Sunday, March 19, 2017

Review of J. D. M. Derrett's "The Hoysalas: A Medieval Indian Royal Family" by S. Srikanta Sastri


The Hoysalas of Mysore occupy an important place in the annals of South India for nearly two and a half centuries. South India was divided between the two great empires of the Western Chalukyas of Kalyani and the Cholas at the rise of the Hoysala power in Southern Mysore and the Hoysalas in the south and the Chalukyas, the Yadavas of Devagiri, the Cholas, the Pandyas, the Kalachuryas and minor dynasties, before the Muslim invasions. The Hoysalas themselves were destined to be eclipsed by the Vijayanagara Empire, which for the first time brought the country south of the Krishna under a single rule.

The long reign of Vikramaditya VI saw the rise of powerful subordinate dynasties like the Yadavas of Devagiri in the northern part of Karnataka, the Kalachuryas in the centre, the Hoysalas in the south and the Kakatiyas in the east. To reconstruct the history of the Hoysalas the whole context should be kept in view and the sources, literary and archaeological, should be critically evaluated. Since Fleet and Lewis Rice collected the Karnataka inscriptions, numerous epigraphs and literary works in Samskrit, Kannada, Telugu and Tamil, as well as Persian and Arabic, have come to light. Dr. Derrett acknowledges that the vast material should be carefully sifted before a full-scale work on the dynasties of Karnataka will be possible. Further he has not utilised important Kannada works and the articles published in Kannada. Even the Persian and Arabic sources like the writings of Amir Khusru and Ibn Battuta have not been critically studied in the light of Kannada sources and inscriptions. Chronology is very important because the reconstruction of the history of the contemporary dynasties depends upon it. To take one instance, the battle of Soratur is an important landmark in the history of the Hoysalas. Ballala II defeated Yadava Bhillama in that battle and assumed imperial titles for the first time in Hoysala history. There is absolutely no warrant for the assumption that the Yadavas of Devagiri were Mahrattas making war on Kannadigas. The Yadavas down to Yadava Kannara use Kannada in their inscriptions and only from the time Kannara and Mahadeva we have short Marathi inscriptions.

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Sunday, December 25, 2016

H. Y. Sharada Prasad

Holenarsipur Yoganarasimham Sharada Prasad (H. Y. Sharada Prasad) was a well known freedom fighter, journalist, translator and a press information advisor to four Indian Prime Ministers – Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru (H. Y. S was editing ‘Yojana’ - a Government of India publication at that time), Mrs. Indira Gandhi, Sri Moraji Desai and Rajiv Gandhi. He was born on 15th of April, 1924 to Sri H. Yoganarasimham and Smt. Saraswathamma. His father was an erudite Sanskrit scholar and a musicologist. Mother was a well known social worker who was one of the founders of “Makkala Koota” at Bangalore & Mysore.

H. Y. Sharada Prasad came into prominence during his B. A. (Hons.) student days at Maharaja College, Mysore. He was a brilliant student of English Literature and a debater. He was also president of the student union. He was taught by such eminent professors as J. C. Rollo, S. Srikanta Sastri and A. N. Murthy Rao. As a student leader, he was deeply involved in the 1942 Quit India movement. He was arrested and jailed in Mysore & Bangalore prisons twice during his college days. He spent totally sixteen months in jail from 10 August, 1942 to December 1942 and from 20 February, 1943 to 9 December 1943. In his prison diary (A Window on the Wall), he has narrated his encounters with other great leaders and the depressing atmosphere of an Indian prison. His B. A. (Hons.) education was resumed after he was released from jail. H. Y. Sharada Prasad later got married to Smt. Kamalamma – a contemporary of his while at Maharaja’s College, Mysore and a honours graduate in Psychology.

H. Y. Sharada Prasad who was called ‘Shouri’ by near and dear ones left for Bombay to pursue a career in Journalism in ‘The Indian Express Group’. During 1955 – 56, he was ‘Nieman Fellow’ in Journalism at Harvard University. After this stint, he moved on to New Delhi to take up the post of Assistant Editor of ‘Yojana’ – a journal of Planning Commission of India. During this period, by organizing an exhibition on India’s Economic Development, he caught the attention of Prime Minister Nehru. Later, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi invited him to join PMO as an Information Adviser. After Emergency, when Morarji Desai became Prime Minister, he continued to hold his post despite a sea of change in the PMO. After the return of Mrs. Gandhi to power in 1980, Shouri continued to be her confidante counselor. When Rajiv Gandhi became PM after his mother’s assassination, Shouri continued to serve him for some time. Sharada Prasad was instrumental in the establishment of The Indian Institute of Mass Communication and The National Institute of Design. His close proximity to the powerful personalities did not alter his character. He remained humble, modest and simple as ever.

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