (1988–2012), it has been headed by Harry Falk since 2013 .

Fonts (selection)

  • The doctrine of Karman in the philosophy of the Jainas after the Karmagranthas. Philosophical dissertation Bonn. Harrassowitz, Leipzig 1915.
  • Hinduism. Religion and Society in India Today. Kurt Wolff, Munich 1922.
  • Madhva's philosophy of Vishnu belief. With an introduction to Madhva and his school. Schroeder, Bonn 1923.
  • India. In: Karl Döhring (ed.): The Indian culture in individual representations. Georg Müller, Munich 1925.
  • Jainism. An Indian religion of salvation. Alf Häger, Berlin 1925.
  • Brahma and Buddha. The religions of India in their historical development. German book club, Berlin 1926.
  • Religious reform movements in India today. Hinrichs, Leipzig 1928.
  • Holy places of India. The pilgrimage sites of the Hindus, Jainas and Buddhists, their legends and their cult. Georg Müller, Munich 1928.
  • British India and Ceylon (= Weltpolitische Bücherei. Volume 14). Zentralverlag, Berlin 1929.
  • The literatures of India from its beginnings to the present. Athenaion, Potsdam 1929.
  • Buddhism in India and the Far East. Fates and forms of life of a redemption religion. Atlantis, Berlin 1936.
  • Buddhist mysteries. The secret teachings and rites of the diamond vehicle. Spemann, Stuttgart 1940.
  • The religions of India (= Kröner's pocket edition . Volume 190). Kröner, Stuttgart 1943. DNB 579971171 .
  • The wisdom of the Buddha. Bühler, Baden-Baden 1946.
  • The step path to the divine. Shankara's philosophy of all-unity. Bühler, Baden-Baden 1948.
  • The philosophy of the Indians. An introduction to their history and teachings. Kröner, Stuttgart 1949.
  • Vedānta and Buddhism (= treatises of the Academy of Sciences and Literature. Humanities and social science class. Born 1950, Volume 11). Verlag der Wissenschaft und der Literatur in Mainz (commissioned by Franz Steiner Verlag, Wiesbaden).
  • Two philosophical Râmâyaṇas (= treatises of the Academy of Sciences and Literature. Humanities and social science class. Born 1951, Volume 6). Verlag der Wissenschaft und der Literatur in Mainz (commissioned by Franz Steiner Verlag, Wiesbaden).
  • The five great religions. 2 volumes:
    • Volume 1: Brahmanism. Buddhism. Chinese universalism. Diederichs, Düsseldorf / Cologne 1951.
    • Volume 2: Islam and Christianity. Diederichs, Düsseldorf / Cologne 1952.
  • The religions of mankind. Their contrasts and their similarities (= Unesco series of publications. Volume 6). Wilhelm Frick, Vienna 1954.
  • Kant and the religions of the east. Holzner, Kitzingen 1954.
  • Buddhism and the idea of ​​God. The Buddhist teachings of the supernatural beings and powers and their religious-historical parallels. Academy of Sciences and Literature, Mainz 1954 (= treatises of the Academy of Sciences and Literature. Humanities and social science class. Born in 1954, Volume 8).
  • The path to enlightenment. Basic texts of the Buddhist doctrine of salvation. Diederichs, Düsseldorf / Cologne 1956.
  • The non-Christian religions. 2nd Edition. Stuttgart 1959 (= The Fischer Lexicon. Volume 1).
  • Faith and rite of the high religions in a comparative overview (= Fischer Bücherei. Volume 346). S. Fischer, Frankfurt am Main 1960.
  • My life journey. People, countries and things that I saw. Brockhaus, Wiesbaden 1964.

Font directories

  • Zoltán Károlyi: Helmuth von Glasenapp bibliography . Harrassowitz, Wiesbaden 1968, ISBN 978-3-447-04850-7 .
  • Volker Moeller, Heinz Bechert (ed.): Helmuth von Glasenapp: Selected small writings. With an addendum to the Helmuth von Glasenapp bibliography by Zoltán Károlyi . Harrassowitz, Wiesbaden 1980, ISBN 978-3-447-04863-7 .


  • Helmut Hoffmann:  Glasenapp, Helmuth von. In: New German Biography (NDB). Volume 6, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1964, ISBN 3-428-00187-7 , p. 427 f. ( Digitized version ).
  • Volker Moeller, Wilfried Nölle (ed.): From Buddha to Gandhi. Essays on the history of the religions of India (Festschrift for the 70th birthday), Harrassowitz, Wiesbaden 1962
  • Martin Christof: Helmuth von Glasenapp as an indologist and religious scholar: the concept of Hinduism. In: India research in the changing times. Analyzes and documents on Indology and religious studies in Tübingen , ed. v. Heidrun Brückner et al., Attempto, Tübingen 2003, ISBN 978-3-89308-345-9 .

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Jürgen-K. Mahrenholz: South Asian speech and music recordings in the sound archive of the Humboldt University in Berlin . In: MIDA Archival Reflexicon . 2020, p. 3 ( projekt-mida.de ).
  2. 40 years of the Helmuth von Glasenapp Foundation (PDF; 202 kB).
  3. ^ Founding documents of the Helmuth von Glasenapp Foundation on the Foundation's website (PDF; 11.7 MB) (accessed on March 1, 2011) .