VENKATA RAO A. (1889-1939) and SHESHA IYYENGAR (1888-1968)


The names of these two scholars are usually taken in tandem because they worked as a team for a long time in the University of Madras before the death of Alemane Venkata Rao in an accident separated them. Some biographical information is provided before we undertake a survey of their work in textual criticism.

Venkata Rao A. (ವೆಂಕಟರಾವ್ ಎ., 1889-1939) whose parents hailed from Andhrapradesh obtained B.A. and L.T. degrees at Mangalore. He worked as a school inspector and as a teacher of mathematics in different parts of Kerala and Karnataka. He was appointed as the first professor in the department of Kannada in the University of Madras in 1927. Sheshayyangar joined him in the same year. They worked diligently with the palm leaf manuscripts that were accumulated there over a period of time and were successful in bringing out many of them in the printed form. He was well versed in Telugu and has translated a novel ‘Chandragupta Chakravarthi’ from that language to simple Kannada.

Sheshayyangar H. (ಶೇಷಯ್ಯಂಗಾರ್ ಎಚ್., 1888-1968) was a scholar in Sanskrit and old Kannada and he gained valuable experience when he worked in the department of epigraphy under the guidance of R.Narasimhachar. He worked in the Oriental Research Institute, Mysore for some time before joining the Madras university in 1927. He was closely involved in the editing of classics of ancient Kannada and published many works with appropriate introductions and appendices. He continued his mission even after the demise of Venkata Rao, in the company of H.S.Ramaswamy Iyyengar and P.Srinivasa Rao. He edited six volumes on his own.

The works edited by these two scholars as a team are as follows:

1. ‘Shanthipuranam’ Ponna 1929 Madras People’s Printing and Publishing House Ltd.

2. ‘Kavirajamargam’ Srivijaya 1930 Karnataka Grantha Male, University of Madras

3. ‘Rasa Ratnakara’ Salva 1932 ------------------------,,,-----------------------------------

4. ‘Abhidana Vastukosha’ Nagavarma-2 1933 ----------------------,, ----------------------------

5. ‘Pushpadanta Purana’ Gunavarma-2 1933 ----------------------,,----------------------------

6. ‘Shabdamanidarpana’ Keshiraja 1930, 38 ----------------------,,,,---------------------------

7. ‘Abhidana Ratnamala’ Bhatta Halayudha 1940 ----------------------,,----------------------------

(Karnataka Teeke) (Nagavarma??)

8. Oshadhii Kosha Not Known 1940 -------------------------,,--------------------------

9. ‘Khagendra Manidarpana’ Mangaraja-1 1942 -----------------------,,---------------------------

It is to be noted that four of the above are published jointly by these two scholars even after the death of Venkata Rao. This could be attributed to the fact that they were working simulataneously on all these texts. Seven out of the nine texts edited by these scholars are knowledge based texts and only ‘Shanthipurana’ and ‘Pushpadantapurana’ are literary texts. The editors have written lengthy and useful introductions for most of the publications. However R.Taataa and H.Chennakeshava Iyengar have written very erudite introductions for “Shanthipurana’ and ‘Shabdamanidarpana’ respectively. Each of these publications has come out with lots of supplementary material and indices where ever necessary. This is particularly true of ‘Kavirajamarga’ and ‘Shabdamanidarpana’. The principles of textual criticism were gradually evolving during those years and these editors have contributed their own mite in the process. Consequently some of their work may require a second look in light of modern developments. (For further material on these editions the reader is directed to the scholarly article by Dr N.S.Taranath in ‘Maniha’, the Dr P.G.Halakatti Centenary Commemoration Volume published B.M.Sri.Prathishtana, Bangalore in 1982)

Sheshayyangar has edited Nagavarma’s ‘Chandombudhi’ with H.S.Ramaswamy Iyyengar in 1967 and ‘Ashva Shastra’ with P.Srinivasa Rao. (‘Asvashastram’ by Abhinavachandra, 1950, Madras Govt. Oriental Series, Madras ) Some of the publications edited solely by Sheshayyangar are as follows:

1.      ‘Lokopakara’ by Chavundaraya, 1950

2.      ‘Parshvanathapurana’ by Parsvapandita, 1960 (Srivatsa Granthamale, Madras )

3.      ‘Neminathapurana’ by Karnaparya, 1940 University of Madras

4.      ‘Rattamatha’ by Ratta Kavi, 1950 ((G.O.M.L.)

5.      ‘Jeeva Sambodhane’ by Bandhuvarma, 1955

6.      ‘Jinakshara Male’ by Ponna, 1940 (Annalas of Oriental research Vol 4 Number 2 )

7.      ‘Manmathavijaya’ by Malla Kavi ??

8.      ‘Kavijihvabandhana’ by Eshvara Kavi, 1939-41 (A.O.R. Vol 3-2, 4-1, 4-2, 5-1)

The contribution of these two gentlemen for the art of textual criticism and their pioneering work in publishing ancient works is to be appreciated .


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