[INDOLOGY] Passing of Prof. Gouriswar Bhattacharya (Kolkata)

Corinna Wessels-Mevissen corinnawessels at yahoo.de
Thu Sep 19 10:35:22 EDT 2019

Dear List,

It is my sad duty to let you know that today (Indian local time of ca. 11.30 am), Prof. Gouriswar Bhattacharya, well-known epigraphist and art historian, who had lived in Berlin/Germany for several decades, working for the then Museum of Indian Art, as well as for the former Institute of Indian Philology and Art History (Freie Universität Berlin), has breathed his last in Kolkata. His date of birth had been recorded as 15 February 1924, while he was actually born several months earlier, as he had once told me. 

Many of you would be aware of his numerous invaluable contributions to our field of study. He had continued his research until only about three years ago, when he began to lose strength due to a gradual deterioration of his health.

The following is a gist of his biography, basically extracted from the preface of the Felicitation Volume Prajñādhara: Essays on Asian Art, History, Epigraphy and Culture in Honour of Gouriswar Bhattacharya, 2009 (two volumes, edited by Gerd J. R. Mevissen and Arundhati Banerji, New Delhi: Kaveri Books):

Dr. Gouriswar Bhattacharya was born at English Bazar, Malda, in then undivided Bengal. After obtaining his M.A. degree in Sanskrit (with various specialisations) from the University of Calcutta in 1950, he taught Sanskrit and epigraphy at the renowned Visva-Bharati, Santiniketan, where he also served as Keeper of Sanskrit manuscripts from 1951–1955. He later joined the Epigraphy Branch of the Archaeological Survey of India, then located at Ootacamund, where he collaborated with the doyen of Indian epigraphy, Dineschandra Sircar. Much to Sircar’s regret, Bhattacharya forsook his assignment in 1961 and left India for Europe, where he initially focussed on a painter’s career. From 1962, and until 1967, he pursued postgraduate studies in Sanskrit, as well as in English and French literatures, at the University of Basel/Switzerland, where he was awarded his doctorate. An assignment at the then Museum of Indian Art (the holdings of which are nowadays part of the Asian Art Museum, State Museums of Berlin) with its founding director Prof. Herbert Härtel brought him to Berlin in 1968, where he continued to live even after his retirement, teaching Indian epigraphy and art history at the Freie Universität Berlin for an extended period. 
His colleagues and friends in Kolkata and Berlin, and worldwide, too, will be missing him dearly. His passing is indeed a great loss to our discipline. We will also remember him as a very kind and generous, sociable person, who always remained true to himself. 

Most of his numerous academic articles are available on academia.edu. His account is being maintained by a colleague, so that it will be possible to add still further of his writings.
Corinna Wessels-Mevissen (Berlin)

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