Louis de La Vallée Poussin

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Louis de La Vallée Poussin (1 January 1869 – 18 February 1938) was a renowned Belgian scholar of Buddhism, who is regarded as "one of the foremost European scholars of Buddhism during the twentieth century".[1]

His major works include a six-volume translation of the Abhidharma-kosa, and the first complete translations in a Western language of the Bodhicharyavatara and the Vijñaptimātratāsiddhi.[1]

He studied Sanskrit, Pali and Avestan at the University of Louvain early in his academic career. He continued his studies of Sanskrit under the direction of Sylvain Levi and Victor Henry, while studying at the Sorbonne and at the Ecole des Hautes-Etudes. Later, in order to futher his studies of Buddhism, he learned Chinese and Tibetan.[2]


La Vallée-Poussin was born in Liège, where he received his early education. He studied at the University of Liège from 1884 to 1888, receiving his doctorate at the age of nineteen. He studied Sanskrit, Pali, and Avestan under Charles de Harlez and Philippe Colinet from 1888 to 1890 at the University of Louvain, receiving a docteur en langues orientales in July 1891. Moving to Paris, he began his studies at the Sorbonne that same year under Victor Henri and Sylvain Lévi. During this time (1891–1892), he also occupied the chair of Sanskrit at the University of Liège. He continued his study of Avestan and the Zoroastrian Gathas under Hendrik Kern at Leiden University, where he also took up the study of Chinese and Tibetan. In 1893, he attained a professorship at the University of Ghent teaching comparative grammar of Greek and Latin, a position which he held until his retirement in 1929.

Louis de La Vallée-Poussin died in Brussels.[3]

Major works


  • L’Abhidharmakośa de Vasubandhu. 6 vols. Paris: 1923-31.
  • Vijñaptimātratāsiddhi: La Siddhi de Hiuan-Tsang, (1928–1929)
  • Bodhicaryavatara : Introduction à la pratique des futurs Buddhas, translated by L. de La Vallée Poussin, Louvain, 1907
  • Translations of Yogacara, Madhyamaka and tantric texts[1]

Other publications

  • The Way to Nirvana: Six Lectures on Ancient Buddhism as a Discipline of Salvation, 1916
  • Musila et Nārada, 1937 (an influential study on two ways of attaining nirvana, exemplified by the monks Musila and Nārada[4])
  • La Morale bouddhique
  • Documents d'Abhidharma : La controverse du temps, des dieux, les quatre, les trois vérités
  • L'Inde aux temps des mauryas et des Barbares, Grecs, Scythes, Parthes et Yue-Tchi
  • Dynasties et histoire de l'Inde depuis Kanişka jusqu'aux invasions musulmanes (1935)
  • Bouddhisme. Opinions sur l'histoire de la dogmatique
  • Indo-européens et indo-iraniens. L'Inde jusque vers 300 avant J.-C, (1924)

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Robert E. Buswell Jr., Donald S. Lopez Jr., The Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism (Princeton: 2014), s.v. La Vallée-Poussin, Louis de
  2. Babelio - Biography: Louis de La Vallée Poussin
  3. Lamotte, Etienne (1938). "Louis de La Vallée Poussin". Bulletin de l'Ecole française d'Extrême-Orient: 479–483. Retrieved 2016-06-18. 
  4. Griffiths 1981, p. 605.


Further reading

  • La Vallee Possin (1937), Musila et Narada; reprinted in Gombrich (2006), How Buddhism Began, appendix
  • Andre Bareau (1963), Recherches sur la biographie du Buddha dans les Sutrapitaka et les Vinayapitaka anciens, Ecole Francaise d'Extreme-Orient
  • Donald K. Swearer (1972), Two Types of Saving Knowledge in the Pāli Suttas, Philosophy East and West, Vol. 22, No. 4 (Oct., 1972), pp. 355-371
  • Schmithausen, On some Aspects of Descriptions or Theories of 'Liberating Insight' and 'Enlightenment' in Early Buddhism. In: Studien zum Jainismus und Buddhismus (Gedenkschrift für Ludwig Alsdorf), hrsg. von Klaus Bruhn und Albrecht Wezler, Wiesbaden 1981, 199-250.
  • Bronkhorst, Johannes (1993), The Two Traditions Of Meditation In Ancient India, Motilal Banarsidass Publishers , chapter 8

External links

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