Saletore's Knack for Selecting Unique Subjects

This article is part 5 of 8 in the series B.A. Saletore

Karnataka's Trans-Oceanic Contacts

The next book we can survey is also another example of Saletore’s knack for selecting unique and out-of-the-box subjects and developing them into full-blown works of research and historical insight. Titled Karnataka’s Trans-Oceanic Contacts, its incredible contents include a high-level study of the Vira Banajigas, a business community from Karnataka and their contacts with Babylon and Assyria. This work beautifully complements Saletore’s exposition of the same community during the Vijayanagara period in his magnum opus.

Unfortunately, I was unable to find the full book but only some incomplete reviews of it. Purely based on these sources, we can arguably conclude that Saletore’s work in this area is another good example of his patha-pradarshaka (path-illuminating) method of history and historiography.

Wild Tribes in Indian History

The next work we can examine is a topic that is not only unique but notable for Saletore’s pioneering forays in the area. Titled Wild Tribes in Indian History, it is truly one of its kind. It is a slim work running into less than two hundred pages of which sixty pages are dedicated to notes and bibliography. But Saletore has packed this small space with a veritable treasure of rich information covering the socio-political-cultural and economic aspects of this often-neglected area of Indian history. He draws from an extraordinary range of primary sources – Puranas, epics, native accounts, writings of foreign travelers, epigraphy, and literature, both Hindu and Buddhist.  

But more importantly, Wild Tribes in Indian History is one of the definitive works that proves that, contrary to the modern vandalism of Indian history, Hindu kings always showed a lenient, magnanimous and warm-hearted policy towards the so-called wild tribes or Atavikas, from the earliest period and shows how there was an atmosphere of mutual friendship and harmony between Nagarikas and Atavikas.

Saletore also demonstrates on the strength of these evidences that the so-called wild tribes were every bit Hindu in outlook, customs, and religious practices.  

Here is a brief list of the tribes Saletore provides: Kiratas, Sabaras, Bedars or Bedas, Pulindas, Dasharnas, Maatangas, Pundras, Lambakarnas, Oshtakarnas, Karnapravaranas, Ekapadas, Kalamukhas, Lohamukhas, Yakshas, Kinnaras, Nishadas with almost precise geographical details of their locations and how they evolved over space and time.

The other great ancillary value of this short work is the fact that in a tangential fashion, it is yet another useful source to disprove the so-called Aryan Invasion or Migration Theory.

By itself, Wild Tribes in Indian History is a powerful rebuttal to the pseudo-scientific academic disciplines known as sociology and anthropology, which “studies” tribes with a laboratory or museum-like approach. Saletore on the other hand, correctly treats the subject using the prism of the indivisible or Akhanda Sanatana cultural bond and the real lives and achievements of real people.

In fact, I will offer a conjecture at the risk of being open to criticism: that a fuller study of this book has enough potential to debunk many dangerous theories about our North Eastern brothers & sisters. As we all know, such theories have had a disastrous impact on our national security itself. In this context, we can cite Saletore’s warning about the disastrous consequences of the tribal policies followed by later Vijayangara Kings. He quotes Krishnadevaraya’s classic Amuktamalyada to bolster his point:  

Minding the small faults of the forest chiefs who do not have extensive power is like trying to clean a mud wall by pouring water on it. If he gets angry with them, he cannot destroy them utterly. But if he attaches himself to them by kind words and charity, they would be useful to him in invading foreign territories and capturing fortresses.

And then Saltore gives his own verdict:

The non-observance of these noble maxims of Krishnadevaraya the Great by his successors had a profound effect on the life of the powerful Hindu Empire.

As history shows, after the appalling wreckage of Hampi by the Bahamani barbarians, forest tribes regularly plundered whatever wealth remained and took to full-time dacoity.

Medieval Jainism with Special Reference to the Vijayanagara Empire

Now we can briefly examine Saletore’s work entitled Medieval Jainism with Special Reference to the Vijayanagara Empire.  

In a way, this again, is a special work in the sense that Saletore studies Jainism from the non-religious standpoint, making a clear departure from typical Jain histories that mix up fantastic myths, divinity, and fiction with facts.  

In his own words, Saletore declares that the scope of the work is to study Jainism in southern India from the perspective of "kings, feudatories, nobles, priests, citizens, and women…this is described with the aid of contemporary historical records." Saletore also emphatically makes a vital observation:

The connecting link in the history of the pre-Vijayanagara and Vijayanagara Jainism was the great Vijayanagara House.

This point may sound rather simple and direct, but its true significance is still missed by historians of our own time such as they are, and the ungodly spirit of sectarianism and force-fitting historical truths to pet biases continues unabated even today. Perhaps this is also the reason why truth-seekers like Saletore are in such short supply.

Medieval Jainism, is an evidence-ridden virtuoso performance that shows the spirit of mutual harmony that existed between the Vijayanagara rulers and the Jain community in their empire. Saletore shows how royal benevolence towards Jainism begot a similar response from the community. The chapters titled Princely Patronage, Jaina Men of Action, Women as defenders of the Faith, Vijayanagara's Pledge and Jaina Celebrities in the Vijayanagara Empire are brilliant and moving. We can examine a small excerpt from the book which gives a flair of Saletore’s prowess:

To the Hindu monarchs of the south, especially Karnataka, toleration was a vital principle and not a matter of political expediency. It was their most precious gift to humanity…In 1368, a dispute arose between the Jainas and Srivaishnavas. The Jainas of all the Nadus including Anegondi, Hosapattana, Penugonda and the city of Kalleha (today, Magadi, near BLR), petitioned to Bukka Raya about the injustices done to them by the Srivaishanavas. The monarch, after due inquiry, "took the hand of the Jainas and placing it in the hand of the Srivaishnavas of the 18 Nadus including all the Acharyas of Srirangam, Tirumala, Kanchi, and Melkote and those of the satvikas, moshtikas, savanta-bovas, holeyas, madigas, declared that there was no difference between the Vaishnava darshana and the Jaina darshana. Then he decreed as follows: "if loss should be caused to the Jaina darshana through the Srivaishnavas, the Vaishnavas will kindly deem it as loss caused to their own darshana. The Srivaishanavas will kindly set up a sasana to this effect in all the Basadis of the kingdom. For as long as the sun and the moon endure, the Vaishnava creed will continue to protect the Jaina darshana.

Further elaboration on the fabled spirit and demonstration of the Vijayanagara magnanimity is superfluous.

Indeed, Saletore was among the greatest votaries whose pen transformed the innate nobility of the Vijayanagara monarchs into a contemporary reality for the readers of his own time, and for us, his posterity.   

Needless, Saletore’s method was characteristic of the other exemplars of his period: in the foregoing passage, he quotes directly from Bukkaraya's edict itself instead of relying on secondary sources and that great devil of our time, "interpretation."

To be continued



Sandeep Balakrishna is a writer, author, translator, and socio-political-cultural analyst. He is the author of "Tipu Sultan: The Tyrant of Mysore" and "The Madurai Sultanate: A Concise History." He translated Dr. S L Bhyrappa's magnum opus "Avarana" into English.

Prekshaa Publications

The Mahābhārata is the greatest epic in the world both in magnitude and profundity. A veritable cultural compendium of Bhārata-varṣa, it is a product of the creative genius of Maharṣi Kṛṣṇa-dvaipāyana Vyāsa. The epic captures the experiential wisdom of our civilization and all subsequent literary, artistic, and philosophical creations are indebted to it. To read the Mahābhārata is to...

Shiva Rama Krishna

சிவன். ராமன். கிருஷ்ணன்.
இந்திய பாரம்பரியத்தின் முப்பெரும் கதாநாயகர்கள்.
உயர் இந்தியாவில் தலைமுறைகள் பல கடந்தும் கடவுளர்களாக போற்றப்பட்டு வழிகாட்டிகளாக விளங்குபவர்கள்.
மனித ஒற்றுமை நூற்றாண்டுகால பரிணாம வளர்ச்சியின் பரிமாணம்.
தனிநபர்களாகவும், குடும்ப உறுப்பினர்களாகவும், சமுதாய பிரஜைகளாகவும் நாம் அனைவரும் பரிமளிக்கிறோம்.
சிவன் தனிமனித அடையாளமாக அமைகிறான்....

ऋतुभिः सह कवयः सदैव सम्बद्धाः। विशिष्य संस्कृतकवयः। यथा हि ऋतवः प्रतिसंवत्सरं प्रतिनवतामावहन्ति मानवेषु तथैव ऋतुवर्णनान्यपि काव्यरसिकेषु कामपि विच्छित्तिमातन्वते। ऋतुकल्याणं हि सत्यमिदमेव हृदि कृत्वा प्रवृत्तम्। नगरजीवनस्य यान्त्रिकतां मान्त्रिकतां च ध्वनदिदं चम्पूकाव्यं गद्यपद्यमिश्रितमिति सुव्यक्तमेव। ऐदम्पूर्वतया प्रायः पुरीपरिसरप्रसृतानाम् ऋतूनां विलासोऽत्र प्रपञ्चितः। बेङ्गलूरुनामके...

The Art and Science of Avadhānam in Sanskrit is a definitive work on Sāhityāvadhānam, a form of Indian classical art based on multitasking, lateral thinking, and extempore versification. Dotted throughout with tasteful examples, it expounds in great detail on the theory and practice of this unique performing art. It is as much a handbook of performance as it is an anthology of well-turned...

This anthology is a revised edition of the author's 1978 classic. This series of essays, containing his original research in various fields, throws light on the socio-cultural landscape of Tamil Nadu spanning several centuries. These compelling episodes will appeal to scholars and laymen alike.
“When superstitious mediaevalists mislead the country about its judicial past, we have to...

The cultural history of a nation, unlike the customary mainstream history, has a larger time-frame and encompasses the timeless ethos of a society undergirding the course of events and vicissitudes. A major key to the understanding of a society’s unique character is an appreciation of the far-reaching contributions by outstanding personalities of certain periods – especially in the realms of...

Prekṣaṇīyam is an anthology of essays on Indian classical dance and theatre authored by multifaceted scholar and creative genius, Śatāvadhāni Dr. R Ganesh. As a master of śāstra, a performing artiste (of the ancient art of Avadhānam), and a cultured rasika, he brings a unique, holistic perspective...


इदं किञ्चिद्यामलं काव्यं द्वयोः खण्डकाव्ययोः सङ्कलनरूपम्। रामानुरागानलं हि सीतापरित्यागाल्लक्ष्मणवियोगाच्च श्रीरामेणानुभूतं हृदयसङ्क्षोभं वर्णयति । वात्सल्यगोपालकं तु कदाचिद्भानूपरागसमये घटितं यशोदाश्रीकृष्णयोर्मेलनं वर्णयति । इदम्प्रथमतया संस्कृतसाहित्ये सम्पूर्णं काव्यं...


इदं खण्डकाव्यमान्तं मालिनीछन्दसोपनिबद्धं विलसति। मेनकाविश्वामित्रयोः समागमः, तत्फलतया शकुन्तलाया जननम्, मातापितृभ्यां त्यक्तस्य शिशोः कण्वमहर्षिणा परिपालनं चेति काव्यस्यास्येतिवृत्तसङ्क्षेपः।


इदं खण्डकाव्यमान्तं मालिनीछन्दसोपनिबद्धं विलसति। मेनकाविश्वामित्रयोः समागमः, तत्फलतया शकुन्तलाया जननम्, मातापितृभ्यां त्यक्तस्य शिशोः कण्वमहर्षिणा परिपालनं चेति काव्यस्यास्येतिवृत्तसङ्क्षेपः।


इयं रचना दशसु रूपकेष्वन्यतमस्य भाणस्य निदर्शनतामुपैति। एकाङ्करूपकेऽस्मिन् शेखरकनामा चित्रोद्यमलेखकः केनापि हेतुना वियोगम् अनुभवतोश्चित्रलेखामिलिन्दकयोः समागमं सिसाधयिषुः कथामाकाशभाषणरूपेण निर्वहति।


अस्मिन् स्तोत्रकाव्ये भगवन्तं शिवं कविरभिष्टौति। वसन्ततिलकयोपनिबद्धस्य काव्यस्यास्य कविकृतम् उल्लाघनाभिधं व्याख्यानं च वर्तते।

Karnataka’s celebrated polymath, D V Gundappa brings together in the third volume, some character sketches of great literary savants responsible for Kannada renaissance during the first half of the twentieth century. These remarkable...

Karnataka’s celebrated polymath, D V Gundappa brings together in the second volume, episodes from the lives of remarkable exponents of classical music and dance, traditional storytellers, thespians, and connoisseurs; as well as his...

Karnataka’s celebrated polymath, D V Gundappa brings together in the first volume, episodes from the lives of great writers, poets, literary aficionados, exemplars of public life, literary scholars, noble-hearted common folk, advocates...

Evolution of Mahabharata and Other Writings on the Epic is the English translation of S R Ramaswamy's 1972 Kannada classic 'Mahabharatada Belavanige' along with seven of his essays on the great epic. It tells the riveting...

Shiva-Rama-Krishna is an English adaptation of Śatāvadhāni Dr. R Ganesh's popular lecture series on the three great...


ಮಹಾಮಾಹೇಶ್ವರ ಅಭಿನವಗುಪ್ತ ಜಗತ್ತಿನ ವಿದ್ಯಾವಲಯದಲ್ಲಿ ಮರೆಯಲಾಗದ ಹೆಸರು. ಮುಖ್ಯವಾಗಿ ಶೈವದರ್ಶನ ಮತ್ತು ಸೌಂದರ್ಯಮೀಮಾಂಸೆಗಳ ಪರಮಾಚಾರ್ಯನಾಗಿ  ಸಾವಿರ ವರ್ಷಗಳಿಂದ ಇವನು ಜ್ಞಾನಪ್ರಪಂಚವನ್ನು ಪ್ರಭಾವಿಸುತ್ತಲೇ ಇದ್ದಾನೆ. ಭರತಮುನಿಯ ನಾಟ್ಯಶಾಸ್ತ್ರವನ್ನು ಅರ್ಥಮಾಡಿಕೊಳ್ಳಲು ಇವನೊಬ್ಬನೇ ನಮಗಿರುವ ಆಲಂಬನ. ಇದೇ ರೀತಿ ರಸಧ್ವನಿಸಿದ್ಧಾಂತವನ್ನು...


“वागर्थविस्मयास्वादः” प्रमुखतया साहित्यशास्त्रतत्त्वानि विमृशति । अत्र सौन्दर्यर्यशास्त्रीयमूलतत्त्वानि यथा रस-ध्वनि-वक्रता-औचित्यादीनि सुनिपुणं परामृष्टानि प्रतिनवे चिकित्सकप्रज्ञाप्रकाशे। तदन्तर एव संस्कृतवाङ्मयस्य सामर्थ्यसमाविष्कारोऽपि विहितः। क्वचिदिव च्छन्दोमीमांसा च...

The Best of Hiriyanna

The Best of Hiriyanna is a collection of forty-eight essays by Prof. M. Hiriyanna that sheds new light on Sanskrit Literature, Indian...

Stories Behind Verses

Stories Behind Verses is a remarkable collection of over a hundred anecdotes, each of which captures a story behind the composition of a Sanskrit verse. Collected over several years from...