Exhibition to Commemorate Russia's First Indologist

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Moscow, Jan 19 (UNI) The History Museum of Yaroslavl, an old city 230 kilometres north of Moscow, is hosting an exhibition in memory of Gerasim Lebedev, the first Russian scholar of Indian culture and history.

Timed to the Year of Russia in India (2008), the exhibition is a joint project of the Yaroslavl History Museum, the city Orion Roerich Society and the Jawaharlal Nehru Cultural Centre, affiliated to the Indian Embassy in the Russian Feredation, RIA Novosti agency reported.

Gerasim Lebedev (1749-1817) was Russia's first Oriental scholar and the first to introduce India to Russian and European Orientologists as a research subject.

The exhibition demonstrates authentic documents pertaining to Lebedev's life, his scholarly books and Russian and Indian books about him.

''Its timing to the Year of Russia in India is a symbolical tribute of Yaroslavl to one of its people, who did so much for Indian studies,'' Vladimir Izvekov, Director of the History Museum said at the opening reception.

Many scholarly works came from Lebedev's pen, including the monograph 'An Unbiased Contemplation of Eastern India, its Holy Rites and Folk Customs', which is regarded as an 18th century encyclopaedia of India, a country known only from hearsay and fabulous accounts before.

Lebedev laid the foundation of scientific studies of India. He deservedly regarded it as the cradle of the world civilisation.

''India was the first land to disseminate the human race all about the globe, as many ethnologists testify,''he wrote.

An excellent researcher, musician and stage performer, Lebedev established the first European-style stage company in India as he lived there in 1785-97. He translated the best-known European dramas into Bengali and compiled several linguistic study books.

Once back in Russia, he also published a Bengali-Russian dictionary.

India cherishes the memory of the first Western researcher to study it. Kolkata, for one, has a Gerasim Lebedev Street.

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