Max Müller

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Max Müller
File:Friedrich Max Müller by Bassano 1883.jpg
Müller photographed in 1883 by Alexander Bassano
Born Friedrich Max Müller
(1823-12-06)6 December 1823
Dessau, Duchy of Anhalt, German Confederation
Died Script error: No such module "age".
Oxford, Oxfordshire, England
Occupation Writer, scholar
Nationality British
Education University of Leipzig
Notable works The Sacred Books of the East, Chips from a German Workshop
Spouse Georgina Adelaide Grenfell
Children Wilhelm Max Müller

Signature File:Signature of Friedrich Max Müller.png

Friedrich Max Müller (German: [ˈfʁiːdʁɪç ˈmaks ˈmʏlɐ];[1][2] 6 December 1823 – 28 October 1900) was a German-born philologist and Orientalist, who lived and studied in Britain for most of his life. He was one of the founders of the western academic field of Indian studies and the discipline of Study of religions (science of religion, Religionswissenschaft).[3] Müller wrote both scholarly and popular works on the subject of Indology. The Sacred Books of the East, a 50-volume set of English translations, was prepared under his direction. He also promoted the idea of a Turanian family of languages.

Early life and education[edit]

Max Müller was born into a cultured family on 6 December 1823 in Dessau, the son of Wilhelm Müller, a lyric poet whose verse Franz Schubert had set to music in his song-cycles Die schöne Müllerin and Winterreise. His mother, Adelheid Müller (née von Basedow), was the eldest daughter of a prime minister of Anhalt-Dessau. Carl Maria von Weber was a godfather.[4]

Müller was named after his mother's elder brother, Friedrich, and after the central character, Max, in Weber's opera Der Freischütz. Later in life, he adopted Max as a part of his surname, believing that the prevalence of Müller as a name made it too common.[4] His name was also recorded as "Maximilian" on several official documents (e.g. university register, marriage certificate),[citation needed] on some of his honours[5] and in some other publications.[6]

Müller entered the gymnasium (grammar school) at Dessau when he was six years old. In 1829, after the death of his grandfather, he was sent to the Nicolai School at Leipzig, where he continued his studies of music and classics. It was during his time in Leipzig that he frequently met Felix Mendelssohn.[4]

In need of a scholarship to attend Leipzig University, Müller successfully sat his abitur examination at Zerbst. While preparing, he found that the syllabus differed from what he had been taught, necessitating that he rapidly learn mathematics, modern languages and science.[4] He entered Leipzig University in 1841 to study philology, leaving behind his early interest in music and poetry. Müller received his degree in 1843. His final dissertation was on Spinoza's Ethics.[3] He also displayed an aptitude for classical languages, learning Greek, Latin, Arabic, Persian and Sanskrit.

Academic career[edit]

In 1850 Müller was appointed deputy Taylorian professor of modern European languages at Oxford University. In the following year, at the suggestion of Thomas Gaisford, he was made an honorary M.A. and a member of the college of Christ Church, Oxford. On succeeding to the full professorship in 1854, he received the full degree of M.A. by Decree of Convocation. In 1858 he was elected to a life fellowship at All Souls' College.[7]

He was defeated in the 1860 election for the Boden Professor of Sanskrit, which was a "keen disappointment" to him.[8] Müller was far better qualified for the post than the other candidate (Monier Monier-Williams), but his broad theological views, his Lutheranism, his German birth and lack of practical first-hand knowledge of India told against him. After the election he wrote to his mother, "all the best people voted for me, the Professors almost unanimously, but the vulgus profanum made the majority".[9]

Later in 1868, Müller became Oxford's first Professor of Comparative Philology, a position founded on his behalf. He held this chair until his death, although he retired from its active duties in 1875.[10]

Scholarly and literary works[edit]

Sanskrit studies[edit]

In 1844, prior to commencing his academic career at Oxford, Müller studied in Berlin with Friedrich Schelling. He began to translate the Upanishads for Schelling, and continued to research Sanskrit under Franz Bopp, the first systematic scholar of the Indo-European languages (IE). Schelling led Müller to relate the history of language to the history of religion. At this time, Müller published his first book, a German translation of the Hitopadesa, a collection of Indian fables.[11]

In 1845 Müller moved to Paris to study Sanskrit under Eugène Burnouf. Burnouf encouraged him to publish the complete Rigveda, making use of the manuscripts available in England. He moved to England in 1846 to study Sanskrit texts in the collection of the East India Company. He supported himself at first with creative writing, his novel German Love being popular in its day.

Müller's connections with the East India Company and with Sanskritists based at Oxford University led to a career in Britain, where he eventually became the leading intellectual commentator on the culture of India. At the time, Britain controlled this territory as part of its Empire. This led to complex exchanges between Indian and British intellectual culture, especially through Müller's links with the Brahmo Samaj.

Müller's Sanskrit studies came at a time when scholars had started to see language development in relation to cultural development. The recent discovery of the Indo-European language group had started to lead to much speculation about the relationship between Greco-Roman cultures and those of more ancient peoples. In particular the Vedic culture of India was thought to have been the ancestor of European Classical cultures. Scholars sought to compare the genetically related European and Asian languages to reconstruct the earliest form of the root-language. The Vedic language, Sanskrit, was thought to be the oldest of the IE languages.

Müller devoted himself to the study of this language, becoming one of the major Sanskrit scholars of his day. He believed that the earliest documents of Vedic culture should be studied to provide the key to the development of pagan European religions, and of religious belief in general. To this end, Müller sought to understand the most ancient of Vedic scriptures, the Rig-Veda. Müller was greatly impressed by Ramakrishna Paramhansa, his contemporary and proponent of Vedantic philosophy, and wrote several essays and books about him.[12]

File:Friedrich Max-Müller by George Frederic Watts.jpg
Portrait of the elderly Max Müller by George Frederic Watts, 1894–1895

For Müller, the study of the language had to relate to the study of the culture in which it had been used. He came to the view that the development of languages should be tied to that of belief-systems. At that time the Vedic scriptures were little-known in the West, though there was increasing interest in the philosophy of the Upanishads. Müller believed that the sophisticated Upanishadic philosophy could be linked to the primitive henotheism of early Vedic Brahmanism from which it evolved. He had to travel to London to look at documents held in the collection of the British East India Company. While there he persuaded the company to allow him to undertake a critical edition of the Rig-Veda, a task he pursued over many years (1849–1874).[13] He completed the critical edition for which he is most remembered.[citation needed].

For Müller, the culture of the Vedic peoples represented a form of nature worship, an idea clearly influenced by Romanticism. Müller shared many of the ideas associated with Romanticism, which coloured his account of ancient religions, in particular his emphasis on the formative influence on early religion of emotional communion with natural forces.[14] He saw the gods of the Rig-Veda as active forces of nature, only partly personified as imagined supernatural persons. From this claim Müller derived his theory that mythology is "a disease of language". By this he meant that myth transforms concepts into beings and stories. In Müller's view, "gods" began as words constructed to express abstract ideas, but were transformed into imagined personalities. Thus the Indo-European father-god appears under various names: Zeus, Jupiter, Dyaus Pita. For Müller all these names can be traced to the word "Dyaus", which he understood to imply "shining" or "radiance". This leads to the terms "deva", "deus", "theos" as generic terms for a god, and to the names "Zeus" and "Jupiter" (derived from deus-pater). In this way a metaphor becomes personified and ossified. This aspect of Müller's thinking was later explored similarly by Nietzsche.

Gifford Lectures[edit]

File:Friedrich Max Müller, Vanity Fair, 1875-02-06.jpg
1875 Vanity Fair caricature of Müller confirming that, at the age of fifty-one, with numerous honours, he was one of the truly notable "Men of the Day".

In 1888, Müller was appointed Gifford Lecturer at the University of Glasgow. These Gifford Lectures were the first in an annual series, given at several Scottish universities, that has continued to the present day. Over the next four years, Müller gave four series of lectures.[3] The titles and order of the lectures were as follows:[15]

  1. Natural Religion. This first course of lectures was intended as purely introductory, and had for its object a definition of Natural Religion in its widest sense.
  2. Physical Religion. This second course of lectures was intended to show how different nations had arrived at a belief in something infinite behind the finite, in something invisible behind the visible, in many unseen agents or gods of nature, until they reached a belief in one god above all those gods. In short, a history of the discovery of the infinite in nature.
  3. Anthropological Religion. This third course was intended to show how different nations arrived at a belief in a soul, how they named its various faculties, and what they imagined about its fate after death.
  4. Theosophy or Psychological Religion. The fourth and last course of lectures was intended to examine the relation between God and the soul ("these two Infinites"), including the ideas that some of the principal nations of the world have formed concerning this relation. Real religion, Müller asserted, is founded on a true perception of the relation of the soul to God and of God to the soul; Müller wanted to prove that this was true, not only as a postulate, but as an historical fact. The original title of the lectures was 'Psychological Religion' but Müller felt compelled to add 'Theosophy' to it. Müller's final Gifford Lecture is significant in interpreting his work broadly, as he situates his philological and historical research within a Hermetic and mystical theological project.[16]:108–110

As translator[edit]

In 1881, he published a translation of the first edition of Kant's Critique of Pure Reason. He agreed with Schopenhauer that this edition was the most direct and honest expression of Kant's thought. His translation corrected several errors that were committed by previous translators.[17] In his Translator's Preface, Müller wrote

The bridge of thoughts and sighs that spans the whole history of the Aryan world has its first arch in the Veda, its last in Kant's Critique. ... While in the Veda we may study the childhood, we may study in Kant's Critique of Pure Reason the perfect manhood of the Aryan mind. ... The materials are now accessible, and the English-speaking race, the race of the future, will have in Kant's Critique another Aryan heirloom, as precious as the Veda—a work that may be criticised, but can never be ignored.

Müller continued to be influenced by the Kantian Transcendentalist model of spirituality,[18] and was opposed to Darwinian ideas of human development.[19] He argued that "language forms an impassable barrier between man and beast."[20]

He was also influenced by the work Thought and Reality, of the Russian philosopher African Spir.[citation needed]

Views on India[edit]

Early career[edit]

On August 25th 1866, Muller wrote to Chevalier Bunsen:

India is much riper for Christianity than Rome or Greece were at the time of St. Paul. The rotten tree has for some time had artificial supports, because its fall would have been inconvenient for the government. But if the Englishman comes to see that the tree must fall, sooner or later, then the thing is done... I should like to lay down my life, or at least to lend my hand to bring about this struggle... I do not at all like to go to India as a missionary, that makes one dependent on the parsons... I should like to live for ten years quite quietly and learn the language, try to make friends, and see whether I was fit to take part in a work, by means of which the old mischief of Indian priestcraft could be overthrown and the way opened for the entrance of simple Christian teaching...

— The Life And Letters Of The Right Honourable Friedrich Max Muller Vol.i, Chapter X[21]

In his career, Müller several times expressed the view that a "reformation" within Hinduism needed to occur, comparable to the Christian Reformation.[22] In his view, "if there is one thing which a comparative study of religions places in the clearest light, it is the inevitable decay to which every religion is exposed... Whenever we can trace back a religion to its first beginnings, we find it free from many blemishes that affected it in its later states".[23]

He used his links with the Brahmo Samaj to encourage such a reformation on the lines pioneered by Ram Mohan Roy. Müller believed that the Brahmos would engender an Indian form of Christianity and that they were in practice "Christians, without being Roman Catholics, Anglicans or Lutherans". In the Lutheran tradition, he hoped that the "superstition" and idolatry, which he considered to be characteristic of modern popular Hinduism, would disappear.[24]

Müller wrote:

The translation of the Veda will hereafter tell to a great extent on the fate of India, and on the growth of millions of souls in that country. It is the root of their religion, and to show them what the root is, is, I feel sure, is the only way of uprooting all that has sprung from it during the last 3,000 years... one ought to be up and doing what may be God's work.[25][26]

Müller hoped that increased funding for education in India would promote a new form of literature combining Western and Indian traditions. In 1868 he wrote to George Campbell, the newly appointed Secretary of State for India:

India has been conquered once, but India must be conquered again, and that second conquest should be a conquest by education. Much has been done for education of late, but if the funds were tripled and quadrupled, that would hardly be enough (...) By encouraging a study of their own ancient literature, as part of their education, a national feeling of pride and self-respect will be reawakened among those who influence the large masses of the people. A new national literature may spring up, impregnated with Western ideas, yet retaining its native spirit and character (...) A new national literature will bring with it a new national life, and new moral vigour. As to religion, that will take care of itself. The missionaries have done far more than they themselves seem to be aware of, nay, much of the work which is theirs they would probably disclaim. The Christianity of our nineteenth century will hardly be the Christianity of India. But the ancient religion of India is doomed—and if Christianity does not step in, whose fault will it be?

— Max Müller, (1868)[27]

Late career[edit]

In his sixties and seventies, Müller gave a series of lectures, which reflected a more nuanced view in favour of Hinduism and the ancient literature from India. In his "What can India teach us?" lecture at University of Cambridge, he championed ancient Sanskrit literature and India as follows:

If I were to look over the whole world to find out the country most richly endowed with all the wealth, power, and beauty that nature can bestow—in some parts a very paradise on earth—I should point to India. If I were asked under what sky the human mind has most full developed some of its choicest gifts, has most deeply pondered on the greatest problems of life, and has found solutions of some of them which well deserve the attention even of those who have studied Plato and Kant—I should point to India. And if I were to ask myself from what literature we, here in Europe, we who have been nurtured almost exclusively on the thoughts of Greeks and Romans, and of one Semitic race, the Jewish, may draw that corrective which is most wanted in order to make our inner life more perfect, more comprehensive, more universal, in fact more truly human, a life, not for this life only, but a transfigured and eternal life—again I should point to India.

— Max Müller, (1883)[28]

He also conjectured that the introduction of Islam in India in the 11th century had a deep effect on the psyche and behaviour of Hindus in another lecture, "Truthful Character of the Hindus":

The other epic poem too, the Mahabharata, is full of episodes showing a profound regard for truth. (...) Were I to quote from all the law-books, and from still later works, everywhere you would hear the same key-note of truthfulness vibrating through them all. (...) I say once more that I do not wish to represent the people of India as two hundred and fifty-three millions of angels, but I do wish it to be understood and to be accepted as a fact, that the damaging charge of untruthfulness brought against that people is utterly unfounded with regard to ancient times. It is not only not true, but the very opposite of the truth. As to modern times, and I date them from about 1000 after Christ (AD), I can only say that, after reading the accounts of the terrors and horrors of Mohammedan rule, my wonder is that so much of native virtue and truthfulness should have survived. You might as well expect a mouse to speak the truth before a cat, as a Hindu before a Mohammedan judge.

— Max Müller, (1884)[29]

Swami Vivekananda, who was the foremost disciple of Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, met Müller over a lunch on 28 May 1896. Regarding Müller and his wife, the Swami later wrote:[30]

The visit was really a revelation to me. That little white house, its setting in a beautiful garden, the silver-haired sage, with a face calm and benign, and forehead smooth as a child's in spite of seventy winters, and every line in that face speaking of a deep-seated mine of spirituality somewhere behind; that noble wife, the helpmate of his life through his long and arduous task of exciting interest, overriding opposition and contempt, and at last creating a respect for the thoughts of the sages of ancient India—the trees, the flowers, the calmness, and the clear sky—all these sent me back in imagination to the glorious days of ancient India, the days of our brahmarshis and rajarshis, the days of the great vanaprasthas, the days of Arundhatis and Vasishthas. It was neither the philologist nor the scholar that I saw, but a soul that is every day realizing its oneness with the universe.

Controversies[edit]

Anti-Christian[edit]

During the course of his Gifford Lectures on the subject of "natural religion", Müller was severely criticised for being anti-Christian. In 1891, at a meeting of the Established Presbytery of Glasgow, Mr. Thomson (Minister of Ladywell) moved a motion that Müller's teaching was "subversive of the Christian faith, and fitted to spread pantheistic and infidel views amongst the students and others" and questioned Müller's appointment as lecturer.[31] An even stronger attack on Müller was made by Monsignor Alexander Munro in St Andrew's Cathedral. Munro, an officer of the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland (and Provost of the Catholic Cathedral of Glasgow from 1884 to 1892), declared that Müller's lectures "were nothing less than a crusade against Divine revelation, against Jesus Christ, and against Christianity". The blasphemous lectures were, he continued, "the proclamation of atheism under the guise of pantheism" and "uprooted our idea of God, for it repudiated the idea of a personal God".[32]

Similar accusations had already led to Müller's exclusion from the Boden chair in Sanskrit in favour of the conservative Monier Monier-Williams. By the 1880s Müller was being courted by Charles Godfrey Leland, medium and Freemason Helena Blavatsky, and other writers who were seeking to assert the merits of "pagan" religious traditions over Christianity. The designer Mary Fraser Tytler stated that Müller's book Chips from a German Workshop (a collection of his essays) was her "Bible", which helped her to create a multi-cultural sacred imagery.[citation needed]

Müller distanced himself from these developments, and remained within the Lutheran faith in which he had been brought up. According to G. Beckerlegge, "Müller's background as a Lutheran German and his identification with the Broad Church party" led to "suspicion by those opposed to the political and religious positions that they felt Müller represented", particularly his latitudinarianism.[33]

Although Müller took a strong religious and academic interest in Hinduism and other non-Christian religions, and often compared Christianity to religions that many traditional Protestants would have regarded as primitive or false, he grounded his Perennialism in a belief that Christianity possessed the fullest truth of all living religions.[16]:109–10 Twenty-first century scholars of religion, far from accusing Müller of being anti-Christian, have critically examined Müller's theological project as evidence for a bias towards Christian conceptions of God in early academic religious studies.[16]:120–2[34]

Darwin disagreement[edit]

Müller attempted to formulate a philosophy of religion that addressed the crisis of faith engendered by the historical and critical study of religion by German scholars on the one hand, and by the Darwinian revolution on the other. He was wary of Darwin's work on human evolution, and attacked his view of the development of human faculties. His work was taken up by cultural commentators such as his friend John Ruskin, who saw it as a productive response to the crisis of the age (compare Matthew Arnold's "Dover Beach"). He analysed mythologies as rationalisations of natural phenomena, primitive beginnings that we might denominate "protoscience" within a cultural evolution.[citation needed] Müller also proposed an early, mystical interpretation of theistic evolution, using Darwinism as a critique of mechanical philosophy.[16]:113

In 1870 Müller gave a short course of three lectures for the British Institution on language as the barrier between man and beast, which he called "On Darwin's Philosophy of Language". Müller specifically disagreed with Darwin's theories on the origin of language and that the language of man could have developed from the language of animals. In 1873, he sent a copy of his lectures to Darwin reassuring him that, though he differed from some of Darwin's conclusions, he was one of his "diligent readers and sincere admirers".[35]

Aryanism[edit]

Müller's work contributed to the developing interest in Aryan culture, which often set Indo-European ("Aryan") traditions in opposition to Semitic religions. He was "deeply saddened by the fact that these classifications later came to be expressed in racist terms", as this was far from his intention.[36] For Müller the discovery of common Indian and European ancestry was a powerful argument against racism, arguing that "an ethnologist who speaks of Aryan race, Aryan blood, Aryan eyes and hair, is as great a sinner as a linguist who speaks of a dolichocephalic dictionary or a brachycephalic grammar" and that "the blackest Hindus represent an earlier stage of Aryan speech and thought than the fairest Scandinavians".[37][38]

Turanian[edit]

Müller put forward and promoted the theory of a "Turanian" family of languages or speech, comprising the Finnic, Samoyedic, "Tataric" (Turkic), Mongolic, and Tungusic languages.[39] According to Müller these five languages were those "spoken in Asia or Europe not included under the Arian (sic) and Semitic families, with the exception perhaps of the Chinese and its dialects". In addition, they were "nomadic languages," in contrast to the other two families (Aryan and Semitic), which he called State or political languages.[40]

The idea of a Turanian family of languages was not accepted by everyone at the time.[41] Although the term "Turanian" quickly became an archaism[42] (unlike "Aryan"), it did not disappear completely. The idea was absorbed later into nationalist ideologies in Hungary and Turkey.[43]

Honours[edit]

File:Friedrich Max Müller, 1898.jpg
Müller c. 1898, wearing his Habit vert costume with the insignia of the order Pour le Mérite and the Bavarian Maximilian Order for Science and Art

In 1869 Müller was elected to the French Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres as a foreign correspondent (associé étranger).[5]

In June 1874 Müller was awarded the Pour le Mérite (civil class), much to his surprise. Soon after, when he was commanded to dine at Windsor, he wrote to Prince Leopold to ask if he might wear his Order, and the wire came back, "Not may, but must."[44]

In 1875 Müller was awarded the Bavarian Maximilian Order for Science and Art. The award is given to acknowledge excellent and outstanding achievements in the field of science and art. In a letter to his mother dated 19 December, Müller wrote that the award was more showy than the Pour le Mérite, "but that is the best".[45]

In 1896 Müller was appointed a member of the Privy Council.[46]

Personal life[edit]

Müller became a naturalized British citizen in 1855, at the age of 32.

He married Georgina Adelaide Grenfell on 3 August 1859. The couple had four children – Ada, Mary, Beatrice and Wilhelm Max – of whom two predeceased them.[4]

Georgina (died 1919) had his papers and correspondence bound; they are at the Bodleian Library, Oxford.[47]

Death and legacy[edit]

Müller's health began deteriorating in 1898 and he died at his home in Oxford on 28 October 1900. He was interred at Holywell Cemetery on 1 November 1900.[3]

After his death a memorial fund was opened at Oxford for "the promotion of learning and research in all matters relating to the history and archaeology, the languages, literatures, and religions of ancient India".[48]

The Goethe Institutes in India are named Max Müller Bhavan in his honour, as is a street (Max Mueller Marg) in New Delhi.[49]

Müller's biographies include those by Lourens van den Bosch (2002), Jon R. Stone (2002) and Nirad C. Chaudhuri (1974), the last of which was awarded the Sahitya Akademi Award for English by Sahitya Akademi, India's National Academy of Letters. Stephen G. Alter's (2005) work contains a chapter on Müller's rivalry with the American linguist William Dwight Whitney.

Publications[edit]

Müller's scholarly works, published separately as well as an 18-volume Collected Works, include:

  • Lectures on the Science of Language were translated into Russian in 1866 and published at the first Russian scientific linguistic magazine "Filologicheskie Zapiski".

References[edit]

  1. John C. Wells (2008), Longman Pronunciation Dictionary (3rd ed.), Longman, ISBN 9781405881180<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "Duden | Max | Rechtschreibung, Bedeutung, Definition". Duden (in Deutsch). Retrieved 20 October 2018. Mạx<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Sara Abraham and Brannon Hancock, doctoral students of theology in University of Glasgow Friedrich Max Muller. Gifford Lectures.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 R. C. C. Fynes (May 2007), Müller, Friedrich Max (1823–1900), Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, [1], accessed 17 March 2013] (subscription or UK public library membership required)
  5. 5.0 5.1 Académiciens depuis 1663. Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres.
  6. Charles Johnston (1900) An Estimate of Max Muller (1823–1900). The American Monthly Review of Reviews, Vol XXII, July–December. The Review of Reviews Company: New York, pp.703–706.
  7. Dictionary of National Biography, 1901 supplement.
  8. Müller (1902), pp. 241–242
  9. Müller (1902), p. 244
  10. George Sandeman (1907). The Harmsworth Encyclopaedia: Everybody's Book of Reference : containing 50,000 articles, profusely illustrated, Volume 6. The Amalgamated Press. p. 4042.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. Margaret Thomas (2011). Fifty Key Thinkers on Language and Linguistics. Routledge. p. 109. ISBN 978-0415373029.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. "Vedanta Society of New York: Ramakrishna". Archived from the original on 16 September 2016. Retrieved 25 August 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. B. R. Modak (1995). Sayana, Volume 203. Sahitya Akademi. p. 33. ISBN 9788172019402.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. Mittal, Sushil; Thursby, Gene (10 September 2007). Studying Hinduism: Key Concepts and Methods. Taylor & Francis. ISBN 9780203939734. Retrieved 25 August 2016 – via Google Books.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. Müller, F. Max (1895), Theosophy or Psychological Religion. London: Longmans, Green and Co., pp.89–90.
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 16.3 Josephson-Storm, Jason (2017). The Myth of Disenchantment: Magic, Modernity, and the Birth of the Human Sciences. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. ISBN 978-0-226-40336-6.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. J.Lection (1882). The Athenaeum. p. 629. At times Prof. Muller has succeeded in correcting an error and in coming closer to his original or has modified the harshness of Mr. Meiklejohn's style; but in other passages we prefer the latter, and of certain general changes made by Prof. Max Muller.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> Original from Priceton University
  18. Kant's Critique of Pure Reason, Last Essays by the Right Hon. Professor F. Max Müller ... First Series: Essays on Language, Folklore and Other Subjects; pub. by Longmans, Green and Company, 1901.
  19. The Twentieth Century, Volume 23. p. 745. according to Mr. Max Muller, Kant established against Darwin by proving that there is transcendentalist side to human knowledge which affords.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> Original from Cornell University
  20. Müller, F. Max. (1899) Three Lectures on the Science of Language, etc., with a Supplement, My Predecessors. 3rd ed. Chicago. p. 9.
  21. Friedrich Max Muller (1902). The Life And Letters Of The Right Honourable Friedrich Max Muller Vol.i. pp. 191–192.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  22. Menant, M. D. (1907). "Influence of Max Muller's Hibbert Lectures in India". The American Journal of Theology. 11 (2): 293–307. doi:10.1086/478685. JSTOR 3153715.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  23. Jacques Waardenburg (1999). Classical Approaches to the Study of Religion: Aims, Methods, and Theories of Research, Volume 1. Walter de Gruyter. p. 87. ISBN 9783110163285.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  24. Sharada Sugirtharajah (2003) Imagining hinduism: a postcolonial perspective. Routledge. pp. 60–61. <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css" />ISBN 8120840917
  25. Edwin Bryant (2001). The Quest for the Origins of Vedic Culture: The Indo-Aryan Migration Debate. Oxford University Press. p. 289. ISBN 9780195137774.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  26. Eliot Weinberger (2000). Karmic Traces, 1993–1999. New Directions Publishing. p. 174. ISBN 9780811214568.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  27. Müller (1902), pp. 357–358
  28. Max Müller, INDIA – LECTURE I. WHAT CAN INDIA TEACH US?, A Course of Lectures Delivered before the University of Cambridge, Project Gutenberg
  29. Max Müller, INDIA – LECTURE II. Truthful Character of the Hindus, A Course of Lectures Delivered before the University of Cambridge, Project Gutenberg
  30. Swami Nikhilananda (1953), Vivekananda: A Biography (PDF), New York: Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center, p. 106, ISBN 978-0-911206-25-8, archived from the original (PDF) on 25 January 2012, retrieved 19 March 2012<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  31. Müller (1902), p. 262
  32. Müller (1902), p. 263
  33. Beckerlegge, G. (1997) "Professor Friedrich Max Müller and the Missionary Cause". In, John Wolffe (Ed) Religion in Victorian Britain V Culture and Empire. Manchester University Press, p.189.
  34. Russell T. McCutcheon (1997). Manufacturing Religion: The Discourse on Sui Generis Religion and the Politics of Nostalgia. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 58–61. ISBN 978-0195355680.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  35. Charles Darwin. More Letters of Charles Darwin – Volume 2. p. 397
  36. Jorg Esleben; Jörg Esleben; Christina Kraenzle; Sukanya Kulkarni (2008). Mapping channels between Ganges and Rhein: German-Indian cross-cultural relations. Cambridge Scholars publication. p. 62. ISBN 9781847185877. In later years, especially before his death, he was deeply saddened by the fact that these classifications later came to be expressed in racist terms.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  37. F. Max Müller (1888) Biographies of Words and the Home of the Aryas. Kessinger Publishing reprint, 2004, p.120
  38. Dorothy Matilda Figueira (2002) Aryans, Jews, Brahmins: Theorizing Authority Through Myths of Identity, SUNY Press. p. 45. <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css" />ISBN 0791455327
  39. Müller, M. (1854) The last results of the researches respecting the non-Iranian and non-Semitic languages of Asia or Europe, or the Turanian family of language. (Letter of Professor Max Muller to Chevalier Bunsen; Oxford August 1853; on the classification of the Turanian languages). In, Christian Bunsen (1854) Outlines of the Philosophy of Universal History, Applied to Language and Religion. In Two Volumes. Vol. 1. London: Brown, Green, and Longmans.
  40. M. Müller (1855) The languages of the seat of war in the East. With a survey of the three families of language, Semitic, Arian, and Turanian. London: Williams and Norgate, p. 86.
  41. David Waterhouse (2002). The Origins of Himalayan Studies: Brian Houghton Hodgson in Nepal and Darjeeling. p. 20/232. ISBN 9780203480359. In 1910, a full decade after Muller's death, the Turan Tarsasag 'Turanian Society' was founded in order to study the history and culture of the Hungarians and other 'Turanian' peoples.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  42. T. Masuza (2005) The Invention of World Religions, Or, How European Universalism was Preserved in the Language of Pluralism. The University of Chicago Press, p. 229. <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css" />ISBN 0226509893
  43. Günay Göksu Özdoğan: The case of racism-Turanism: Turkism during single-party period, 1931–1944: a radical variant of Turkish nationalism
  44. Müller (1902), p. 462
  45. Müller (1902), p. 503
  46. "no. 26754". The London Gazette. 30 June 1896.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  47. "Max Muller Papers". Retrieved 25 August 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  48. Max Müller Memorial Fund Archived 3 January 2011 at the Wayback Machine.. Faculty of Oriental Studies, University of Oxford.
  49. About Max Mueller. Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan.
  50. Müller, F. Max (Friedrich Max) (16 October 2009). My Autobiography: A Fragment. Retrieved 25 August 2016 – via Project Gutenberg.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

Cited sources[edit]

  • Müller, Georgina (1902). The Life and Letters of Right Honorable Friedrich Max Müller. Vol. 1. London: Longman.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

Further reading[edit]

  • Lourens van den Bosch (2002). Friedrich Max Müller: A Life Devoted to Humanities. E. J. Brill. ISBN 978-90-04-12505-6.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Jon R. Stone (6 December 2002). The Essential Max Müller: On Language, Mythology, and Religion. Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 978-0-312-29309-3.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Nirad C. Chaudhuri (1974). Scholar Extraordinary: The Life of Professor the Rt. Hon. Friedrich Max Müller. Chatto & Windus.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Stephen G. Alter (9 March 2005). "The Battle with Max Müller". William Dwight Whitney and the Science of Language. Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. 174–207. ISBN 978-0-8018-8020-9.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Stefan Arvidsson (2006). Indo-European Mythology as Ideology and Science. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 9780226028606. Archived from the original on 21 December 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • John R. Davis and Angus Nicholls, eds. (2017) Friedrich Max Müller and the Role of Philology in Victorian Thought. Routledge
  • John R. Davis and Angus Nicholls (2016), "Friedrich Max Müller: The Career and Intellectual Trajectory of a German Philologist in Victorian Britain". Publications of the English Goethe Society 85, no. 2-3 (2016): 67-97
  • Arie Molendijk (2016). Friedrich Max Müller and the Sacred Books of the East. Oxford University Press.
  • Joan Leopold, "Steinthal and Max Müller: Comparative Lives", Chajim H. Steinthal, Sprachwissenschaflter und Philosoph im 19. Jahrhundert. Linguist and Philosopher in the 19th Century, eds. Hartwig Wiedebach and Annette Winkelmann. Leiden, Boston, Köln: Brill, 2002 (= Studies in European Judaism, IV), pp. 31–49.
  • Joan Leopold,"Max Müller and the Linguistic Study of Civilization“ and Editor. Friedrich Max Müller, "Comparative Philology of the Indo-european languages in its bearing on the early civilisation of Mankind" (1849), in Contributions to Comparative Indo-European, African and Chinese Linguistics: Max Müller and Steinthal. Dordrecht and Boston: Springer, 1999, pp. 1–206. [= Prix Volney Essay Series, III] With full bibliography of works.
  • Joan Leopold, "Ethnic Stereotypes in Linguistics: The Case of Friedrich Max Müller (1847 51)", Papers in the History of Linguistics [delivered at Princeton, 1984] eds. H. Aarsleff, L. G. Kelly and H.-J. Niederehe. Amsterdam and Philadelphia: J. Benjamins, 1987, pp. 501–12.
  • Joan Leopold, "Friedrich Max Müller and the question of the early Indo Europeans (1847 1851)", Etudes inter-ethniques, Annales du Centre d'études supérieures et de recherches sur les relations ethniques et le racisme (Paris), VII (1984), 21-32.
  • Joan Leopold, "Britische Anwendungen der arischen Rassentheorie auf Indien 1850 70", Saeculum, XXV (1974), 386-411. (trans. of following item)
  • Joan Leopold, "British Applications of the Aryan Theory of Race to India 1850 70", The English Historical Review, LXXXIX (1974), 578-603. (Winner of Universities Essay Prize, Royal Asiatic Society, London)
  • Joan Leopold, "The Aryan Theory of Race in India 1870-1920", The Indian Economic and Social History Review, VII (1970), 271-97.


Quotes[edit]

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History seems to teach that the whole human race required a gradual education before, in the fullness of time, it could be admitted to the truths of Christianity.
File:Goa India Little Vagator Beach Shiva Head.jpg
When a religion has ceased to produce defenders of the faith, prophets, champions, martyrs, it has ceased to live, in the true sense of the word...
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If I were asked under what sky the human mind has most fully developed some of its choicest gifts, has most deeply pondered over the greatest problems of life... I should point to India.
  • History seems to teach that the whole human race required a gradual education before, in the fullness of time, it could be admitted to the truths of Christianity. All the fallacies of human reason had to be exhausted, before the light of a high truth could meet with ready acceptance. The ancient religions of the world were but the milk of nature, which was in due time to be succeeded by the bread of life.... The religion of Buddha has spread far beyond the limits of the Aryan world, and to our limited vision, it may seem to have retarded the advent of Christianity among a large portion of the human race. But in the sight of Him with whom a thousand years are but as one day, that religion, like the ancient religions of the world, may have but served to prepare the way of Christ, by helping through its very errors to strengthen and to deepen the ineradicable yearning of the human heart after the truth of God.
    • History of Ancient Sanksrit Literature (1860)
  • The worship of Shiva, Vishnu, and other popular deities was of the same and in many cases of a more degraded and savage character than the worship of Jupiter, Apollo or Minerva. ... A religion may linger on for a long time, it may be accepted by large masses of the people, because it is there, and there is nothing better. But when a religion has ceased to produce defenders of the faith, prophets, champions, martyrs, it has ceased to live, in the true sense of the word; and in that sense the old orthodox Brahmanism has ceased to live for more than a thousand years.
    • Lecture at Westminster Abbey (1873); as quoted in Hinduism : A Religion to Live By (1997) by Nirad C. Chaudhari <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css" />ISBN 0195640136
  • If I were asked under what sky the human mind has most fully developed some of its choicest gifts, has most deeply pondered over the greatest problems of life, and has found solutions of some of them which well deserve the attention even of those who have studied Plato and Kant, I should point to India. And if I were to ask myself from what literature we who have been nurtured almost exclusively on the thoughts of Greeks and Romans, and of the Semitic race, the Jewish, may draw the corrective which is most wanted in order to make our inner life more perfect, more comprehensive, more universal, in fact more truly human a life... again I should point to India.
    • India, What Can It Teach Us (1882) Lecture IV
  • They contain, by the side of simple, natural, childish thoughts, many ideas which to us sound decidedly modern, or secondary and tertiary.
    • On the Vedas, in India, What can it teach us (1882) Lecture IV
  • I have declared again and again that if I say Aryans, I mean neither blood nor bones, nor hair nor skull; I mean simply those who speak an Aryan language… in that sense, and in that sense only, do I say that even the blackest Hindus represent an earlier stage of Aryan speech and thought than the fairest Scandinavians... To me an ethnologist who speaks of Aryan race, Aryan blood, Aryan eyes and hair, is as great a sinner as a linguist who speaks of a dolichocephalic dictionary or a brachycephalic grammar.
    • Biographies of Words and the Home of the Aryas (1888)
  • The translation of the Veda will hereafter tell to a great extent on the fate of India and on the growth of millions of souls in that country. It is the root of their religion, and to show them what the root is, I feel sure, is the only way of uprooting all that has sprung from it during the last 3000 years.
    • Letter to his wife Georgina, published in The Life and Letters of Right Honorable Friedrich Max Müller (1902) edited by Georgina Müller
  • As for more than twenty years my principal work has been devoted to the ancient literature of India, I cannot but feel a deep and real sympathy for all that concerns the higher interests of the people of that country. Though I have never been in India, I have many friends there, both among the civilians and among the natives, and I believe I am not mistaken in supposing that the publication in England of the ancient sacred writings of the Brahmans, which had never been published in India, and other contributions from different European scholars towards a better knowledge of the ancient literature and religion of India, have not been without some effect on the intellectual and religious movement that is going on among the more thoughtful members of Indian society. I have sometimes regretted that I am not an Englishman, and able to help more actively in the great work of educating and improving the natives. But I do rejoice that this great task of governing and benefiting India should have fallen to one who knows the greatness of that task and all its opportunities and responsibilities, who thinks not only of its political and financial bearings, but has a heart to feel for the moral welfare of those millions of human beings that are, more or less directly, committed to his charge. India has been conquered once, but India must be conquered again, and that second conquest should be a conquest by education. Much has been done for education of late, but if the funds were tripled and quadrupled, that would hardly be enough. The results of the educational work carried on during the last twenty years are palpable everywhere. They are good and bad, as was to be expected. It is easy to find fault with what is called Young Bengal, the product of English ideas grafted on the native mind. But Young Bengal, with all its faults, is full of promise. Its bad features are apparent everywhere, its good qualities are naturally hidden from the eyes of careless observers. . . . India can never be anglicized, but it can be reinvigorated. By encouraging a study of their own ancient literature, as part of their education, a national feeling of pride and self-respect will be reawakened among those who influence the large masses of the people. A new national literature may spring up, impregnated with Western ideas, yet retaining its native spirit and character. The two things hang together. In order to raise the character of the vernaculars, a study of the ancient classical language is absolutely necessary: for from it these modern dialects have branched off, and from it alone can they draw their vital strength and beauty. A new national literature will bring with it a new national life and new moral vigour. As to religion, that will take care of itself. The missionaries have done far more than they themselves seem to be aware of, nay, much of the work which is theirs they would probably disclaim. The Christianity of our nineteenth century will hardly be the Christianity of India. But the ancient religion of India is doomed — and if Christianity does not step in, whose fault will it be?
    • Letter to the Duke of Argyll, published in The Life and Letters of Right Honorable Friedrich Max Müller (1902) edited by Georgina Müller
  • Would you say that any one sacred book is superior to all others in the world? ... I say the New Testament, after that, I should place the Koran, which in its moral teachings, is hardly more than a later edition of the New Testament. Then would follow according to my opinion the Old Testament, the Southern Buddhist Tripitaka, the Tao-te-king of Laotze, the Kings of Confucius, the Veda and the Avesta.
    • Letter to his son, published in The Life and Letters of Right Honorable Friedrich Max Müller (1902) edited by Georgina Müller, Vol. II, Ch. XXXII
  • Tell me some of your chief difficulties that prevent you and your countrymen from openly following Christ, and when I write to you I shall do my best to explain how I and many who agree with me have met them and solved them... From my point of view, India, at least the best part of it, is already converted to Christianity. You want no persuasion to become a follower of Christ. Then make up your mind to act for yourselves. Unite your flock, and put up a few folds to hold them together. The bridge has been built by you for those who came before you. Step boldly forward, it will not break under you, and you will find many friends to welcome you on the other shore, and among them none more delighted that you old friend and fellow labourer.
    • Letter to Protap Chunder Mozoomdar, author of The Oriental Christ (1883); published in The Life and Letters of Right Honorable Friedrich Max Müller (1902) edited by Georgina Müller, Vol. II., Ch. XXXIV
  • There will be and can be no rest till we admit, what cannot be denied, that there is in man a third faculty, which I call simply the faculty of apprehending the Infinite, not only in religion, but in all things; a power independent of sense and reason, a power in a certain sense contradicted by sense and reason; but yet, I suppose, a very real power, if we see how it has held its own from the beginning of the world — how neither sense nor reason has been able to overcome it, while it alone is able to overcome both reason and sense.
    • Reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), p. 562.

Chips from a German Workshop (1866)[edit]

File:LuMaxArt Golden Family With World Religions.jpg
He must be a man of little faith, who would fear to subject his own religion to the same critical tests to which the historian subjects all other religions. We need not surely crave a tender or merciful treatment for that faith which we hold to be the only true one.
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The Science of Language has taught us that there is order and wisdom in all languages, and even the most degraded jargons contain the ruins of former greatness and beauty.
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The great problems touching the relation of the Finite to the Infinite, of the human mind as the recipient, and of the Divine Spirit as the source of truth, are old problems indeed...
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The founders of the ancient religions of the world, as far as we can judge, were minds of a high stamp, full of noble aspirations, yearning for truth, devoted to the welfare of their neighbors, examples of purity and unselfishness.
File:Christ with beard.jpg
It is necessary that we too should see the beam in our own eyes, and learn to distinguish between the Christianity of the nineteenth century and the religion of Christ.
File:Brillanten.jpg
Hidden in this rubbish there are precious stones.
File:Brocken-tanzawa.JPG
Then first came love upon it, the new spring
Of mind — yea, poets in their hearts discerned,
Pondering, this bond between created things
And uncreated...
File:Egg Nebula.jpg
Who knows from whence this great creation sprang?
He from whom all this great creation came,
Whether his will created or was mute,
The Most High Seer that is in highest heaven,
He knows it — or perchance even He knows not.
  • He must be a man of little faith, who would fear to subject his own religion to the same critical tests to which the historian subjects all other religions. We need not surely crave a tender or merciful treatment for that faith which we hold to be the only true one. We should rather challenge it for the severest tests and trials, as the sailor would for the good ship to which he trusts his own life, and the lives of those who are dear to him. In the Science of Religion, we can decline no comparisons, nor claim any immunities for Christianity, as little as the missionary can, when wrestling with the subtle Brahmin, or the fanatical Mussulman, or the plain speaking Zulu.
    • Preface (Scribner edition, 1872)
  • Missionaries are apt to look upon all other religions as something totally distinct from their own, as formerly they used to describe the languages of barbarous nations as something more like the twittering of birds than the articulate speech of men. The Science of Language has taught us that there is order and wisdom in all languages, and even the most degraded jargons contain the ruins of former greatness and beauty. The Science of Religion, I hope, will produce a similar change in our views of barbarous forms of faith and worship; and missionaries, instead of looking only for points of difference, will look out more anxiously for any common ground, any spark of the true light that may still be revived, any altar that may be dedicated afresh to the true God.
    And even to us at home, a wider view of the religious life of the world may teach many a useful lesson.
    • Preface (Scribner edition, 1872)
  • The position which believers and unbelievers occupy with regard to their various forms of faith is very much the same all over the world. The difficulties which trouble us, have troubled the hearts and minds of men as far back as we can trace the beginnings of religious life. The great problems touching the relation of the Finite to the Infinite, of the human mind as the recipient, and of the Divine Spirit as the source of truth, are old problems indeed; and while watching their appearance in different countries, and their treatment under varying circumstances, we shall be able, I believe, to profit ourselves, both by the errors which others committed before us, and by the truth which they discovered. We shall know the rocks that threaten every religion in this changing and shifting world of ours, and having watched many a storm of religious controversy and many a shipwreck in distant seas, we shall face with greater calmness and prudence the troubled waters at home.
    • Preface (Scribner edition, 1872)
  • If there is one thing which a comparative study of religions places in the clearest light, it is the inevitable decay to which every religion is exposed. It may seem almost like a truism, that no religion can continue to be what it was during the lifetime of its founder and its first apostles. Yet it is but seldom borne in mind that without constant reformation, i.e. without a constant return to its fountan-head, every religion, even the most perfect, nay the most perfect on account of its very perfection, more even than others, suffers from its contact with the world, as the purest air suffers froln the mere fact of its being breathed.
    Whenever we can trace back a religion to its first beginnings, we find it free from many of the blemishes that offend us in its later phases. The founders of the ancient religions of the world, as far as we can judge, were minds of a high stamp, full of noble aspirations, yearning for truth, devoted to the welfare of their neighbors, examples of purity and unselfishness. What they desired to found upon earth was but seldom realized, and their sayings, if preserved in their original form, offer often a strange contrast to the practice of those who profess to be their disciples. As soon as a religion is established, and more particularly when it has become the religion of a powerful state, the foreign and worldly elements encroach more and more on the original foundation, and human interests mar the simplicity and purity of the plan which the founder had conceived in his own heart, and matured in his communings with his God. Even those who lived with Buddha misunderstood his words, and at the Great Council which had to settle the Buddhist canon, Asoka, the Indian Constantine had to remind the assembled priests that "what had been said by Buddha, that alone was well said;" and that certain works ascribed to Buddha, as, for instance, the instruction given to his son, Râhula, were apocryphal, if not heretical.
    • Preface (Scribner edition, 1872)
  • It is necessary that we too should see the beam in our own eyes, and learn to distinguish between the Christianity of the nineteenth century and the religion of Christ. If we find that the Christianity of the nineteenth century does not win as many hearts in India and China as it ought, let us remember that it was the Christianity of the first century in all its dogmatic simplicity, but with its overpowering love of God and man, that conquered the worId and superseded religions and philosophies, more difficult to conquer than the religious and philosophical systems of Hindus and Buddhists. If we can teach something to the Brahmans in reading with them their sacred hymns, they too can teach us something when reading with us the gospel of Christ. Never shall I forget the deep despondency of a Hindu convert, a real martyr to his faith, who had pictured to himself from the pages of the New Testament what a Christian country must be, and who when he came to Europe found everything so different from what he had imagined in his lonely meditations at Benares!
    • Preface (Scribner edition, 1872)
  • How can a missionary in such circumstances meet the surprise and questions of his pupils, unless he may point to that seed, and tell them what Christianity was meant to be; unless he may show that. like all other religions, Christianity, too, has had its history; that the Christianity of the nineteenth century is not the Christianity of the Middle Ages, that the Christianity of the MiddIe Ages was not that of the early Councils, that the Christianity of the early Councils was not that of the Apostles, and "that what has been said by Christ, that alone was weII said?"
    • Preface (Scribner edition, 1872)
  • I do not wish by what I have said to raise any exaggerated expectations as to the worth of these ancient hymns of the Veda, and the character of that religion which they indicate rather than fully describe. The historical importance of the Veda can hardly be exaggerated; but its intrinsic merit, and particularly the beauty or elevation of its sentiments, have by many been rated far too high. Large numbers of the Vedic hymns are childish in the extreme: tedious, low, commonplace. The gods are constantly inyoked to protect their worshippers, to grant them food, large flocks, large families, and a long life; for all which benefits they are to be rewarded by the praises and sacrifices offered day after day, or at certain seasons of the year. But hidden in this rubbish there are precious stones.
    • "Lecture on the Vedas" - first presented at the Philosophical Institution, Leeds (March 1865)
  • Still the child betrays the passions of the man, and there are hymns, though few in number, in the Veda, so full of thought and speculation that at this early period no poet in any other nation could have conceived them. I give but one specimen, the 129th hymn of the tenth book of the Rig-veda. It is a hymn which long ago attracted the attention of that eminent scholar H. T. Colebrooke, and of which, by the kind assistance of a friend, I am enabled to offer a metrical translation. In judging it we should hear in mind that it was not written by a gnostic or by a pantheistic philosopher, but by a poet who felt all these doubts and problems as his own, without any wish to convince or to startle, only uttering what had been weighing on his mind, just as later poets would sing the doubts and sorrows of their heart.
Nor Aught nor Naught existed; yon bright sky
Was not, nor heaven's broad woof outstretched above.
What covered all? what sheltered? what concealed?

Was it the water's fathomles abyss?
There was not death — yet was there naught immortal,
There was no confine betwixt day and night;
The only One breathed breathless by itself,
Other than It there nothing since has been.
Darkness there was, and all at first was veiled
In gloom profound — an ocean without light —
The germ that still lay covered in the husk
Burst forth, one nature, from the fervent heat.
Then first came love upon it, the new spring
Of mind — yea, poets in their hearts discerned,
Pondering, this bond between created things
And uncreated. Comes this spark from earth
Piercing and all-pervading, or from heaven?
Then seeds were sown, and mighty powers arose —
Nature below, and power and will above —
Who knows the secret? who proclaimed it here,
Whence, whence this manifold creation sprang?
The gods themselves came later into being —
Who knows from whence this great creation sprang?
He from whom all this great creation came,
Whether his will created or was mute,
The Most High Seer that is in highest heaven,
He knows it — or perchance even He knows not.
  • "The Vedas"

Quotes about Müller[edit]

  • One might think this position (that the English colonialist should convert their Indian "brethren" to the Gospel) would have endeared Max Muller to missionaries, but in fact it did not. Rather, they found him entirely too sympathetic to the "heathen" and suspected him of being insufficiently committed to the faith. Accordingly, in 1860 he was passed over for Oxford's Boden chair in Sanskrit, which carried responsibility for preparing the Sanskrit-English dictionary, both of which were intended, under the terms of Lt-Col Boden's will, to advance the conversion of Indians to Christianity, not to foster English understanding or respect for India.
    • Theorizing Myth: Narrative, Ideology, and Scholarship by Bruce Lincoln, 1999. p. 68.

External links[edit]

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External links[edit]