about Dr. G.W. Leitner on websites
(See also on this website: Life of Dr Leitner and Writings of Dr Leitner
There are articles and documents on websites mentioning
the work of Dr. G.W. Leitner, paying tribute to his contributions,
particularly in the field of education in Lahore. Some of
these are quoted below.
1. Punjab University, Lahore
It is stated on the history page of the
website of the University of the Punjab, Lahore:
The contribution of Dr. G. W. Leitner,
an enlightened Hungarian and a naturalized Britisher, was
instrumental in the establishment of this University. He
became its first Registrar.
page on website of the University of the Punjab Lahore.
- Locally here at
www.wokingmuslim.org we have saved the above webpage as in 2005.
2. Letter in Pakistan Link
Pakistan Link is a well-known newspaper published from California, U.S.A.
In an issue dated May 24, 2002 the following letter appeared:
Ravians Recall the Good Old Days
By Intizar Husain
Like the Aligarians, the Ravians, too, appear to be very
nostalgic about their past. How fondly they talk of the
good old days at the Government College, Lahore. They are
easily carried away by the sweet memories of those days,
which now stand transformed into a golden age in their imagination.
It appears that this institution is now struggling hard to
regain that glory, which, as the Ravians say, it had lost
in the riot-torn years of partition. The new publications
I have recently received are very expressive of this sentiment.
Last month, the Ravians - old and the new - gathered together
and solemnly remembered their first principal, Dr Leitner,
the great scholar, who is regarded as the real architect of
their institution. The occasion also saw the launching of
a book, a volume of Dr Leitner’s selected writings compiled
by Ikram Chaghatai and published by the research and publications
society of the college with the cooperation of Sang-i-Meel
But it was not Government College alone, which benefited
from Leitner’s services and turned into an institution
which was much more than a college. As Ikram Chaghatai tells
us in his introduction to the book, the city of Lahore is
indebted to him for all its educational activities. It was
he who saw to it that the Punjab should have its own university.
It was because of his strenuous efforts that the Punjab
University came into being.
But Dr Leitner was not among those educationists who faithfully
followed the line given by Lord Macaulay and insisted solely
on English education. Himself a scholar of oriental languages
and allied cultures, he was aware of the value of these
languages and of their need in education. So after his success
in the campaign for the Punjab University, he came out with
the proposal of an educational institution devoted to the
study of oriental languages. Though the anglicists bitterly
opposed him, he stuck to his proposal and succeeded in founding
an institution which is now known as the Oriental College,
But Lahore is not indebted to this great man for its educational
institutions alone. As is well known, soon after the fall
of Delhi and Lucknow in 1857, Lahore emerged as a center
of literary activities, encouraging new trends, whose chief
advocates were Hali and Azad. For that, too, Lahore owes
much to Dr Leitner. The Anjuman-i-Punjab, which played a
great part in promoting these trends and which revitalized
the institution of the mushaira, was, in fact, Dr Leitner’s
Apart from being an educationist with innovative ideas,
Dr Leitner was a great scholar, who had studied Islam and
the languages related to it, Arabic, Persian, and Turkish.
Along with it, he was deeply involved in the research and
study of local languages and cultures in this part of the
world. A number of articles, which bring before us his research
about the northern areas of Pakistan, have been included
in this volume. His studies in the fables, folk tales and
folk songs of Chitral and his research on tribal religion
and customs, provide precious information to us.
Even after his return to England, his interest in the
cultures and languages of this part of the world did not
wane. There he made efforts and succeeded in founding a
school of oriental studies. And keeping in view the religious
requirements of the students from India, he thought of building
a mosque, a temple and a gurdwara in London. The mosque
he built there is known as the Voking [Woking] Masjid.
Let me now say a few words about another publication of
the Government College, which also speaks of its earnest
desire to revive its academic and literary traditions. The
Ravians had often been seen talking nostalgically about
the Sondhi Translation Society which, in the good old days,
was actively engaged in translating from European literature
into local languages. After lying dormant for long years
it has once again been revived. Here is its fresh publication
under the title, Takhleeq-i-Mukarrar 2001.
An attempt has been made here to introduce to us in Urdu
those distinguished writers who have won the Nobel Prize
during the last ten years. A short introduction about the
writer is followed by an Urdu version of the lecture he
delivered on the occasion of the prize distribution ceremony.
This in a way is an introduction to twentieth century
literature, an attempt to have an access to what has been
acknowledged as the best during the past decades.
Such an attempt on the part of the students is expressive
of the courage to know and to understand. The attempt is
laudable and deserves our appreciation.
3. In life of Sir Aural Stein
There is a document, Sir Aurel Stein’s Early Years : Setting Himself on the Track, by Gabriele Zeller, which mentions in detail the relationship between Leitner and the subject of this paper, Sir Aurel Stein. This was available in the Wason
Collection on East Asia at the Cornell University Library from which we took a local copy for our website. Here is the link to our local copy.
document it is related that Sir Aurel Stein lived in
the Oriental Institute at Woking for a short while during
1884 with Dr. Leitner. For further details, please
search for Leitner in the above document at our local link.
The Zeller document is also referenced in
the Encyclopaedia Iranica in its article on Sir Aurel Stein.
See the last reference in this article, which gives the reference to this document as IAOL [International Association of Orientalist Librarians] Bulletin 43, 1998, and also adds there that it was available online
at http://wason.library.cornell.edu/iaol/Vol.43/zeller.htm in July 2005.
It may be added here that Sir Aurel Stein was an explorer of the remote mountain regions
of todays Pakistan and Afghanistan, and originated from
Budapest, Hungary, like Dr. Leitner. In Jesus on Heaven
on Earth by Khwaja Nazir Ahmad, two works by Sir Aurel
Stein are cited in chapter 26 Chronology.
4. Sikh website
On the Sikh website www.allaboutsikhs.com, Leitner is mentioned in three articles:
1. Under Historical Sikh Events: Singh Sabha Movement, it is mentioned:
In Lahore, for example, several Sikhs were
members of Dr. G.W. Leitner's orientalist Anjuman-i-Punjab,
set up in 1865, where they became skilled at literary criticism
and debate over historical issues. Debates were held on
whether Urdu or Hindi was the more appropriate language
to replace Persian as official language. Punjabi in Gurmukhi
script was ignored even by the Punjab Education Department
as a mere dialect without a written literature. The Oriental
College established at Lahore in 1864 to encourage oriental
studies had courses in Sanskrit, Urdu and Persian but not
in Punjabi. Some Sikh members of Anjuman-i-Punjab like Raja
Harbans Singh and Rai Mul Singh pleaded the cause of Punjabi
but without success until Sardar Attar Singh of Bhadaur
presented a list of 389 books written on different subjects
in Gurmukhi script and collected in his personal library.
Dr. Leitner was convinced and he not only introduced Punjabi
as a subject in the Oriental College but also got it introduced
in the Punjab University of which He was the first Registrar; but that was later in 1877.
2. In the life of Sir Sardar Attar Singh, it is mentioned:
- “Already in 1869 he had been elected a member of Anjuman-i-Punjab, an educational and literary society started under the president ship of Dr G.W. Leitner.”
- “To counteract the argument of the opponents that there was no mentionable literature in Punjabi, he produced a formidable list of books and manuscripts in Punjabi from his personal collection which clinched the issue. He brought to the notice of scholars, especially Dr Leitner, an old inscription at Hathur, a village in Ludhiana district. This inscription proved how far back the roots of Punjabi language and its script went.”
3. In the article on the Panjabi Pracharni Sabha organization, a quotation is given from “G.W. Leitner, History of Indigenous Education in the Punjab, 1883”