Wednesday, June 26, 2013

A Benevolent Patriarch (some reminiscences of a son) by Prof. S. Naganath

Prof S.Naganath
He was a good teacher, a great scholar and a loving father combined into one. When I was seven years old he suffered a paralytic stroke and became bedridden. After a few months he recovered his health and resumed teaching in Maharaja's college, Mysore. Though all the post-graduate departments had been shifted to the new Manasa Gangotri campus (Jayalakshmi Vilas Palace), he was given special permission to engage M.A. classes in Maharaja's college by the then Vice-Chancellor I often escorted my father in the Tonga to the college and was in the habit of peeping into his classroom to see what was going on there. I usually saw him seated in a chair ether delivering a lecture or dictating some notes in a staid manner. After thirty-six years of successful teaching career the first D. Litt scholar of the Mysore University had been made a full fledged professor of History during the last six months of his tenure. He had accomplished this despite his physical infirmities like poor eye-sight, deafness and paralysis, which had affected the left leg, hand and to some extent speech in the initial stages.

He had grown bitter in life and disillusioned with the quagmire politics of the university. There was already a perceptible decline in academic standards. The university had assiduously denied him with the professorship almost till the end of his service.

At one point of time the university authorities had serious doubts about his physical fitness. So they referred him to the chief physician of the K.R. hospital. The experienced doctor was aghast that the university was subjecting a reputed scholar to all this needless humiliation. It is pertinent to remember that all this happened a few years before he suffered from a stroke. The good doctor of course certified that he was competent to teach as he was physically fit. At this juncture it is relevant to remember how the well known scientist Stephen Hawking, who is suffering from motor-neuron disease has been retained at Oxford university as a Lucasian professor. The great scientist is wheel-chair bound and has lost his power of speech.

Scholars he Admired
Dr S.Srikanta Sastri
Professor S. Srikanta Sastri became the first U.G.C. scholar of the university after his retirement in 1960. During this period he completed "Sources of Karnataka History" Volume-II. His personal physician had advised him to take an evening walk everyday as it was good for his constitution. Escorting him was a duty performed by one of his children every evening. During these walks I would shout a question loudly into his right ear and it always produced a long scholarly in-depth lecture on one topic or the other.
Prof Hiriyanna
In our walks one would pass in front of R.K. Narayan's bungalow or M. Hiriyanna's old residence on Dewan's road or Dr. A. Venkatasubbaiah's corner house in Narayan Sastri road. My father would tell me how he learnt intricacies of Indian philosophy from Professor M. Hiriyanna in his student days by visiting his house. I am told that the great M. Hiriyanna taught these students in the backyard of his house while he was washing his clothes.

He would often tell us about Dr. A. Venkatasubbaiah's trip to Geneva and how he was able to complete his Ph.D. thesis which he wrote in six months time in German language. This renowned scholar returned to India in 1905 only to discover that the local Brahmin priests had excommunicated him from the Brahmin caste as he had travelled on high seas.

My father could not suffer fools and sycophants. He assiduously avoided attending the formal religious functions such as upanayanams, marriages, gruhapraveshams and obsequisces as they infringed on his precious time. He was blissfully unaware of prices of commodities and never ever shopped in his life. When were young we would demand chocolates from him and he was often dismayed to discover that he never carried any money in his pockets as his wont.

Teacher all the Way
Maharaja College, Mysore
In his walks if we stumbled on a temple or an ancient structure he would draw our attention to it's special features. He had a long explanation for the Ashoka pillar installed in the centre of a fountain in front of the Maharaja's college, how the three animals below the Lions statue were pushing the Dharma wheel against each other. The Shilpi had committed a blunder. He got that circular stone replaced with a correct one. The discarded stone still lies in the college quadrangle. He would also tell me how a young student of Hardwick high school by name S. Ramaswamy had been shot by the police during the freedom struggle near Vice-Chancellor's house. Though my father was hard of hearing, it did not completely prevent him from listening to National Programme of music on Saturday nights loudly on a H.M.V. radio. His only complaint as a connoisseur of Carnatic music was that the mandarins in Delhi broadcast one Carnatic music concert for every three Hindustani Classical music programmes.

I must say in retrospect that he was ahead of his times, when compared to his contemporaries. He had bought a H.M.V. gramophone and would often listen to great Carnatic musicians. He also had paper shellac records from Hollywood, which included famous American singers of
the forties and fifties. He loved to hear 78' rpms of Bach, Beethoven and Mozart. In his youth he was an amateur photographer, who went around with his Kodak Bunny camera shooting important events. He was specially found of his portable Remington typewriter (made in U.S.A.) on which he typed with a single finger all his articles and books. He had imported from Germany a cumbersome hearing aid, which was of little use to him.

My father was comfortable in both Indian and western dress. He had a special fondness for pin-striped dark coloured suits. Once his favourite student Y.G. Krishnamurthy came from Bombay to see him. A leading industrialist in Bombay wanted to import either some chemical or ore from Italy during II world war. The regular sea-routes were blocked by allied ships. My father offered a solution and told him how he could import through a neutral country, the required ore and by such and such a sea-route. This resulted in huge profits for the industrialist. This grateful industrialist sent my father an American tweed suit material, a gold nibbed Parker pen-set and an imported toilet kit with shaving accessories.

My father did not relish Indian melodramatic and romantic films. He was an avid English film goer and relished good historical and literary Hollywood films. Because of his poor eye-sight and hearing, he preferred to sit in the front rows of the cinema halls.

Insight into Western Literature
William Blake
When I chose to major in English literature instead of history for my B.A. course he was disappointed. But he did not force me to change my mind. He relished reading nineteenth century English novels, romantic poetry and Bernard Shaw's plays, which I regularly brought home. Once I could not understand a few lines of T.S. Eliot's 'Hollow Men', I approached my father for clarification. He told me "going round the mulberry bush" was taken from an English nursery rhyme. Even today many English professors are unable to understand the last but one stanza of William Blake's 'Tyger'. He told me how the lambs represented Christ and tiger represented the Romans. The last stanza dealt with the crucifixion of Christ. The last four liner lines are poignant, the poet questions God as to whether he was smiling, when his son Jesus Christ was being crucified.

When the stars threw down their spears,
And water'd heaven with their tears,
Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the Lamb make thee?

My respected teacher Padmabhushana Dr. C.D. Narasimiah told me when I joined the
university for my First Year M.A. in English course, that in the 50's he had delivered a lecture on Mysore Akashavani on T.S. Eliot's 'Four Quartets'. Prof. S.S. Sastri was the only other professor who had read the 'Four Quartets' at that time in Mysore University. My father congratulated Prof. C.D. Narasimiah over his lecture and discussed finer aspects of T.S. Eliot's poetry in detail in the corridors of the Maharaja's college.

Prof. S. Srikanta Sastri was an early riser. He would begin his day at 5.00 a.m. with a recitation
"The Illustrated London News"
of hymns composed by Sankaracharya. After a cup of coffee he began reading "The Hindu" newspaper with a pen. He would underline sentences, correct sentences and sometimes write comments in the margin. I often borrowed from my friends the 'TIME', 'NEWSWEEK', 'LIFE' and 'THE ILLUSTRATED LONDON NEWS' magazines. He not only read these magazines with avid interest but also collected articles on history and archaeology and treasured them in his scrap book.

Tragedies in Life
Prof. S. Srikanta Sastri had his share of tragedies in life. His first born child was blind and did not survive beyond six months. His second son aged seventeen died due to a heart attack. His beloved wife died an unnatural death when he was sixty eight.

During the last decade of his life financial constraints had imposed severe restrictions on better health care. His life was not too comfortable, but his philosophical outlook helped him to retain a healthy optimistic attitude towards life. Throughout his life he remained unaffected by slandering gossip. He had a healthy contempt towards mediocrities. One night in 1968 he suffered his first heart attack. All the family members panicked and my mother started rubbing the ashes on the soles of his feet. My father very calmly asked us whether his feet were going cold. The equanimity of his mind reminded me of Socrates' reaction to death. He survived this heart attack and lived for six more years, before succumbing to his second heart attack in 1974.

He remained a gracious and generous host till the end. In the 1930's and 1940's he helped poor meritorious students by feeding them once a week, it was then known as Vaaraanna in Kannada. A student who arrived late to Prof. Macintosh's class was asked "Why are you late?" The poor boy told the Scottish teacher that he had gone for his weekly meal. The horrified professor asked him, "What, do you eat only once a week?, my dear chap here have a five rupee note and do eat everyday" was his advice.

Unpublished Works
My father would be extremely pained to learn all his works languishing either unpublished or out of print. During the centenary year at least all the members of Prof. S. Srikanta Sastri's family
Sources of Karnataka History, Vol I
must break this jinx and see that his works are published. Some of his  manuscripts got lost in the sands of time, to name a few-Kannada Dictionary (1920), translation of "A Tale of Two Cities" by Charles Dickens missing (1960), English translation of Ishta Siddhi (1930-1932), Dynastic History of Karnataka (1940), Religious History of Karnataka (1940), English translation of Kalpasutras (1958) and English translation of Taittariya Aranyaka and Brahmana. A recent discovery has been Prof. S. Srikanta Sastri's works having been listed on 12 websites including that of Harvard and Oxford. Even to-day his English articles such as "The Aryans", "Studies in the Indian scripts", "Harappa town-planning", "Proto-Indic Religion", and "Tantric Hieroglyphics" are popular on these websites.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

"ಎಸ್. ಶ್ರೀಕ೦ಠ ಶಾಸ್ತ್ರೀ; ಮೋಟಗಾನಹಳ್ಳಿ ಪ೦ಡಿತಸ೦ಕುಲ" - ಡಾ॥ ಎಸ್. ಆರ್.ರಾಮಸ್ವಾಮಿ ("ದೀವಟಿಗೆಗಳು")

ಡಾ॥ ಎಸ್. ಆರ್.ರಾಮಸ್ವಾಮಿ 
(Dr S.R. Ramaswamy)
ಆರ್ಯರು ಮಧ್ಯ ಏಷ್ಯದಿ೦ದಲೋ ಬೇರೆಲ್ಲಿ೦ದಲೋ ಭಾರತಕ್ಕೆ ಬ೦ದು ನೆಲೆಸಿದರು ಏ೦ಬ ಭಾಷಾಶಾಸ್ತ್ರಾಧಾರಿತ ವಾದವು ಬುಡವಿಲ್ಲದ್ದು ಎ೦ದು ಇತ್ತೀಚಿನ ಶೋಧಗಳು ಸ್ಥಿರಪಡಿಸಿವೆ. ಐರೋಪ್ಯ ವಿದ್ವಾ೦ಸರ 'ಆರ್ಯ ಆಕ್ರಮಣ' ವಾದವನ್ನು ೧೯೪೦-೧೯೫೦ರ ದಶಕಗಳಷ್ಟು ಹಿ೦ದೆಯೇ ತೀಕ್ಷ್ಣವಾಗಿ ಖ೦ಡಿಸಿದ್ದವರು ಖ್ಯಾತ ಇತಿಹಾಸಜ್ಞ ಡಾ॥ ಎಸ್. ಶ್ರೀಕ೦ಠ ಶಾಸ್ತ್ರೀಗಳು. ಉನ್ನತ ವಿದ್ವದ್ವಲಯಗಳು ತಿರಸ್ಕರಿಸಿದ್ದರೂ 'ಆರ್ಯ ಆಕ್ರಮಣ' ನಮ್ಮ ಶಿಕ್ಷಣವ್ಯವಸ್ತೆಯ ವೈಪರೀತ್ಯಗಳಿ೦ದಾಗಿ ಈಗಲೂ ಪಠ್ಯಪುಸ್ತಕಗಳಲ್ಲಿ ಪ್ರತಿಷ್ಠಿತವಾಗಿದೆ; ಅದು ಬೇರೆ ವಿಷಯ. ಶ್ರೀಕ೦ಠ ಶಾಸ್ತ್ರೀಗಳು ದಶಕಗಳುದ್ದಕ್ಕು ತಮ್ಮ ವಿದ್ಯಾರ್ಥಿಗಳಿಗೆ "ಪರೀಕ್ಷೆಯಲ್ಲಿ ಮಾರ್ಕುಗಳನ್ನು  ಪಡೆಯುವುದಕ್ಕಾಗಿ ಪಠ್ಯಪುಸ್ತಕದಲ್ಲಿರುವ೦ತೆ ಉತ್ತರ ಬರೆಯಿರಿ. ಆದರೆ ಆರ್ಯರು ಈ ದೇಶದ ಮೂಲಸ್ಥರು ಎ೦ಬುದೇ ತಥ್ಯ" - ಎ೦ದು ಪಾಠ ಮಾಡಿದರು ! 

ಡಾ॥ ಎಸ್. ಶ್ರೀಕ೦ಠ ಶಾಸ್ತ್ರೀ ಅವರು (೫.೧೧.೧೯೦೪-೧೦.೫.೧೯೭೪) ಮೂರು ದಶಕಗಳಿಗೂ ಹೆಚ್ಚು ಕಾಲ ಮೈಸೂರು ಮಹರಾಜ ಕಾಲೇಜಿನಲ್ಲಿ ಸ್ನಾತಕೋತ್ತರ ವಿದ್ಯಾರ್ಥಿಗಳಿಗೆ ಪ್ರಾಚೀನ ಇತಿಹಾಸವನ್ನು ಬೋಧಿಸಿದವರು. ಇ೦ಗ್ಲಿಷ್ ಹಾಗೂ ಕನ್ನಡದಲ್ಲಿ ನಾಲ್ಕಾರು ಸ೦ಶೂಧನಾತ್ಮಕ ಕೃತಿಗಳನ್ನು ಬರೆದವರು. ಹಲವಾರು ಶಾಸ್ತ್ರಗಳಲ್ಲಿ ಪ್ರಭುತ್ವ ಪಡೆದಿದ್ದವರು. ಸ೦ಸ್ಕೃತ ಮತ್ತಿತರ ಭಾರತೀಯ ಭಾಷೆಗಳಲ್ಲದೆ ಹಲವು ಐರೋಪ್ಯ ಭಾಷೆಗಳನ್ನೂ ಕರಗತಮಾಡಿಕೊ೦ಡಿದ್ದುದು ಅವರ ಸ೦ಶೋಧನಕಾರ್ಯವು ವಿಶಾಲವೂ ಆಳವೂ ಆಗುವುದಕ್ಕೆ ನೆರವಾಯಿತು. ಅ೦ತೆಯೇ ಪುರಾತತ್ತ್ವಶಾಸ್ತ್ರ, ಶಾಸನಶಾಸ್ತ್ರ, ವೇದವಾಜ್ಞಯ, ವಾಸ್ತುಶಿಲ್ಪ, ಜ್ಯೋತಿಷ ಮು೦ತಾದ ಹಲವಾರು ಭಿನ್ನ ಶಾಸ್ತ್ರಗಳಲ್ಲಿ ಪರಿಶ್ರಮ ಮಾಡಿದುದರಿ೦ದಾಗಿ ಅವರ ಇತಿಹಾಸಾಧ್ಯಯನವು ಹೆಚ್ಚು ಸಮಗ್ರವಾಗಲು ಸಾಧ್ಯವಾಯಿತು. ಪರಿಣಾಮವಾಗಿ ಅವರ 'ಭಾರತೀಯ ಸ೦ಸ್ಕೃತಿ' (೧೯೫೪), 'ಪ್ರಪ೦ಚ ಚರಿತ್ರೆಯ ರೂಪರೇಖೆಗಳು' (೧೯೫೭), ಅವರು ೧೯೨೭-೨೮ರಷ್ಟು ಹಿ೦ದೆಯೇ ರಚಿಸಿದ 'ದಿ ಸೋರ್ಸಸ್ ಆಫ್ ಕರ್ನಾಟಕ ಹಿಸ್ಟರಿ' ಮೊದಲಾದ ಶೋಧಕೃತಿಗಳು ಇ೦ದಿಗೂ ಅಮೂಲ್ಯವಾದ ಆಕರಗ್ರ೦ಥಗಳಾಗಿ ಉಳಿದಿದೆ. 

 'ಭಾರತೀಯ ಸ೦ಸ್ಕೃತಿ'

ಇತಿಹಾಸವಲ್ಲದೆ ಜರ್ಮನ್, ಫ್ರೆ೦ಚ್ ಭಾಷೆಗಳನ್ನು ಆಯ್ದುಕೊ೦ಡಿದ್ದ ವಿದ್ಯಾರ್ಥಿಗಳೊ ಆ ಭಾಷೆಗಳ ಕಲಿಕೆಯಲ್ಲಿ ಶಾಸ್ತ್ರಿಗಳ ನೆರವನ್ನು ಪಡೆಯುತ್ತಿದ್ದರು. ಅನೇಕ ಹಿರಿಯರ ಸಹವಾಸದಿ೦ದ ಸ೦ಸ್ಕಾರಗೊ೦ಡಿದ್ದುದು ಶಾಸ್ತ್ರಿಗಳ ವ್ಯಕ್ತಿತ್ವ. ತಮ್ಮನ್ನೂ ಜೊತೆಗಾರರನ್ನೂ ಪ್ರೊ ॥ ಎ.ಆರ್. ಕೃಷ್ಣಶಾಸ್ತ್ರಿಗಳು ಪ್ರತಿದಿನ ಎಬ್ಬಿಸಿ ಗರಡಿ ಮನೆಗೆ ಒಯ್ದು ಕಡ್ಡಾಯವಾಗಿ ದೈಹಿಕ ವ್ಯಾಯಾಮ ಮಾಡಿಸುತ್ತಿದ್ದುದನ್ನೂ, ಅವರ ಮತ್ತು ರಾಳಪಲ್ಲಿ ಮತ್ತಿತರರ ಬೋಧನಶ್ರದ್ಧೆಯನ್ನೂ ಶಾಸ್ತ್ರಿಗಳು ಪದೇಪದೇ ಸ್ಮರಿಸುತ್ತಿದ್ದರು. 'ಭಾರತೀಯ ಸ೦ಸ್ಕೃತಿ'ಯ೦ಥ ಶ್ರೇಷ್ಠ ಕೃತಿಯನ್ನು ರಚಿಸಲು ಶಾಸ್ತ್ರಿಗಳಿಗೆ ಪ್ರೇರಕರಾಗಿದ್ದವರು ಕೃಷ್ಣಶಾಸ್ತ್ರಿಗಳೇ. ನಾಲ್ಕಾರು ವರ್ಷಗಳ ಶ್ರಮದಿ೦ದ ಸಿದ್ಧಗೊ೦ಡ ಗ್ರ೦ಥ, 'ಭಾರತೀಯ ಸ೦ಸ್ಕೃತಿ'.    

Monday, June 24, 2013

Prof. S. Srikanta Sastri-An Anecdote by Dr P.N.Narasimha Murthy

Dr P.N.Narasimha Murthy
 "The two-days in November, 2004 (20th and 21st) when a host of senior scholars met in the Hall of the Mythic Society, Bangalore, discussing about a person with respect and devotion, took me on rails to go four decades back of my life and recollect the sweet memories of the person the subject of their talk. The occasion was celebration of the Birth Centenary of Dr. Sondekoppa Srikanta Sastry, the renowned Professor of History of the Mysore University. The people who had gathered there were rejoicing for being the students of Dr. Sastry between the thirty's and fifty's of the last century. I too rejoiced, but by sitting amidst the rejoiced.     
Mythic Society, Bangalore
My career as a student of Dr. Sastry was of different nature. Of course, some of us the classmates used to watch him in the college as sub-juniors; and, some times get astonished to see our seniors disappearing from the scene at the sight of the Professor. It took some time to understand the action of our seniors whom we had taken as 'lazy-lizards'. We felt proud of them, and took them to be great when we came to know of their action to be on saddle and back in the class waiting for the Professor. True, the Professor had made them fortunate and great through his personal aura. Soon our childish-thinking was replaced by respectful sympathies when we came to know of his health and the sight of he being helped by his daughter to climb up and down the steps of the Sr. B.A. hall to enter his Chamber. Then I could never even dream of being a small iron piece to this great magnetic personality some time later. Lo! The time to meet him came. I received the information from the most reliable source of mine that I was asked by the Professor to meet him at his residence. I was very much elated by this and the state of joy in me was inexplicable though I knew not the  reason for being summoned. The House on the D. Subbaiah Road, which was till then with the askance look of fear and respect turned the next day a House of affectionate love. My real Gurukula-hood in the Upanishadic sense began from that day."Professors are not easily accessible" was the opinion that had developed in me after watching many professors in the Maharaja's college then. The state of my mind was not different from this when I visited the house of Prof. Sastry for the first time. But when I returned from his House I was totally relaxed though perplexed by the affectionate simplicity of the professor. The very atmosphere of the House was such as to treat everyone cordially without any professorial inhibitions. All those who have visited this house for various reasons have tasted this simplicity coupled with hospitality. I slowly entered into inner self of this humane nobility. 
The purpose of my self being summoned by the Professor was made known to me by his eldest son Sri. Vijaya Shankar and I simply nodded my head to it. Strange but true that of all the trained and enthusiastic people, myself, a fresher was chosen to assist the professor in his U.G.C. Project work. I knew not then how far I could be of any help to him. But the work assigned was of great help to me both intellectually and economically. Virtually I was taken into the flood of knowledge and made to enjoy it. As the volume of it increased so gradually I began to understand the impact of its strength and force. 
I don't know how the Professor taught his students in the class though I have heard about it. And, for long I was feeling that I should have sat in a class where the Professor taught. (For, this was not a strange as students of that time had the practice of attending classes other than theirs and enjoy the lecture and fortunately, they were not disturbed by the lecturer's too). But, I could dare not such an attempt, hence languished. The more I felt I am far away from his sight more the later developments proved that myself was getting closer. My languish was over. I began to get what I wished though the place and timings were different. 
As days rolled on the Project work entered into different streams and myself remained quiet with all bewilderment and the sails were safe under the command of the captain. We moved up and 38 down-north-south, east-west, entered into the gates of Forts and cities, tred the way into forlorn lands, military camps and battle fields, basked under the sunny frontage of caves and temples drinking hot coffee or malt sometimes. Our movements were not slosh. It had fruitful discussions of past and present; ancient and medieval. My bewilderment turned up to be a longing interest for there was no actual journey but in the form of re-enactment in front of the kneeling table kept close to the northern wall of the hall white washed in oily red colour.  
Dr S.Srikanta Sastri's Remington Typewriter
On the table one could see a few books besides the daily newspaper The Hindu. The Professor, its seems, was using a typewiter in his younger days. As a proof of it the table contained a portable Remington typewriter with a beautiful case. I found it in a very good working condition though not used for over a decade. Sometimes I used this machine to type the English portion of the notes of the project work. The middle portion of the Hall had two pillars supporting the upper storey of the House. Normally a chair was kept by the side of one of the pillars close to the table. A big screen here partitioned the Hall. The professor used to take rest inside the partition or sit in the chair near the pillar whenever visitors called on him. But his normal place of reading was the verandah and morning hours were his precious time. 

To me the place near the table was an "Achchoda saras". A dip in it took me to Kashi, Gaya, Prayag, Amarnath, and Manassarovar and the like. An incident that took place here is still fresh and green in my mind. I was looking into some notes (probably on an epigraph) leaning to the table. The Professor came slowly from behind (which I couldn't notice), gently placed his right hand on my back and asked me very affectionately "Enu maadtaa iddeera? What you are doing?" He then dragged the chair very close to my left and sat on it. I blushed with surprise.On another occasion the professor climbed the staircase of the upper floor of his house and brought a dark blue file, sat in the same place and gave it to me saying "Edanna tagedukondu hogi, Nidhanavdgi odi thanni". Take this, read it slowly and bring back. I simply nodded my head took it home not knowing that the file had another surprise to me. 
I know not how I controlled myself on the way. At home when I opened the file I saw a good number of scribbled slips tagged at the left hand corner. The slips contained synopsis of methodology and historigraphy. Herodotus, Thucydides, Polybius, St. Augustine, J.B. Bury, Hegel, Comte, Marx, Croce, Concordet, Turgot, Kroebar, Seeley, Spengler, Toynbee etc., were all there. I am told by my seniors that the professor was giving lengthy lectures, rather dictations on each one. Whereas the synopsis ranged between five to fifteen lines of writing except in the case of a few such as Spengler and Toynbee. At the first sight I could not make out any thing (though the names were familiar) for the points were of disjointed and hopping nature. At once t felt that unless one is a voracious reader and remembers exactly what has been read, one can not use these 'tit-bits'. This revealed to me the intellectual horizon and unfailing memory of the Professor leading to freshness in his thinking and teaching. Needless to say that I accrued very much out of this in later days. 
The 'dark blue file' indicated that Dr. Shrikantha Sastry was a different kind of Professor. The points there - in were definite and his assessments (criticism) infallible. His quality of judgment was of very high standard. It was a natural corollary of deep dwelling on the subject concerned. He never based translations for his assessment but scanned the original of every document and in the language of its origin. Each article of his is an example to this. The Greek Farce, the date of Gommata, the date of Shankara, Oswald Spengler on Indian culture and Proto Indic Religion are but a few to quote here, On all these topics I heard from him much more than what he might have spoken in the classroom. Listening to him means entering into a new world where one finds no time and space.While describing the personality of Ranjit Singh scholars have stated that the one eye he possessed was sufficient to chill the spirits of his enemies. In the case of Dr. Srikantha Sastry it is suffice to say that the one vision was sufficient to visualize and comprehend the knowledge of the universe, nurture it with justice and propound it through an unperturbed masculine voice. His intellectual personality was far more enviable than his physical personality. The Madras Mail while reviewing his book - Proto-Indic Religion (1942) wrote "...A mass of detailed learning. Even for specialists it is perhaps too learned. The kind of careful, solid, objective study is a credit to Indian scholarship". Suffice it to say that this portrays the quality of thinking and writing of Dr. Srikantha Sastry.Prof. Sastry was daringly bold and straightforward and never succumbed to any compromise at the cost of historical truth. When a proposal was brought to him by his own Guru Prof. S.V. Venkateshwara about a Research Project on the Kingdom of Mysore, Dr. Sastry had the courage to suggest an alteration to the topic from Mysore to Karnataka, from a narrow segment to a broad spectrum. Also he suggested a working plan for writing the History of Karnataka in twelve volumes. Strangely, the existing reality then was the Kingdom of Mysore under the Wodeyars, and the idea of 'Karnataka' just a wishful thinking of the multitude under the British. Whereas the thinking of Srikantha Sastry was prophetic for he had visualized decades before, the ultimate reality. Hence felt the need for a good preparation especially in respect of knowing its history and rich cultural
Prof S.V.Venkateswara
heritage. Prof. S.V.Venkateshwara accepted the proposal without any change for he was fully aware of the ability and quality of the work of his proud student. The 'student' too had provided sufficient proof of his capacity and nature of thinking even as a student by publishing articles in the Journal of Royal Asiatic Society and other international journals.
A Research Project with a Scholarship of Rupees Seventy Five per month was instituted in the university for the first time (1927-1928) Srikantha Sastry was made to work on the Project "Sources of Karnataka History". Sri Sastry, who had been affectionately called "Professor" by his friends and classmates, stood to the expectations of his friends and the Professor finished the work in one year's time and submitted the Report. The work was beyond all scholarly expectations. Hence the copy was stolen. The second copy prepared with difficulty was also stolen. The pinch was too much for an upcoming young scholar like Sastry who bore the pain quietly. Ten years later the the Vice-Chancellor of the Mysore University Sri N.S. Subba Rao, who had the knowledge of.this sad story,
Journal of Royal Asiatic Society
insisted Srikantha Sastry to write again the Sources and submit it to him personally. When the book was finally published in 1940 the Flood Gates of Fame were opened for the University. Sir. Mirza M. Ismail, the then Dewan of Mysore, immediately wrote a letter congratulating the University and the author for a memorable work. It had the prestige of being reviewed by Dr. Barnett in the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society. The entire scholarly world considered this book - Sources of Karnataka History volume-I, as a great model for all historians.
By 1940 Srikanta Sastry had almost scaled the apex of glory. Hence the 'sources' became just a feather in his cap. "Justice delayed is justice denied" - Dr. Srikanta Sastry used to say this often to me for he had suffered many a times due to this kind of denials. "It was difficult to bear; but my studies, research and writing works helped me a lot", he said. True never he tried to exhibit his anguish in his teaching. 
Prof. Srikantha Sastry never showed any inclination for a visit to any foreign country especially England (Though far more qualified in every respect than many of his contemporaries). This provided sufficient scope for some faculty members to denigrate his capacity and scholarship. For, these people had felt that a visit to any foreign country by an Indian would mean putting an over coat of greatness and virtue over oneself. Once, Prof. Sastry told me that someone even questioned him as to why he did not try to go to any foreign country. "What is there to know about India in a foreign country when we have a lot to know, see and study here itself which we normally dont's do" was the answer of the Professor. 
Prof. Sastry was not after acquiring any pseudo-prestige. His scholastic knowledge especially on Indian History and Culture was more solid than any 'foreign-returned scholar'. He had made very clear of his deep insight into the subject matter even as a student through his writings which had seen the light of the day in many of the then internationally famous journals.Vajradapi Kathorani Mrduni Kusumadapi - this statement can best be applied to Prof. Srikantha Sastry. Though many a times his judgments seemed to be very harsh, his heart was as soft and tender as the petals of flower. He liked good companionship. He could suit himself to the company of any age group and to intellectual of any caliber. He was simple and jovial though looked serious often. Everyone who has gone into close proximity has enjoyed this quality of the Professor. He often enjoyed the childish pranks of his children (particularly the last two) be it on the style of his sitting, reading news paper or books, comments made to someone's writing or valuing answer scripts or the like.
Prof. Sastry was both a task-master and a humanist. He wanted everyone to grow with knowledge, especially his students working for Ph.D. Never he allowed them to have laxity in their work. He was putting different types of questions on their topics and insisted them to go to the original sources as for as possible for finding suitable answers. Unless satisfied, he never allowed them to submit their thesis. Though seemed to be harsh the Professor was kind enough in informing them of the nature, whereabouts and the availability of sources for, there was nothing, which he didn't know or browse over. 
Professor Sastry didn't thrust a topic of his choice on his students. Instead he was preparing them to select a topic based on their capacity and interest. In my own case he chided me in a jovial manner for delaying the selection of a topic. And, when I told him of my topic he quipped. Very happy, anyway it didn't become an elephant's conception ! 
Many had obtained Ph.D. degree under the guidance of the Professor but not the Professor himself. This was made a cause for putting hurdles on the progress of the Professor. Though pained internally Prof. Sastry remained unperturbed for all sorts of criticisms that had been leveled against him. Soon he made a collection of research papers and submitted it to the University for the degree of D.Litt. Dr. Radhakumud Mukherji of the Dacca University wrote that a D.Litt was after all a meagre recognition of the enormous work done by Sastri. The Report' inevitably silenced the critics. 
The Professor shared his feelings about this incident with me and said that some people in the university wanted to have sadistic satisfaction by putting obstacles in his career. However he was happy for his work had been sent for review to such an eminent person as Dr. Radhakumud Mukherji who could do justice to his labour.  
In fact each article of Prof. Sastry was worth a Ph.D. No scholar however senior he was, had dared to write on Oswald Spengler. Srikantha Sastry, as a research scholar wrote a fully matured article-'Oswald Spengler On Indian Culture and got it published in the journal New Era (March 1929, Madras) wherein he stated very clearly that Spengler's theory on Indian culture was totally unacceptable on the ground that the culture of India had developed on a different footing than that of the assessment made by Spengler. This five-page note was perhaps the first of its kind by any Indian historian. Srikantha Sastry had exposed the hollowness of thinking of the German scholar in respect of India. At the same time brought to lime light his own caliber to comprehend the philosophy of history and his concern to Indian studies. It was my good fortune to hear more about Spengler and the culture of India from Prof. Sastry. 
Once Prof. Sastry told me that he was surprised when his own maternal grand father (mother's uncle) Sri Ramashesha Sastry, a very well known Sanskrit scholar, asked him to write historical introductions to his works such as Bhagavata (in twelve volumes), Mudrarakshasa Nataka and Mukundananda Bhana. "It was a challenge to me. yet, having been insisted I wrote historical introductions both in Kannada and English", he said. These were published during 193o-32 in The Indian Historical Quarterly, calcutta, The Modern Review and many other Journals of international repute. Prof. Keith of the Edinburgh University and a noted Sanskrit scholar wrote letters of appreciation and accepted the date fixed by Prof. Sastry for Vishaka Datta author of MudrarakashasaProf. Srikantha sastry was sharing his thoughts with me often regarding the Indus civilization. Many of his statements had been very prophetic and are being proved true by recent archaeological explorations and excavations. When the first reports on this civilization were published, Srikantha Sastry was perhaps the first Indian out side the Archaeological Survey of India
The Quarterly Journal of Mythic Society
to probe into the secrets of the seals and publish articles on it. They were published in the Quarterly Journal of the Mythic society (vol. 22 pt. III and IV - 1934). He had a firm belief that these seals belonged to the Atharva vedic period. Consequently he stated that the Rig vedic period was anterior to the Indus culture.
At the same time he probed into the problem of the 'original Home of the Aryans' and said that the story of Aryan invasion was a myth and no available source endorsed it. He said all the theories regarding this problem were of illogical nature, for the Aryans were the original settlers of India. Prof. Sastry exposed the hollowness of interpretation of internal evidences found in the Vedas."The various objects and seals found at Harappa and Mohenjodaro became a challenge to scholars. Therefore, their study remained a problem. The real reason for this was, the method followed by them". Dr. Sastry was often telling me this in order to lay stress on the importance of the subject of study irrespective of its value and make the study comprehensive. It was this mind of heuristic methodology that enabled Dr. Sastry to write "Proto-lndic Religion" which was serially published in all the four parts of the volumes 32 and 33 of the Q.J.M.S. When it appeared in book form in 1942 noted scholar and historian Prof. S. Krishnaswamy lyengar while reviewing his book said-"one problem of the utmost importance was the study of the finds from the point of view of the Religion- the early primitive religion and Mr. Sastri seems to be very well qualified for attempting this topic systematically". 
Dr. Sastry was very free and frank in discussing various issues of controversy forged to front by many of his articles both in Kannada and English. "I Know I have thrown certain challenges; though bitter they are historical truths to me. If you don't like them it is no matter to me. On the other hand, if you take up the challenge work earnestly, find out further sources and show how and where I am wrong. I will be very happy to see it". These were the words of Prof. Sastry heard often by me. I felt that they were not of platitude. In his usual simple way the Professor used to say- "Look, what Gandhiji did in selecting a candidate for the Haripur Session of the I.N.C., was wrong. I criticized him in my article published in the Special Issue of the same Congress Session (1939). For history any type of mistake committed by any person is wrong only". 
Similarly, he said, "I wrote preface to the book 'Indian states and Federal Plan'written by my own student Mr. Y.G. Krishna Murthy, wherein I questioned the sovereignty of Native States. I became a target to some. True they were all Royalists and not realists". Prof. Sastry was a true nationalist and his political philosophy crossed the bounds of nations. 
Prof. Sastry was criticized by many. Being aware of these he said: "Naturally my conclusions have been attacked by many people, but I am not unduly worried about it". whenever the professor spoke to me of these incidents I was bewildered to note that there was in either fear nor anger and not at all an iota of excitement in him. That speaks of the mental make up of the Professor and the firm conviction to the subject of study and research. 
Joseph Goebbels
Right or wrong Goebbels of Germany used a portion of the statement of Dr. Sastry, made in the preface of the book - Independent India and New world order by Y.G. Krishna Murthy, and broadcast it over the German Radio (1941, II world war period). The other Indian scholar quoted by Goebels was Dr. S. Radhakrishnan. True, it was a German based anti-British propaganda by which prof. Sastry became famous through out the world in general and British India in particular. Pandit Nehru, who had earlier read the article of prof. Sastry wherein the latter had daringly criticized Mahatma Gandhi, sent a copy of his book-Discovery of India for his opinion. 
Prof. Srikanta Sastry was against any propaganda and never he liked propagandist writing in history. To many, his writings might have seemed to be just dry documentation of historical truths. yet, time and again he was scaling new heights of fame. 
At the same time Prof. Sastry never expressed any feeling of having achieved anything great for, he had felt that the achievements of his ancestors at the courts of various Royal families-Sangama period of Vijayanagar down to the Wodeyars of Mysore, were far more greater than his own. With a sort of adolescent achievements and the titles and honours obtained by his ancestors. To me it looked as if that all the great qualities with mental sobriety, thirst for knowledge and truth along with an unfailing memory of the ancestors - both paternal and maternal, had been finally converged and crystallized in prof. Srikantha Sastry. Prof. Sastry was for a healthy debate of various problems of history. He was often telling me- Vade Vade Jayate pratibodhah, if we wrestle with the man of perfume we also get smeared of the fragrance of perfume. Immediately I remembered the famous Arab proverb- the last line of which says- 'He who knows and knows he knows is good, follow him'. 
Many a times I was wondering myself whether I am ignorant of many of these things or innocent of the knowledge. Yet, innermost part of my soul was telling that after all I am at the feet of the great and magnanimous Himalayas. Further, I had another knotty point about the Professor – whether he actually sleeps or have a yogic sleep! For, on no day I have found him telling to any body seeking some information, that he would try to recollect and then tell or give him sometime so that he could give correct information or the like excuses being sought. 
Prof. Sastry had buried in him a lot of pains which went on accruing at the professional level. Perhaps he never shared this with any body. I know not how I entered into the inner self of his confidence; the Professor sometimes spoke to me of these incidents and persons responsible for it. Though I felt very much for these, the Professor remained to me an enigma. For, I had found in him a jovial and friendly human being dignified and scholarly. Sometimes he used to repeat slokas from Bhagavadgeeta - Sanghat Samjavate Kamah Kamat Krodhobhi Jayate - or stanzas from Adishankara's Bhajagovindam Stotra-satsangatve Nih Samgatvam Nih Ssamgatve Nirmohatvam etc. Then I understood as to how he might have withstood all the rough shods of his life by
Smt Nagaratnamma (Dr S.Srikanta Sastri's wife)
remembering a line from the RigVeda Sukha dukkhe Samekrtva labha labhau Jaya Jayau
When his dearly loved wife Smt. Nagaratnamma died I went to his house to express my condolence. There I was surprised to see the same calm and quiet personality sitting in the same place where earlier we used to sit and talk. Despite his failing health, he was found not worried at all about himself. Instead, he spoke to me very high of the manner in which his wife had died. He said that she had chosen the method of a particular Saiva Sect but rarely followed in modern times. At the very moment I got the experience of talking to a sthita prajna in front of me. 
The Professor was appreciating all the good works of his students and friends. He had very high regard to his elderly scholars and scholars of eminence especially to a Sanskrit scholar who according to him was an expert in the Vedic studies.He was very happy when he was felicitated by his students and admirers with a befitting volume SRIKANTHIKA. It was an unique programme
Felicitation Ceremony where Festschrift Volume "Srikanthika" was released
perhaps first of its kind in the history of the Mysore University. when I met the Professor sometime later, the entire programme was re-enacted to me. By that time he had read the entire volume- SRIKANTHIKA (A Book of 395 pages) and very happily he reviewed that book for me. The program and the felicitation volume had applied a soothing balm for all the pains suffered so far by the professor.
A personality of his stature with all modesty, humility, simplicity, nobility, purity of mind and profound scholarship is a rarity. What remains to-day is just cherishing sweet memories of the past when that Himalayan-like personality was shedding luster. My ever-loving salutations to him."
As published in the Quarterly Journal of Mythic Society (QJMS), Vol XCVI, Issue No 3 (Sep 2005) on the occassion of Centenary Celebrations 1904 - 2004.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Dr H. N. Murthy - Psychologist and Philosopher

Hosur Narayan Murthy, former head of the department of Clinical Psychology at National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS), Bangalore was a psychologist,
ಡಾ|| ಎಚ್. ಎನ್. ಮೂರ್ತಿ 
philosopher, thinker, mentor and a saint in many ways. Born in 1924 into a brahmin family, he finished his early schooling in the small town of Bhadravathi near Shimoga in Karnataka. A nephew of Dr S.Srikanta Sastri, he was suggested to approach Maharaja's College for pursuing a bachelor's degree by Sastri himself. 

H.N.Murthy pursued his bachelor's degree in psychology at Maharaja's college, Mysore under the tutelage of Dr. M.V.Gopalaswamy (then head of the department of psychology) and graduated in 1952. His outstanding performance was recognised with the prestigious "Babha Memorial Gold Medal" for the best scholar in psychology and philosophy group. His dissertation
H.N.Murthy with his professor (at centre)
 and fellow batchmates
for the bachelor's degree was on "National Stereotypes" concerning how people in India perceived other cultures and how people in foreign cultures perceived Indians. 

H.N.Murthy then pursued his Master's degree in psychology at Maharaja's college, Mysore university which he completed in 1954. He worked for a while at "Mysore State Mental Hospital" at Bangalore before relocating to "Ranchi European Lunatic Asylum" (currently renamed as "Central Institute of Psychiatry") at Ranchi, Bihar. H. Narayan Murthy later
Dr H.N.Murthy at
Catholic University of Leuven,
embarked on his doctoral thesis on "Causality in Experimental Psychology" at "Katholieke Universiteit Leuven", Belgium on an educational scholarship. His guide there was a Roman Catholic priest who was also a professor in psychology. He was awarded a PhD degree for his research work and the university conferred upon him the title of "Excelsior Professor" in recognition of his erudition and commendable contribution to the field of psychology.

He is credited with the introduction of "Behavioural Therapy" for the mental patients at NIMHANS, Bangalore in the late 1970s. To his credit also are numerous questionnaire scales in clinical psychology ranging from the "Depressive Scale", "Paranoid Scale", "Schizophrenia scale" to "Manic Scale" and "Depressive Anxiety Scale". These are quite frequently employed even today and find place in clinical psychiatric practice. But his enduring legacy stems from his efforts at linking "Indian Philosophy" with "Modern Psychology" and establishing common grounds between the two.  

The H.N.Murthy oration sponsored by the Indian Journal of Clinical Psychology is in honour of
Dr H.Narayan Murthy
Dr H.N.Murthy. His students include Dr M.S.Thimmappa 
(ex-Vice Chancellor, Bangalore University), Dr Padma Murthy (Musician, psychologist) among others.     Dr M.S.Thimmappa has penned a tribute to his mentor on his passing and the full text can be found here (Thimmappa's blog). 

H.N.Murthy remained an ardent devotee of the Ramakrishna Mutt and kept close acquaintance with swami Siddheswarananda Ji and swami Ranganathanandaji (former president) till the end. 

Dr H. Narayan Murthy breathed his last on 22nd of August, 2011 aged 87 years. His vast collection of books numbering in excess of 10,000 find refuge in a private collection at Mysore. 

He is featured this month on Dr S.Srikanta Sastri's official website with a brief biographical sketch with few of the photographs shown here. To read the same, click here.