[INDOLOGY] Yves Ramseier - a short obituary

Malhar Arvind Kulkarni malhar at iitb.ac.in
Tue May 28 09:57:12 UTC 2013

Very sad indeed. I met him last in 2010 in Lausanne, when he invited me to
his residence near Boston.

I remember, in 1995, we had jointly started keying in the text of the
Kasikavrtti, I to start from the beginning, he to start from the end. He
said "Let us see where we meet." We met around the beginning of the 5th

Malhar Kulkarni.

> 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
> Prasastapadabhasya.
> 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
> www.jyotistoma.nl
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