MUGALI R.S., 1906-1993


Ranganatha Srinivasa Mugali, (ranganAtha srInivAsa mugaLi) (ರಂಗನಾಥ ಶ್ರೀನಿವಾಸ ಮುಗಳಿ) was one of the most well known literary historians of Kannada literature. His fame rests almost entirely on the ‘History of Kannada Literature’ (ಕನ್ನಡ ಸಾಹಿತ್ಯ ಚರಿತ್ರೆ) written by him in 1953, even though he was a critic, scholar, creative writer and an eminent teacher. ಕನ್ನಡ ಸಾಹಿತ್ಯ ಚರಿತ್ರೆ’ continues to be an authentic reference work more than fifty years after its publication.

Mugali was born in the town Hole Aluru (hoLe AlUru) in Ron talluk of Gadag district. He received early education in places such as Bagalakote and Bijapur. There was a temporary break in academics due to his pre occupations with the Independence movement. He obtained a B.A. degree in Sanskrit and an M.A. degree in Kannada from the University of Bombay . He joined the Willingdon College in Sangli in Maharashtra as a lecturer in Kannada in 1933 and retired from that institution as its Principal. He was the Professor and the Director of the Kannada Studies Centre in the University of Bangalore during 1967-1970. He was awarded a D.Litt. degree by the University of Poona for his ‘ಕನ್ನಡ ಸಾಹಿತ್ಯ ಚರಿತ್ರೆ’. He was the executive editor of the volumes of history of Kannada literature published by the Bangalore University . (‘ಸಮಗ್ರ ಕನ್ನಡ ಸಾಹಿತ್ಯ ಚರಿತ್ರೆಯ ಸಂಪುಟಗಳು)

He was a core member of the ‘geLeyara gumpu’, (Friends’ Circle) an informal group of writers and scholars from North Karnataka who strove hard to further the cause of Kannada literature and culture, under the inspirational leadership of D.R. Bendre. His continuous engagement with ancient and medieval Kannada literature motivated him to write a history of Kannada literature. This was a pioneering effort in many respects. He has collected the data meticulously and edited it to suit the needs of a scholar as well as those of a serious student of literature. This work is a balanced combination of literary research and criticism. He has collated his facts in an impassionate manner and subjected in to analysis and criticism. This is indisputably the first individual effort of its kind. It takes in to consideration various aspects such as historical and social conditions, biographical details of the poet and the histories of genres and style. However the emphasis is always on the literary work and its thematic and formal antecedents. It is but natural that many debates have arisen about the tone and tenor of the work in later decades. But the contribution of the author in molding the sensibilities and pedagogic practices of generations of students and teachers has never been in doubt. The book has seen any number editions and reprints.

Mugali’s panache for literary forms has resulted in the volume ‘Kannada Sahitya Rupagalu’. (kannaDa sAhitya rUpagaLu) The evolution and the distinctive features of various literary genres and metrical forms of Kannada constitute the focus of this work. He has written a number of critical articles on the Kannada writers of the bygone era. ‘Kannada Sahityada Itihasa’ (Kannada sAhityada itihAsa) is another attempt in literary history and this includes modern Kannada literature also. This volume was translated in to many Indian Languages and English. ‘Heritage of Karnataka’ traces the evolution of the culture of Karnataka.

His interest in creative activity is reflected in a number of poetry collections, plays and novels. A brief list of his important works related to ancient and medieval Kannada is appended.


1.      ಕನ್ನಡ ಸಾಹಿತ್ಯ ಚರಿತ್ರೆ’, 1953, Usha sahitya Male, Mysore

2.      ಕನ್ನಡ ಸಾಹಿತ್ಯದ ಇತಿಹಾಸ’, (History of Kannada Literature, 1968) Sahitya Academy , New Delhi

3.      ಕನ್ನಡ ಸಾಹಿತ್ಯದ ರೂಪಗಳು

4.      ರನ್ನನ ಕೃತಿರತ್ನ

5.      ಕನ್ನಡ ಸಾಹಿತ್ಯದಲ್ಲಿ ಸರಸ್ವತಿಯ ದರ್ಶನ

6.      ತವನಿಧಿ

7.      ‘Heritage of Karnataka’

8.      ‘History of Kannada Literature’

9.      ಕನ್ನಡ ಕಾವ್ಯಸಂಚಯ

‘bALuri‘, ‘anna’, ‘kAraNapuruSa’ and ‘agnivarNa’ are his novel and ‘kanasina kannike’ is a solitary collection of short stories. ‘Jeevanarasika’ is his auto biography. He has written a number of plays and poems. His contributions related to modern Kannada literature and the theory of criticism are not discussed in this note.

Dr Mugali has received many honors and accolades during his literary career. Sahitya Academy Award, (1956, for ‘ಕನ್ನಡ ಸಾಹಿತ್ಯ ಚರಿತ್ರೆ’) Chairmanship of the 46th Kannada Literary Conference held in Tumakur in 1963 and the ‘Rajyotsava Prashasti’ given by the Government of Karnataka are the more prominent ones among them. ‘Rasikaranga darshana’ (1966, Usha Sahitya Male, Mysore ) is the name of the felicitation volume presented to this scholar.



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