Centenary celebrations of historian Achuta Rao

Two-day event from Feb 17 includes an international seminar

The centenary year celebrations of historian D S Achuta Rao, who gave a new dimension to the history of Mysuru, will be held at the University of Mysore on February 17 and 18.

Achuta Rao of the UoM unravelled the social and administrative history of Mysuru from 1600 and 1800 through a study of contemporary materials. The legacy of Achuta Rao, who passed away in 1965, will be resurrected through a series of events throughout 2017 under the aegis of the DSA Memorial Trust.

Rao had made a mark for himself through meticulous research, which brought into limelight much of Mysuru’s forgotten history. The commemoration events will begin with the release of a seminal work by Rao, published as a book, edited by S Settar of the Bengaluru-based National Institute of Advanced Studies, and a former chairman of the Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR).

The main event of the celebrations will be the Prof Achuta Rao Memorial International Seminar on ‘Transfer of Power in Princely South India’ on February 17 and 18 at the University of Mysore, with 14 eminent historians from universities in Oxford, Cambridge, Tokyo, Singapore, New York, New Delhi, and Mysuru as speakers.

The conference will also mark the release of two books, based on the writings and research undertaken by Achuta Rao in the 1950s and 60s. The volumes will be released by Yaduveer Krishnadatta Chamaraja Wadiyar and Trishika Devi Wadiyar.

The book release will be followed by a Bharatanatyam tribute to the cultural legacy of Mysuru, choreographed and presented by Lakshmi Gopala- swamy. An exhibition on the life and works of Achuta Rao, designed by his granddaughter, Surabhi Gurukar, has also been organised.

D A Prasanna, son of Achuta Rao, said, “Eminent scholars at Mysuru, Manipal and Bengaluru have worked for over one year to bring the works of Achuta Rao on Mysuru history, to students, researchers and public. Our family has established an endowment in history to perpetuate Achuta Rao’s legacy by promoting research and publications in history”.

S Settar said that early Wadiyars’ rule has remained a lean period in the history of Karnataka. Achuta Rao explored the records hitherto unknown and evolved distinct methods to make meaning of them.

K Sadashiva, chairman, Department of Studies in History, UoM, said, “We have chosen to conduct the seminar on ‘Transfer of Power in Princely South India’ to perpetuate the academic and research values, Achuta Rao stood for”.

Bengaluru-based writer Vikramajit Ram said the endowment presented by the DSA Trust to Lakshmi Gopala- swamy will go a long way in promoting and preserving Mysuru’s unique Bharatanatyam and Carnatic music traditions.

The trust has also presented an endowment to the UoM to perpetuate Achuta Rao’s legacy with annual history seminars at Manasagangotri and regional seminars at Maharaja’s College. There would be a DSA History Research Series publication of 2-3 books annually by Manipal University Press.

Endowment Fund

Established by the family members’ contribution, the Prof Achuta Rao Endowment Fund has over Rs 75 lakh for academic and research works. It has an eminent advisory board and is managed by the Manipal University. 
A historian par excellence
Achuta Rao (1917-1965) did his post-graduation in history from the University of Mysore. He taught in first grade colleges in Bengaluru, Tumakuru, and Mysuru for 25 years and also at the Maharaja’s College and Manasagangotri. He was a keen researcher and published a number of papers on Mysuru history during the period 1500-1800.

He closely followed Indian National Movement, struggles of Sukarno, Ho Chi Min and Asian liberation movements. He travelled widely and taught recent Asian History. He was a pioneer in the study of administrative documents, scripts, and letters to research post medieval social and administrative history of Mysuru.
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