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Why Did Sir Monier Williams Choose Sanskrit and Why Did He Want to Extend It?

Monier Williams has given the country and the world's oldest language Sanskrit. Why did they choose and why did they want to increase it!

Sir Monier Williams


What He Did?

Monier Williams spent his whole life on the interrelationship of Indian languages. In his study, he found that no Indian language can survive without Sanskrit. On 5 November 1851, he wrote in the role of 'English and Sanskrit dictionary', 'There is not a single Indian language which is able to express the ideas of religion and science without borrowing the words from Sanskrit. Whether it is Tamil, Telugu, Bengali, or any other.


The entire literary world is celebrating the second birth centenary of the incomparable talent scholar Monier Williams. There can hardly be a person of versatile literature like him and an erudite man who translates Sanskrit texts into English. But the important work for which Monier Williams, born in Mumbai on November 12, 1819, is known, is the 'English and Sanskrit Dictionary' created by him.

Monier Williams' edited Sanskrit vocabulary in the current dictionaries of Sanskrit literature is amazing. But apart from this Shabkosh, he also translated two texts of Kalidas into English. Monier Williams translated the 'Vikramorvashiyam' of Mahakavi Kalidasa in 1849 and the English translation of 'Abhigyan-Shakuntalam' in 1853. They are unique in modern Sanskrit in terms of research, translation, and creative literature. Whenever there is talk of archaic literature and Vedic culture globally, books written by Monier Williams are undoubtedly accepted as a gift. Monier also wrote three books on Hindi grammar while working on Hindi grammar.

Monier Williams not only learned Sanskrit but also kept Sanskrit with him throughout his life. Worshiped Sanskrit. As a result of this practice, his texts came, which are still among us as his immortal fame. He translated many Sanskrit texts and words into translation. It is a pleasant surprise that in order to connect Sanskrit with the modern world, Monier edited a huge dictionary of English and Sanskrit a century and a half ago. However, earlier two German scholars, Roth and Bathing, had compiled Sanskrit and Germanic words into five volumes. That dictionary is still called the 'St. Petersburg Dictionary', being printed by the economic contribution of the rulers of Russia. This was noticed by Monier Williams, who after reading it thought that this comprehensive dictionary should be replaced by a new complete dictionary. In which Sanskrit is related to English rather than German. They got involved in this work with all their heart. His dictionary came out after long hard work. It was first published by the East India Company on 5 November 1851. There are about one lakh eighty thousand words in this dictionary. Its specialty is that it contains both Vedic and cosmic words of Sanskrit literature, which are often rare elsewhere. Old dictionaries such as 'Amarkosh' written by Amarsingh do not include Vedic words. They contain almost cosmic Sanskrit words. Vamana Shivram Apte of the last century also did not include Vedic words in his vocabulary.

First Dictionary

It can be said that Monier Williams prepared the first and last dictionary of Sanskrit. Not only this, but Monier also added his references with Sanskrit words. Later, around his death in 1899, his 'Sanskrit-English Dictionary' was also published in his name, which is unique.

The story of Monier's Sanskrit love is interesting. It is believed that he got in touch with a Sanskrit teacher during his childhood days in Mumbai. The words of Vedas and Upanishads started to make Monier happy since then, but he could not learn Sanskrit properly from them. Meanwhile, Monier moved from Mumbai to England at the age of 10, where he studied Sanskrit and other Asian languages. After completing his studies in 1844, he became a teacher in the Asian Language Department at East India Company College, Kolkata. Here he spent 14 years studying and teaching Asian languages ​​Sanskrit, Persian, and Hindustani. After the end of the East India Company rule in India after the 1857 rebellion in India, he became a Boden professor on the bench of Sanskrit studies set up at Oxford University.

The story of Monier Williams becoming a Boden professor at Oxford University is also very funny. Lieutenant Colonel Joseph Boden, after retiring from the East India Company from India in 1832, gave all his money to Oxford University. This led to the establishment of a Sanskrit Study Chair. The first two professors were elected by-election. The first was Horace Heyman Wilson and the second was Monier Williams.

After the death of Horace Heyman Wilson, Monier Williams submitted his application for the Bowden Professorship election. He was confronted with the renowned linguist Max Müller of that era, who gained international fame by doing deep research on the Rigveda. Both scholars of worldwide repute tried their best to get this professorship.

Both had their own electoral claims. The German-born Maxmüller was describing his work as historical, while Monier described his academic work, including his dictionary, as a means of getting to know India.

It is an unpleasant truth that Monier had also claimed in his election campaign that reading and understanding Sanskrit is very important for promoting Christianity in India. Missionaries will benefit from their work and with the help of their translation, they will be able to convert Indians easily. On November 30, 1860, Monier distributed an election letter in his favor. The letter read, "This professorship is not only for Oxford. This is for India. This is for the welfare of Christianity.

The election held on 7 December 1860 had 3700 voters, including professors and graduate students. A total of 1443 votes were cast. Monier won the election by defeating MaxMuller by 223 votes and took the position of Boden Professor. After the appointment, Williams said in his address, "The promotion of Christianity in India should be one of the aims of scholars here." In 1883, Monier Williams established the Center for the Study of Indian Religion at Oxford University.

He traveled to india in 1875, 1876 and 1883 to finance this project. After the independence of india in 1947, this center was closed


Monier Williams wrote a lot in his long life. It is impossible to agree everywhere and everything. A large part of his writing has been obsessed with impulse and preaching. Such things can be immediately useful. But in the changed developments of changing contexts, now all his words are no longer meaningful. These occasional defects are found in the writing of advocates and committed. But in spite of this, a lot remains, which is extremely costly, priceless, and incomparable.

After long research, Monier Williams made a conclusion. He wrote, 'The description of the goodness of Hinduism can never be fulfilled, this multicolored religion touches every religious and philosophical idea, which the world does not even know. Monier Williams is the innovative sage of the Sanatan Indian stream, Bhagiratha of Sanskrit literature. Perhaps they are the ones who can awaken the spirit of modern consciousness in the current Sanskrit environment, often asleep in deep sleep.