06 August 2017


Traditional Indian panditya (scholarship) has a long and distinguished history, but is now practically extinct. Its decline is remarkably recent — traditional panditya flourished as recently as 150 years ago. The decline is also paradoxical, having occurred precipitously following a broad and remarkable flowering of the tradition between the fifteenth and eighteenth centuries. The important questions this decline poses are the subject of much ongoing work. The intellectual history of the period is still under construction, and the present book represents a major contribution to the edifice.

A notable impediment has been the lack of critical biographies of significant thinkers in this tradition. The importance of personal and social context for reconstructing intellectual histories is widely understood. In the classical Indian intellectual tradition, however, authors systematically exclude such context, making intellectual biography something of a rarity — very rare in English and sparse even in the regional languages.

This book contains translations from the original Kannada of the biographies of Garalapuri Shastri, Shrikanta Shastri, and Kunigala Ramashastri of nineteenth-century Mysore, all representing the highest echelons of traditional panditya at this critical period of transition. Their fields are literature, grammar, and logic, respectively. The biographies focus on the personal lives of these scholars and their many contexts.

These biographies are almost contemporaneous accounts, reflecting first-hand knowledge. The translations are accompanied by copious footnotes as well as appendices drawn from the relevant primary sources.

CHINYA. V. RAVISHANKAR has pursued life-long interests in the humanities as well as in science and technology.  He is Professor of Computer Science & Engineering and Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Education in the Bourns College of Engineering at the University of California, Riverside. He has been on the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science faculty at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor and has a Ph.D. in Computer Sciences from the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

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