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Hermann Georg Jacobi (1 February 1850 - 19 October 1937) was an eminent German Indologist.

Jacobi was born in Köln on 1 February 1850. After leaving school he went to Berlin, where initially he studied mathematics, but later, probably under the influence of Albrecht Weber, switched to Sanskrit and comparative linguistics. He, however, obtained his Doctorate from Bonn. The subject of his thesis, written in 1872, was the origin of the term "hora" in Indian astrology.

Jacobi was able to visit London in 1873, where he examined the Indian manuscripts available there. The next year, with Georg Buehler, he visited Rajasthan, India, where manuscripts were being collected. At Jaisalmer Library, he came across Jain Manuscripts, which were of abiding interest to him for the rest of his life. He later edited and translated many of them, both into German and English, including those for Max Mueller's Sacred Books of the East.

Apart from Jaina studies, Jacobi was interested in Indian mathematics, astrology and the Natural Sciences, and using astronomical information available in the Vedas, he tried to establish the date of their composition. Like Alexander Cunningham before him he tried to systematise how, from the evidence available in inscriptions, a true local time could be arrived at.

Jacobi's studies in astronomy have regained importance today in the context of the Out of India theory, because his calculations led him to believe that the hymns of the Rigveda were to be dated as early as 4500 B.C. Thus he is the only renowned Western Indologist whose research supports the claim of the proponents of the theory that the Vedas are to be dated back much earlier than the first half of the second millennium B.C. According to mainstream Indology, the Indo-Aryan Migration took place during this period of time and the Vedas were only composed after the migration. When Jacobi published his views in an article on the origin of Vedic culture in the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society (1908), he therefore triggered off a major controversy in Indology.

In his later life, Jacobi interested himself in Poetry, Epics and Philosophy, particularly the school of Nyaya-Vaisheshika. As far as his formal academic career was concerned, Jacobi qualified as a Professor in 1875, becoming associate professor at the University of Münster in 1876 and a full professor at Kiel in 1885. He finally moved to his home town of Köln in 1889, where he served as a professor until his retirement in 1922. Among the honours he received were a doctorate from the University of Calcutta where he had gone in the winter of 1913-14 to lecture on poetics, while the Jain community conferred the title JAINA DARSANA DIVAKAR — Sun of the Jain doctrine — upon him. Even after his retirement, Jacobi remained active, lecturing and writing till his death in 1937.



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