A. Venkatasubbaiah (ಎ.ವೆಂಕಟಸುಬ್ಬಯ್ಯ) was a scholar who excelled in various disciplines such as Vedic Studies, History of Kannada literature, Cultural Studies, Astronomy etc. His contributions in English as well as Kannada have received wide recognition.

Venkatasubbaiah was born in Mysore and obtained his B.A. degree in Maharaja’s College. He secured an M.A. degree in Sanskrit from the University of Madras and a degree in Law from the University of Bombay. He went to Germany to pursue higher studies under the guidance of Prof. Muller-Hesse. He obtained a Ph.D. from the Berne University for his dissertation ‘The Kalas’. (1910) This work was published in Madras in 1911. He had an independent spirit and worked for very short stints at Central Hindu College, Benaras, (Lecturer in History) Mythic Society, Bangalore (Section Secretary, Folklore Department) and the Department of Archaeology, Govt. of Mysore.(Assistant Director) He was a freelance researcher for the rest of his life.

Venkatasubbaiah was conversant with Sanskrit, Pali, Prakrit, Tamil, English, German, French and Dutch. Many of his articles are published in more than one language. International scholars have quoted extensively from his works particularly in the areas of his expertise such as ‘Panchatantra Studies’. He has written about ten books in English and Kannada. He has published about seventy seminal research papers in National and Inter National Journals. A list of his books and an abridged list of his published articles related to Karnataka Studies are provided here:



1.      The Kalas’, 1911

2.      ‘Some shaka Dates in Inscriptions’, 1918.

3.      ‘Vedic Studies’, Volume-1, 1932.

4.      ‘Vedic Studies’, 1952, Kuppuswamy Shastry Research Institute, Madras.

5.      ‘Contributions to the Interpretations of the Rgveda, 1967,

6.      ‘Vedic Studies’, Volume-2, 1968.

7.      ‘The Essays on the Gita’, (With others) (Translation from Maharshi Aravinda)

8.      ‘Satyaloka in Rgveda: A Study’, 1974

9.      ಕೆಲವು ಕನ್ನಡ ಕವಿಗಳ ಜೀವನಕಾಲವಿಚಾರ’, 1927

10. ಮನುಧರ್ಮಸಾರ’’, (ಆನುವಾದ), 1943.


1.      ‘Panchatantra of Durgasimha’, 1930. (In German)

2.      ‘Adipurana and Brhatkatha’, 1929, Indian Historical Quarterly-v

3.      ‘ The Battle of Soratur’, 1928, IHQ, iv

4.      ‘Chronology of Western Chalukyas of Kalyani’, 1918, Indian Antiquary , 47.

5.      ‘Kadamba Prakrit Inscriptions of Malavalli’, 1917, IA 5.

6.      ‘Religious Catholicism in Medieval India’ 1936, Dr S. Krishnaswamy Iyyangar Comm. Volume, Madras.

1.      ‘The Twelfth Century University in Mysore’, 1917, Quarterly Journal of the Mythic Society, Bangalore.

The Vedic scholarship of Venkatasubbaiah focused on the etymological delineation of many difficult terms in the Vedas. He did not pay much attention to the historical and sociological contexts. He suggested new methods in determining the chronology of historical events by making use of more than one system of astrological calculations. His work in tracing various traditions of ‘The Panchatantra’ across the globe is truly pioneering and he is deemed to be an authority in that area. He had a long standing feud with his mentor R. Narasimhachar and wrote an entire book discussing the period and biography of many Kannada authors. He had an open mind and corrected himself whenever the occasion demanded it.

All in all, the contribution of Dr Venakatasubbaiah was as important in the Pan Indian situation as in the context of the culture of Karnataka.


Further Reading:

1.      ಮಾರ್ಗದರ್ಶಕ ಮಹನೀಯರು, ಟಿ.ವಿ. ವೆಂಕಟಾಚಲಶಾಸ್ತ್ರೀ, 2002, ಸಪ್ನ ಬುಕ್ ಹೌಸ್, ಬೆಂಗಳೂರು.


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