The Hungarian Bodhisattva

Sándor Csoma was a Hungarian philologist who specialised in Oriental languages. His studies led him to Asia and eventually, India. While in Ladakh, he extensively studied the Tibetan Buddhist Canon and completed his dictionary and grammar of the Tibetan language which he published in Calcutta.

Sándor Csoma followed a humble and rather ascetic lifestyle, never seeked financial assistance and single-mindedly focused on his linguistic and philosophical studies. In 1842, he contracted malaria while planning to visit Lhasa and died in Darjeeling.

In 1933, he was declared a bodhisattva in Japan. A Hungarian sculptor, Géza Csorba, produced a statuette of Csoma seated in lotus position. This statue was later replicated under the direct supervision of Reverend Ichishima Shōshin, 36th Abbot of Senzō-ji and Professor Emeritus at Taishō University. The replica is still on display at the library of Taishō University in Tōkyō.