Hermann Oldenberg

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Hermann Oldenberg, around 1895

Hermann Oldenberg (born October 31, 1854 in Hamburg , † March 18, 1920 in Göttingen ) was a German Indologist who did pioneering work in the fields of Buddhist studies and the Veda .


Hermann Oldenberg was born in Hamburg in 1854. His father was a pastor and inspector in the Rauhe Haus there . Hermann Oldenberg studied Classical Philology and Indology at the Georg-August University in Göttingen and the Friedrich Wilhelms University in Berlin . There he was promoted to Dr. phil. PhD . In 1878 the habilitation for Sanskrit followed .

In 1889 he became a full professor at the Christian Albrechts University in Kiel , where he was rector in 1906/07. In 1908 he moved to Göttingen. In 1912 and 1913 he was studying in India .

Oldenberg was a corresponding member from 1890 and a full member from 1909 of the Göttingen Academy of Sciences .

The dipterologist Lorenz Oldenberg (1863–1931) and the lawyer Karl Oldenberg (1864–1936) were his brothers.


Oldenberg devoted himself mainly to the study of Indian religions, initially Buddhism . 1879-1883 he published the Vinayapitaka , an important text with rules for life in Buddhist monasteries, which he later published in English translation in the Sacred Books of the East . His book title Buddha, His Life, His Teaching, His Congregation has been a classic of specialist literature for decades and has been translated into French, Russian and English. Oldenberg relied on sources in Pali and showed that Buddha was a historical figure.

Many of his studies were in the Rigveda , his book The Religion of the Veda (1894) was an important specialist publication. In his studies he not only used linguistic methods, but also used ethnology as an auxiliary science for his interpretations. He tried to reconstruct the original text of the Rigveda, which had been handed down orally by priestly families over many generations before it was put into writing. In further studies Oldenberg dealt with the Upanishads , the Brahmanas and the Mahabharata . His title The Literature of Ancient India appeared in 1903.




Web links

Wikisource: Hermann Oldenberg  - Sources and full texts

Individual evidence

  1. Rector's speech (HKM)
  2. Holger Krahnke: The members of the Academy of Sciences in Göttingen 1751-2001 (= Treatises of the Academy of Sciences in Göttingen, Philological-Historical Class. Volume 3, Vol. 246 = Treatises of the Academy of Sciences in Göttingen, Mathematical-Physical Class. Episode 3, vol. 50). Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2001, ISBN 3-525-82516-1 , p. 182.