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Durable Link to this BlogThursday, October 30, 2003

Remembering C. Sivaramamurti

C. Sivaramamurti and I

Years ago, when I had submitted my thesis "Social Life in Medieval Karnataka" for a Ph.D. degree from the Karnataka University Dharwad, Dr. Calambore Sivaramamurti was asked to be one of the "external referees" on my research. It was both an honor as well as intimidation for me, because Sivaramamurti was a highly respected and accomplished scholar in the field. He later served as the Director of National Museum in Delhi.

Sivaramamurti really liked my approach of  interpreting social history on the basis of classics, and treatises in Sanskrit, sculptures, paintings, and epigraphs. Upon his return to Delhi, he recommended Mr. Shakti Malik, a leading publisher of art books at the time, that he publish my thesis!

The publisher contacted me, and I recast my thesis in the form of a book, and included a great number of illustrations that my husband and I had accumulated on the subject. I felt that a foreword by a distinguished authority like Sivaramamurti  would help the book (I had not published any book till then), and asked his permission to use  his critique of my thesis as a foreword. He had felt that my study  was "a very interesting one, and an important contribution towards cultural history of India".

Through all this, we had not yet met!

Finally, on a visit to New Delhi, my publisher Shakti Malik took me to Sivaramamuti's office in National Museum, where he served as an adviser after his retirement. A small frail man with conspicuous vibhuti and tilak on his forehead, his appearance belied the ocean of knowledge that he was. With an endearing smile and soft words, he discussed the role of sculptures as illustrated history. It was a wonderful meeting.

Sivaramamurti passed away soon after. He died in a learned assembly, where he was explaining the specific features of a rare Nataraja icon (Sivaramamurti is the writer of a great book on Nataraja) He suffered a severe heart attack and collapsed on the stage, clutching the idol of Shiva. He was a pious Hindu and was dedicated to art, everybody felt that he could not have dreamt of a better Shivasayujya (becoming one with God), or merger with his favorite deity, Lord Shiva.

Dr. Sivaramammurti's kind gesture of recommending my work to a renowned publisher gave a huge boost to my academic achievement as a historian.

See Also:
• Social Life in Medieval Karnataka by Jyotsna Kamat
• Search Amazon for books by Sivaramamurti

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Jyotsna Kamat

Jyotsna Kamat Ph.D. lives in Bangalore.


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