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Narayan S. Rajpurohit

by Jyotsna Kamat
First Online: September 01, 2003
Page Last Updated: May 09, 2017

Late N. S. Rajpurohit has gone unrecognized in spite of his significant contribution to history and heritage of Karnataka. Born in a poor family in 1887, he was self-taught,  and qualified himself  for teaching in primary schools. But, the movement for India's freedom was very strong, and due to his participation in anti-British activities,  he found himself dismissed and disqualified from teaching for rest of his life!

Picture Courtesy: Sarojini Kulkarni
Historian Narayan S. Rajpurohit
Narayan Shrinivas Rajpurohit (1887-1953)

From his early days he was drawn to study of old epigraphs, manuscripts and cultural traditions. Indian archaeology was in its infancy then. Without any resources, he toured village after village, copied down several inscriptions and records and interpreted them to establish Karnataka heritage in far flung areas.

This barefooted researcher, in old clothes and black cap spared no pains to establish different nuances of Karnataka history. He single-handedly dug the land round about Rakkastangadi, a village near Bijapur and established the battle field which was the death-knell of the great Vijayanagar empire. The fields were full of human and horse skeletons, coins and raged canons. Till then scholars had believed it was Talikote with was the battlefield. 

Scholars unanimously accepted his findings. As back as 1914, Rajpurohit established the Kannada origin of Vitthala, the great deity of Maharashtra. Later, all Marathi scholars, including R. C. Dhere accepted his theory.

He knew Lokamanya Tilak and contributed several articles pertaining to Karnataka history to the famous periodical "Kesari". He was quite proficient in Marathi and Sanskrit as well.

Poverty and lack of funds did not deter him from undertaking long tours, and painstaking research. Great contemporaries like Aluru Venkat Rao, D. R. Bendre and many freedom fighters knew him well. Dr. R. S. Mugali has highly appreciated his research methodology and all of them paid rich tribute after his death. Dr. V. K. Gokak wrote a picturesque poem. 

Rajpurohit was one of the founders of Karnatak Itihasa Samsodhana Mandal in Dharwad, which was the only body to voice the glory of Karnataka for many years to come. 

He wrote six books and several articles on history, archaeology and cultural relations with Maharashtra. He maintained a diary throughout, till his death in 1953, which provides some rare glimpses of socio-economic life of the period. 

None of his works were remembered. Even his birth centenary was recognized by only one august body, The Mythic Society, in Bangalore.

It was left to his daughter Sarojini Kulkarni (nee Rajpurohit) to bring out a collection of several articles her father wrote in a volume. "Shukla Yajurvedi Mahatmaru" a bulky 525 paged book is a rare scholarly volume which throws light on Rajpurohit's vast but unrecognized contribution to culture and heritage of Karnataka.

Several other articles, including biographies of saints and religious reformers, remain unpublished.

See Also:

  • Builders of Karnataka -- On the occasion of the 50 years of forming the state of Karnataka, we remember those responsible for unification the language and the region.
  • Pioneers of Indology -- We remember those who have enriched our lives through their mastery of the field of Indology and the Study of India


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