Johannes Cornelis (Jan) Heesterman

1925 – 2014
South Asian history

Curriculum vitae

1925born in Amsterdam on November 10
1954-1958lecturer Hindi, Sanskrit and Indian cultures, Utrecht University
1957PhD under the supervision of J. Gonda, Utrecht University
1958-1961stay in India; participated in the project Sanskrit dictionary on historical principles
1961-1964return to Utrecht University in the same position
1964-1990professor languages and cultural history of South Asia after the Islamic invasion, Leiden University
1990-2014emeritus professor
2014died in Leiden on April 14


  • Oort, M.S. (compiler), “List of publications by J.C. Heesterman.” In: A.W. van den Hoek, D.H.A. Kolff, M.S. Oort (eds), Ritual, state and history in South Asia: essays in honour of J.C. Heesterman, Leiden 1992 (Memoirs of the Kern Institute 5), pp. 1-4.
  • Het bestuur van de VVIK, “Jan Heesterman 1925-2014.” VVIK Nieuws 20 (2014): [2].
  • Bisschop, P.C. and D.H.A. Kolff, “Johannes Cornelis Heesterman.” Jaarboek van de Maatschappij der Nederlandse Letterkunde te Leiden 2014-2015: 122-127.


1957 The ancient Indian royal consecration: the Rājasūya described according to the Yajus texts and annotated, ‘s-Gravenhage (Disputationes Rheno-Trajectinae 2). – Also appeared as PhD thesis Utrecht.
1959 “Vala and Gomati.” BDCRI 19: 320-329.
“Reflections on the significance of the Dakṣiṇā.” IIJ 3: 241-258.
Review of: S. Chattopadhyaya, The Śākas in India, Śāntiniketan 1955. CAJ 4: 234.
1962 “Vrātya and sacrifice.” IIJ 6: 1-37.
“Hervormingsstreven en wereldverzaking in India.” Handelingen van het zevenentwintigste Nederlands filologencongres, gehouden te Utrecht op woensdag 25, donderdag 26 en vrijdag 27 april 1962, Groningen, pp. 188-191.
1963 “Tradition in modern India.” BTLV 119: 237-253.
1964 Spel der tegenstellingen, Rede uitgesproken bij de aanvaarding van het ambt van hoogleraar in de talen en cultuurgeschiedenis van Zuid-Azië aan de Rijksuniversiteit te Leiden op 3 juli 1964, Leiden.
“Brahmin, ritual and renouncer.” WZKSO 8: 1-31.
Review of: J.M. Hondius, Pelgrimstocht door India, Den Haag-Parijs 1962. BTLV 120: 278-280.
Review of: L.Dumont and D.Pocock (eds), Contributions to Indian Sociology 6 (1962). BTLV 120: 280-282.
1966 Review of: Ludwig Alsdoff, Beiträge zur Geschichte von Vegetarismus und Rinderverehrung in Indien, Wiesbaden 1962 (Akademie der Wissenschaften und der Litteratur in Mainz, Abhn. der Geistes- und Sozialwiss. Klasse, Jahrg. 1961, Nr. 6). IIJ 9,2: 147-149.
1967 “The case of the severed head.” WZKSO 11: 22-43.
1968 & G.H. Schokker and V.I. Subramoniam (eds), Pratidānam: Indian, Iranian and Indo-European studies presented to Franciscus Bernardus Jacobus Kuiper, on his sixtieth birthday, Den Haag [etc.] (Janua Linguarum. Studia Memoriae Nicolai van Wijk dedicata, Series Maior 34).
“The return of the Veda scholar.” In: J.C. Heesterman et al. (eds), Pratidānam: Indian, Iranian and Indo-European studies presented to Franciscus Bernardus Jacobus Kuiper, on his sixtieth birthday, Den Haag [etc.], pp. 436-447.
“Het taalprobleem in India.” Handelingen van het XXX Nederlandsche philologencongres, Amsterdam, pp. 136-139.
Review of: L. Dumont, La civilisation indienne et nous: esquisse de sociologie comparée, Paris 1964. BTLV 124: 176-181.
1969 “On the origin of the Nāstika.” WZKSO 12-13 (1968-69): 171-185.
1970 “Het nationalisme en de Indische traditie.” In: Nationalisme en de 3e Wereld, Assen, pp. 70-81.
1971 “Kauṭalya and the ancient Indian state.” WZKS 15: 5-22.
“Priesthood and the Brahmin.” Contributions to Indian Sociology NS 5: 46-49.
1973 “India and the inner conflict of tradition.” Daedalus 102,1 (Post-traditional societies): 97-113. – Post-traditional societies is reprinted in 1974.
“Political modernization in India.” In: J.D. Legge (ed.), Traditional attitudes and modern styles in political leadership, Sidney, pp. 29-56.
1974 “Die Autorität des Veda.” In: G. Oberhammer (Hrsg.), Offenbarung, geistige Realität des Menschen, Wien, pp. 29-49.
1977 “The iconography of the Buddhist wood-carvings in a Newar monastery in Kathmandu (Chusya-baha).” Journal of the Nepal Research Centre 1: 39-82.
1978 “The conundrum of the king’s authority.” In: J.F. Richards (ed.), Kingship and authority in South Asia, Madison (Wisc.), pp. 1-27.
“Was there an Indian reaction? Western expansion in Indian perspective.” In: H.L. Wesseling (ed.), Expansion and reaction: essays on European expansion and reaction in Asia and Africa, Leiden (Comparative studies in overseas history 1), pp. 31-58.
“Veda and Dharma.” In: W.D. O’Flaherty (ed.), The concept of duty in South Asia, New Delhi, pp. 80-95.
“Vedisches Opfer und Transzendenz.” In: G. Oberhammer (Hrsg.), Transzendenzerfahrung, Vollzugshorizont des Heils: das Problem in indischer und christlicher Tradition: Arbeitsdokumentation eines Symposiums, Wien 1977, Wien, pp. 28-44.
1979 “Power and authority in Indian tradition.” In: R.J. Moore (ed.), Tradition and politics in South Asia, New Delhi, pp. 60-85.
Review of: Madeleine Biardeau et Charles Malamoud, Le sacrifice, clans l’Inde ancienne, Paris 1976. IIJ 21,1: 47-49.
1980 “Littoral et intérieur de l’Inde.” In: L.H. Blussé, H.L. Wesseling & G.D. Winius (eds), History and underdevelopment, Leiden, pp. 87-92.
1981 “Veda and society: some remarks apropos of the film ‘Altar of Fire’.” Studia Orientalia 50: 51-65.
“Householder and wanderer.” Contributions to Indian Sociology NS 15: 251-271. – New ed. Delhi 1988.
1982 “Opferwildniss und Ritualordnung.” In: G. Oberhammer (Hrsg.), Epiphanie des Heils, Wien, pp. 13-25.
“The region in historical perspective.” In: O. van den Muyzenberg (ed.), Focus on the region in Asia, Rotterdam, pp. 7-17.
“India: osmose van oud en nieuw.” In: U. Rosenthal (red.), Politieke stelsels: stabiliteit en verandering, Alphen a/d Rijn-Brussel, pp. 294-315.
1983 “Dialogue and misunderstanding.” In: O. Molden (Hrsg.), Dialog Westeuropa-Indien, Alpbach, pp. 133-155.
“Other folk’s fire.” In: J.F. Staal (ed.), Agni: the Vedic ritual of the Fire Altar II, Berkeley, pp. 76-94.
1984 “The ritualist’s problem.” In: S.D. Joshi (ed.), Amṛtadhārā: professor R.N. Dandekar felicitation volume, Delhi, pp. 167-180.
“Kaste und Dharma.” In: W. Schluchter (Hrsg.), Max Weber’s Studie über Hinduismus und Buddhismus, Frankfurt/Main, pp. 72-86.
“ ‘Orthodox’ and ‘heterodox’ law: some remarks on customary law and the state.” In: S.N. Eisenstadt et al. (eds), Orthodoxy, heterodoxy and dissent in India, Berlin-New York-Amsterdam, pp. 149-167.
“Over het standhouden van Aziatische gewoonten.” De Gids 147: 802-804.
“Sacrifice and ahimsa.” IT 12: 119-127.
“Is Indian wisdom at loggerheads with development: is there an Indian wisdom?” In: C.A.O. van Nieuwenhuijze (ed.), Development regardless of culture ? A series of public lectures at the Institute of Social Studies, Spring 1983, Leiden, pp. 25-38.
1985 The inner conflict of tradition: essays in Indian ritual, kingship and society, Chicago.
“Two types of spatial boundaries.” In: E. Cohen et al. (eds), Comparative social dynamics: essays in honor of S.N. Eisenstadt, Boulder-London, pp. 59-72.
Review of: Romila Thapar, From lineage to state, social formations in the Mid-First Millennium B.C. in the Ganga Valley, Bombay 1984. Indian Economic and Social History Review 22,3: 367-369.
1986 “State and Adat.” In: C.A. Bayly and D.H.A. Kolff (eds), Two colonial empires: comparative essays on the history of India and Indonesia in the nineteenth century, Dordrecht-Boston-Lancaster (Comparative Studies in Overseas History 6), pp. 189-201.
“Ritual, revelation & axial age”. In: S.N. Eisenstadt (ed.), Axial age civilizations, Albany, pp. 393-406.
“South Asian studies and library resources in the Netherlands.” In: A. Gaur (ed.), South Asian studies: papers presented at a colloquium, 24-26 April 1985, London, pp. 302-308.
“The king’s order.” Contributions to Indian Sociology NS 20: 1-13.
“Unity and diversity in India and Indonesia.” Itinerario 10: 83-95.
1987 “Self-sacrifice in Vedic ritual.” In: S. Shaked, D. Shulman and G.G. Stroumsa (eds), Gilgul: essays on transformation, revolution, and permanence in the history of religions, dedicated to R.J. Zwi Werblowsky, Leiden, pp. 91-106.
1988 “De Oriënt: droom en werkelijkheid.” In: Hans Bakker en Martin Gosman (red.), De Oriënt: droom of dreiging? Het Oosten in Westers perspectief, Kampen, pp. 158-169.
“Householder and wanderer.” New ed., with corr. and additions in: T.N. Madan (ed.), Way of life: king, householder, renouncer: essays in honour of Louis Dumont, Delhi, pp. 251-271. – 1st ed. in Contributions to Indian Sociology NS 15 (1981): 251-271.
1989 “The precarious rise and survival of Sanskrit and Indian studies.” In: Willem Otterspeer (ed.), Leiden Oriental Connections 1850-1940, Leiden (Studies in the history of Leiden University 5), pp. 115-125.
“Somakuh und Danaergabe.” In: Einar von Schuler (ed.), XXIII. Deutscher Orientalistentag: vom 16. bis 20. September 1985 in Wrüzburg: ausgewhälte Vorträge, Stuttgart-Wiesbaden (ZDMG Supplement 7), pp. 349-357.
& M. Sparreboom, The ritual of setting up the sacrificial fires according to the Vādhūla school, Wien.
“The Hindu Frontier.” Itinerario 13: 1-16.
“King and warrior.” History and anthropology 4: 97-122.
1991 “ ‘I am who I am’: truth and identity in Vedic ritual”. In: G.R.F. Oberhammer (ed.), Beiträge zur Hermeneutik indischer und abendländischer Religionstraditionen, Vienna, pp. 147-177.
“Waarom Sanskrit?” In: Hanneke van den Muyzenberg en Thomas de Bruijn (red.), Waarom Sanskrit? Honderdvijfentwintig jaar Sanskrit in Nederland: tien lezingen, Leiden (Kern Institute Miscellanea 4), pp. 12-18.
“Hinduism and Vedic ritual,” [review article of: Brian K. Smith, Reflections on resemblance, ritual and religion, New York-Oxford 1989], History of Religions 30,3: 296-305.
“Warriors and merchants.” Itinerario 15: 37-49.
1992 “Centres and fires.” In: H. Bakker (ed.), The sacred centre as the focus of political interest: proceedings of the symposium held on the occasion of the 375th anniversary of the University of Groningen, 5–8 March 1989, Groningen (Groningen Oriental Studies 6), pp. 69-82.
“An inauspicious world,” [review article of: Gloria Raheja, The poison in the gift: ritual, prestation, and the dominant caste in a north Indian village, Chicago 1988], Social Analysis 32: 87-94.
1993 The broken world of sacrifice: an essay in ancient Indian ritual, Chicago.
1994 “Puruṣārtha.” In: F.X. D’Sa & R. Mesquita (eds), Hermeneutics of encounter, Vienna, pp. 137-151.
Review of: Chr. Z. Minkowski, Priesthood in ancient India: a study of the Maitrāvaruṇa Priest (Publication of the De Nobili Library 18), Vienna 1991. IIJ 37,3: 269-271.
1995 “Feuer, Seele und Unsterblichkeit.” In: G. Oberhammer (Hrsg.), Im Tod gewinnt der Mensch sein Selbst: das Phänomen des Todes in asiatischer und abendländischer Religionstradition, Arbeitsdokumentationen eines Symposions, Wien, pp. 27-42.
“Warrior, peasant and Brahmin.” Modern Asian Studies 29,3: 637-654.
1996 “Die Sādhyas und die Kult des Feuers.” SII 20: 117-143.
1997 “Ritual and ritualism: the case of ancient Indian ancestor worship.” In: Dick van der Meij (ed.), India and beyond : aspects of literature, meaning, ritual and thought : essays in honour of Frits Staal, London [etc.]: IIAS, pp. 249-270.
“Traditional empire and modern state.” In: M. Doornbos and S. Kabiraj (eds), Dynamics of state formation: India and Europe compared, New Delhi (Indo-Dutch Studies on Development Alternatives 19), pp. 100-121.
2001 “Rituel et rationalité.” Études de Lettres (Lausanne) 3: 153-164.
2003 “The tides of the Indian Ocean, islamization and the dialectic of coast and inland.” In: Jos Gommans & Om Prakash (eds), Circumambulations in South Asian history: essays in honour of Dirk H.A. Kolff, Leiden [etc.] (Brill’s indological library 19), pp. 29-46.
2004 “The social dynamics of the Mughal empire: a brief introduction.” JESHO 47,3: 292-297.
2008 “The epic paragon of dharma.” In: L. Kulikov, M. Rusanov (comps, eds), Indologica: T. Ya. Elizarenkova memorial volume, Book 1, Moscow (Orientalia et Classica: Papers of the Institute of Oriental and Classical Studies 20), pp. 127-139.
2010 “Epic narrative and sacrificial ritual: a note on the royal consecration.” In: Eli Franco and Monika Zin (eds), From Turfan to Ajanta: Festschrift for Dieter Schlingloff on the occasion of his eightieth birthday, 2 vols, Bhairahawa, Rupandehi, pp. 389-398.
“The development and impact of ancient Indian ritual.” In: Axel Michaels et al. (eds), Grammars and morphologies of ritual practices in Asia, Section I: Grammar and morphology of ritual, Section II: Ritual discourse, ritual performance in China and Japan, Wiesbaden (Ritual dynamics and the science of ritual 1), Section I, pp. 203-214.
2012 “The dakṣiṇā and the development of sacrifice.” In: Silvia D’Intino et Caterina Guenzi (dir.), Aux abords de la clairière : études indiennes et comparées en l’honneur de Charles Malamoud, Turnhout (Histoire et prosopographie de la section des sciences religieuses 7; Bibliothèque de l’École des Hautes Études 154), pp. 3-9.