HERBERT V. GUNTHER
life period : 1917 - 2006 | place of birth : Bremen, Germany
parents : Reinhold Günther
children : Edith Kimball, Nora Günther
nationality : German | education : University of Saskatchewan
occupation : German Buddhist philosopher
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Herbert Vighnantaka Gunther was a German Buddhist philosopher and Professor and Head of the Department of Far Eastern Studies at the University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Canada. He held this position from the time he left India in 1964.
He went to Munich for further study after graduation, earning the Ph.D. degree in 1939. Four years later he received the degree Dr. Phil. Habil. in Vienna. From this beginning, Gunther went on to become one of the leading Buddhist scholars of our time. Amongst the most influential of his European mentors were Professor Wilhelm Geiger, a specialist in Pali and Sinhalese, and Walter Wust – both of Munich.
In Vienna, W. Havers was his main teacher. During this time his aptitude for languages manifested itself. In addition to Pali, Sinhalese, Sanskrit, Tibetan, Chinese, Japanese, English, German, Russian, and Hindi, there were those languages he studied 'for enjoyment' – Hebrew, Greek, Latin, Arabic, Spanish, and Italian. He progressed to teaching and taught at Vienna University from 1943 to 1950. Guenther left in 1950, refusing to serve under the rehabilitated ex-Nazi, Erich Frauwallner, whose academic chair had been restored to him.
The personal and intellectual encounters he had in India and the Himalayan region were to leave a lasting mark, for he was fortunate in studying with many prominent Tibetan and Mongolian lamas.
Gunther journeyed to India, where he lived and taught for the next fourteen years. From 1950 to 1958, he was at Lucknow University, where he developed a deep friendship with Kailas Nath Kaul, a naturalist, ethnologist and philosopher.