Arnos Padre tried to assimilate essence of Indian culture with that of the West

A Sanskrit grammar manuscript of grammarian, lexicographer and philologist Arnos Padre, which had been lost for over two centuries, was found in an Italian monastery recently.

The manuscript, Grammatica Grandonica, written by the Jesuit missionary Fr. Johann Ernst Hanxleden, popularly known as Arnos Padre, three centuries ago, is considered as one of the earliest missionary grammars in Sanskrit.

Toon Van Hal, a Belgian scholar and professor at the Centre for the History of Linguistics, Leuven University, traced the lost manuscript to the Convento di San Silvestro, a Carmelite monastery in Monte Compatri in the Province of Rome.

Christopher Vielle, a Luxembourg scholar who is conducting a study on Arnos Padre's manuscript, said Grammatica Grandonica bore a considerable influence on Sidharubam — the first Sanskrit grammar ever printed in Europe (1790).

Professor Ville and European Indologist Jean Claude Muller, who visited the St. Francis Xavier France Church, Velur, near Thrissur, founded by Arnos Padre, were on a mission to publish Grammatica Grandonica.

They came to India to participate in the International Sanskrit Conference held in New Delhi recently.

Born at Ostercappeln near Osnabrück in Hanover, Germany, Fr. Hanxleden (Arnos Padre) arrived in India on December 13, 1700, as a Jesuit missionary.

He built a church at Velur in 1712 and spent most of his remaining days there.

The church and the building were declared as protected monuments by the Kerala government in 1995. Arnos Padre has been remembered for his efforts to integrate the culture of the East with the West. He tried to assimilate the essence of Indian culture and literature with that of the West.

Proficient in German, Sanskrit, Malayalam, Latin, Syriac, Portuguese and Tamil, the Padre compiled Malayalam-Portuguese and Sanskrit-Portuguese dictionaries.

His Malayalam poem, Puthenpana, based on Christian themes, has been to Christian households what Ezhuthachan's Adhyatma Ramayanam is to the Hindus. He wrote several essays in Latin based on the Ramayana, the Mahabharata, Bhagavatam and Vedanta Saaram.

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