Missionary in India, Sanskrit scholar; b. Augsburg (Bavaria), Dec. 18, 1620; d. Agra, India, June 20, 1668. He had illustrious parents. He entered the Jesuits in 1639, was assigned to the Ethiopian mission, and in 1651 by the land route arrived in Goa; he was active in the nearby peninsula of Salsette. Then he was sent on an embassy to one of the native princes, and finally, in 1653, reached the Empire of the Great Mogul during the reign of Shâh Jahân (d. 1666). Roth was appointed rector of the Jesuit residence in Agra in 1659. He learned Urdu, Persian, and Sanskrit, and was the first European to compile a Sanskrit grammar. Roth was a friend of the explorer Francis Bernier, who admired his knowledge of Indian philosophy and religion. Roth spent 1664 in Rome and Germany but soon returned to India, where he died.
Bibliography: h. hosten, Jesuit Missionaries in Northern India, 1580–1803 (Calcutta 1906). e. maclagan, The Jesuits and the Great Mogul (London 1932). b. zimmel, Die erste abendländische Sanskrit-Grammatik des P. H. Roth (Vienna 1957). a. camps, "Father Heinrich Roth, SJ, 1620–1668, and the History of His Sanskrit Manuscripts," in Studies in Asian Mission History, 1956–1998 (Leiden 2000) 90–102. a. camps and j. c. muller, The Sanskrit Grammar and Manuscripts of Father Heinrich Roth, SJ (1620–1668) (Leiden 1988).