[INDOLOGY] Yves Ramseier - a short obituary

Jan E.M. Houben jemhouben at gmail.com
Mon May 27 23:13:13 UTC 2013

I am deeply shocked to learn about the early disappearance of Yves, this
most sympathetic and remarkable personality whom I first got to know when
he was scientific assistant at the Université de Lausanne during my stay
there (as PhD student) in 1990-91.

Later on we met again in India when he had already come to Pune to help
prepare "the first international conference on Bhartrhari" organised by
Saroja Bhate and Johannes Bronkhorst. Apart from practical matters in
connection with the conference he was much occupied with perfecting his
Bibliography on Bhartrhari and tried to make full use of the occasion of
being now in India and finding perhaps rare and unexpected references.

One place, he insisted, was particularly important to check out, and he
wanted me to come with him on this mission: he wanted to know whether
Rajneesh (who had died a few years earlier under the name Osho) had perhaps
occasionally in one of his numerous books referred to Bhartrhari. After
all, Rajneesh had always claimed to have had a good training in philosophy
and his books and speeches were teeming with references to Jesus, Shankara,
Mahatma Gandhi, Gorakhnath, Kabir, Gurdjeff and also Patanjali [but this
must be not the grammarian but the one involved in yoga]. When we finally
found a moment to go the Osho ashram in the Koregaon area of Pune we were
well received in the ashram -- full of "western" followers -- but soon
found out that even the most literary minded among Rajneesh' disciples
could not confirm he had ever read a reference to Bhartrhari. We were ready
to believe him on his word (rather than starting to sift through the pile
of Rajneesh's books that had been made available) and politely declined the
offer to see a filmed speech of Rajneesh on imminent nuclear disasters that
would destroy the world. The end conclusion was that the Bibliography on
Bhartrhari did not need to mention any book of Rajneesh (or Osho).

After the first version of 1993 Yves Ramseier produced an updated and much
extended bibliography on Bhartrhari which was published in Bhartrhari:
Language, Thought and Reality (ed. Mithilesh Chaturvedi), Delhi, 2009.

The Word Index to the Prasastapadabhasya (Delhi, 1994) already mentioned
also contains an "edition" based on 12 existing editions of the

Jan Houben

On 27 May 2013 13:32, Eltschinger, Vincent
<Vincent.Eltschinger at oeaw.ac.at>wrote:

> Dear Friends and Colleagues,
> I am sad to announce the passing of Yves Ramseier in the early hours last
> Saturday (19 May 2013). Yves Ramseier was born on 26 July 1956 in Lausanne,
> Switzerland. After studying Greek and Latin at the Gymnase de la Cité
> (Lausanne), he became a student at the University of Lausanne, where he
> studied Oriental languages (mainly Sanskrit) and civilizations under the
> guidance of Professors Jacques May and Heinz Zimmermann, who exerted a
> decisive influence on Ramseier’s intellectual development by arousing his
> interest in Buddhism and Madhyamaka on the one hand, and in the Sanskrit
> Grammarians on the other hand. These two areas of interest coalesced around
> 1985 as the recently graduated Ramseier moved to Kyoto, Japan, in order to
> study Vyaakara.na under Professor Yutaka Ojihara. Besides working on
> Patañjali and especially Bhart.rhari, Ramseier enjoyed life in Japan – and
> life tout court, as those who knew him can attest. With his friend Hitomi
> and his first daughter Kyoko, Ramseier left Japan for Lausanne in 1990,
> where he became the assistant of Professor Johannes Bronkhorst, who had
> been appointed Heinz Zimmermann’s successor in 1987. Ramseier started
> working on a PhD thesis on the Jaatisamudde’sa of Bhart.hari’s
> Vaakyapadiiya, which unfortunately he never completed. As a young doctoral
> student he also had to teach classes of elementary Sanskrit for
> undergraduate students (more precisely “Travaux pratiques de Sanskrit”),
> which took place on Thursdays from 5 to 7 p.m., after which he and his
> students enjoyed frequenting the restaurants and bars of Lausanne, which he
> knew  intimately. Ramseier’s five years as an assistant of Professor
> Bronkhorst are marked by his first (and last) publications as an
> indologist: “Bhart.rhari et la nescience” (Asiatische Studien/Etudes
> Asiatiques 48/4 [1994], pp. 1363-1368), a bibliography, “Bibliography on
> Bhart.rhari” (pp. 235-268 in Saroja Bhate and Johannes Bronkhorst [ed]:
> Bhart.rhari, Philosopher and Grammarian. Proceedings of the First
> International Conference on Bhart.rhari. Delhi 1994 [Bern 1993]: Motilal
> Banarsidass), and an index (Johannes Bronkhorst and Yves Ramseier: Word
> index to the Pra’sastapaadabhaa.sya: A complete word index to the printed
> editions of the Pra’sastapaadabhaa.sya. Delhi 1994: Motilal Banarsidass).
> After leaving his position as an assistant, Ramseier embarked on Johannes
> Bronkhorst’s ambitious project (Swiss National Science Foundation) of a
> critical edition of the Kaa’sikaav.rtti. In spite of the significant number
> of Sanskrit manuscripts of this text that he helped to discover in India,
> the project was aborted around 1997. From that time on, Yves Ramseier was
> no longer active in the Indological field but continued to attend
> international conferences, to update the online version of his
> “Bibliography on Bhart.rhari,” and to maintain the innumerable friendships
> he had made in the field. All those who have had the privilege of being his
> friends will remember his sharp and provocative intelligence and his deep
> and empathetic love of people. Yves Ramseier leaves two daughters, Kyoko
> and Aska, to whom I offer my most sincere condolances – which I also extend
> to his friend Carole, who remained close to him until he died. Dors bien,
> Capitaine!
> Vincent Eltschinger
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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 gmail.com

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