Ezour-Vedam Europe’s Illusory First Glimpse of the Veda

20.04.2007 15:00

Dermot Killingley | University of Newcastle upon Tyne, Dept. of Religious Studies

Compared with Arabic, or even Chinese, knowledge of Sanskrit and its literature was late in reaching Europe. Vedic literature, especially, was little known in Europe until the nineteenth century, despite the authority which it possessed in Hindu tradition. A text in French, entitled Ezour-Vedam, published in 1778, was hailed by Voltaire as a sample of ancient Indian monotheistic wisdom. Four years later it was denounced as a missionary forgery; but this description is not entirely just. While it is unlikely that the original Sanskrit text, if any, will ever be known, the series of misunderstandings surrounding the Ezour-Vedam, continuing into the twentieth century, makes an instructive story of credulity, ridicule and indignation.