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Oriental Studies in Mysore

1) Maharaja’s Sanskrit College: It is one of the oldest institutions in Mysore. The college offers courses in the study of Veda, Agama and Sastra in the traditional methods and is one of the premier institutions in South India for the study of Sanskrit. It offers teaching upto Vidwat standard in all recognised spheres of Sanskrit learning. The courses vary from 2 years to 13 years. Students from different parts of the State and outside are enrolled for the study of these traditional subjects taught by learned Sanskrit Pandits and scholars. The courses are conducted on academic year basis and enrolment is open for all those who are above 8 years of age. Coming into existence over a century ago, it has an excellent library of printed and manuscript works.

Krishnaraja Wodeyar III, who was a scholar in Kannada and Sanskrit, was mainly responsible for the establishment of this institution. After the death of the Maharaja in 1868, Chamaraja Wodeyar, who succeeded him, gave it a formal shape as a Sanskrit school in 1876, under the name ‘Saraswathi Prasada’. It was being run in the Maharaja’s Choultry by Dewan Rangacharlu. The choultry, popularly known as ‘Poornaiah Choultry’, existed till recently. It was demolished for the formation of a straight road. Initially, Tarka and Vyakarana Sastras were taught and later courses in the study of Rigveda, Yajurveda and other Sastras were added. The school was shifted to the present building in the heart of the city in 1883 and more courses like Ayurveda, Astrology and Music were included in the wide range of Sanskrit studies. The College became so popular that in the year 1889 it had a total strength of 361 students and in that year’s examinations 225 students came out successfully and 161 prizes were awarded.  

In 1907, study of Ayurveda was bifurcated with the setting up of a separate Ayurveda College. So also the study of music. Though the Sriman Maharaja Sanskrit College continued to be under the control of the Palace management, a committee was constituted by the Government in 1917 for the supervision of the courses and studies. In 1926, the College celebrated its golden jubilee, Maharaja Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV presiding over it. The College came under the total control of the Karnataka Government in 1950.   The College has produced some of the renowned scholars and philosophers of the country. Renowned musician and composer Mysore M. Vasudevacharya was a student of music of this college. Famous philosophers Dr. S. Radhakrishnan, one of the Presidents of India, and Prof. S.Hiriyanna studied philosophy under veteran scholar Mahamahopadhyaya Lakshmipuram Sri Srinivasacharya. Maharaja Jayachamaraja Wodeyar, who was also a well-known philosopher and scholar, was a student of Panditarathnam Naveenam Venkatesha Sastry. Many of its students have becomes heads of Mutts, famous scholars, teachers and authors. The College has also taught some of these traditional subjects to girl students. The College celebrated its centenary in 1979, then Vice-President of India, B.D.Jatti presiding over it. 

The courses offered presently are: 

Sanskrit Prathama (3 years), Kavya (2 years), Sahitya (3 years),  Vyakarana, Nyaya, Meemaamsa, Dharma Sastra, Vishistadwaita, Shakti Vishistadwaita, Adwaita, Alankara (3 years each),  Vidwat Madhyama (3 years), Vidwat Uthama (2 years),  Rigveda, Shukla Yajurveda, Krishna Yajurveda, Sama Veda (13 years),  Jaina Shaivagama, Vaikhasana Agama, Pancharathra Agama, Veerashaivagama and Jainagama (5 years each). 

Admission: Open for all who are above 8 years of age. 

Student Fellowships: Courses are free. No fee is charged. Merited students are awarded student scholarships. 

Hostel: Free hostel facility as per regulations. 

2) Oriental Research Institute:
The over a century-old Oriental Research Institute is a prestigious institution having a rich and valuable collection of Sanskrit manuscripts. It is the repository of over 50,000 manuscripts. The Institution was established in 1891 by the then Government of the Maharaja of Mysore with the object of collecting, editing, printing and preserving old Sanskrit and Kannada manuscripts. It was started in the form of a library at the Maharaja's College, one of the prestigious colleges in the then Mysore State, and later, when the present building was built to mark the golden jubilee of Queen Victoria in 1897, it was shifted to the present building. The building is located behind the Maharaja's College, near the University administrative headquarters, the Crawford Hall.

In the beginning, the library was under the administrative control of the Department of Education. The Department of Archaeology was also housed in the same building. Later, it was separated from the Department of Education and the Department of Archaeology was also shifted from there, making it an exclusive repository of old manuscripts collected from different parts of India. Due to the earnest efforts of great scholars like Mr. Kasturi Rangachar, Prof. D.L. Narasimhachar and Prof. T.N.Shrikantayya (Tee.Nam.Shri.), ceaseless editing work was done and the edited works were published in two series - Bibliotheca Sanskrit and Bibliotheca Kannada. It achieved international fame when Prof. R.Shama Sastry, renowned scholar, traced from among the collection the monumental work, 'Artha Shastra' of Kautilya and published it. Since then, the Institute has brought out the rich material available from among its collection in a number of prestigious publications.

When the Mysore University was started in 1916, the library was placed under its control to enable research and study of the manuscripts by Sanskrit and Kannada students and scholars of the University. A managing committee with the Vice-Chancellor as Chairman and reputed scholars like Prof. B.M.Srikantayya, Prof. C.R.Reddy, Prof. M. Hiriyanna, and Mr. N.Ramanujacharya as members was constituted. By 1918, the library was well arranged with an office and four sections - manuscript collection, publication, printed books and research. In 1943, the name of the library was changed to Oriental Research Institute. In 1954, the post of the Director was created. To preserve and safeguard the palm leaf and paper manuscripts, microfilm facility was installed in 1954. When the Institute of Kannada Studies was established in the Mysore University, the collection of Kannada manuscripts was shifted from the ORI to the Institute, located in Manasa Gangotri campus, in 1966.

Besides publishing the ancient manuscripts by thorough research and study by scholars engaged for the purpose, the Institute has also brought out a descriptive catalogue of Sanskrit manuscripts. The Ford Foundation and the Government of India have offered financial assistance to the Institute in its efforts to collect and preserve the old manuscripts.

3) Veda Shastra Poshini Sabha: The Veda Sastra Poshini Sabha is a private body which provides free food and accommodation at its hostel for students who come to Mysore for studying Vedas, Sastras and Sanskrit language. Mysore has the prestigious and over a century-old the Maharaja's Sanskrit College, where these Sanskrit subjects are taught by veteran scholars. Public contributions help the Sabha in running the hostel for promotion of Sanskrit language and understanding its richness. The Sabha is managed by a committee at its hostel in the Fort Mohalla. Contact: President/Secretary, Veda Shastra Poshini Sabha, Fort Mohalla, Mysore.

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