GOVINDA PAI M., 1883-1963


Mangaluuru Govinda Pai, (mangaLUru gOvinda pai) (ಮಂಗಳೂರು ಗೋವಿಂದ ಪೈ) a well known poet and playwright in Kannada. He was deeply interested in Kannada language and literature and worked ceaselessly to extend the boundaries of knowledge in these areas. He was born in Manjeshvara a small town in Kasaragod district which belongs to Kerala after the formation of linguistic states. He pursued University education in Madras for some time before it was cut short by his father’s premature death. He took a decision to settle down in his native place and devoted his entire life to literary activities. He learnt many languages such as Kannada, Konkani, Maleyalam, Marathi, Pali, Prakrit, Ardhamagadhi, Hindi, Bengali, Japanese, Greek and Latin. He has translated many plays from Japanese.

Even though Govinda Pai was a talented creative writer, this note lays an emphasis on his research activities. He was interested in many areas such as the history of Konkani people and that of Tulu region. Antiquity of Kannada land and culture was one of his enduring passions. He has evinced keen interest in fixing the chronology of ancient Kannada writers. He has written about the history of ‘VAkATakas’ of the Vindhyas and the Pallavas of Tamilnadu.

Govinda Pai, was the first writer in Kannada to reveal the presence of some words purportedly in Kannada in a Greek play. (Ancient Greek comedy "Aksirinkas Pappyri") It contained some Kannada words like ‘habba, terige, samrakshisu, ettu, ose’ etc. This has been dated to first century BC. Govinda Pai felt that the existence of these words provides documentary evidence to take the antiquity of Kannada to the pre-Christian era. Even Halmidi Inscription is much more ancient than 450 A.D. according to Govinda Pai. He has conducted research about the biographical details of many Kannada poets such as Pampa , Ranna Nagachandra, Kumaravyasa, Lakshmeesha, Ratnakaravarni and Parti Subba. Govinda Pai is prone to assign periods that are more antiquated than those that are usually agreed upon. However his surmises about the Greek play deserve a more serious study. Some scholars have contended that those words belong to Tulu rather than Kannada. Govinda Pai has also found many Kannada place names such as Baadamai, Moudgal etc in the works of Ptolemy the Greek astronomer and geographer.

Konkanis, according to Govinda Pai are migrants from the banks of the ancient Sarasvathi River in Punjab. Konkani is derived from Ardha Magadhi rather than Marathi which is of a later origin. His article ‘Flashes from the Past’ throws light on this issue. This book was later published in Kannada as ‘Namma hiriyarannu kuritu’ (About our elders.) He has delineated the history of Tulu nadu by focusing on the Alupa dynasty that ruled in the coastal Karnataka in Karnataka uninterruptedly between the second and the fifteenth centuries. He has published vastly on the history of important royal dynasties of Karnataka such as Punnatas, Kadambas, Gangas and Satavahanas. He has tried to prove that the king, who accompanied the Jaina sage Bhadrabahu Bhatara to Shravana Belagola, was not Chandragupta Maurya but Samprati Chandragupta who ruled in Ujjain during 520 B.C. He has delved in to the historical details about the Shivasharanas of the twelfth century such as Basaveshvara, Devara Dasimaiah and Marulasidda. He has contributed hundreds of articles to literary journals and periodicals. All of them are now colleted in a single volume that runs to 1550 pages.

He had the honor of chairing the 34th Kannada Literary Conference held in Bombay in 1950. He was declared as the ‘Rashtra Kavi’, by the Government of Madras in 1950. ‘Deevige’ is felicitation volume presented to him.

A short list of his publications is appended to this note.


a)     Poetry: 1. ‘Gilivindu’ (giLivinDu)

2. ‘Nandadeepa (nandAdIpa)

3. ‘Hrudayaranga’ (hrudayaranga)

4. ‘Golgotha mattu Vaishakhi’ (golgothA mattu vaishAKi’

b) Plays: 1. ‘Hebberalu’, (hebberaLu)

2. ‘Chitrbhanu’, (citraBAnu)

3. ‘Entu noh natkagalu’ (enTu nOh nATakagaLu)

c) Research: 1. ‘Muru Upanyasagalu’ (mUru upnyAsagLu), Madras University ,

2. ‘ Govinda Pai Samshodhanasamputa’ (gOvinda pai samshOdhana samputa) edited by H.Krishnabhat, published by

3. ‘Indiana studies in Indian culture, history, and civilisation’ by Govinda Pai, Manjeshwar Published in 1997, Rashtrakavi Govind Pai Samshodhana Kendra (Udupi, Karnataka, India) Prabhu, M. Mukunda., Krishnabhatta, Herañje.


References: 1. ‘M. Govind Pai, a Man of Letters’, By Ā Ne Upādhye, Adinath Neminath Upadhye, 1976, Published by Gokhale Institute of Public Affairs, Bangalore.

2. Govind Pai by M. Thirumaleshwara Bhat, 1993, Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi

3. Mahakavi Govinda Pai, by Kayyāra Kiññaṇṇa Rai, 2001, Published by Basti Prakashana

4. Govinda Pai, By Venkatesha Madhvarao Inamdar, 1983, Published by Institute of Kannada Studies, University of Mysore, 1983

5. ‘Badukiddarilli Govinda Pai’ by K.S.Haridasa Bhat, Rashtrakavi Govind Pai Samshodhana Kendra (Udupi, Karnataka , India )


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