Hundred years of Mysore Varsity Philosophy Dept.
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Hundred years of Mysore Varsity Philosophy Dept.

October 11, 2023
  • Title:  “Hundred Years of Philosophy in Mysore University – An Overview”
  • Editors : Dr. S. Venkatesh and Dr. V.N. Sheshagiri Rao
  • Year:  2021
  • Pages: 296
  • Publisher:  Chairman, Department of Studies in Philosophy, University of Mysore, Manasagangothri, Mysuru- 570 006

By Gouri Satya, Sr. Journalist

The Department of Philosophy, University of Mysore, is as old as the University itself. The University was established on July 27, 1916. The Department came into existence the following year under the stewardship of Prof. A.R. Wadia.

Prof. Wadia had his higher education in Oxford and Cambridge. He reported to duty as Professor and Head of the Department on Jan. 1, 1917. Before that, there was a make-shift department                    with one tutor, Prof. Hiriyanna (1871-1950), widely known for his deep knowledge of Sanskrit.

After Prof. Wadia, Dr. Brajendranath Seal, a distinguished personality, became the Vice-Chancellor. He was himself a Professor of Philosophy and great Indologist from Calcutta and a classmate of Swami Vivekananda. He re-framed the Philosophy syllabus at the University.

Over a century, the Department has seen many stalwarts, who have brought fame to the Department and the University. They have taught hundreds of students in Philosophy, many of whom have contributed to the Indian thought of philosophy. Distinguished among them was none other than Dr. S. Radhakrishnan, who later became the President of India.

He joined the staff of the Department as an additional Professor. It was here that he wrote his book “Philosophy of Rabindranath Tagore”. Within a short period of three years at the University, he took the Department to national and international fame.

The other learned teachers included Professors K.R. Srinivasa Iyengar, M.A. Venkata Rao, G. Hanumantha Rao, Y.J. Padmarajaiah, T.A. Purushottam, N.A. Nikam, M. Yamunacharya, H.N. Raghavendrachar, H.K. Raja Rao, C.V. Srinivasa Murthy, Muddalinganna, M.N. Narasimhan, A.D. Mendonza, S.S. Raghavachar, S. Rangachar, H.T. Shanta, K.B. Ramakrishna Rao, C. Parvathamma, G. Srinivasan, A.L. Shivarudrappa, D.L. Patil, Srinivasa Rao and many others.

To mark its hundred years, the Department conducted a three-day national seminar from March 22 to 24, 2018. It was inaugurated by Prof. S. L. Bhyrappa, former Professor of Philosophy and Saraswathi Samman awardee. The valedictory address was delivered by Prof. B. Sheik Ali, former Professor of History and former Vice-Chancellor of Mangalore and Goa Universities. Now the proceedings of the seminar have been brought out under the title, “Hundred Years of Philosophy in Mysore University – An Overview.” The book is edited by Dr. S. Venkatesh and Dr. V.N. Sheshagiri Rao.

Scholars were invited to present papers on various aspects of 100 years of Philosophy at the University. Reminiscing how he took up the study of Philosophy, Dr. Bhyrappa recalls, in his address, that Dr. Purushottam Naidu, who was the head of the joint Department of Philosophy and Sociology and also the Principal of Maharaja’s College, had a dislike for Philosophy. He called Dr. Bhyrappa and said, “Young man, your scores are excellent. But you may not know that Philosophy bakes no bread. Take Sociology. You will have a lot of job opportunities.”

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Dr. Bhyrappa replied immediately, “Sir if Philosophy does not bake any bread, I will open a bakery and earn my bread. But I want to study Philosophy.” However, he later took to literature beginning with ‘Vamshavriksha’, finding perusing D Litt “dry” and creative literature “full of rasa.”

In his valedictory address, Prof. Sheik Ali spoke on the ‘History of Philosophy’ and analysed how Philosophy is related to history. “The Seminar is really history and created history in the University,” he remarked.

The book has nearly 50 papers presented by scholars, former students and relatives of the former Professors who served in the Department. They trace how the Professors of the Department enriched Philosophy by their thoughts and works. 

Prof. Yadurajan describes Prof. A.R. Wadia as the most humane and exemplary philosopher. Belief in Karma and reincarnation were basic to his philosophy of life. Prof. Radhakrishnan’s philosophy centred around mainly three concepts — spirit, religion and intuition. These were the key concepts of his philosophy, says Prof. V.N. Sheshagiri Rao.

Speaking about Prof. M. Hiriyanna, a towering intellectual who was called the saint of Maharaja’s College, Dr. Sibnath Sarma says Philosophy for Prof. Hiriyanna was a quest for perfection and a study of values. 

Acharya Brajendra Nath Seal, a multi-dimensional genius of India, made known Indian philosophy to the world at large, especially the West, where there was a misconception, explains Dr. Bhupendra Chandra Das. Speaking about Panditaratnam Lakshmipuram Srinivasacharya, Prof. V.N. Sheshagiri Rao says he was for seeking and doing equal justice to every Darshana. Prof. K.S. Yadurajan and Dr. N. Chinnaswamy describe Prof. K.R. Sreenivasa Iyengar as one of the most outstanding academic philosophers of 20th-century India. D. Krishna Murthy observes that Prof. G. Hanumantha Rao was a multi-faceted personality. He founded the Mysore University Prasaranga. G.H. Krishnamurthy, G.R. Shylaja and Bharati Kasaragod also made presentations about Prof. Hanumantha Rao and said he had underlined the need to bring harmony between Philosophy and Science.

According to Prof. M.A. Venkata Rao, says Dr. V.N. Sheshagiri Rao, there was a wealth of philosophical material in India waiting to be analysed and interpreted. H.R. Ramachandra observes that Prof. H.N. Raghavendrachar believed that Dvaita had a message of peace and goodness to the whole world which is riddled with anxiety, frustration and insecurity. Prof. K.B. Prabhu Prasad touches upon the contribution of Prof. T.A. Purushottam. While Dr. S. Shailaja Nikam writes about her father, Prof. N.A. Nikam and how he made an impact on her, Prof. V.K. Nataraj observes that the most significant achievement during his term as the Vice-Chancellor was making the new post-graduate campus, Manasagangothri, functional. “It is a pity that the University has not commemorated the contribution of Prof. Nikam appropriately,” he laments. Prof. V.N. Sheshagiiri Rao also recalls Prof. Nikam’s contribution to making Manasagangothri functional, a great milestone in the history of Mysore University.

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M.S. Iyengar reminiscences about Prof. M. Yamunacharya. Prof. Yamunacharya was very close to Maharaja Jayachamaraja Wadiyar, who invited him and celebrated his birthday. Prof. Yamunacharya assisted the Maharaja in writing his famous book, “The Philosophy of Dattatreya.” M. Govinda Prasad, Dr. D. Kumar and Prof. R. Vishweshwaran also spoke about Prof. Yamunacharya. Her father, Prof. C.V. Srinivasa Murthy, says Prof. C.S. Kamala, was a man of religious thoughts, but he was not for ritualistic practices. Prof. K.B. Prabhu Prasad writes, for Prof. H.K. Raja Rao Vedanta was as high as any other Western system of Philosophy. Dr. V.N. Sheshagiri Rao says Prof. S. Rangachar’s fields of interest were Ethics and Moral Philosophy. He also highlights the contribution of Prof. Y.J. Padmarajaiah. Prof. V. Muddalinganna is of the view that Vedic tradition is mostly a tradition of moral thought.

N.G. Mahadevappa describes Prof. S.S. Raghavachar as the “Modern Vacaspati Mishra.” Prof. Raghavachar’s knowledge was so vast he could speak on any of the Vedanta Darshana with authority, says Prof. V.N. Sheshagiri Rao. Prof. M.A. Jalihal describes Prof. L.V. Rajagopal’s keen interest in the study of A.N. Whitehead’s Philosophy which prompted him to produce a voluminous Ph.D thesis. Prof. M.V. Sridhara writes about some aspects of the English Mathematician and Philosopher, Whitehead. Shubhada recalls memories of her grandmother, Prof. H.T. Shanta, while Dr. V.N. Sheshagiri Rao highlights Prof. Shanta’s devotion to Bhagavata. Prof. R.I. Ingalalli chose the subject “The Eastern and Western View about Philosophical Scepticism,” while Prof. P.B. Bhat the “Nature of Metaphysical Statements.”

Describing Prof. M.N. Narasimhan as a “noble thinker, visionary and his communication was direct, clear and sharp,” M.K. Krishna says he had a unique love, Bhakti and faith in Acharya Bhagawad Ramanuja. Dr. H.M. Mallikarjunaswamy writes on the contribution of Prof. M.N. Narasimhan to Philosophy. K.R. Vijayalakshmi pays tributes to her father, Prof. K.B. Ramachandra Rao. Prof. Pradhan Gurudatt and Prof. U.A. Vinay Kumar also write about Prof. Ramachandra Rao, while K.V. Shivaswami on Prof. Ramakrishna Rao and Bhagavad Gita.

K.L. Padmini observes, according to Prof. Srinivasan, God is significant in any philosophical system. A philosopher needs God as the principle of explanation of coherence, regularity and orderliness which he finds in the universe. According to G.R. Nandan, Prof. Srinivasa Rao advocated the separation of religion from philosophy. He was of the opinion that interpretations coupled with religion were largely responsible for our (mis)understanding of schools of philosophy which continues unabated even today.

Others whose papers are included in the book are H.R. Shankaranarayana (about Prof. A. L. Shivarudrappa), Prof. Satyanarayana (Dr. C. Parvathamma), Prof. K.M. Poonacha (Prof. A.D. Mendonza), Dr. C.P. Ramasesh (Prof. D.L. Patil) and Dr. S. Venkatesh (V.N. Sheshagiri Rao).

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