Johannes Klatt

Updated on: 10.02.2016

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   ► Individuals ► Indology/Jainology
   ► Individuals ► Author/Public Person

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Lifetime

Born: 31.10.1852 in Filehne (Posen)
Passed away: 27.08.1903, Berlin, Germany

About

Librarian & Indologist

Johannes Klatt’s Jaina-Onomasticon

The indologist and librarian Johannes Emil Klatt (1852-1908) dedicated his short life to the study of the historical records of the Jainas. Klatt left behind the nearly completed manuscript of his monumental Jaina-Onomasticon of 1892, a 4132 page long anthology of proper names (Greek: onoma) and biographies of Jaina authors, texts and place names with explanatory historical notes, handwritten in English. The aim of this project, funded by Leverhulme Trust Research Project Grant RPG-2012-620, is to produce a print edition with a historical introduction to this unsurpassed work, a recognized classic in the fields of Indology and the History of Religion, and indispensable source of reference. A second objective is the investigation of the text as a source for the study of Jaina social and intellectual history and of the history of Oriental Studies in Europe.

Background

In the absence of extensive archaeological evidence, monastic chronologies and hagiographies, inscriptions and the information in the colophons of handwritten or printed Jaina texts are almost the only sources available for the reconstruction of Jaina religious and social history. This fact was highlighted by Walther Schubring (1935 § 4; 2000 § 7) who, in his classical work on the Śvetāmbara doctrines of the Jainas, emphasised that ‘[a]ll history of literature, a building, as it were, has for its ground-floor the bio-bibliographical materials.’ Schubring lamented the early demise of Johannes Klatt, whose handwritten manuscript is still unpublished. ‘Jain research would have enjoyed the great luck of having them [the Jaina bio-biographical materials] at its disposal, if Klatt’s Onomasticon had been completed and printed’, Schubring wrote. ‘Eight volumes from his own hand in alphabetical order contain what was within his reach to collect data concerning Jain authors and works. But he fell severely ill and never recovered. The work was estimated to fill some 1,100 pages in print, but no more than 55 pages have been printed as a specimen thanks to Weber and Leumann’ (ibid.).

In 2010, the Centre of Jaina Studies (CoJS) at SOAS initiated the first steps towards the publication of Klatt’s work. With the generous support of the Library of the Asien-Afrika-Institut in Hamburg, which kindly made the original manuscript available, Xerox copies and an initial trial for transcription of the text were funded through SOAS Faculty of Arts and Humanities funds and overheads of Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Grant AH/I002405/1. In 2012 the project was awarded a three-year Research Project Grant by the Leverhulme Trust.

The project is inspired by the overall vision of the principal investigator to reconstruct on the basis of biographical, legal and other sources the yet unwritten social and religious history of the Jaina tradition in the early modern and modern periods which culminated in the recognition of Jainism as a world religion all over the globe.

Significance

Klatt’s encyclopedic compilation of literary-bibliographical information on Jaina authors, texts and biographies is still without parallel. Pioneering academic studies on Jaina history based on medieval and post-medieval treatises, chronologies and biographies in Sanskrit, Gujarati and Hindi have only recently been published. However, none of these investigations have the scope of the Jaina-Onomasticon. Mehta and Chandra’s (1970-72) work Prakrit Proper Names covers somewhat similar ground with reference to the Śvetāmbara Āgamas and their commentaries. Yet, Klatt alone concentrates on post-canonical sources, from both Digambara and Śvetāmbara authors, and provides additional biographical, bibliographical and literary-historical information. Klatt based his work on the lists of Jaina manuscripts in South Asia published by Weber (1853-1892), Bühler (1869-1880), Bhandarkar (1882-1897), Kielhorn (1869-1882), Peterson (1882-1899), Khatavate (1891-1901), etc., and all other relevant textual, bibliographical and epigraphic sources at hand. Even without updates, for the historian of Jainism Klatt’s Jaina-Onomasticon is an invaluable resource. This was recognized by his contemporaries A. Weber, E. Leumann and W. Schubring.

It is hoped that the published English text will serve as a valuable research tool to future generations of scholarship.

Personnel

Dr. Peter Flügel principal investigator, and Dr. Kornelius Krümpelmann, research assistant, are researchers and co-editors of Johannes Klatt’s Jaina Onomasticon, and Professor Emeritus J. Clifford Wright and Dr Renate Söhnen-Thieme of the Centre of Jaina Studies, are advisors of the project.


  • De trecentis Cāṇakyae poetae indici sententiis, in quibus centum adhuc ignotae, nunc primum foras datae : mit einer Schrifttafel, Berlin 1872 (Zugl.: Halle, Univ., Phil. Diss., 1873)
  • Extracts from the historical records of the Jainas, Berlin, 1882 (Sonderdruck aus: The Indian Antiquary)
  • Specimen of a Literary-bibliographical Jaina-Onomasticon, Leipzig 1892 Internet Archive
  • The Samachari-Satakam of Samaya-sundara and Pattavalis of the Anchala Gachchha and other Gachchhas, (Revised with Additions by Ernst Leumann) [Bombay], [1894] (Sonderdruck aus: The Indian Antiquary, Juli 1894, S. 169-183)
  • Jaina Onomasticon, ohne Ort und Jahr.(Manuskript in 8 Teilen mit 4132 S., in der Hamburger Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek)

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