Here is the recording of a talk I gave recently. Do check it out!

Here’s a video of an introductory talk about Bharta Muni’s Natyashastra, the earliest Indian work about performing arts:

(This is the text of a speech I made this weekend at an event celebrating the composers from Karnataka. Throughout the article, the honorifics for all the composers and musicians are not mentioned. This is not to be treated as any mark of disrespect. A link to the speech is also provided at the end. I had to cut some parts while speaking because I was going over time! So the thought of sharing the complete script I made in preparation to the speech is posted here. Also, I have only mentioned a partial list of composers, due to the limitations on time, as well as my awareness)

Good afternoon rasikas.

It’s great feeling to be with the artists and the rasikas, celebrating the vaggeyakaras from Karnataka, here at the Livermore temple. I am sure you have all enjoyed the dance performances and are looking forward for the vocal and Veena performances. I am very pleased to share some of my observations with you all.

The term ‘vaggeyakara’ refers to someone who creates both the mAtu and dhatu, i.e. both the lyrical and musical content of a composition. It encompasses a larger meaning than the English word composer, which normally refers to the creation of the music part only. However, today I may use the word Vaggeyakara and composer somewhat interchangeably.

We can see indications of Indian classical music splitting into two streams by the 13th century.

The split probably started right after the time of Sharngadeva, who wrote his text Sangita Ratnakara. By the time of Pandarika Vithala, around 1600 CE, we can sense the split having been completed, making the two streams quite distinct and distinguishable from each other. The name Karnataka Sangeeta is a more recent entry though. One of the reasons that this stream was called Karnataka sangeeta seems to be the contribution of musicians,scholars and vaggeyakaras hailing from the Karnata samrajya or the Vijayanagara empire.

Throughout India’s history, there have been been different centers of music and culture. The contribution of musicians who hailed from current day Karnataka region is immense. The Vijayanagara kingdom, centered in current day Karnataka was a hub for arts and culture. Performing artists from various places made their way to Vijayanagara to get the royal support.

Sage Vidyaranya, who was instrumental in the establishment of the kingdom, was a musician himself and musicologist of merit. The first indications of classifications of Ragas in to melas (or groups) can be attributed to him. The latter day scholars and performers from Vijayanagara enhanced the textual framework of Vidyaranya. The Kalanidhi vyakhyana to Sangita Ratnakara by Kallinatha, the Swaramela Kalanidhi by his grandson Ramamatya give a good indication about the musical practices during the Vijayanagara times (14th to 16th century).

Music is a performance oriented art where shastra (i.e. theory) follows prayoga (or performance). New experiments happen all the time, and once they are accepted by rasikas, they get codified into texts and treatises. All these shastrakaras (i.e musicologists) could not have existed in vacuum. Those works became necessary to document what was going around them. While Indian classical music is manodharma or improvisation oriented, it is also true they need good compositions to anchor these improvisational ideas.

I wanted to clarify one thing — If the texts seem to come from royal patronage, it does not mean music was limited to royalty , but it only means that their patronage was necessary to write and preserve such works documenting the active music scene in the society of those times. The corpus of musical texts from the 15th/16th century Vijayanagara only confirms us that there was no dearth of performers or composers during this time, and it could not have been a limited royal engagement only.

Back in the 12th century, even before Vidyaranya, we have some indication that at least some vachans of shivasharanas of Karnatala were sung, from the internal evidence from vachanas of Akkamahadevi and Basavanna. But we absolutely have no idea about how they might have been sung. One or two centuries later, almost contemporary to Vidyaranya and Kallinatha, there were a host of Haridasas who revolutionized music as we know it. Unfortunately the original melodic structure of most Haridasa compositions is only known in their skeletal form, and the contemporary renditions of devaranamas are more modeled after much later compositions.

Haridasas introduced a lot of new types of compositions, including the Ugabhoga and Suladi.Starting off with Narahari tirtha, we later had Sripadaraya , Vyasaraya, Purandara dasa, Kanakadasa, Vijayadasa and a host of other haridasas who composed thousands of compositions from the 13th to the 19th century. Although we can’t say for sure, Sripadaraja was probably the first vaggeyakara who thought concepts like Ragamudre (raga signature), and sing a pada as a ragamalika. In a devarnama laali govinda laali, he has 3 charanas that indicate the rajamudra as devagandhara, ananda bhairavi and Kalyani.

The center of Karnataka sangeeta moved from Vijayananagara to Thanjavur after the fall of the empire. The beginning of the Thanjavur tradition can be traced back to Vijayanagara too. Thanjavur was given as a principality to Cevvappa Nayaka by Achyutaraya,the king of Vijayanagara. Ministers of The nayaks of Tanjavur such as Govinda dikshita and his son, the well known Venkatamakhi not only were able administrators but they were also expert musicians and musicologists.

We can easily say Venkatamakhi,who was also a Kannadiga, with his work Chaturdandi prakashika written around 1650 CE, sort of paved the way for new thinking in terms of the creation of new ragas in Karnataka sangeeta. In the 18th century, we know that haridasa compositions were very popular in Thanjavur. It’s well documented that Tyagaraja was very influenced by Purandara dasa’s devaranamas. Knowing that how the Karnataka Sangeeta trimurtis, Tyagaraja, Mudduswami Dikshita and Syama Shastry have influenced our music post 18th century, and the fact that the work of Venkatamakhi was instrumental in setting up them to do what they did with our music, tells a lot about the influence Venkatamakhi on Karnataka Sangeeta as we know it today.

With the taking over of Thanjavur by the British, the cultural hub again shifted to Mysuru. Now the Odeyars of Mysuru, similar to the Nayakas and Bhosales of Thanjavur, were not only patrons of music and arts, they were practitioners themselves. Mummadi Krishnaraja Odeyar himself was a compose of merit. Nalvadi Krishnaraja odeyar was trained in music too. And the last maharaja of mysore, Sri Jayachamaraja Odeyar could be called as the real jewel in the crown of this family. He has composed about a hundred kritis. Taking a cue from the style of Muthuswami Dikshitar in the usage of Samskrta as the medium for lyrics,use of madhyama kala sahitya etc, and on the other side following Tyagaraja in the choice of ragas, and also innovation in trying out unheard melodies, his compositions have become quite popular over the decades.

Of course the courts of Krishnaraja Odeyar and Jayachamaraja odeyar in the first half of 20th century encouraged and hosted a great many composers such as Mysore Vasudevacharya, Harikesanallur Muthiah Bhagavatar, Mysore Sadashivarayar & Veene sheshanna whose compositions are very well known and popular today.The influence of trinity is invariably seen in the compositions during Mysore court.

Even the composition type Javali, apparently came into vogue in the Mysore court post Tippu times. And,  although we normally associate Tyagaraja with the ‘invention’ of the new form of composition we call as kriti these days, almost 120 years before Tyagaraja, a poet called Govinda Vaidya, in one of his Kannada works talks about musicians singing kritis!

Veene Sheshanna (Image taken from Wikipedia)

Apart from them there were other composers like Veena Venkatagiriyappa,Veena Venkatasubbaiah , Veena Shamanna, Veena Subbanna, Bidaram Krishnappa , T Chowdayya, Veena Raja Rao, Belakavadi Srinivasa Iyengar and Veena Shivaramaiah. The last two are notable for having to have composed in all 72 raganga ragas.

By this time, it was the end of Royal Mysore but thankfully the vaggeyakara tradition has continued. N Channakeshvaiah and C Rangaiah, both disciples of Mysore Vasudevacharya composed many varnas, krtis, ragamalikas and tillanas. Sri D Subbaramaiah — and his disciples Smt Vasantha Madhavi and Sri Ramaratnam are both composers of their own merit. Ballari Sheshachar among the Ballari brothers also has many compositions to his credit.

Many current day performing artists hailing from Karnataka such as Nagamani Srinath, RN.Sreelatha and Padmacharan have composed many compositions. Other performers such as Tirumale Srinivas,R K Padmanabha and Nagavalli Nagaraj have set to music many haridasa and others songs. And Sri T K Govindarao, who has composed may of his own compositions as well as has set many haridasa compositions.

At this point we should also remember the Poet Pu Ti Na who was not a performing artist in the conventional sense but has composed many wonderful compositions in his musical plays such as Gokuka Nirgamana. Poet D V Gundappa also has suggested ragas to the poems in his work Antahpura geete, written about the various madanika sculptures in the Beluru temple. However, I am not sure if the complete melodic structure for the songs were suggested by him.

Thankfully, the trend is still continuing. Ashok Madhav, originally from Karnataka, and a long time Pittsburgh resident has composed several hundred compositions. Srikanth Murthy, from Karnataka, currently in UK has to his credit many compositions in Kannada, Tamizh, Samskrta and Sanketi languages. I am also very happy to say that with the encouragement of the artist community in the Bay Area, I have also had the fortune of composing about 40+ compositions, which include Varna, Swarajathi, Tillana, javali and ragamalikas.

When there are such great compositions of past masters, one may ask what’s the need for new compositions. In fact Sangeeta Kalanidhi Sri R K Srikanthan opined when there are hundreds of great compositions of the composers like Tyagaraja, which are not being sung, there was no need of new compositions as such. I am pretty sure many others would share that opinion too. However, I would like to counter that with this samskrta verse of Jagannath pathak.

कियद्वारं क्रौञ्चा इह न निहता व्याधविशिखैः

परं काव्यं रामायणमिदम् इहैक समुदितम् ।

स कर्ता कालोsसौ स च हृदयवान् सा च कविता

समेत्य द्द्योतन्ते यदि वलति वाणीविलसितम् ॥

Since the beginning of time

How many Krauncha birds have been felled by arrows?
But the Ramayana arose only once.

The concoction of time, a soulful poet and his words

With a touch of Vani’s grace

To brew the broth of heady poetry
(English translation by Suhas Mahesh)

What this verse tells about poetry is also true about a music compositions. We just don’t know when the right situations arise, along with the grace of Goddess Saraswathi. Just for a moment, consider what would have happened if Tyagaraja thought there were plenty of good compositions of Purandara Dasa, Ramadasa and Annamayya, and did not make any of his own! Think what would have happened if Balamuralikrishna and Lalgudi Jayaraman thought there were plenty of excellent compositions of the trinity and did not compose any of theirs! So it is all the more desirable to continue the quest for more and music.

I will conclude with a Kannada translation of the very Samskrta verse. I just replace the word KavitA with rachanA, to make it more generic.

ಕೊಂಚೆವಕ್ಕಿಗಳೆನಿತೊ ಸಿಲುಕಿವೆ ಬೇಡ ಹೊಡೆದಿಹ ಬಾಣಕೆ

ಮುಂಚೆ ರಾಮಾಯಣವು ಮಾತ್ರವು ಹುಟ್ಟಿತೊಂದೇ ಬಾರಿಗೆ

ಕೊಂಚ ಕಾಲವು ಒಳ್ಳೆ ಮನಸಿನ ಕವಿಯ ಪದಗಳ ಜೊತೆಯಲಿ

ಸಂಚುಮಾಡಲುಬೇಕು ಸರಸತಿಯೊಡನೆ ಸೊಬಗಿನ ರಚನೆಗೆ

I would like to thank the organizers for giving an opportunity to share a few things with you all. ಎಂದರೋ ಮಹಾನುಭಾವುಲು ಅಂದರಿಕಿ ವಂದನಮುಲು. ನಮಸ್ಕಾರ

You can also listen to the speech ( with a few sections missing from the text) if you prefer to do so:

Audio recording of the speech

Several weeks ago, thanks to Twitter thread,  I started listing many books that I read over the years, with a small description. Even with the 140 character limit, it was quite easy to keep my list in a single thread.  When I hit the magical number 100 I said that was enough, and concluded with a book that I have partly read – in a way, so as to represent all those books that I want to read in the future!
There is no rhyme or reason why a certain book appears earlier or later. There is no inherent ranking. I just listed as I remembered, at random intervals. I can recall many other books I would have wanted to add here, but I am past the limit I put to myself! There are many other books which I have loved reading, but I have not listed them since I have read them only partially.
When I finished my list, I found I actually listed a few books twice! May be I loved them so much. Later I replaced the doubles with other books with other entries.
I thought sharing this list with other bloggers who may find it interesting.
The whole thing started with the following:
1. ಚೆನ್ನಬಸವನಾಯಕ Chennabasava Nayaka-A novel based on historical events of the 18th century Karnataka by Masti Venkatesha Ayyangar (pen name Srinivasa). I’ve read this book many times.
2: 107 Stories about Chemistry – I read this when at a time I was still learning to read English, probably in my 5th or 6th grade then. Definitely opened me to science world.
3: ಜಗತ್ತುಗಳ ಹುಟ್ಟು ಸಾವು “JagattugaLa huTTu sAvu” Birth & Death of Worlds by R L Narasimhaiah, my introduction to the world of astronomy and astrophysics.
4. AmaruShatakam, in #Samskrta– by Amaru or Amaruka – The first book in Samskrta that I tried reading through Samskrta commentaries. The beauty of the verses prompted me to translate it to Kannada, which is somewhere around the 80% mark as I write this post.
5: ತ್ಯಾಗರಾಜರ ಜೀವನ ಚರಿತ್ರೆ, Biography of Tyagaraja, by Dr V.S.Sampatkumarcharya. Well written to include all known details of his life #music
6: The Complete Works of Sherlock Holmes – First I read many stories in #Kannada translation then in English including the novels #BakerSt
7: ಯುಗಾಂತ, Translation of #IravatiKarve‘s Marathi book ’Yuganta’ – A collection of essays about several main characters of #Mahabharata #MBH
8:ಹಸುರು ಹೊನ್ನು Hasiru Honnu, by #BGLSwamy,A lighthearted read teaching abt Botany. Sorta Memoirs of his stint at Presidency College,Chennai
9: ಹಾದಿಯ ಹಾಡು(IIRC) #Kannada translation of Bangla novel #PatherPanchali– don’t remember the author. Read it long ago.Had all the 3 parts.
10. ಕೃಷ್ಣಕರ್ಣಾಮೃತ Krishnakarnamrta ,in #Sakmskrta original by #Lilashuka. IMO there is no better work that shows the lyrical beauty of #Sanskrit
11. ವಂಶವೃಕ್ಷ – #Vamshavrksha, #SLBhyrappa‘s novel -Another book which I have read multiple times. This is translated to several Indic languages- Read it, don’t watch the pale movie
12. A Tale of Two Cities – by Charles Dickens – It’s been a while I read this but remember me getting lost in it when reading
13.ವೀಣಾಲಕ್ಷಣ ವಿಮರ್ಶೆ Vina Lakshana Vimarshe, a critique musicological text Vinalakshana,by Prof R Satyanarayana-My first read of him _/\_
14.Ragas of Sangita Saramrta – by Prof S R Janaki Raman . If you are into #Indian #Music you MUST read Prof SRJ & Prof R Sathyanarayana _/\_
15. Arthashastra of Kautalya- Read (mostly) in Kannada,some in English-Not that I remember everything. Highly recommended for history buffs
16.ಶಾಂತಲಾ Shanthala #Kannada novel by K V Iyer-Not 100% true to history, but some sections are so vivid & descriptive to take you to 11th C
17. Your Inner Fish by Prof Neil Shubin. This is for you if you are interested in #evolution – And I had the opportunity take a picture with this author!
18: ಭಾಷಾಂತರ ಕಲೆ “The Art of Translation” -A practical, insightful book abt translations (mainly to, and from #Kannada)by DrPradhan Gurudatta – I have a picture taken with this author too, which I will upload 🙂
19: ಸುಭಾಷಿತ ಚಮತ್ಕಾರ – Subhashita Chamatkara by S V Pravameshwara Bhatta-Read when I was 10.Perhaps my inspiration to get into #translation
20: The Lost River: On The Trails of Saraswati by Michel Danino-A must-read for #India #history &civilization buffs. A review here: …
21. ಬೇಂದ್ರೆ ಮೇಘದೂತ – Translation of #Kalidasa‘s #Meghaduta in #Kannada. An exemplary work, showing how to preserve beauty in verse form
22. The Mousetrap and other plays – by #agathachristie -Read them first around 25 years ago, and I have read each play multiple times later
23. ಪರ್ವ – Parva – Surprised this #Kannada novel of #SLBhyrappa had to wait until #23 in here, because it is indeed one my favorite reads
24. ಸಾರ್ಥ – Saartha, also a #Kannada novel of #SLBhyrappa, another great read depicting 8th century India – It’s translated to many langs
25: Swaramela Kalanidhi – Treatise on music by #Ramamatya,minister of Ramaraya, last #Vijayanagara king, English translation RamaswamyIyer
26: ಶರಪಂಜರ – Shara panjara – A #Kannada novel by #Triveni. She was way ahead for her times – and chose to write about topics not tried b4
27:Years of Pilgrimage-Autobiography of Dr Rajaramanna-Read 25 yeras ago,but I don’t remember anything other than he played the piano too!
28. ಎವರೆಸ್ಟ್ ವೀರ – #Kannada #translation of Tenzing Norgay’s autobiography, ‘Man of the
Everest’ – Well translated by Kudali Chidambaram
29: ಜೀವ-ಜೀವನ – “Jeeva-Jeevana” by Shivarama Karanta -Kannada encyclopedia of life sciences, read when I was probably 10 yo, cover to cover
30. Collected Short Stories of #Masti Venkatesha Ayyangar ಮಾಸ್ತಿ ಅವರ ಸಣ್ಣ ಕಥೆಗಳು Around 100 in total, and many are gems – Deserves a thread !
31. She by Ryder Haggard – I must thank #Kannada monthly #Kasturi for publishing abridged versions of many books! Read this in there first!
32. ಪುರುಷೋತ್ತಮ Purushottana, a #Kannada novel by Yashavanta #Chittala Landsharks in Mumbai and intricate family fued and what not.Good read!
33.ಕರ್ನಾಟಕ ಸಂಗೀತ ವಾಹಿನಿ -Karnataka Sangeeta Vahini by Mahamahopadhyaya Ra.Sathyanarayana – for lay readers, but in depth history of Karnataka sangeeta (in general Indian music). Must read for anyone who wants to get a deeper understanding of the traditions, composers and history.
34.The Murder of Roger Ackroyd-One of the best novels of #AgathaChristie, one of the first of her works I read #mystery #murder #fiction
35. ಬೆಳದಿಂಗಳ ಬಾಲೆ -beLadingaLa bAle, translated from Telugu(Yandamuri Virendranath’s novel)-I remember waiting for issues of Sudha to read!
36.ಮಸುಕು ಬೆಟ್ಟದ ಹಾದಿ-masuku beTTada hAdi,novel by M R Dattatri.I know him well!Excellent read,abt a character with a rare medical condition. For those interested , here is a short write up about ಮಸುಕು ಬೆಟ್ಟದ ಹಾದಿ … #ಕನ್ನಡ #ಕಾದಂಬರಿ #ದತ್ತಾತ್ರಿ #ನೆನಪಿನರೋಗ
37.The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Scloot. If you were born after 1961, you almost owe your life to her! #Polio #Vaccine
38: ಹಳಗನ್ನಡ, haLagannada by S Shettar,about the evolution of #Kannada inscriptions-A scholarly work in spite of some biases shown by author
39. ಸಮಸ್ಯೆಯ ಮಗು ಮತ್ತು ಇತರ ಕಥೆಗಳು – A collection of #Kannada short stories by Triveni About one of the stories here …
40: SvapnaVasavadattam – Bhasa’s #Samskrta play in it’s various #Kannada and #English translations. Some day, I will bring this onto stage!
41.ನಿರಂತರ Nirantara #Kannada novel by #KTGatti, read long ago in #Taranga, The hero goes in search of dEvalOka in the Himalayas,and then..
42 : #Aryabhateeyam, of who else but #Aryabhata, in Kannada & English translation. I don’t claim I understood it 100%
43. ಹೊಸತು-ಹೊಸತು A collection of research articles by #ChiMoo Dr Chidananda Murthy, about Karnataka & Kannada culture. Avlbl on Google Play
44.Vedanga Jyotisha of #Lagadha,with Kuppanna Sastry’s critic and txn. A concise(& oldest) text of #Indian #Astronomy
45. ಶ್ರೀರಾಮ ಪಟ್ಟಾಭಿಷೇಕ SriRamaPattabhisheka-Geetaroopaka of #PuTiNa. Had the fortune of taking a role in few performances too! #music #drama
46.Kon-Tiki Expedition memoir by Thor Heyerdahl(Read in #Kannada translation)Sometimes wrong theories may lead to unbelievable things! #Life
47. Arctic Home in the #Vedas-Balgangadhar #Tilak, Another case of wrong theories leading to alternate thinking and ultimately #truth #life
48.The Thirukkural -Translated versions(English,Kannada)read long back, that I forget who the translators are.Worldly wisdom for all times!
49. ಸುಭಾಷಿತ ಮಂಜರೀ Subhadhita Manjari – A collection of #Samskrta #subhashitas from various sources, in #Kannada prose style translation
50. ಗೃಹಭಂಗ Grhabhanga, novel by #SLbhairappa. Translated into many Indian languages. The dialect used is close to my hometown’s #Kannada
51. Chaturdandi Prakashika -Musicological work in #Samskrta by #Venkatamakhi a kannadiga minister in Tanjavur court, original & translations
52. ತಂತು tantu, a novel by #SLBhyrappa, set in the 1970-80 that shows the fabric of politics, life and corruption in India-Available in txns
53. ದುಡ್ಡು ^ ದುಡ್ಡು – Telugu novel of #Yandamuri Virendranath, translated to Kannada. Supposedly he was inspired by English novels, but were eagerly awaited
54. ಪದಾರ್ಥ ಚಿಂತಾಮಣಿ – Padartha Chintamani, by Pa Vem Acharya – searching the etymology of Kannada words – which appeared in Kasturi monthly earlier
55. ಬಂಗಾರದ ಮನುಷ್ಯ Bangaarada Manushya “Golden Man”, a #Kannada novel by T K Ramarao. Movie based on this became an all-time hit! #Rajkumar
56. ಕುಂಜಾಲು ಕಣಿವೆಯ ಕೆಂಪು ಹೂವು #Kannada novelette by Na.D’Souza The hero goes to Kunjalu valley to see flowers blooming once 12 years.and ..
57. ಅವಧೇಶ್ವರಿ Avadheshwari, a #Kannada novel set in the Vedic times, written by Shankara Mokashi Punekar, an alternate universe ..
58.The Hoysalas-A Medieval Indian Royal Family, by Duncan M Berret-Good overview of
59. ಸಂಸ್ಕೃತ ನಾಟಕ by AR Krishnashastry – A comprehensive guide to the evolution of Samskrta drama/theater in India. #Kannada #Theater #Stage
60. ಸಿಂಗಾರವ್ವ ಮತ್ತು ಅರಮನೆ Singaravva mattu aramane, novel by Chandrashekhara #Kambara – Read this after watching movie based on the novel
61. ಚಿಕವೀರರಾಜೇಂದ್ರ chikaveerarajendra, #Kannada novel based on historical events in Kodagu, by the one and only #Masti Venkatesha Ayyangar
62.ಲಲಿತಾತಿಥ್ಯ novelette by #Kannada short story writer #Ashwattha – Actually reads more like a ಲಲಿತ ಪ್ರಬಂಧ
63. Grow long Blessed night – Translations of Indian love poetry. Some useful insights about common elements of Prakrta, Samskrta and Tamil
64.ಫಣಿಯಮ್ಮ Phaniyamma, #Kannada novel by #MKIndira. I felt the novel was full of life compared to the movie based on this
65. My stroke of Insight – What happens when a stroke occurs, to a brain scientist , resulted in this interesting book!
66. ದುರ್ಗಾಸ್ತಮಾನ durgAstamAna, #Kannada novel by tarAsu based on historical events with the nAyakas of Chitradurga,and the fall of the fort
67. The Great Indian Novel , by @ShashiTharoor – I wonder how he ended up in @INCIndia after writing the PriyaDuryodhani character 😉
68. ನಾ ಕಂಡ ಕಲಾವಿದರು nA kanDa kalAvidaru, memoirs by musician,composer #Mysore #Vasudevacharya,I guess available in English translation too
69. ತಬ್ಬಲಿಯು ನೀನಾದೆ ಮಗನೆ novel by #SLBhyrappa #TabbaliyuNeenaadeMagane
70. The Madras Quartet by Indira Menon – About 4 women artists who influenced Karnataka #sangita in 20th century – MSS, MLV, DKP and Brinda
71. ಕರ್ನಾಟಕ ಸಂಗೀತ ಸುಧಾ – For those interested and want to go deeper in theory of Karnataka Sangeeta, by Ramaratnam & VS Sampatkumaracharya
72. ತಿರುಪತಿ ತಿಮ್ಮಪ್ಪ Tirupati Timmappa, by Vidyavachaspati Prof S K Ramachandra Rao – Everything you want to know about Tirupati temple!
73. Before the Dawn, by Nicholas Wade. A proto history of Homo Sapiens and how they settled 6 continents
74. ಸಾರ್ಥು, the #Sanketi translation of #SLBhyrappa‘s #Kannada novel, by Dr.Pranatartiharan. One of the best translations I have ever read!
75. ಮೂಕಜ್ಜಿಯ ಕನಸುಗಳು – Mukajjiya KanasugaLu, #Kannada novel by #Shivarama #Karanta.Read it long ago,forget all details except it was excellent!
76. ಧರ್ಮಶ್ರೀ Dharmashree by #SLBhyrappa, one of his first novels. One of the very few books I read in one sitting. Overnight 🙂 #thosedays
77. ನನ್ನಿ Nanni by novelist Karnam Pavan Prasad. … no wonder I remembered this right after Dharmashree #NoConversion
78. Selections from Vidyakata’s #SubhashitaRatnaKosha, translated to English, by Daniel H. H. Ingalls #Samskrta सुभाषितरत्नकोशः
79. Charlotte’s Web, by E.B.White. Found the book on my daughter’s desk, and started to read, and could not lift my eyes off the book! 1/2
80: ಸೇಡಿಯಾಪು ಕೃಷ್ಣಭಟ್ಟರ ವಿಚಾರ ಪ್ರಪಂಚ – A collection of essays in Kannada, about various Indic topics)
81.ಕನ್ನಡ ಶಾಸನಗಳ ಸಾಂಸ್ಕೃತಿಕ ಅಧ್ಯಯನ – A cultural study of Kannada inscriptions, by Dr Chidananda Murthy #ChiMoo.Recommended for #history buffs
82. It Happened Tomorrow – Compiled by Jayant Narlikar – A collection of science fiction stories in Indian languages translated in English – The very first translation I tried out was a story from this collection. That was during the times when Kannada typing on computer wasn’t available. I wrote it on paper, and unfortunately misplaced 😦
83: Sangita Sampradaya Pradarshini – by Subburama Dikshitar translated excellently to English by P.P.Narayanaswami & Vidya Jayaraman – The book is available on
84.ಲೂಯಿ ಪಾಸ್ತರ್ Louis Pasteur,Biography in #Kannada,written by JRLakshmana Rao, One of my earliest reads that got me interested in sciences.
85.ನಾಟ್ಯಶಾಸ್ತ್ರ #Bharata‘s #Natyashastra in #Kannada, Text of Indian dramatics,music & dance- wonderfully translated by Adya Rangacharya
86.ಕರ್ನಾಟಕ ಸಂಗೀತ ಪಾರಿಭಾಷಿಕಾ ಶಬ್ದಕೋಶ Wonderful encyclopedia of music information by Sampatkumaracharya. Was my goto book b4 days of Internet!
87.ಪ್ರಾಧ್ಯಾಪಕನ ಪೀಠದಲ್ಲಿ Memoirs of B.G.L.Swamy, about his days as the Prof & HOD of Botany, Presidency College Madras. Very entertaining!
88. ಬೆಳ್ಳಿಮೋಡ, #Kannada novel, #BelliModa, by #Triveni I read it after I saw the movie adaptation by Puttanna Kanagal
89. ಕರ್ವಾಲೋ, by Purnachandra Tejasvi – Although I don’t remember a bit of the book now, I just remember It was an exciting read!
90. ಅಮೆರಿಕೆಯಲ್ಲಿ ಗೊರೂರು – Amerikeyalli Goruru – Travelogue by Goruru Ramaswamy Iyengar, about his experiences of his visit to the USA
91. ಚುಕ್ಕೆಯ ಪಾರಿವಾಳ Chukkeya pArivALa,detective novelette by #Kannada writer TKRamarao Enjoyed reading many of his books,but had to pick 1!
92. Poems from the Sanskrit – An anthology of xlated #Samskrta verses in English, John Brough. In a verse fashion too, which makes it better
93. Inventions that Changed the World – I read the #Kannada version, that was titled ಜಗತ್ತನ್ನು ಬದಲಾಯಿಸಿದ ವೈಜ್ಞಾನಿಕ ಸಾಧನಗಳು, published by the National Book Trust of India. If I remember correctly this was the first (or one of the very first) non-story book that I ever read!
94.ದ್ರಾವಿಡ ಭಾಷಾ ವಿಜ್ಞಾನ – ಹಂಪನಾ A book on Dravida (south Indian) languages by Dr. Hampa Nagarajaiah. Good read if you’re into in linguistics
95. ಯಯಾತಿ V.S.Khandekar’s #Marathi novel, #Yayati, translated into #Kannada, by V.M Inamdar
96. The Firm, Out of the many legal thriller’s of John Grisham I have read, this name came up first, and so it goes in the list!
97.ಪದ್ಮಪಾಣಿ’Padmapani’-Collection of #Kannada thriller/historical fiction by K.N.Ganeshaiah.First of many of his that I read,so made it here
98.The Da Vinci Code, by Dan Brown. The first of his many books I read- and impressed me a lot when reading, so makes to the list! 🙂
99. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone – J.K.Rowling – The only book in the series that I completely read, so it goes here 🙂
100. ಇಗೋ ಕನ್ನಡ “igo Kannada” by G Venkatasubbiah – Miscellaneous snippets about Kannada language, etymology etc
And finally to conclude, here is a book that I have not finished reading sinceI wanted to make the list 101 long rather than 100 (Indian belief system, you know!).

And also by including a book that I am reading/not finished, I hope it gives me motivation to finish all those unfinished books in my shelf, on my desk, on the Kindle, or on Google Play, VividLipi, NewsHunt and the PDFs of many gem of a books, sometime in my lifetime!

So here goes the last entry:

101; ಭಾರತೀಯಕಾವ್ಯಮೀಮಾಂಸೆ BharatiyaKavyaMimamse,by TeeNamShree- An excellent work on Indian Poetics.

If you made until here, I hope you enjoyed reading the list! Wish me more time for reading 🙂


Do you remember your history text books? I do. They were always a big bore, with random mentions of dates and events, never providing any insight about the historical times and the cultures. This was more so evident when it came to Indian history. The sections about Egypt and Roman civilizations seemed at least palatable compared to those about Indian civilization. I often asked myself why our history text books couldn’t be at least a bit interesting and insightful, and make the students inquisitive about our past.

So recently when I heard the text books for Karnataka state board were updated and available on the web, I was curious to see how the history books of today are, and if there was any improvement from my schooling days. To my horror, I found the updated high school texts very shoddily produced, full of factual, grammatical and typographic errors. I won’t bore you with all those – like those text books do – but will limit to one or two tidbits only. It suffices to state that if you open a random page, the probability of finding more than 3 errors (grammatical/ factual/ typographic) is almost 75%! And the probability of finding at least one error is very close to 100%. Very sad state of affairs in this time and age!

I started reading the 9th grade History text book. Just like you check one grain of rice to know if the entire pot is cooked or not, I will provide you with a sample ‘grain’ from this book. This short paragraph is about the new religious thinkers such as Mahavira and Gautama Buddha, their philosophical thoughts and the genesis of new cults/ religions (or whatever you want to call them).


According to this textbook, “new religions came in because there was a change in agriculture modes and what people ate. Buddhism and Jainism rose because eastern UP and Bihar came under new methods of agriculture not seen before, using iron ploughs. These ploughs needed oxen to pull them. There was a scarcity of oxen, because they were sacrificed in religious practices. Hence people were attracted to these new religions that opposed sacrifice of animals, and taught non-violence as a principle. This is why these religions became popular”.

I have read many a history book, but this was the first time I came across such an explanation. Of course, no citations for this conclusion are given in the book. The book is entirely devoid of any source citation. Neither does it make any distinction among fact, hypothesis, theory and inference. Everything is written as though it is crystal clear. I wonder what impression the teachers and students studying these ill-written text books will be getting about history in general, and of Indian history in particular.

When I shared the above section from the Karnataka text book on social media, I got a pointer from someone as to the source of such content in proof of its ‘supposed authenticity’ – A page from a book of 9th grade CBSE book written by R. S. Sharma. He is often cited as a source of reputable history by the secular circles in India.


Now, since this was presented as an authentic source, I read through that page. It can be readily inferred that the Kannada text book draws material from this text. This book too does not say how such conclusions were drawn. So not much help there. This book of R. S. Sharma is prescribed as a text for 11th grade students. Incidentally looks like the same book is being used from times long before I was in 11th grade! Nevertheless, I hoped there have been revisions in tune with current research. So I just thought of doing some additional fact checking, and took a random paragraph from the book – this one dealing with the coming of Aryans to India.


This short paragraph is verily overloaded with facts, semi-facts, pseudo-facts, white lies, masked-lies, and blatant lies as you will discover below:
  • Aryans came to India in several waves (May be true, may be not, but the text does not tell why or how that inference was made)
  • Earliest wave was Rigvedic people who came to India around 1500 BC (Again, no indication how this date was arrived at, if there is any tangible proof etc)
  • They came in contact with other tribes such as dasyus & dasas who were original inhabitants (Absolutely no evidence given about how/if these tribes were thought to be original inhabitants)
  • They were a also a branch of ancient Iranians since their literature also mentions dAsa (This is the statement somewhat close to truth and supported by facts – that Rig Vedic people and ancient Iranians had something in common). But again if dasas were native Indians, did Iranians go from India (after Rig Vedic people came to India) ? The text remains mum about this.
  • After stating They (Rig Vedic Aryans) came into conflict with the indigenous inhabitants called the dasyus, dasas, three sentences later the author says “Rig Veda mentions the defeat of Sambara by Divodasa, of the bharata clan” – Isn’t it logical Divodasa be a dasa?
  • Now the author states “Possibly the dasyus in the Rig Veda represent the original inhabitants of the country, and an Aryan chief who overpowered them was called Trasadasyu’ – So within three lines another shift of the presentation! My only question to the author:“What were you smoking when you wrote this paragraph?”
  • Next he says “The term dasyu-hatya, slaughter of the dasyus, is repeatedly mentioned in the Rig Veda.

When I saw the last bullet, I saw a good opportunity test it quantitatively. All the previous bullets were inferences, opinions, hearsay, and not quantitatively measurable. But talking about “repeated mention of a word or a phrase in a text” is a *very* measurable quantity.

Back when I was in high school there was no Internet, or no access to a Rig Vedic scholar. Or even if I had, I do not know if he knew the entire 1028 suktas (i.e. 10600 verses, 21200 lines to be very accurate), or if he would answer my questions about the Veda. Thankfully, now there is Internet, and the whole searchable Rig Veda is available at:

A search for the word ‘dasyu’ reveals that the word occurs exactly 51 times in all of the 21200 lines. Even assuming an average 5 words per line, this translates to 51 times in 106000 words. A whopping 480 parts per million! What an unbelievably high rate to be called a “repeated mention”!

Searching for the word ‘dasyu’ reveals that the word occurs exactly 51 times in all of the 21200 lines. Assuming an average 5 words per line, this translates to 51 times in 106000 words. A whopping 480 parts per million! What an unbelievably high rate to be called a “repeated mention”!


Oops. Sorry. Spoke too soon. What R. S. Sharma claims is that the phrase ‘dasyu-hatya’ is a frequent occurrence. Not the word dasyu. Let me look for it, for I want to stick with facts.


The term dasyu-hatya (or something related) occurs a total 7 times in the 21200 lines of Rig Veda. This translates to 66 parts per million. *VERY VERY HIGH OCCURRENCE*. Really!

Moral of the story: Text book writers may be under a rock for decades. We need not be. Not in today’s information age. This research was to be done by the text book writers. But surely they have not done it. If we care about the next generation of kids, I think we need to do our bit so that they don’t live under the rock forever.




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