Translating sanscrit

Europe’s first printed translation of sanscrit literature

ROEGERIUS, Abraham. La porte ouverte (Amsterdam, 1670)

Provenance:Thomas Phillips, 1846

Athanasius Kircher. China monumentis. Amsterdam, 1667.

Clergyman Abraham Rogerius lived for seventeen years (1630-47) at Paliacatta on the Coromandel coast. Impressed by the learning of the Brahmans and their views on life and death, Rogerius wrote this book about the life, customs, faith and religious practices of Tamil Brahmans. It is among the earliest European accounts of Hinduism in Southern India and the first published work in Europe to contain a translation of a piece of sanscrit literature (the Sayings of Bhartrhari). Perhaps inevitably for this period, the illustration for the title page of the work shows a ritual that horrified the changing sensibilities of Europeans.