Monier Monier-Williams (né Monier Williams), KCIE (/ˈmɒnjər/;
12 November 1819 – 11 April 1899) was the second Boden Professor of
Sanskrit at Oxford University, England. He studied, documented and
taught Asian languages, especially Sanskrit, Persian and Hindustani.
1 Early life
3 Writings and foundations
5 Published works
5.2 Original works
8 External links
Monier Williams was born in Bombay, the son of Colonel Monier
Williams, surveyor-general in the
Bombay presidency. His surname was
"Williams" until 1887 when he added his Christian name to his surname
to create the hyphenated "Monier-Williams". In 1822 he was sent to
England to be educated at private schools at Hove, Chelsea and
Finchley. He was educated at King's College School, Balliol College,
Oxford (1838–40), the
East India Company College
East India Company College (1840–41) and
University College, Oxford
University College, Oxford (1841–44). He took a IVth-class honours
degree in Literis Humanoribus in 1844.
He married Julia Grantham in 1848. They had six sons and one daughter.
He died, aged 79, at
Cannes in France.
Monier Williams taught Asian languages, at the East India Company
College from 1844 until 1858, when company rule in India ended
after the 1857 rebellion. He came to national prominence during the
1860 election campaign for the Boden Chair of
Sanskrit at Oxford
University, in which he stood against Max Müller.
The vacancy followed the death of
Horace Hayman Wilson
Horace Hayman Wilson in 1860. Wilson
had started the university's collection of
Sanskrit manuscripts upon
taking the chair in 1831, and had indicated his preference that
Williams should be his successor. The campaign was notoriously
acrimonious. Müller was known for his liberal religious views and his
philosophical speculations based on his reading of Vedic literature.
Monier Williams was seen as a less brilliant scholar, but had a
detailed practical knowledge of India itself, and of actual religious
practices in modern Hinduism. Müller, in contrast, had never visited
Wikisource has original text related to this article:
Monier Williams's submission for the Boden Professorship election
Both candidates had to emphasise their support for Christian
evangelisation in India, since that was the basis on which the
Professorship had been funded by its founder. Monier Williams'
dedication to Christianisation was not doubted, unlike Müller's.
Monier Williams also stated that his aims were practical rather than
speculative. "Englishmen are too practical to study a language very
philosophically", he wrote.
After his appointment to the professorship Williams declared from the
outset that the conversion of India to the Christian religion should
be one of the aims of orientalist scholarship. In his book
Hinduism, published by SPCK in 1877, he predicted the demise of the
Hindu religion and called for Christian evangelism to ward off the
spread of Islam. According to Saurabh Dube this work is "widely
credited to have introduced the term Hinduism into general English
usage" while David N. Lorenzen cites the book along with Alexander
Duff (1839). India, and India Missions: Including Sketches of the
Gigantic System of Hinduism, Both in Theory and Practice : Also
Notices of Some of the Principal Agencies Employed in Conducting the
Process of Indian Evangelization, &c. &c. J. Johnstone.
for popularising of the term.
Writings and foundations
When Monier Williams founded the University's
Indian Institute in
1883, it provided both an academic focus and also a training ground
for the Indian Civil Service. Since the early 1870s Monier Williams
planned this institution. His vision was the better acquaintance of
England and India. On this account he supported academic research into
Indian culture. Monier Williams travelled to India in 1875, 1876 and
1883 to finance his project by fundraising. He gained the support of
Indian native princes. In 1883 the Prince of Wales laid the foundation
stone; the building was inaugurated in 1896 by Lord George Hamilton.
The Institute closed on Indian independence in 1947.
In his writings on Hinduism Monier Williams argued that the Advaita
Vedanta system best represented the Vedic ideal and was the "highest
way to salvation" in Hinduism. He considered the more popular
traditions of karma and bhakti to be of lesser spiritual value.
However, he argued that Hinduism is a complex "huge polygon or
irregular multilateral figure" that was unified by Sanskrit
literature. He stated that "no description of Hinduism can be
exhaustive which does not touch on almost every religious and
philosophical idea that the world has ever known."
Monier-Williams compiled a Sanskrit–English dictionary, based on the
Sanskrit Dictionary, which was published in
1872. A later revised edition was published in 1899 with collaboration
Ernst Leumann and Carl Cappeller (sv).
He was knighted in 1876, and was made KCIE in 1887, when he adopted
his given name of Monier as an additional surname.
He also received the following academic honours: Honorary DCL, Oxford,
1875; LLD, Calcutta, 1876; Fellow of Balliol College, Oxford, 1880;
Honorary PhD, Göttingen, 1880s; Vice-President, Royal Asiatic
Society, 1890; Honorary Fellow of University College, Oxford, 1892.
Monier-Williams's translations include that of Kālidāsa's plays
Vikramorvasi (1849) and Sakuntala (1853; 2nd ed. 1876).
Hindu Literature: comprising the Book of Good Counsels, Nala and
Damayanti, the Rámáyana and Śakoontalá
Monier Monier-Williams (1846). An Elementary Grammar of the
Sanscrit Language: Partly in the Roman Character, Arranged According
to a New Theory, in Reference Especially to the Classical Languages;
with Short Extracts in Easy Prose. To which is Added, a Selection from
the Institutes of Manu, with Copious References to the Grammar, and an
English Translation. W. H. Allen & Company.
Original papers illustrating the history of the application of the
Roman alphabet to the languages of India: Edited by Monier Williams
(1859) Modern Reprint
Monier Monier-Williams (1875). Indian Wisdom, Or, Examples of the
Religious, Philosophical, and Ethical Doctrines of the Hindūs.
Monier Monier-Williams (1877). Hinduism. Society for Promoting
Monier Monier-Williams (1878). Modern India and the Indians: Being
a Series of Impressions, Notes, and Essays. Trübner and
Shikshapatri – The manuscript of the principal
Sir John Malcolm
Sir John Malcolm received from
Swaminarayan on 26 February
1830 when he was serving as the Governor of
Imperial India. Currently preserved at Bodleian Library.
Brahmanism and Hinduism (1883)
Buddhism, in its connexion with Brahmanism and Hinduism, and in its
contrast with Christianity (1889)
Sanskrit-English Dictionary, ISBN 0-19-864308-X.
A Sanskrit-English Dictionary: Etymologically and Philologically
Special Reference to Cognate Indo-European languages,
Monier Monier-Williams, revised by E. Leumann, C. Cappeller, et al.
1899, Clarendon Press, Oxford
A Practical Grammar of the
Sanskrit Language, Arranged with Reference
to the Classical Languages of Europe, for the Use of English Students,
Oxford: Clarendon, 1857, enlarged and improved Fourth Edition 1887
Oxford University Calendar 1895, Oxford : Clarendon Press,
^ a b c Macdonell 1901.
^ Memorials of old Haileybury College. 1894.
^ "Review of Memorials of Old Haileybury College by Sir Monier
Monier-Williams and other Contributors". The Quarterly Review. 179:
224–243. July 1894.
^ a b Nirad C. Chaudhuri, Scholar Extraordinary, The Life of Professor
the Right Honourable Friedrich Max Muller, P.C., Chatto and Windus,
1974, pp. 221–231.
^ a b c d Terence Thomas, The British: their religious beliefs and
practices, 1800–1986, Routledge, 1988, pp. 85–88.
^ Saurabh Dube (1998). Untouchable Pasts: Religion, Identity, and
Power among a Central Indian Community, 1780–1950. SUNY Press.
p. 232. ISBN 978-0-7914-3687-5.
^ David N. Lorenzen (2006). Who Invented Hinduism: Essays on Religion
in History. Yoda Press. p. 4. ISBN 978-81-902272-6-1.
^ Bloomfield, Maurice (1900). "A Sanskrit-English Dictionary,
Etymologically and Philologically Arranged with
Special Reference to
Cognate Indo-European Languages by Monier Monier-Williams; E. Leumann;
C. Cappeller". The American Journal of Philology. 21 (3): 323–327.
doi:10.2307/287725. JSTOR 287725.
^ Schuyler, Jr., Montgomery (1902). "Bibliography of Kālidāsa's
Mālavikāgnimitra and Vikramorvaçī". Journal of the American
Oriental Society. 23: 93–101. doi:10.2307/592384.
^ Schuyler, Jr., Montgomery (1901). "The Editions and Translations of
Çakuntalā". Journal of the American Oriental Society. 22: 237–248.
doi:10.2307/592432. JSTOR 592432.
^ "Buddhism in Its Connexion with Brahmanism and Hinduism and in Its
Contrast with Christianity by Monier Monier-Williams". The Old
Testament Student. 8 (10): 389–390. June 1889. doi:10.1086/470215.
Katz, J. B. "Williams, Sir Monier Monier-". Oxford Dictionary of
National Biography (October 2007 ed.). Retrieved 31 January
Macdonell, Arthur Anthony (1901). "Monier-Williams, Monier".
Dictionary of National Biography
Dictionary of National Biography (1st supplement). London: Smith,
Elder & Co. pp. 186–187.
Find more aboutMonier Monier-Williamsat's sister projects
Media from Wikimedia Commons
Texts from Wikisource
Data from Wikidata
Sanskrit Dictionaries (Searchable), Monier-Williams'
Biography of Sir Monier Monier-Williams, Dr. Gillian Evison, Digital
Monier-Williams Sanskrit-English Dictionary, Searchable
Shikshapatri manuscript, Digital Shikshapatri
The Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies
Monier-Williams Sanskrit-English Dictionary: DICT and HTML versions
Monier Monier-Williams at Project Gutenberg
Works by or about
Monier Monier-Williams at Internet Archive
Boden Professors of Sanskrit
Horace Hayman Wilson
Horace Hayman Wilson (1832)
Monier Monier-Williams (1860)
Arthur Anthony Macdonell
Arthur Anthony Macdonell (1899)
Frederick William Thomas (1927)
Edward Johnston (1937)
Thomas Burrow (1944)
Richard Gombrich (1976)
Christopher Minkowski (2005)
University of Oxford portal
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