[INDOLOGY] earliest translations of Sanskrit or other Indian-language works?

Nemec, John William (jwn3y) jwn3y at virginia.edu
Tue May 16 13:51:06 UTC 2023

Dear Indology Colleagues,

Speaking with a colleague, recently, who is not subscribed to this list, a question arose as to the first works translated from an Indian language into a Western one (including Dutch, Portuguese, Latin, French, English, Italian, Spanish, German, etc.).

I am of course aware that Charles Wilkins rendered the Bhagavadgītā into English at a relatively early date, I believe in 1785.  I found reference to 1789 for William Jones's translation of the Abhijñānaśākuntala.  Before these there was a rendering (into Dutch and not first into Latin, though there was a dispute evidently over this fact) of Bhartṛhari's poems by Abraham Roger/Abraham Rogerius, posthumously in 1651.

Could anyone provide more and/or better information about the history of the translation of Sanskrit texts and works of other Indian source languages into Western/European languages?

Thank you.


John Nemec, Ph.D. (he, him, his)
Professor of Indian Religions and South Asian Studies
Editor, Religion in Translation Series (Oxford University Press)
323 Gibson Hall / 1540 Jefferson Park Avenue
Department of Religious Studies
University of Virginia
Charlottesville, VA 22904
nemec at virginia.edu
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