Doc. Dr. Milena Hübschmannová - Mangalmani passed away
Our dear sister Milena Hübschmannová - Mangalmani from Czech Republic, a long-term disciple Of His Holiness Mahamadaleshwar Paramhans Swami Maheshwarananda, died in a tragic automobile accident in South Africa on September 9th, 2005.
Beside her tireless academic and social work for Romany people and culture, for which she was many times awarded, she had a great affinity for Indian culture and yoga philosophy since her very young age. The "Yoga in Daily Life" System of His Holiness Paramhans Swami Maheshwarananda appealed to her and became a part of her life. She often interpreted Swamiji’s lectures (also His Hindi citations) and translated several of His books into Czech. Milena Hübschmannová was a woman of noble human qualities – she was modest, humble, and always willing to help. She lived her life to the fullest, up to the very last moment.
A Holy Funeral Mass for Milena Hübschmannová will be conducted on 8 October 2005 at 15:30 in the Church of Saint Ignasius Loyola at Charles Square (Karlovo námestí) in Prague.
Doc. Dr. Milena Hübschmannová, CSc., a leading Czech expert on Romany language and culture, was born on July 10th, 1933. At the early age of 14, she displayed an interest in India and began studying Hindi. After completing her secondary education at the Howard Forst English Grammar School, she studied Hindi, Urdu, and Bengalese at the Charles University Philosophy Faculty in Prague. She heard the Romany language for the first time while at a student work camp in Ostrava, and she was struck by its similarity to Hindi. She began to visit Romany families and collect Romany folklore: fairy tales, songs, proverbs, riddles, customs, and stories. "I was surrounded by love and respect. Their interest was sincere and, at the same time, considerate towards me, and they treated me to veritable feasts. My vocation, or calling, gave me a great advantage: I was not coming to lecture them, but rather to learn from them," she writes in the book Šaj pes dovakeras (We Can Understand Each Other).
After graduating from university in 1956, Dr. Hübschmannová worked at Czechoslovak Radio and then did a short stint at the Oriental Insitute of the Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences. She went on to work as a specialist at the Institute for Philosophy and Sociology of the Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences and at the Charles University Pedagogy Faculty. At that time she was forced to resign because she did not agree with the government’s policy of assimilating Romanies (which was tantamount to extermination of the Romany language and culture). During the period 1975-1982, she had no regular job for political reasons, but she did teach Hindi and Romany at the Prague Language School as an outside lecturer. Starting in 1982, she taught the same courses at the Philosophy Faculty. In 1991, she founded the Romany Studies Department within the Indological Institute of the Charles University Philosophy Faculty, and continued to serve as Director of that Department until her death.
During her life, Dr. Milena Hübschmannová wrote four scientific monographies, two of which are being published posthumously. She also co-authored a Romany-Czech and Czech-Romany dictionary. She also wrotea number of papers that appeared in scientific journals, collective monographies, and anthologies, as well as over fifty articles for domestic and foreign periodicals. She was also a prodigious translator of Romany, Hindi, and Urdu literature. Her attention was not limited to the Romany language alone; she was also interested in Romany cultural, ethical, and social issues. Milena Hübschmannová was a member of the experts committee of the Foundation for Development of a Civil Society, the international linguistics group of the Centre des Etudes Tsiganes in Paris, a collaborator of the Romano Centro in Vienna, and Editor-in-Chief of the Romany Studies journal, Romano džaniben. She also collaborated with many other institutions, both Czechoslovak and foreign.
Thanks to her efforts, the first Romany literary works in the Czech Republic began to appear both in Romany and Czech, since she always encouraged her Romany friends to put their poetry and prose into writing. She was a founder of the Gypsy-Roma Union, which codified the Slovak Romany grammar.
Milena Hübschmannová’s love for her chosen field was very intense and infectious. She did everything with enthusiasm and complete dedication. She loved her students and accompanied them on field trips to Romany villages. She was very spontaneous, sincere, and easy to get along with. She had no talent for deception. Even though she went through many difficult times in her life, the joy of living literally poured from her. She had a wide variety of interests and was highly educated. In recognition of her academic accomplishments, she was appointed a Docent of the Asian and African History and Culture Department. She was a laureate of the František Kriegl Award for courage and long-term service to Romany culture and furthering mutual understanding betweem Romanies and the rest of the Czech population. On the occasion of the 84th anniversary of the establishment of the Czechoslovak State, President Havel awarded her the Medal of Merit. She also received a number of awards from a wide variety of domestic and foreign institutions.
Despite being very busy, Milena Hübschmannová was a loving and wise grandmother to her three grandchildren and encouraged them in their personal growth. She had an affinity for Indian culture and yoga philosophy since she was a young girl. The "Yoga in Daily Life" System of Paramhans Swami Maheshwarananda appealed to her and became a part of her life. She often interpreted Swamiji’s lectures and also translated several of his books into Czech. Milena Hübschmannová was a woman of noble human qualities – she was modest, humble, and always willing to help. She lived her life to the fullest, up to the very last moment. She died in a tragic automobile accident in South Africa on September 9th, 2005.