Exhibition to commemorate Russia's first indologist

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Moscow, Jan 19 (UNI) Timed to coincide with the Year of Russia in India, the old city of Yaroslavl is hosting an exhibition to commemorate Gerasim Lebedev, the first Russian scholar of Indian culture and history who laid the foundation of scientific studies of India.

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.

Gerasim Lebedev (1749-1817), Russia's first Oriental scholar and the first to introduce India to Russian and European Orientologists as a research subject, was a self-made man and excelled in many professions.

''Lebedev could have made a fine professional singer, cello player or virtuoso violinist. While abroad, he set up a legendary quartet that impressed sophisticated West European music-lovers and his fluency in dozens of European languages,'' Ria Novosti quoted Vladimir Izvekov, director Yaroslavl History Museum as saying.

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,'' Mr Izvekov said at the opening reception.

Many scholarly works came from Lebedev's pen. The pride of place belonged to the monograph 'An Unbiased Contemplation of Eastern India, its Holy Rites and Folk Customs,' an 18th century encyclopaedia of India.

Lebedev regarded India 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 said.

An excellent researcher, musician and stage performer all in one, Lebedev established the first European-style stage company in India, where he lived from 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.

The first Western researcher also has a street named after him in Calcutta called Gerasim Lebedev Street.


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