NARASIMHACHAR D.L., 1906-71

 

Doddabele Lakshminarasimhachar, (doDDabele lakshmInarasimhAcAr) (ದೊಡ್ಡಬೆಲೆ ನರಸಿಂಹಾಚಾರ್) or D.L.N. as he was popularly known among his students and admirers was one of the most respected scholar-teachers of his generation and his works have endured the test of time and continue to be authentic sources of knowledge in the fields Kannada language, grammar, prosody and ancient literature. He ranks among the selected few who have laid the foundations of modern scholarship drawing incessantly from the traditional schools.

            Narasimhachar was born in Chikkanayakanahalli in Tumakur district and obtained his B.A. degree in Physics and Chemistry from the Central College, Bangalore in 1927. He belonged to the first batch of students who studied for and obtained an M.A. degree in Kannada at Maharaja’s College, Mysore. His first assignment was that of a resident Kannada pandit in the Oriental Research Institute, Mysore. He was involved in teaching and research work in a number of institutions such as the Yuvaraja’s College, Mysore, the Central College, Bangalore, Kannada Sahitya Parishath, Bangalore and the Maharaja’s College, Mysore in various capacities. He retired from active services in 1962 as a Professor of Kannada from the Maharaja’s College. He served also as a U.G.C. research professor in Kannada for a period of six years (1963-69). His association with the Kannada-Kannada dictionary published by the Kannada Sahitya Parishath, Bangalore was long and rewarding. He was the chief editor of the project for a long time. He was the editor of ‘Prabuddha Karnataka’ during 1959-62.

            The scholarly contributions of Prof. D.L.N. may be studied under two separate headings namely textual criticism and independent research. His passion for textual criticism started with his work at the O.R.I. and he was ideally equipped for the discipline with a phenomenal memory, erudition in old Kannada and Sanskrit, an ability to read palm leaf manuscripts and a genuine liking for the job. His works under this category are listed below.

             1. ‘Sakala Vaidya Samhitasararnava’ by Veerarajendra, 1932 (Gen. Ed. D.Srinivasachar)

             2. ‘Bheeshma Parva’ by Kumara Vyasa, 1933

             3. ‘Siddaramacharitra’ by Raghavanka, 1941 (With T.S.Venkannaiah)

             4. ‘Vaddaradhane’ by Shivakotyacharya), 1949

             5. ‘Sukumara Charitam’ by Shanthinatha, 1954 (with T.S. Shama Rao)

             6. ‘Govina Hadu, 1960

             7. ‘Shabdamanidarpanam’ by Keshiraja, 1964

             8. ‘Pampa Ramayana Sangraha’ (Abridged version) by Nagachandra (With T.Srinivasaraghavachar)

             9. ‘Siddharamachariteya Sangraha’ (Abridged version)  

      It’s possible to write an independent essay on the modalities involved in  each one of these editions. D.L.N. was consolidating the work done by his illustrious predecessors such as B.L.Rice, R.Narasimhachar, S.G.Narasimhachar, M.A.Ramanuja Iyyangar, S.S.Basavanal, P.G.Halakatti and others. In addition to that he was evolving an academic discipline by the virtue of his scholarship and experience. His ‘Grantha Sampadane’ is perhaps the best of its kind in all Indian languages. Most of the illustrations that are provided there have sprung from his personal experience. A comparative study of manuscripts, a meticulous reference to lexicons and literary works and a diligent application of his erudition in other languages have illuminated his path all through. D.L.N has written elaborate introductions and useful supplementary material for all these works. His introduction to ‘Vaddaradhane’, ‘Pampa Ramayana Sangraha’ and ‘Sukumaracharitam’ are the best of their kind in Kannada.

            D.L.N. has written many independent books and a huge number of research articles related to various disciplines. The most important among them are as follows.

             1. Shabdavihara

             2. Kannada Grantha Sampadane

             3. Peethikegalu mattu Lekhanagalu

             4. Pampa Bharatha Deepike

            Shabdavihara’ is a collection of articles with etymological research as its focus. Many rare and hither to mysterious Kannada words found in our literary epics are taken up and their meaning revealed after a long and painstaking journey in the jungle of ancient works. D.L.N.’s scholarship and his familiarity with the cognate languages of Kannada have provided immense help in this task. ‘Kannada Grantha Sampadane’, as mentioned earlier is an eminent introduction to an academic discipline. ‘Pampa Bharatha Deepike’ is a unique work which is very daring in its conception. It’s a commentary on ‘Vikramarjunavijayam’ an enduring classic of Kannada by Pampa. Each and every poem is explicated and examined from different points of observation. He has drawn from various disciplines such as erotica, musicology, medicine etc to arrive at his conclusions. This kind of foundational work goes a long way in stimulating cultural studies. ‘Peethikegalu mattu Lekhanagalu’ (Introductins and Articles) is a huge collection of his research articles on different topics. Many areas that are crucial for literary research are addressed in these writings. The shift in emphasis that has take place during the later half of the twentieth century need not necessarily reduce the importance of this work.

     Narasimhachar is fondly remembered by the Kannada community and he was bestowed with many honors and awards during his life time. He was made the chairman of the Kannada Sahitya Sammelana held at Bidar in 1960. Two felicitation volumes ‘Jnanopasaka’ (jnAnOpAsaka) (1960) and ‘Upayana’ (upAyana) (1967) have come out in his honor. He was awarded Kannada Rajyotsava award in 1967 and his alma mater, the Mysore University conferred a D.Litt. degree in 1969.       

The contribution of D.L.N. needs to be viewed also in terms of the inspiration provided by him to a legion of students who have tried to emulate his work.               

 

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