Hermann Hesse, the German classical author, born in 1877 at Calw won a noble prize for literature in 1946. His mother was an Indologist and his father had visited India as well. One often finds Indian names in his books and some of his works reflect Hindu philosophical thought. One of Hermann Hesse’s famous work is `Siddhartha´. The book is about the spiritual journey of a Brahmin youth in search of self and eternal wisdom. The book contains references to core Hindu philosophical expressions such as ‘atman’, ‘maya’,’ Brahman’ etc with references to lines from the Upanishads as well. His well known ‘Narcissus and Goldmund’ could also be compared with ‘Siddhartha’ for similarities. Both the protagonists start their journey into life in search of salvation from within the traditional religious compounds .They wander into the world of flesh and lust, suffer, despair and attain peace in their old age.
The most identifiable German in India perhaps is Max Müller. It is surprising that while he is known by nearly every school-going child in India, no (or few) German in Germany (Müller being a very common name here in Germany) is aware of his scholarly contributions in opening the door of Indian religious scriptures to the world. German language Institutes called Goethe institute worldwide are called Max Müller institutes in India. Friedrich Max Müller translated the scared books of India such as the Upanishads and Vedic scriptures (Rig Veda) into English. He was a leading Sanskrit orientalist scholar in his days and is remembered with warmth and reverence in India. Schopenhauer, Humboldt (translated the Bhagwat Gita into German), Friedrich von Schlegel (translator of Laws of Manu), Jacob Wilhelm Hauer were few other acclaimed German Indologists.
Schrödinger was apparently inspired by ancient Hindu Sankhya philosophy for his Cat paradox analogy in Quantum mechanics. Heisenberg spent some time in India as Tagore’s guest in 1929 .There he got acquainted with Indian philosophy which brought him great comfort for its similarity to modern physics. Tagore and Einstein meetings in Germany, Einstein Bose statistics are some examples of German-Indo cultural and scientific trysts.
Germany has always been the land of intellectuals and India the land of philosophers. These two nations so far apart in tradition and history have been brought together by few such intellectuals, artists and philosophers.