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Svasti - Essays in Honour of Prof. Hampa Nagarajaiah: Haṃpanā and Karnatakan Jainism

Published: 09.12.2010
Updated: 13.01.2015

Haṃpanā and Karnatakan Jainism

Prof. Dr. Robert J. Zydenbos

I first met Hampa Nagarajaiah in the early 1980s, at a time when hardly anyone outside India took an interest in Jaina studies, especially not through the medium of Kannada, a language whose significance went practically unrecognized. Now, slowly, Jainism is being rediscovered by the academic community outside India as an alternative voice from India's past, a necessary corrective after roughly two centuries in which smārta brahminical Hindu sources dominated international scholarly discourse about Indian history. Unlike Buddhism, which became extinct in India a thousand years ago, Jainism continued as a living tradition till today and has been of considerable philosophical, religious and other cultural influence on the rest of Indian society. Similarly, the importance of Karnataka and Kannada is gradually being realized by growing numbers of scholars, and the Indian government has officially declared Kannada a classical language. At such a juncture, it is befitting that Hampasandra Padmanabhaiah Nagarajaiah and his work are honoured by means of the present Festschrift.

To the Kannada-reading public, 'Haṃpanā', as Nagarajaiah is popularly known, is one of the best-known scholars of Kannada and Jainism of his generation. Much of his academic activity has gone unnoticed by the academic community outside Karnataka, simply on account of the language barrier: in spite of the immense richness both of modern scholarly secondary as well as of centuries of primary literature in Kannada, all this material has remained a largely unknown treasure. Haṃpanā has written remarkable monographs on topics in the fields of classical Kannada literature, epigraphy, architecture, linguistics, history and religion. One of his best-known works is Yakṣa-yakṣiyaru (1976), on the fascinating subject of gods and goddesses in Jaina mythology and popular worship. Another is his short monograph on the Yāpanīya saṃgha (1999), the third major tradition of Jainism besides the Digambara and Śvetāmbara, which many centuries ago merged with the Digambara denomination but has been of great historical importance for the development of Jainism as a whole. Very useful are also his studies of Hombuja, the kṣētra in central Karnataka that has not only played a role of immense importance in the history of Karnatakan Jainism but still today is the supra-regionally most important centre for the worship of the yakṣī Padmāvatī (Hoṃbuja śāsanagaḷu (with M.G. Manjunatha), 1997, about the inscriptions of Hombuja, and Sāṃtararu: oṃdu adhyayana, 1997, about the royal dynasty whose capital Hombuja was).

During his long tenure as president of the Kannaḍa Sāhitya Pariṣattu, this venerable organization brought out many valuable editions of Old Kannada texts, Jaina and non-Jaina. Also the Sanskrit Mahāpurāṇa of Jinasena and Guṇabhadra was reissued, with its Kannada translation by the late Pt. A. Shanthiraja Sastry, for its seminal importance also for Jaina literature in Kannada, which benefitted many researchers in the field. Later Haṃpanā crossed linguistic boundaries with his edition of the Tattvārthasūtrānugata karṇāṭa laghuvṛtti (1994), an Old Kannada commentary on the best-known Jaina philosophical text in Sanskrit.

In recent years Haṃpanā has ventured to present some of his findings to a larger audience through the medium of English. This is a double struggle, firstly with the medium of this foreign language, and secondly because the new target audience is largely unfamiliar with the richness of, and the state of knowledge in Karnatakan scholarly circles about, the materials that form the basis of Haṃpanā's work.

Haṃpanā was not my teacher in a formal sense, but he played a positive role in my own early career in Kannada studies by his encouraging attitude and his gladness to share information. On this occasion of Haṃpanā's 75th birthday, one naturally rejoices at seeing him still intellectually productive; we should hope that he will be among us for many more years to come, and that the younger generations of scholars will continue to have opportunities to benefit from his accumulated knowledge.


SVASTI - Essays in Honour of

Prof. Hampa Nagarajaiah
for his 75th birthday 7.10.2010

Editor: Prof. Dr. Nalini Balbir.

Publisher: Dr. M. Byregowda
K.S. Muddappa Smaraka Trust
Krishnapuradoddi #119, 3rd Cross,
8th Main, Hampinagara
Bangalore - 560 104 Karnataka
Ph: 080-23409512

Edition: 2010

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Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Buddhism
  2. Digambara
  3. JAINA
  4. Jaina
  5. Jainism
  6. Jinasena
  7. Karnataka
  8. Padmāvatī
  9. Robert J. Zydenbos
  10. Sanskrit
  11. Yakṣī
  12. Yāpanīya
  13. Zydenbos
  14. Śvetāmbara
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