20 Aug, 2015
Malayalam is set to get its first big global push. In October, the University of Tubingen in Germany will be setting up a chair dedicated to the teaching of and research in Malayalam. It is being named after Hermann Gundert, a missionary scholar who lived and worked in Tellichery in the 19th century and did trailblazing work in codifying Malayalam grammar and writing its first dictionary.
Gundert’s India connection survived generations. His grandson was Nobel laureat Hermann Hesse, whose book Siddhartha, first published in the US in 1951, was easily among the most influential book of the 1960s. That’s no all. Gundert (1814-1893) was contemporary of Max Muelle (1823-1900), the German Orientalist whose translations of th Upanishads and the Vedas not only led to the introduction of Indian culture to the West but also far-reaching exchanges between Indian an British intellectual life.