A new building at Balliol College, University of Oxford, have been named after Dr Lakshman Sarup, who was the first student at Oxford to submit his thesis for a Doctor of Philosophy (DPhil) degree.
Balliol College in a release stated, “Balliol’s newest buildings at the Master’s Field have been named after historic Balliol alumni and academics who reflect the diversity, values and history of the College. Block C1 has been named after Dr Lakshman Sarup (Balliol 1916).”
It added, “Dr Lakshman Sarup (1894–1946) was the first student at Oxford to submit for a DPhil degree, which he was awarded in 1919 on the subject of Yaksa’s Nirukta, the oldest Sanskrit treatise on etymology.”
Born in Lahore, Sarup obtained his MA in Sanskrit from Lahore’s Oriental College. He later came to Balliol College in 1916 on an Indian state scholarship.
After Oxford University introduced the DPhil as the first doctorate degree in Britain in 1917, Sarup was one of two students who enrolled.
“His DPhil was supervised by one of the foremost British scholars in the field, Arthur Macdonell, the Boden Professor of Sanskrit and a Fellow of Balliol. Sarup’s English translation of Nirukta was the first critical edition of the text, examining the contribution of ancient India and Greece to modern linguistics. He established that it was written sometime between 700 and 500 BCE,” the release stated.
Sarup was appointed Professor of Sanskrit Literature at Punjab University in 1920. In 1942, he became the first Indian scholar to be appointed Principal of the Oriental College of the University of the Punjab.
He also translated two of Molière’s plays into Hindi, for which he was recognised by the Académie Française, becoming the first Indian to receive such an honour.