|"The 300th anniversary
of the arrival of Bartholomaeus Ziegenbalg, a German
who came to Tranquebar in 1706 as the first Protestant
missionary to India sent by the Danish monarch, will be
marked beginning July 3.
The missionary was a person who did not restrict
himself to religion. His arrival in South India served
as the launchpad for several pioneering developments in
the fields of education, printing and Tamil.
Addressing press persons on Wednesday, S. Muthiah,
historian, said that printing, which had died out in
1674, was revived by Ziegenbalg. He introduced the
first Tamil printing press in Tranquebar in 1712, from
which the first Tamil book was printed.
He also started the first paper mill in
Kaduthasipattarai in 1714. Describing him as a
remarkable linguist, Mr. Muthiah said he authored a
Tamil dictionary and translated Tamil grammative prose
into Latin. He also published several books on the
Tamil language and culture, he added.
His other contributions include the first translation
of the New Testament in Tamil and an interpretation of
Tamil culture to Europe. He paved way for enhanced
Indo-German relations through his writings.
The celebrations are being organised by Gurukul
Lutheran Theological College and Research Institute on
behalf of the National Council of Churches of India.
Samuel W. Meshack, principal of Gurukul Lutheran
College said that a stamp of Ziegenbalg would be
released during the celebrations. Microfilms on the
missionary's service produced by Halle University,
Germany, will be provided to Gurukul." The Hindu, 29 June
Biography of Ziegenbalg
|Bartholomew Ziegenbalg and
Heinrich Plütschau "Believing that people best
hear and learn the Gospel in their own language and
cultural context, their first tasks were to learn
Tamil and to understand Hinduism. They preached for
a definite conversion as the point of entry into
Christianity. Ziegenbalg and Plütschau operated a
school for reading and writing in Tamil, so that each
convert could read the Scriptures. Ziegenbalg
translated the Scriptures, Luther's Catechisms, and
other works into Tamil.."
for a Study on the Life and Activities of Bartholomaeus
|Learning an Indian Language in 1700s
as a foreign language - M. S. Thirumalai, Ph.D. "
In this short paper I wish to record the statements
made by the first ever Protestant missionary,
Bartholomaeus Ziegenbalg, as to how he learned an
|Tamilology and a
|Bartholomaeus Ziegenbalg, an apostle in
Ziegenbalg at Wikipedia
|India to release Postage Stamp in
honour of Ziegenblag, January 2006
The First Protestant Missionary to
India : Bartholomaeus Ziegenbalg 1683-1719
by Brijraj Singh (Hardcover - March 1, 2000)
Tamilische Briefe an deutsche Missionare. Eine
by Johann Ernst Gründler, et al (Hardcover -
October 1, 1998)
Genealogy of the South-Indian gods:
A manual of the mythology and religion of the people
of Southern India, including a description of popular
by Bartholomaeus Ziegenbalg
Bartholomaeus Ziegenbalg: A
biography of the first protestant missionary in
by Erich Beyreuther
- the German who printed the first Tamil
1682 - 1719
Indo Asian News Service
4 July 2006
(Tamil Nadu), July 4 (IANS) This small coastal town
is holding a weeklong commemoration in memory of an
18th century German missionary who not only printed
the first English book in Asia but also wrote the
first Tamil dictionary.
Bartholomaeus Ziegenbalg, a
23-year-old protestant missionary, arrived in
Tranquebar, where the Danish set up a colony nearly
300 years ago, on July 9, 1706. The commemorations
that began Monday will include a seminar on the
contribution of missionaries to civil society in
India as well as on the post-modern challenges to
Christian missionary activity. A postal stamp on
Ziegenbalg, who hailed from the university town of
Halle and was sent by King Frederick IV who felt
that there should be protestant priests in the tiny
Danish colony, will be released on the occasion.
The New Jerusalem church in Tranquebar, where he
was buried, will be rededicated.
Ziegenbalg was a born linguist. He quickly learnt
Portuguese as well as 'Malabar' Tamil. It is said
his Tamil teacher was an assistant called Ellapar,
who taught him the 'Malabar' alphabets by drawing
them on beach sand. He was keen on the new printing
technology rather than preaching and conversion and
began writing books on Tamil language, dictionaries
and manuals on printing.
By 1708, two years after he reached, Ziegenbalg had
compiled a bibliography of 161 Tamil books he had
read in a text called the 'Biblithece Malabarke',
which described what each book contained.In 1709,
Ziegenbalg asked for a printing press from Denmark.
He also sent back to Halle drawings of Tamil types
to be made into blocks. The Halle type for Tamil
came to Tranquebar in 1712. It was, however, too
large and Ziegenbalg got local workmen to caste
smaller types, copied expertly from the Halle type,
from cheese tins. His first press came in 1713
along with a printing hand, who ran away. So,
Ziegenbalg recruited a German soldier named Johann
Heinrich Schloricke, who printed his first book in
India in Portuguese.
A printer named Johanne Adler along with two
apprentices arrived on the Tamil Nadu coast that
same year to help Ziegenbalg's printing industry.
Adler set up a type-making factory near Tranquebar
to supply Ziegenbalg's press. In 1715, he started a
paper mill in the village. And then Adler opened a
printing ink making factory nearby. So,
Ziegenbalg's press had all that it needed
In 1716, it printed the first book in Asia in the
English language, 'A Guide to the English Tongue'.
Next year, the press produced a Portuguese A B C
book. The press existed for the next 100 years.
There is no record of anything printed in this
press after that. From the Tranquebar press, the
art of printing spread to Thanjavur, Tirunelveli
and then Madras (Chennai). Also to the Danish
settlement of Srirampore on the Bengal coast. It is
in the Srirampore Danish mission that William
Carey, often credited with the first printing work
in India, and others took forward Ziegenbalg's
Ziegenbalg had worked on several other Tamil-German
scholarly texts. These were only printed 250 years
later in Halle and in Madras. Among them were texts
like the 'Nidiwunpa' and 'Ulaga Nidi'. Ziegenbalg
died in 1719.
Opening the commemoration ceremonies, historian S.
Muthiah recalled that Ziegenbalg wrote the first
Tamil dictionary and translated Tamil grammar prose
into Latin. He established the first Tamil-German
scholarly link. He first translated the New
Testament into Tamil 'Pudu Etpadu'. The function is
being organised by the Gurukul Lutheran Theological
College and Research Institute here and the
National Council of Churches in India.
Ziegenbalg, an apostle in India
Bartholomaeus Ziegenbalg, the great missionary of
South India, was born in Saxony in 1682. He studied
at the University of Balle, then the center for the
Pietistic movement in the Lutheran Church. He
responded to an appeal from the King of Denmark for
missionaries, and in September 1706, he and
Heinrich Plueshau arrived in Tranguebar (anglicized
form of Tharangambadi in Tamil language), a very
small Danish colony on the east coast, close to
Nagapattinam in Tamil Nadu, on the southeast coast
of India, as the first Protestant missionaries in
Ziegenbalg began his life in
Tranquebar first with the help of interpreters and
translators. However, he was determined to learn
the local language Tamil, and mastered it in such a
way that he would be able to use it for the
translation of the Bible and to communicate with
the natives in their own language. He and Heinrich
persevered in their efforts.
They began preaching and baptized
their first converts about ten months later. Their
work was opposed both by militant Hindus and by the
local Danish authorities. In 1707/08, Ziegenbalg
spent four months in prison on a charge that by
converting the natives, he was encouraging
More than the opposition, he had to
cope with the climatic conditions in India.
Ziegenbalg wrote: "My skin was like a red cloth.
The heat here is very great, especially during
April, May and June, in which season the wind blows
from the inland so strongly that it seems as if the
heat comes straight out of the oven".
Ziegenbalg began to learn write Tamil letters
immediately after his arrival. The missionaries
invited the local Tamil Pandit (teacher) to come
and stay with them and to run his school from their
house. Ziegenbalg would sit with the young children
in this school on the floor and practice writing
the letters in the sand, a very traditional
practice that was in vogue even in early 1650s in
Tamil Nadu villages.
Following was an account of his hard work to master
the Malabar (Tamil) language:
From 7 to 8 a.m, he would repeat the vocabularies
and phrases that he had previously learnt and
written down. From 8 a.m. to 12 noon, he would read
only Malabar language books which he had not
previously read. He did this in the presence of an
old poet and a writer who immediately wrote down
all new words and expressions. The poet had to
explain the text and in the case of linguistically
complicated poetry, the poet put what had been read
into colloquial language. At first, Ziegenbalg had
also used the translator, namely, Aleppa, whom he
later gave to one of his colleagues. Even while
eating, he had someone read to him. From 3 to 5
p.m., he would read some more Tamil books. In the
evening from 7 to 8 p.m, someone would read to him
from Tamil literature in order to avoid strain on
his eyes. He preferred authors whose style he could
imitate in his own speaking and writing.
He soon set up a printing press, and published
studies of the Tamil language and of Indian
religion and culture. His translation of the New
Testament into Tamil in 1715, and the church
building that he and his associates constructed in
1718, are still in use today.
He married in 1716, and about that time, a new and
friendly governor arrived, and he was able to
establish a seminary for the training of native
clergy. He died on 23 February 1719 at the age of
37 when he left a Tamil translation of the New
Testament and of Genesis through Ruth, many brief
writings in Tamil, two church buildings, the
seminary, and 250 baptized Christians. Ziegenbalg
accomplished great things for God in the prime of
his youth and that too, in an alien country,
despite the inclement climatic conditions and the
hostile attitude of the local people to the
preaching of the gospel. (Courtesy: Friends Focus -
for a Study on the Life and Activities of
Ziegenbalg, B. and J.E. Gruendler:
A Letter to the Reverend Mr. Geo Lewis, Chaplain to
the Honourable the East India - Company at Fort St.
George: Giving an Account of the Method of
Instruction used in the Charity Schools of the
Church call'd Jerusalem, in Tranquebar by the
Protestant Missionaries there, London, 1715, 32p.
(Published in English language during Ziegenbalg's
Ziegenbalg B., Grammatica Damulica,
Halle, 1716 (Published in Tamil-Latin during
Germann, W. Ziegenbalgs Bibliotheca
Malabarica, in: Missionsnachrichten der
Ostindischen Missionsansalt zu Halle, vol.32,
Halle, 1880 (this article gives us the complete
list of the 119 rare Tamil literature collection,
which Ziegenbalg sent to Germany)
Lehmann Arno, German Tamil Studies,
in: Wissenbschaftliche Zeitschrift derMartin Luther
Universitaet, Vol.17, Halle, 1968.
Germann, W. (Ed.), Genealogy of the
South Indian Gods, New Delhi, 1984.
Baierlein, E.R., Rev.: The land of
the Tamulians and Its missions, translated from the
German by J.D.B.Gribble, Madras, 1875, 242 p.
Beyreuther, Erich: (Tr.from German
by S.G. Lang & H.W. Gensichen), Bartholomaeus
Ziegenbalg, A Biography of the First Protestant
Missionary in India 1682-1719, Madras, 1955, 80
Buchanan, C., Rev.: Christian
Researches in Asia, London, 1812, 312 p.
Hooper, J.S.M.: Bible Translation,
Lehmann, Arno: (Tr. into English by
M. J. Lutz) It began at Tranquebar, Madras, 1956,
Leifer, Walter: India and the
Germans, 500 Years of Indo-German Contacts, Bombay,
Pamperrien, K. (Translator):
History of the Tranquebar Mission - worked out from
the original papers by J. Ferd, Fenger, Translated
into English from the German of Emil Francke,
Tranquebar, 1863, 324p.
Penny, Frank, Rev.: The Church in
Madras, Vol. I, London, 1904, xii
Samuel G, Rev.: History of the
Tranquebar Mission in Tamil, A.D. 1706 -1955,
Madras, 1955, 288 p.
Sherring, M.A.: The History of
Protestant Missions in India from their
Commencement in 1706 to 1871, London, 1875, 484
Stephen Neil: A History of
Christianity in India, Cambridge, 1985.
Mohanavelu, C.S.: Standard of
education of native Tamil people 300 years ago, as
observed and reported by the Germans, in:
Wissenschaftliche Zietschrift der Martin Luther
Universitat, Halle-Wittenberg, Jg. XXXXI, Nr.3,
Halle, 1992, pp.129-134
Mohanavelu, C.S.: German
Tamilology, Madras, 1993
275 years of the arrival of
Ziegenbalg, Jubilee Malar, 1706-1981
Bergendorff, Conrad, Ziegenbalg -
The Church of Lutheran Reformation, St.Luis,
Sandgren, From Tranquebar to
Serampore, Carey Lectures, Baptist Mission Press,
Calcutta, 1955, 22 p.
Ziegenbalg, Dr. Daniel Jeyaraj,