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OCHS library receives large donation of titles

The Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies library, already an excellent and well-stocked resource has been generously supplemented by a donation from Dr J. A. F. Roodbergen of Amsterdam, one of the world's great Sanskritists.

The donation of 10,000 titles has doubled the size of the OCHS library and presents Dr Rembert Lutjeharms, our librarian, with a welcome challenge – how to fit twice as many books into the same tight space. And of course, 10,000 books weren’t going to carry themselves across the channel, so we give thanks to one of our students and long-time friends, Ramesh Pattni, who organised a successful fund-raising campaign to cover transportation costs.

Prof. Dr Roodbergen holds two doctoral degrees, one from the University of Pune, the other from the University of Amsterdam. On obtaining his Masters degree in Sanskrit studies from the University of Amsterdam, he travelled to India in the early 1960s to study with the famous Prof. S.M. Katre at Deccan College, Pune, where he lived for over seven years while working on his first Ph.D.

On becoming Professor of Sanskrit at the University of Amsterdam in 1971, he continued travelling to India for four–six months a year. He retired twenty years ago, but continued to travel to India until 2010.

Prof. Roodbergen has written over 25 scholarly books and numerous articles, mainly on Sanskrit grammar and on Sanskrit poetry and poetics, and is internationally regarded as one of the greatest scholars on Sanskrit grammar, Pāṇini’s Aṣṭhādhyāyī, Patañjali’s Mahābhāṣya, Bhāravī’s Kirātārjunīya, as well as the fifteenth century Sanskrit commentator Mallinātha. He has been awarded several times in India for his academic work and promotion of Sanskrit learning.

Prof. Roodbergen’s library covers a wide range of subjects and disciplines: Sanskrit grammar and comparative linguistics, Hindu theology and philosophy (with a very rich collection of Nyāya, Vedānta and Mīmāṃsā works), Sanskrit poetry and Sanskrit literary theory, Hindu sacred texts (particularly Vedic texts, commentaries and translations of the Upaniṣads and Bhagavad-gītā, and Mahābhārata editions and studies), Central Asian cultures and languages, as well as comparative studies of Eastern and Western logic, poetics and philosophy.

While living in India, Prof. Roodbergen collected many rare and valuable Sanskrit texts, which are now nearly impossible to obtain. His library contains many Sanskrit texts that have only been published once and have never been studied by Western scholars.

Now in his late eighties, Prof. Roodbergen has been looking for an academic institution that could care for the library and ensure that the collection he has built over half a century will still be used and continue to aid scholars in their research of Sanskrit, Hindu thought, and South-Asian traditions. Given its strong track record of past scholars and students and its promising future, he is confident that the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies is such a place.