A library in Moscow

Yaroslav V. Vassilkov yavass at YAVASS.USR.PU.RU
Sat Feb 7 23:24:04 UTC 1998

On Feb 06 George Thompson wrote:

<About fifteen years ago I found at one of Berkeley's many good bookstores a
<three-volume set of Darmesteter's _Le Zend Avesta_, published in 1892 in
<the Annales du Muse'e Guimet. A very attractive set of D's translations and
<commentaries, with valuable photographs and diagrams of Zoroastrian
<rituals, ritualists, and ritual implements, etc. A real treasure.

<The set had once belonged to the Joseph M. Gleason Library [a library of
<San Francisco State Univ., I suppose?] from which it was withdrawn. There
<is a hand-written note in the first volume, made by an Ernest Dawson,
<stating that the set had been bought by him in Moscow in May 1937.

<There is a faint, faded stamp below this note indicating that the set had
<once belonged to "Biblioteka Moskovskoi Dyxovnoi Akademii", i.e., "The
<Library of the Moscow Spiritual Academy."

<I have often wondered about the sort of persons who may have studied at
<this academy and pored over the pages of these old, now very fragile,

<Would anyone on the list know anything about this academy? What was the
<fate of such organizations in general?

        The three Spiritual (Religious) Academies in pre-revolutionary Russia
where oriental languages and religions had been studied were at St Petersburg,
Moscow and Kazan (in Tatarstan, Volga region). The Academies belonged to Russian
Orthodox Church and served for higher education of priests and monks.
        Though Oriental disciplines were taught there mostly for missionary
(prozelitysing) needs, several eminent scholars in the field of Oriental
studies may be mentioned among the graduates of these Academies. E.g.,
father Hyakinth (Bichurin, 1777-1853), the founder of Russian Sinology,
graduated the Kazan SA. Before the revolution of 1917 there were in Kazan SA
such scholars as father Amphilokhij (1885-1946; Mongol and Tibetan Studies) and
archbishop Gurij (1880-1937); the latter published an article in German
(Der Buddhismus des Mahayana // Anthropos, 1921/22, N 16/17; 1923/24, N18/19).
About archbishop Gurij see also: Die Russischen Orthodox Bishofe von 1893
bis 1965. Bio-Bibliographie von Metropolit Manuil Lemeschevskij. Teil 2.
Erlangen, 1981. S.409-414.
        There was also Vladimir Kozhevnikov in Moscow - the religious
philosopher and the Indologist, who studied early Buddhism and its cultural
background. In particular, he published an interesting book on
"Pre-Buddhistic Indian Asceticism".
        All Spiritual Academies were closed by Bolsheviks as soon as in 1918.
Their former teachers and students became in the following years the victims
of persecution. 1937 is the year of the "Great terror", when not mere
thousands, but millions of people were arrested. Their personal goods used
to be sold through second-hand shops (benefitting the Government, of course).
So it is quite possible that the Darmesteter book came to the bookstore from
the library of a former student of teacher of the Moscow academy after his
arrest. In this case you are the owner of the book with an exceptional fate.
        Best regards
                                Yaroslav Vassilkov

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