Narayan S. Rajpurohit
by Jyotsna Kamat
First Online: September 01, 2003
Page Last Updated: April 04, 2014
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
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.
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
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.
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