Famous Personalities of India : Sir William Jones
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Jones, Sir William (1746-1794), was one of the first British scholars to study the ancient Indian language of Sanskrit. In 1789, he completed a translation of Shakuntala by the poet Kalidasa. This translation, published in 1799, led to world-wide interest in this great Indian drama. In 1784, Jones founded the Asiatic Society of Bengal, the first of several organizations that studied Asian culture.

Jones was born in London of Welsh parents. He was gifted at languages and taught himself Hebrew as a boy. Before his early death in Calcutta, he had mastered 13 languages and had some knowledge of 28 others.

After studying law, Jones went to Calcutta in 1783 and became a judge of the high court. He began to study Sanskrit partly to gain first-hand knowledge of Hindu law and partly because of his fascination with the language. He translated the Laws of Manu (1794), a text that became a source of Hindu law.

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