Burnouf, E.

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Eugène Burnouf(1801 - 1852) 

French Orientalist and seminal figure in the development of Buddhist Studies as an academic discipline. He was born in Paris on April 8, 1801, the son of the distinguished classicist Jean-Louis Burnouf (1773–1844). He received instruction in Greek and Latin from his father and studied at the Lycée Louis-le-Grand. He entered the École des Chartes in 1822, receiving degrees in both letters and law in 1824. He then turned to the study of Sanskrit, both with his father and with Antoine Léonard de Chézy (1773–1832). In 1826, Burnouf published, in collaboration with the young Norwegian-German scholar Christian Lassen (1800–1876), Essai sur le pâli (“Essay on Pāli”). After the death of Chézy, Burnouf was appointed to succeed his teacher in the chair of Sanskrit at the Collège de France. His students included some of the greatest scholars of the day; those who would contribute to Buddhist studies included Philippe Edouard Foucaux (1811–1894) and Friedrich Max Müller. Shortly after his appointment to the chair of Sanskrit, the Société Asiatique, of which Burnouf was secretary, received a communication from Brian Houghton Hodgson, British resident at the court of Nepal, offering to send Sanskrit manuscripts of Buddhist texts to Paris. The receipt of these texts changed the direction of Burnouf's scholarship for the remainder his life. After perusing the Aṣtasāhasrikāprajñāpãramitā and the Lalitavistara, he decided to translate the Saddharmapuṇḍarīkasūtra. Having completed the translation, he decided to precede its publication with a series of studies. He completed only the first of these, published in 1844 as Introduction à l’histoire du Buddhisme indien. This massive work is regarded as the foundational text for the academic study of Buddhism in the West. (Source: "Burnouf, Eugène." In The Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism, 158. Princeton University Press, 2014. http://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt46n41q.27.)

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