THE UNEXALTED OR THE LACK OF MOOD SWINGS
In 2014 we might remember the 60th death anniversary of Prof Max Walleser. He was born in 1874 and passed away in 1954. Not much more is known about this German Indologist, Tibetologist and Sinologist. A list of publications placed online by the city of Heidelberg shows that he was able to publish during the First World War, but after 1927 no more publications are known, which means that his active period as a scholar lasted 25 years, from 1902 to 1927.
In a footnote in his below-mentioned “Die Streitlosigkeit des Subhúti” (The Restfulness of Subhuti) he mentions his séjour in Sri Lanka. This voyage must have taken place before the year 1917.
Others in his line of trade received a wikipedia entry, but in Walleser’s case it’s only the city of Heidelberg that honours its great son with an online list of publications. Publicist Huaijin Nan ( Basic Buddhism: Exploring Buddhism and Zen) and the Quang Duc community tell us that in 1928 Walleser founded an “Institut Fur Buddhismus Kunde”(Buddhist Studies Association) where he, says Quang Duc, teached a great many Indian and Japanese students. Those Northern European academics lectured and published in their own language; Walleser taught his foreign students German in the first place, and the other linguistic-philosophical matter simultaneously or somewhat later. In 1924 the British Pali Text Society publishes a commentary by Max Walleser’s hand on the Anguttara Nikaya, “The Buddhist Philosophy in its Historic Development“. Furthermore Walleser initiated a magazine on Buddhism studies, he filled the Heidelberg University library with relevant material and lectured inside and outside the University.
Electric light was introduced in the year 1878, now the well-to-do citizens could light their homes at night and early morning wintertime. In 1925 London saw the first television. Prior to these days people stepped out of bed at daybreak and turned in shortly after the blue hour had past. They perhaps made a daily stroll through the park, one sometimes listened to a concert, sometimes visited the theatre, but generally people worked, worked, and worked. The fact that investigators, translators and others in those pre-1878 years were able to churn out such a vast amount of researched material can never be repeated, not even today when we’re able to make good use of information on the Internet.
Like other Indologists Max Walleser started his career with the study of some of the Vedic scriptures. And although he delivered meaningful results in the study of the Buddhist Pali canon, he is generally remembered as a scholar of the Mahayana canon, more specifically of the Prajñya Paramitá-collection (PPS).
Although the Pali canon, a collection that at a certain point in time has been re-structured in such a way that it is for a major part devoid of technical terminology in languages and dialects other than Pali, it still contains many instances where Pali and Sanskrit (and what not) are intermingled. As an example we might refer to the word mobha-sam-várdhano in the Pali Ghósaka sutta ([PTS] SN.12) that probably has to be read as mohasamvardhano. Although Pali was chosen to render the theravada-collection the compound mohasamvárdhano — [the world(ly affairs) that] roll(s) on and on as a result of ignorance — it is an amalgam of Pali (moha, ignorance) and Sanskrit (várdhana, to promote, to further). (The link brings the reader to a Dutch language web page.)
Is the Pali canon somewhat “cleansed” of this mix of languages, the Mahayana manuscripts, dubbed “Sanskrit”, haven’t been so drastically altered as far as language and choice of words goes. They remain riddled with words that are altogether un-Sanskritic in the classical , Vedic meaning of the word. These manuscripts contain a new vocabulary that amalgamates Classical Sanskrit, Pali and “foreign” words.
To disentangle manuscripts containing mish-mash like these was the task Max Walleser, his student Edward Conze and others set themselves to.
At the age of 28, in 1902 Walleser obtains his PhD on “Das Problem des Ich” (The Question of the Self). In 1911 or 1913, the sources are not in unison, his translation of one of the PPS collections appears, the ”8000 lines” (= Asta-sahásrika): „Prajnaparamitá – Die Vollkommenheit der Erkenntnis“ (Prajnaparamitá – the Perfection of Knowledge [or Knowing]). After another scholar objects to Walleser’s translation of the word araNa, he in 1917 publishes his “Die Streitlosigkeit des Subhúti”, a pamplet of 51 pages.The following sections of this blog will deal with this “Streitlosigkeit” (restfulness), i.e. araNa — according to Walleser.
It’s “Die Sekten des alten Buddhismus” (The sects of Ancient Buddhism) that in 1927 seems to mark the end of Max Walleser’s productive years.