HAUG, MARTIN, Oriental scholar and one of the founders of Iranian studies (b. January 30, 1827 in Ostdorf near Balingen, Württemberg, Germany; d. June 5, 1876 in Bad Ragaz, Kanton St. Gallen, Switzerland; Figure 1). He married Sophia Speidel (1819-96) in 1859 and had one son.

The eldest of a farmer’s six children, born in a small village, Haug developed an interest in ancient languages at a very early stage. Besides work-ing as an assistant schoolteacher from the age of 16, he taught himself Latin, Greek, and Hebrew. Despite not having access to a grammar, he learned Sanskrit from F. Bopp’s 1819 edition of the Nala and Damayantī story (Mahābhārata, bk. 3, chaps. 52-79).In order to dedicate himself entirely to his studies, Haug quit his teaching position in early 1848 against his father’s will. With only two florins in his pocket, he walked all the way to Stuttgart, where he entered the Gymnasium in March 1848. Supporting himself by giving private lessons in Hebrew, he passed the Maturitätsexamen (school-leaving exam) after only a few months and was matriculated at the University of Tübingen as a candidate of philology in autumn 1848.

In Tübingen, Haug studied Sanskrit under Rudoph Roth and classics under Wilhelm Sigmund Teuffel and Friedrich Karl Albert Schwegler. In 1849-50, he delivered a series of lectures on Isaiah and in 1851 won the Faculty of Philosophy prize for the best essay (In fontes quibus Plutarchus invitis conscribendis usus est inquisatur, published as Die Quellen Plutarchs in den Lebensbeschreibungen der Griechen neu untersucht, Tübingen, 1854). He was awarded a scholarship and obtained the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in March 1852, only a few days before his father’s death.

The Württemberg government granted Haug a traveling stipend of three hundred florins, which, together with his family inheritance, enabled him to continue his studies in Göttingen under the classicist Carl Friedrich Hermann, the Sanskritist Theodor Benfey, and especially the Semitic scholar Heinrich Ewald, who gave him private tuition in Hebrew, Arabic, Syriac, Turkish, and Armenian and strongly encouraged him to dedicate his life to Oriental studies. Furthermore, Haug studied Avesta, Pahlavi (Bundahišn), and cuneiform texts. In 1854 he became an unsalaried university lecturer (Privatdozent) after his habilitation in Bonn with a dissertation on “Die Lehre Zoroasters nach den alten Liedern des Zendawesta” (published in ZDMG 9, 1855, pp. 683-94).

All these years Haug lived in considerable hardship, supporting himself by giving private lessons. His financial circumstances improved greatly after Karl Freiherr von Bunsen invited him to Heidelberg to become his private assistant in his project of a new edition of the Bible for Protestant communities. A salary of six hundred thalers a year enabled Haug, not only to live comfortably, but also to visit Paris and London in 1856 and 1857 and study Oriental manuscripts in the Bibliothèque Impériale and the East India Company’s Library.

In 1859-66 Haug was in India, holding the position of superintendent and professor of Sanskrit in the Government College of Poona. There were three major reasons for him to accept the appointment: to acquaint himself with the learning of the Zoroastrian and Hindu priests, to raise the standard and change the character of traditional Indian teaching and scholarship by introducing Western methods, and to collect manuscripts. His intimate, cordial, and affable manner of communicating with Hindu brahmans and Parsi priests (dasturs) enabled him to obtain the most extended and accurate information concerning their beliefs, rites, and customs ever vouchsafed to any European (Evans, 1884, p. xxvii). Moreover, through his lectures, he inspired the younger generation of brahmans and Parsis with an interest in their own sacred scriptures. One of his most famous pupils among the pundits was Ramakrishna Gopal Bhandarkar, the founder of Oriental studies in India.

In 1863-64 Haug travelled in Gujarat for three months, searching for old manuscripts. He purchased numerous valuable manuscripts on behalf of the British government. He also bought Avesta, Pahlavi, and Vedic manuscripts for his own private collection, which was acquired by the Royal State Library (Königliche Staatsbibliothek) in Munich after his death. While in India, Haug collaborated with Dastur Hoshang Jamaspji Asa and E. W. West, who worked as chief engineer on one of the Indian railways.

India was not good for his health, which deteriorated to such an extent that in 1866 Haug returned to Germany to recuperate. First he lived in Reutlingen and Stuttgart as a private scholar and completed his Zend-Pahlavi Glossary, a work undertaken in India in collaboration with Dastur Hoshang Jamaspji Asa. In 1868 he was appointed to the newly established chair of Sanskrit and Comparative Philology in the University of Munich and held this position until his premature death in June 1876. He died in Switzerland, where he had gone to seek further medical care, from an illness which affected the nerves and lungs. His lectures on Indo-Iranian philology, linguistics, and Oriental studies were attended, not only by students of Munich University and different parts of Germany, but also by young scholars from India, England, North America, Russia, Spain, Portugal, and Greece.

Haug’s contributions to scholarship, which remained influential well into the twentieth century, were predominantly in the field of Old and Middle Iranian studies. The main subjects of his research were Iranian philology and Zoroastrian literature, both Avestan and Pahlavi. His most important works include An Old Zend-Pahlavi Glossary and An Old Pahlavi-Pazand Glossary, both published 1870 in London and Bombay. In collaboration with Dastur Hoshang Jamaspji Asa and E. W. West, he published The book of Arda Viraf (Bombay and London, 1871-74). These works, together with his treatise “Über den Charakter der Pehlevi-Sprache,” constitute milestones in the study of Pahlavi. While in India, Haug published his Essays on the Sacred Language, Writings and Religion of the Parsis (Bombay, 1862), which offered the first grammatical description of the Avestan language in comparison with Sanskrit. His translation of the Gathas, published in two volumes 1858-60, represent the first Western scholarly translation of these difficult hymns. His lasting contributions to Iranian studies include, furthermore, the discovery that the language of the Gathas is different from that of the rest of the Avesta and that only the Gathas were composed by Zarathuštra. Haug’s impact on the interpretation of Zoroastrian doctrine was considerable, especially among Parsis bewildered by the Christian campaigning of the Scottish missionary John Wilson. In his lectures in Bombay, Haug argued that Zarathushtra taught a pure, ethical monotheism and a philosophical dualism, that there was no evidence for rituals in the Gathas, and that the prophet’s teachings were corrupted by later generations (Boyce, 1979, pp. 202 f.; Hinnells, 1983, p. 111).



Works by Martin Haug not given in the text. Die fünf Gāthās, oder Sammlungen von Liedern und Sprüchen Zarathushtra’s, seiner Jünger und Nachfolger, 2 vols. Leipzig, 1858, 1860.

The Aitareya Brahmana of the Rigveda, ed. and tr., 2 vols., London and Bombay, 1863.

“Über den Charakter der Pehlevi-Sprache mit besonderer Rücksicht auf die Inschriften,” Sitzungsberichte der königlichen bayrischen Akademie der Wissenschaften 1, 1869, pp. 85-118.

An Old Zend-Pahlavi Glossary, London and Bombay 1870.

Uber das Wesen und den Wert des wedische Accents, Munich, 1873.

Other sources. Th. Benfey, Geschichte der Sprachwissenschaft und orientalischen Philologie in Deutschland, Munich, 1869, pp. 611 f., 614, 624, 633 f.

M. Boyce, Zoroastrians. Their Religious Beliefs and Prac-tices, London and New York, 1979, 5th repr. 2000.

W. Eilers, “Haug, Martin,” Neue Deutsche Biographie VIII, Berlin, 1969, pp. 91-92.

E. P. Evans, “Biographical Sketch,” in M. Haug, Essays on the Sacred Language, Writings and Religion of the Parsis, 3rd edition by E. W. West, London, 1884, repr. London, 2000, pp. xvii-xxxi.

Idem, in The Unitarian Review, Boston, 1887, pp. 378-400, 495-514.

E. Gaiser, in Bezzenbergers Beiträge zur Kunde der indogermanischen Sprachen 1, 1877, pp. 70-80.

J. R. Hinnells, “Social change and religious transformation among Bombay Parsis in the early twentieth century,” in P. Slater and D. Wiebe, eds., Traditions in Contact and Change, Winnipeg, 1983, pp. 105-25; repr. in J. R. Hinnells, Zoroastrian and Parsi Studies, Aldershot, 2000, pp. 175-200.

J. Jolly, “Haug, Martin,” in Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie XI, Leipzig, 1880, pp. 54-56.

F. Veit, ed., Festschrift zur Erinnerung an die Haug-Feier in Ostdorf, Tübingen, 1909, which includes an autobiography by Martin Haug written in Bonn in 1859 (pp. 41-65) and his letters and documents (pp. 69-120).

(Almut Hintze)

Originally Published: December 15, 2003

Last Updated: March 20, 2012

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Vol. XII, Fasc. 1, pp. 61-63