Prof M V Seetharamaiah Remembering Prof M V Seetharamaiah

Prof M V Seetharamaiah (1910-1990), whose birth centenary is being celebrated this year, was as remarkable for his personality as for his creative writing and scholarship. Born on September 9, 1910 in Mysore, Prof Seetharamaiah secured his Master’s Degree in Kannada from Mysore University. For some years, he was a research assistant for the Mysore University English-Kannada dictionary, where he had an opportunity to work with some of the towering scholars of the age. He then entered the Kannada Department of Mysore University. He was for some time a UGC professor.

A frail figure troubled by constant ill-health for the greater part of his life, Prof Seetharamaiah was confined to Bangalore for decades; even for brief outings in the city he had to fortify himself with woollens and medicines. In later life his fingers grew gnarled because of arthritis. And yet he wrote books and research papers, and wrote a beautiful hand till his last day. And, in his 70th year, he founded a research centre, named after his revered teacher! Prof Seetharamaiah was a poet, novelist, essayist, dramatist, critic and researcher. (In his early youth he was an actor. He would play on veena, and was a painter of considerable merit!) He belonged to the second generation of Navodaya (Renaissance) writers, and wrote in the Masti tradition. He was interested in social problems, and brought humane and liberal approach to his writings.

Prof Seetharamaiah was a highly respected scholar and researcher. He is particularly remembered for his work in a difficult area - grammar. His book on early Kannada grammar is an invaluable work and has been translated into other languages. He made a special study of ‘Shabdamanidarpan’ (circa.1260), a grammar of old Kannada, and edited a definitive edition. He also devoted years to study Srivijaya’s ‘Kaviraja Marga’ (circa. 850), the first Kannada work of poetics, and contributed largely to the debate on its authorship. Prof Seetharamaiah’s contribution is the B M Sri Smaraka Prathisthana, an institution devoted to advanced studies and research. Today it has been recognised as a research centre and, in addition to the publication of scholarly works, offers training for M Phil and Ph D degrees. It is the only centre where manuscriptology (to which Prof Seetharamaiah had devoted considerable time and energy) is academically studied. The Prathishtana, which is stepping into its 30th year, has decided to celebrate the birth centenary as the Year of Manuscriptology. 

Workshops on manuscriptology, publishing his works in a comprehensive volume, release of CDs on the professor’s works, establishing ‘chair, and exhibition in Bangalore and Bellur are other plans the instiute has in store for the year-long celebration commencing on September nine.  

L S Seshagiri Rao

Centre for research

The Prathishtana was founded at the residence of M V Seetharamaiah, and has now grown into a full-fledged research centre with its three-storey building at N R Colony in Bangalore. It has tied up with Hampi University to offer M Phil and Ph D degrees. An awareness drive on manuscript will also be held throughout the year across the State to sensitise the public on methods and significance of collecting, preserving and studying the manuscripts.


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