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Education in Karnataka through the ages
Belavadi Mallamma was the daughter of Sode (also “Sonde”) king Madhulinga Nayaka and went on to defend her husband's kingdom against the mighty force of the Maratha leader Shivaji, winning the latter's admiration and respect for her bravery. Scholar Shesho Srinivas Muthalik has recorded life in the palace of Madhulinga Nayaka in 1704-5 C.E. in the Marathi language. Some excerpts are included here:
When Mallamma reached five years of age, her education began, along with that of her brother Sadashiva Nayaka. Both of them were taught Kannada, Marathi, Urdu, and Sanskrit . It took them ten years to learn all these languages. The brother and sister were very close and studied together. A school was built for their education and ten senior shāstris were appointed as teachers. In the classes there were boys and girls belonging to various castes (Havyaks, Gouda Saraswats, Nadavars, and Madhwas) in about equal numbers. Shankar Bhat was the principal of the school and was a great scholar. Mallamma was a very good student and an intelligent girl. Everybody admired her intellect. She was drawn to poetry when she was about twelve years old. Sadashiva Nayaka was also fond of poetry and wrote poems in Kannada. Their father, king Madhulinga Nayaka arranged for all the boys to undergo military training and appointed a brave man called Ranavir Singh as the trainer. Mallamma showed an interest in fencing and archery. She also equalled the boys in horse riding and throwing the javelin.
Mallamma had great respect for her teachers, her parents and God. She would wake up every morning, get dressed, and offer prayers to Lord Shiva. Then she would go to school.
This excerpt shows that girls of royal families received the same education as the princes. It also provides an example of the broadmindedness of the Sode kings, who provided co-education (of boys and girls together) in the seventeenth century, at a time when elsewhere in India and the rest of the world gender-discrimination was at the peak.
 The author is grateful to Dr. Srinivas Havanur for providing a copy of the mauscript in Marathi.
in Karnataka through the ages
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