Sad announcement: Passing of Prof Tilmann Vetter (1937-2012)

Jan E.M. Houben jemhouben at GMAIL.COM
Mon Dec 24 08:54:13 EST 2012

Dear Jonathan,
This is very sad and a great loss for Buddhology and Indian studies.

Some notes and an anecdote:

Prof. Tilmann E. Vetter, since 1964 (Erkenntnisprobleme bei Dharmakirti,
Vienna: OeAkWi) known as a scholar in Buddhology having direct access to
the major sources in three classical languages, Sanskrit, Tibetan and
Chinese, has occupied the chair of Buddhology in the then Kern Institute,
Leiden, till 1999.

Among those who can call Prof. Tillman E. Vetter their “Doctor Vater”
several come to mind

(apart from Vittorio [Victor] van Bijlert 1987: “The Buddha as a Valid
Means of Cognition” already mentioned by Prof. Bhattacharya):

Johannes Bronkhorst 1980 “Theoretical Aspects of Panini’s grammar” (for his
second PhD, first PhD 1979 in Pune),

Peter Verhagen 1991 “Sanskrit grammatical literature in Tibet”,

Henk Blezer 1997 “Kar gling Zhi khro: A Tantric Buddhist Concept”,

Aucke Forsten 2004 “The Second Chapter of the Lankavatarasutra: A
Buddhological and Philosophical Study”

Yuko Ijiri 2005 “The Four Upasaka Chapters of the Gandavyuha: A Comparative
Edition and a Translation”

I remember a discussion with Paul van der Velde during a reception in
autumn 1995. Paul who was in a team around W.A.L. Stokhof setting up the
new International Institute for Asian Studies (planned in accordance with
Frits Staal’s 1991 “Baby Krishna Report” on “minor” language studies at
Dutch universities). Paul was proudly explaining me how, through a memorial
plaque ( and some other activities, he
had succeeded in creating a link between the young institute and the
19thcentury orientalist Prof. Veth (see also Paul’s thesis that
appeared a few
years later:, about whom the author Multatuli
had once written:

“Wie niet verbaasd staat over de kennis van professor Veth heeft geen
verstand van kennis.”

(“The one who is not astonished at the knowledge of professor Veth does not
understand knowledge.”)

My reply to Paul: “But WE (the then Kern Institute) have VetTER.”

Prof. Vetter, also present at the reception and standing not far, had
unintentionally overheard our discussion and had his well-known ironical

On 20 December 2012 14:48, Michael Witzel <witzel at> wrote:

> Dear Jonathan,
> Let me add my deep condolences to all at Leiden and Wassenaar at the
> indeed shocking news of Tilman Vetter's passing.
> Tilman and I have closely worked together (such as in a joint class on the
> Brhad Aranyaka Upanisad) during my nearly 9 years at Leiden.
> He also was my close and always helpful neighbor, two houses down, at
> Wassenaar.
> He will be missed by all serious students of Indian philosophy.
> Michael Witzel
> On Dec 20, 2012, at 3:54 AM, Jonathan Silk wrote:
> dear Friends,
> It is with great sadness and shock that I pass along the news that Prof
> Tilmann Vetter passed away this morning quite suddenly. The funeral will be
> private. If you would like to send messages to Mrs Vetter, I can collect
> them and convey them to her (please send them to me privately if they are
> intended for her, and not to the list).
> Jonathan Silk
> --
> J. Silk
> Instituut Kern / Universiteit Leiden
> Leiden University Institute for Area Studies, LIAS
> Johan Huizinga Building, Room 1.37
> Doelensteeg 16
> 2311 VL Leiden
> The Netherlands
> ============
> Michael Witzel
> witzel at
> <<>
> >
> Wales Prof. of Sanskrit &
> Director of Graduate Studies,
> Dept. of South Asian Studies, Harvard University
> 1 Bow Street,
> Cambridge MA 02138, USA
> phone: 1- 617 - 495 3295, 496 8570, fax 617 - 496 8571;
> my direct line:  617- 496 2990
Prof. Dr. Jan E.M. Houben,
Directeur d Etudes « Sources et Histoire de la Tradition Sanskrite »
Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes, SHP,
A la Sorbonne,45-47, rue des Ecoles,
75005 Paris -- France.
JEMHouben at
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