JOSHI SHAM. BA., 1896-1991

            Shankararao Bala Deekshita Joshi, (shankararAv bALa dIkshita jOshi) (ಶಂಕರರಾವ್ ಬಾಳ ದೀಕ್ಷಿತ ಜೋಶಿ) was a great scholar and an original thinker who has made seminal contributions to the study of culture both in the context of Karnataka as also a much wider spectrum which encompasses the Indian situation and human beings in general. He was born in a small village named gurlahosUru, near Savadatti in Belagaum district, which was then a part of Bombay Presidency directly under the British rule. He did not have the benefits of formal education to any appreciable extent. After passing out of the elementary school (7th standard) he studied in a teachers’ training institute and became a teacher in a primary school at ciikkODi. He came under the mesmerising influence of Gandhiji and resigned from that job in his early twenties. He had a some brief stints as a journalist in periodicals such as ‘karnATaka vrutta’, ‘dhananjaya’ and ‘karmavIra’. He was appointed as a teacher in the Victoria High School, (Now known as Vidyaranya High School) Dharwar in 1928. He retired from that position in 1946.

            Joshi came under the influence of Gandhian ideology and Maharshi Aravinda at an early stage in his life and his simple lifestyle was a consequence of these influences. He was an important member of ‘geLeyara gumpu’; a group of like minded individuals, launched under the leadership D.R. Bendre the foremost poet of modern Kannada. However Joshi did not allow any of these influences to hinder him in his intellectual pursuits. He was a self made individual in more senses than one. He became a voracious reader and studied disciplines like history, philosophy, anthropology and psychology on his own. More importantly, he could integrate all this in to a frame work which was all his own. He tried to achieve a synthesis between the western streams of knowledge and indigenous, ancient knowledge base.

            His work could be categorized in three inter connected strata. Firstly he was interested in the origin of Karnataka and its cultural ramifications. He focused on the relationship between the mAharashtrian culture and Karnataka in their historical evolution. Language was the focal point of his analytical method. He laid an emphasis on place names, migratory patterns of different communities and customs practiced by them as the bases for his conclusions. Reconstruction of a culture on the basis of the evidence provided by folk beliefs and motifs was an enduring passion for Sham Ba. This phase in his career lasted till 1947. Later on he turned his attention towards the evolution of Indian Culture and Civilization and tried to trace it right from the pre-Vedic times. He speaks about a shift in Value System as early as the RgvEda period and contends that it was the beginning of deterioration. Some of his hypotheses and his musings about the fundamental conflicts in Indian Culture that were recogonised by him were truly path breaking. He moved on to the evolution of human psyche and the essential nature of human beings. These ideas were not in tune with the views held by traditional scholars. However his ideas were progressive and illustrated his concern for his fellow beings. Consequently he has found many supporters and admirers in the current generation rather than his contemporaries and the generation after that.

            Joshi has written thirty three books and published more than two hundred articles in journals and periodicals. He has written a few articles and books in English and Marathi also. Complete works of Sham. Ba. Joshi are published in eight huge volumes by the Kannada Book Authority, Govt. of Karnataka. Some of the more important ones among his books are listed here.

1.      ‘kaNmreyAda kannada’, 1933, Dharwar.

2.      ‘mahArASTrada mUla’, 1934, Dharwar.

3.      ‘kannaDada nele’, 1939, Dharwar.

4.      ‘kannaDa nuDiya huTTu athavA nirukta’, 1937, Dharwar.

5.      ‘eDegaLu hELuva kannADa kathe’, 1947, Dharwar.

6.      ‘kannaDa nuDiya jIvALa’, 1973, Dharwar.

7.      ‘karNana mUru citragLu’, 1947, Dharwar

8.      ‘saundarya vicAra’, 1949, Karawar.

9.      ‘eddELu kannaDigA aThvA asantOSavE ELgeya mUla’, 1943, Dharwar.

10. ‘jIvana arthagrahaNa paddhati’, 1986, Dharwar.

11. ‘karnATa samskrutiya pUrva pITike’ (In two parts)1937, 1966. Dharwar.

12. ‘hAlumata darshana’, 1960, Savadatti.

13. ‘BASe mattu samskruthi’, 1975, Dharawar.

14.  ‘pravAha patitara karma, hindU emba dharma’, 1976, Bangalore.

15. ‘vaivasvata manu praNIta mAnavadharmada Akruti’, 1979, Rayabhag.  

16. ‘budhana jAtaka’, 1984, Rayabagh (Belagaum District)

17. ’jAgatika purAtana Adidaivta kathegaLa anusandhAnadalli, RgvEdasAra nAgapratimA vicAra’ 1971, Mysore.

18.  ‘Shambaa avara Samagra kRutigLu’, (Eight volumes) 1999, Kannada Book Authority, Bangalore.

Sham. Ba. Joshi has received many honors and accolades, particularly during the later part of his life. He was bestowed with the Central Sahitya Academy award in 1970, for his ‘Karnata Samskritiya Purvapeethike’. The University of Mysore conferred an honorary doctorate degree on him in 1971. (1973?) He chaired the 54th Kannada Sahitya Sammelana held at Madikeri, Coorg in 1981. ‘Adhyayana’ is the name of the felicitation volume given to him in 1979. It’s a matter of gratification that more than ten volumes are written on the life and works of Sham. Ba. Joshi. The seeds sown by this great scholar are blossoming in the writings of many of our contemporary scholars.


Further Reading and Links:

1.      ‘Adhyayana’, Sham.Ba. Joshi Felicitation Volume, Edited by M. Chidananda Murthy, 1979, Bangalore.

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