Fedor Shcherbatskoi

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Shcherbatskoi, Fedor Ippolitovich


Born Aug. 30 (Sept. 11), 1866, in Kielce, Poland; died Mar. 18, 1942, in Boro-voe, Akmolinsk Oblast, Kazakhstan. Soviet specialist in Indian, Tibetan, and Buddhist studies. Academician of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR (1918).

A student of I. P. Minaev’s, Shcherbatskoi graduated from the University of St. Petersburg in 1889. Subsequently sent abroad, he studied Indian poetry with G. Bühler in Vienna and philosophy with H. Jacobi in Bonn. Appointed a professor at the University of St. Petersburg in 1900, he continued to teach at the university after it became Leningrad State University.

In 1897, Shcherbatskoi and S. F. Ol’denburg established the series Bibliotheca Buddhica, in which many of the world’s leading Orientalists published texts, translations, and studies of written works from India, Tibet, and Mongolia. In 1928, Shcherbatskoi became head of the Institute of Buddhist Culture in Leningrad; the institute was later converted into the Indo-Tibetan Center of the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR. Shcherbatskoi went to Mongolia in 1900 and studied Tibetan manuscripts in the libraries of Buddhist monasteries. In 1910 he traveled to India to study Buddhist scientific literature written in Sanskrit.

Shcherbatskoi’s principal works were devoted to the philosophy of Buddhism and an analysis of the philosophical foundations of northern Mahayana Buddhism, a tradition widespread in Tibet, Mongolia, China, Japan, and Korea. His studies of Buddhist philosophy and logic provided original analyses and included translations and interpretations of sources; they influenced the development of Buddhist and Indian studies and opened the field of ancient Indian logic to European science. Shcherbatskoi was the founder of the Russian school of Buddhist studies. He translated and published a number of works of Sanskrit and Tibetan literature.

Shcherbatskoi was an honorary member of learned societies in Great Britain, Germany, and France.


Teoriia poznaniia i logika po ucheniiu pozdneishikh buddistov, parts 1–2. St. Petersburg, 1903–09.
The Central Conception of Buddhism and the Meaning of the Word “Dharma.” Leningrad, 1927.
The Conception of Buddhist Nirvana. Leningrad, 1927.
Buddhist Logic, vols. 1–2. Leningrad, 1930–32.
(For a full bibliography of Shcherbatskoi’s works see Bibliografiia Indii [3rd ed.], Moscow, 1976.)


Ol’denburg, S. “Shcherbatskoi Fedor Ippolitovich.” In BSE, 1st ed., vol. 62. Moscow, 1933.
Anikeev, I. P. “Vydaiushchiisia russkii indolog F. I. Shcherbatskoi.” Vestnik istorii mirovoi kul’tury, 1958, no. 3.
Indiiskaia kul’tura i buddizm: Sb. st. pamiati akad. F. I. Shcherbatskogo. Moscow, 1972.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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