ELTE Department of Mongolian and Inner Asian Studies

In memoriam Kara György (1935-2022)

It is with deep sadness and regret we wish to inform you of the passing of our beloved professor, friend and colleague Kara György on 16 April 2022. This website was created by the Department of Mongolian and Inner Asian Studies at Eötvös Loránd University to preserve his memory and let his friends, colleagues and admirers share their condolence and reminiscence.

If you wish to express your condolence or share a reminiscence with us, please use the on-line form below or send an e-mail to in-memoriam-kara@innerasia.hu!

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We encourage you to share your most beloved memories of professor Kara György here, so that the family, colleagues and admirers around the world can always see it.

If you would like to share a photo, please send it in e-mail to in-memoriam-kara@innerasia.hu.

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Memory wall

Kakas Beáta


Kara György professzor úr 70. születésnapja az ELTE-n

A professzor úr abban az évben vállalta azt is, hogy a mongolisztika doktori témavezetőm lesz, amit nagy szerencsémnek tartok, mint ahogy azt is, hogy ismerhettem őt, és tanulhattam tőle.

A tanár úr utolsó három évét az ELTÉn korábban, diákként a közelében tölthettem, hálás vagyok neki és a Belső-ázsiai Tanszék valamennyi tanárának.

Emlékszem, a tanszéken a folyosó végén volt egy kis tanári, adminisztrációs szoba, amit egy szintén kis szemináriumi terem választott el a folyosótól, egymásba nyíló ajtókkal. Kara tanár úr óra közben néha megjelent, átment az apró termen, hogy szöveget másoljon vagy intézzen valamit. Ilyenkor mindenki hirtelen elhallgatott és a tanár úr lépteit néma csendben vártuk meg. Majd pár perc múlva, amikor visszafelé indult, megint. Így fejeztük ki tiszteletünket, csodálatunkat, szeretetünket.

Szabó Béla István


Nem búcsúzom Kara Györgytől, mert a tanító mindig a tanítványával marad. Nem köszönök neki semmit, mert tanítványként képtelen voltam adományát átvenni. Nem halt meg, csak aluszik.

Urangua Jamsran


Achievement and contribution of Kara György in Mongolian studies is outstanding. He always will stay in our hearts as a warm memory!

Urangua J. Kh.
Professor, National University of Mongolia

Michael Gervers


In the late afternoon of the Christmas holiday break at Eötvös Loránd University in 1998, Professor Kara and I were deeply engrossed in conversation in his office. By the time we concluded our discussion, it was pitch black outside and when we went to the exit door to the building, we found it was locked with no watchman to be found. We were totally locked in. We returned to his office to try and phone for assistance, but there was no answer anywhere on campus. We contemplated unraveling the fire hose, throwing it out the window and climbing down to the ground. While we were contemplating that option, we finally caught the attention of a passer-by through the window. That kindly soul raised the alarm and eventually someone with a key was found to let us out. All's well that ends well! Now a warm memory indeed. The great man will not be forgotten!

Rákos Attila


It is hard to believe that he is gone. Although he spent his time in Bloomington for many years and visited Budapest only once a year, somehow I used to feel that he was always around. His name comes up frequently during our conversations with colleagues and students, we could write him an e-mail to ask for his advice or if he was the only one who could answer a difficult question. He did not announce his arrival to Budapest in advance, so there was always a (not too big, but still some) chance to bump into him at the university. And once it happened, the news spread quickly and people just started coming to meet him.

I am grateful for the opportunity of knowing professor Kara, listening to his lessons, and getting an insight into his opinion on various topics. It was always a pleasure to participate in his lessons, and listen to his conversations with more mature and advanced students, or fellow scholars at later times. Usually, I left his room with a piece of new knowledge and information I never imagined existed. His exceptional knowledge has been praised by many in memories shared here and there, and I can only agree with these.

When I was a student majoring in Mongolian studies in the late-1990s, professor Kara had already been living a "nomadic life" (as he said) moving between Budapest and Bloomington, so there were not too many courses for beginners like me taught by him. Therefore every time I had an opportunity to participate in his lessons it seemed even more precious. He took classes very seriously, and once when he accidentally found out that one of our lessons held by another teacher was cancelled for some reason, he invited us to his room and held the lesson himself.

When he took an examination he was determined and could not be stopped by any obstacle. When the university was closed during the winter holiday, he organized his exams in one of the student dormitories. When another examination already lasted for several hours and the department's building was closed at 22 o'clock in the evening, he led us, students, to the park on the campus and continued the exam there till midnight. We knew that we cannot be prepared enough for his exams: some of us got easy questions, others got so difficult ones that barely had a clue about them. We struggled trying to explain this and finally came to the conclusion that there was no difference between the difficulty of the questions, since all questions seemed equally easy for him. Despite our insufficient knowledge and imperfect answers nobody failed the exams since professor Kara implemented a two-stroke ("kétütemű") system of grades (as he called it): those who answered the questions more or less properly or at least he considered them promising students, they got "excellent" (5), those who were rather hopeless got "good" (4) - and we all knew what this "good" means. He was forgiving and generous not only during the examinations, but also when he evaluated a thesis as a reviewer: he strictly pointed out the mistakes and inaccuracies, of course, but he did it in a way that was by no means offensive, and his remarks and additions were always helpful. I know it from my own experience, as he was the reviewer of both my MA and PhD theses.

A little bit of humor was always woven into his words: a delicate and ironic humor, often mocking the narrow-minded politicians and bureaucrats of all regimes. He loved to play with words and language, tease those who used many foreign words, and fabricate creative nicknames, kind and funny at once, for people who caught his attention.

Beyond being an exceptional, internationally renowed and recognized scholar, he was a kind of celebrity or superstar in Mongolia with a lot of admirers, and legendary stories were told about him. When as a student I walked around the booksellers at Urt Tsagaan in Ulaanbaatar for days looking for books on Mongolian studies, mentioning his Mongolian name, Khardorj and that I am his student was a miraculous spell that helped me to buy some rare publications even with special discount - out of respect for him.

His legacy will be always with us - not only his books and articles we read and use on daily basis, but also his devotion, spirit and attitude.

Otto Farkas


Professor Kara was a gentle giant. His towering stature and dominating intellectual presence could intimidate those who first encountered him. Yet his profound humility, wit, spirituality, respect, and charity towards others came to characterize his relationship with his students and peers alike.

The "master," as his disciples affectionately refer to him, was hugely influential in shaping professional and personal journeys for countless individuals. For sure, I feel privileged that I am among them.

Kara György bagsh became part of my life in the mid-1980s when he took me under his wings from the streets of Budapest. Eventually, I became his full-time student and even got a part-time job with the Research Group for Altaic Studies, so I spent a lot of time around him during my university years.

I was there when the department received its very first computer. But a Commodore was no match for Professor Kara's human hard drive and algorithm! I also have vivid memories of his office, filled with books to the brim, including his two desks. He had the habit of working from his couch on his lap, a childhood habit he developed long before laptops.

Although I did not stay in the field of Mongolian Studies, being Хар Доржийн шавь remains a big part of my identity. The World has lost a preeminent scholar, also a great human being. He will be sorely missed, but his legacy will continue for generations.

Köszönök mindent Mester! Nyugodj békében!

Танай мөхөс,

Otto Farkas

Majer Zsuzsa



"Better than a thousand days of study
is a day with a great teacher."
Japanese proverb

I consider it a great privilege that I had the opportunity of not only to meet György Kara, this precious professor of Mongolian, Tibetan and many other Asian languages, but also to study under him in two majors, Tibetan and Mongolian since my first year at university and during my PhD studies - till he moved to America. Even after that he keenly advised any of us in our research with the same enthusiasm.

I also had the privilege of having him as a reviewer of my PhD dissertation. I treasure his review, which had more praises than criticism, as usual from him, and included valuable additional information with glances of his own related experiences, as one of my most precious belongings.

I first met him at the entrance exam to the Tibetan major, where I instantly became enchanted by his waste knowledge, manners, elaborate way of speaking as well as delicate humor.

He was an excellent master, an inexhaustible source of knowledge: even when you were supposed only to take an exam with him, you left the room with more knowledge than you entered. This is what is called TEACHING, in capital letters.

Thank you for all of that.

Wishing you an easy and safe journey in the intermediate state, dear professor!

May all sentient beings be blessed to have such great masters as you!

Jó utat kívánok a köztes létben, Tanár Úr!

Részesüljön minden érző lény olyan áldásban, hogy hasonlóképp csodás tanítóktól tanulhat!

Karma Dorje



It is with deep sadness of the passing of our beloved professor, friend and colleague Kara György on 16 April 2022. The Hungarian teacher who gave me a job at the Department of Inner Asian Studies, Eötvös Loránd University in Hungary after Dharma Gate Buddhist school. I am praying to reborn soon in Hungary and to finish his work of this life. OM MA NI PAD ME HUNG.

Teleki Krisztina


Tisztelt Tanár úr!

„A dőre nemtudás, a tudattalan, mint világtalan anyóka botorkál, nem tudja, hol jár, mit tesz” (A Köztes lét könyvei, ford. Kara György, 1986). Mi, tanítványok, nem lehetünk elég hálásak azért a cseppnyi világosságért, mindazért a tudásért, műveltségért, értésért és alázatért, amelyet a szamszára forgatagában keringve Tanár úrtól láttunk, hallottunk, eltanultunk. Hasonlóan a mongol szerzetesekhez, nekünk is adatott egy páratlan Mester, kinek szavai és írásai a tudomány záporát hullatták ránk, egyben költeményként ragyogtak, szivárványként örvendeztetve meg szívünket.

Örök tisztelettel „kiivaanva minden eegi s foeldi joot”:

Teleki Krisztina

Sárközi Alice


György Kara was my teacher, my master. His knowledge and memory was limitless. His students could learn and get to know new subjects concerning the field of oriental studies. He suggested to me very interesting and fruitful scholarly subjects. He was always ready to help my scientific research. I am greatly grateful to destiny that I have got the possibility to know him.

Eötvös Loránd University, Department of Mongolian and Inner Asian Studies © 2022