Professor Mysore Hiriyanna (1871–1950) was a renowned scholar of Sanskrit and Indian Philosophy and one of the foremost exponents of Indian thought, values, and aesthetics in English. Hiriyanna’s writings on Indian philosophy are unique, for he wrote not merely with erudition but with the backing of experience. In his essay titled The Message of India Philosophy M Hiriyanna writes, “But whichever be the doctrine chosen, it is absolutely necessary that its teaching should, as a whole, be properly assimilated, if it is to have effective influence on everyday conduct. It is not enough to think and know; one must also feel and experience.”
The learned professor’s writings serve as a classic example to the motto of Mallinatha Suri, “nāmūlaṃ likhyate kiñcit nānapekṣitam ucyate,” – [I] won’t write a single line without evidence and won’t utter a useless word. The eminent Harvard professor Daniel H H Ingalls, in the Journal of American Oriental Studies, said something similar of Professor Hiriyanna – “…this great scholar of whom it might be said that he never wrote a useless word.” The brevity of Hiriyanna’s style, clarity of his thought, intensity of words, and incisive insights make his writings eminently worth studying.
Will Durant writes these poignant words in The Story of Philosophy while speaking about an ancient Greek Philosopher – “And last are the few whose delight is in meditation and understanding; who yearn not for goods, nor for victory, but for knowledge; who leave both market and battle-field to lose themselves in the quiet clarity of secluded thought; whose will is a light rather than fire, whose haven is not power but truth: these are the men of wisdom, who stand aside unused by the world.”
The above words may aptly describe the life and writings of Prof. Hiriyanna.
‘Experience: First and Final’
For Hiriyanna, experience was first and final, as can be gleaned from this charming incident narrated by D V Gundappa.
Hiriyanna believed that in philosophy, experience was more important than knowledge gained by reading books. He once told me, "I’ve heard many people complain that I have not done justice to aspects of Dvaita philosophy in the Outlines owing to prejudice. I will tell you the reason behind it. I lack experience in that philosophy. I have, for a long time, wanted to learn it from someone who can help me gain the experience of it. If you know of such Dvaita scholars, I will be happy to befriend them.”
I told him a few names who had taught Sāṅkhya and Tarka and who were respected in the Mādhva circles. Hiriyanna immediately asked, “Do they teach from their knowledge of books or from experience?”
I did not have an answer for that. A couple of months later I learnt from A.R. Krishna Sastri that Hiriyanna had found an elderly Mādhva scholar and used to visit him frequently.
Just knowing about a gem like Hiriyanna is as thrilling and educative as reading his works. It is almost impossible to separate Hiriyanna, the person; Prof. M Hiriyanna, the scholar; and the writings of M Hiriyanna.
The amount of information available about the life of Prof. Hiriyanna—both in Kannada and English—is rather limited. The present booklist is a small attempt to make a close-to-exhaustive list of writings on Hiriyanna in order that it may kindle interest in aspirants, inspire them to read about the professor, and most importantly, read him.
Biographies and Monographs on Prof. Hiriyanna
1. M. Hiriyanna by T P Ramachandran (New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers, 2001)
This biography, published under ‘The Builders of Indian Philosophy Series’ elucidates and highlights the contribution of Prof. Hiriyanna to Indian philosophy and thought. With numerous quotes and references from the works of Hiriyanna, the book sheds light on his interpretations of Indian philosophy, metaphysics, and thought.
2. ಆರ್ದ್ರಜ್ಯೋತಿ by Śatāvadhāni Dr. R Ganesh (Bangalore: V. Si. Sampada, 2008)
This is a Kannada monograph on the life, works, contributions, and achievements of M Hiriyanna presented in a succinct manner, focussing on the essential aspects of the professor’s life and writings. It is the only such work in Kannada.
3. ಎಂ. ಹಿರಿಯಣ್ಣ by L S Sheshagiri Rao (Bangalore: Rashtrotthana Sahitya, 1976)
It is a brief life-sketch of M Hiriyanna written for children, published under the ‘ಭಾರತ-ಭಾರತಿ ಪುಸ್ತಕಮಾಲೆ.’
Essays on Prof. Hiriyanna, his Life, and Works
1. ಹಿರಿಯಣ್ಣನವರ ಪರಿಶುದ್ಧ ಪಾಂಡಿತ್ಯ (Hiriyanna’s Pure Scholarship) – the first chapter (pp. 9–30) in ಹೃದಯಸಂಪನ್ನರು, the seventh volume of ಜ್ಞಾಪಕ ಚಿತ್ರಶಾಲೆ by D V Gundappa (Mysore: Kavyalaya Prakashaa, 1974)
This essay, by the great D V Gundappa, a junior contemporary and a friend of the professor, is arguably the best essay on Hiriyanna. With intimate anecdotes and compelling imagery, it culls out his personality and his deep learning. It is a moving essay that brings the reader in touch with the great human and the scholar he was.
(This essay has been translated into English by H Y Sharada Prasad. It appears under the title ‘Hiriyanna: An Appreciation’ in the special edition of Hiriyanna’s Art Experience, published in 1997 by Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, New Delhi.)
2. Introductory essay of Śatāvadhāni Dr. R Ganesh for the book The Best of Hiriyanna (Bengaluru: W.I.S.E. Words and Prekshaa Pratishtana, 2018)
This is a masterful introduction to the life and works of Prof. Hiriyanna with reviews of his works in the backdrop of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The book is an anthology of forty-eight of the best essays by the professor on Indian philosophy, aesthetics, and Sanskrit literature. If there is one book of Hiriyanna one must read, it is this.
3. Professor M. Hiriyanna (1871–1950) – an introductory essay by N Sivarama Sastry that appears in the Prof. M. Hiriyanna Commemoration Volume edited by N Sivarama Sastry and G Hanumantha Rao (Mysore: M. Hiriyanna Commemoration Volume Committee, 1952)
The essay is a brief critique of Hiriyanna’s life and his profound scholarship. N Sivarama Sastry has also prepared an extremely useful and an exhaustive bibliography of the professor’s writings – both books and articles. Dr. S Radhakrishnan has written a foreword to the volume in appreciation of Prof. Hiriyanna and his works. The volume is a collection of articles on Indian philosophy, Sanskrit literature, and Indian thought by eminent scholars.
4. ಪ್ರೊ. ಎಂ. ಹಿರಿಯಣ್ಣ – the third chapter in the book ಹಿರಿಯರು-ಗೆಳೆಯರು by V Sitaramiah (Mysore: Geeta Book House, 1980)
Through this impressionistic pen portrait of Prof. Hiriyanna, V Sitaramiah sketches the personality, scholarship, and teaching methods of the professor with brief reviews and background of some of Hiriyanna’s works.
The same essay also appears as the seventh chapter in V Sitaramiah’s ವ್ಯಕ್ತಿಚಿತ್ರ ಸಂಪುಟ (ಭಾಗ ೧) published by V Si Sampada, Bangalore, 1996.
5. ಗುರು ಸ್ಮರಣೆ, appearing in the book ನಂಟರು by T N Sreekantaiya (Mysore: Kavyalaya Publishers, 1963)
This essay is mainly about Prof. Hiriyanna as a teacher, his conduct at the workplace, his demeanour in public, and the high respect he gained from all. The author recalls some of the immortal lines that Prof. Hiriyanna would utter during his classes – ”Art should not have a moral aim, but should have a moral view,” “Dhvani is a failure that succeeds,” and so forth.
The same essay has also been published in ತೀ. ನಂ. ಶ್ರೀ ಸಮಗ್ರ ಗದ್ಯ—the complete prose works of T N Sreekantaiya —under the same title, published by ಕನ್ನಡ ಪುಸ್ತಕ ಪ್ರಾಧಿಕಾರ, ಬೆಂಗಳೂರು, 2006.
(The book ನಂಟರು been translated into English as Relatives by T S Nagabhushana and published in 2014.)
6. Professor M. Hiriyanna Birth Centenary Commemoration Volume (1871 –1971) edited by V Raghavan and G Marulasiddaiah (Mysore: Prasaranga, University of Mysore, 1972)
The volume is a collection of essays on philosophy and Sanskrit by eminent scholars. The volume also includes a few brilliant essays, reminiscences and pen portrays on M. Hiriyanna, his life, works, achievements, and contributions. They are:
- Professor Hiriyanna by V Sitaramiah
- An Unassuming Scholar by K Chandrasekharan
- Prof. Hiriyanna – Personality and Works by B K Shivaramaiah
- His Last Pupil by G Marulasiddaiah (under the name ‘Siddhanta’)
- Works Edited by Prof. M. Hiriyanna by R S Shivaganesha Murthy
- Those Days are Gone by A R Badarinarayan
- Hiriyanna: A Tribute by D V Gundappa
- Gurupranaam by P T Narasimhachar
- Bibliography of Prof. Hiriyanna’s Writings by N Sivarama Sastry
7. The Mysore Orientalist, Volume 5, Edited by G Marulasiddaiah and R S Sivaganesamurti (Mysore: Oriental Research Institute, 1974)
This volume contains the papers read at the Seminar on Professor M. Hiriyanna: His Life and Works held in December 1972 as part of his birth centenary celebrations. It includes essays such as –
- Prof. Hiriyanna: A Model of Learning and Modesty by A N Upadhye
- Prof. Hiriyanna’s Contributions by G Hanumantha Rao
- Prof. Hiriyanna: His Contributions by R R Ambardekar
- Prof. Hiriyanna on Theistic Vedanta by K Sheshadri
- Prof. Hiriyanna on Pūrva-Mīmāṃsā by K T Pandurangi
- Prof. M. Hiriyanna as an Exponent of Mīmāṃsā by G V Devasthali
- Karma, its place in the Bhagavadgita and Prof. Hiriyanna’s observations on it by C Ramanathan
- Hiriyanna on the Philosophy of Values by S Venkitasubramonia Iyer
- Prof. M Hiriyanna’s Philosophy of Values by A G Javadekar
- Prof. Hiriyanna on Art and Morality by E R Sreekrishna Sarma
- Hiriyanna’s Contribution to Indian Ethical Thought—An Assessment by P B Vidyarthi
- Prof. Hiriyanna’s Contributions to Ethical Thought by G A Jalihal
8. ಕಾಲೇಜ್ ದಿನಗಳು by V Sitaramiah (Bangalore: IBH Prakashana, 1971)
The book contains reminiscences of V. Sitaramiah’s college days at Maharaja’s College, Mysore, where he was a student of Prof. Hiriyanna. The book has a few references to Prof. Hiriyanna, mainly about his teachings and personality as well as how he conducted himself inside and outside the college and how attending his classes was a source of pure delight.
9. The Late Professor M. Hiriyanna by H L Hariyappa (Pune: Annals of Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, Vol. 31, 1950)
This is an obituary of Professor M Hiriyanna.
10. ಪ್ರೊ. ಹಿರಿಯಣ್ಣನವರು – appears in the book ಸಾಹಿತಿಗಳ ಸಂಗದಲ್ಲಿ by De Javaregowda (Bangalore: Ankita Pustaka, 1999)
This is a brief biography of M Hiriyanna with minor details of his life.
Foreword by V Raghavan to Reviews, a collection of 122 reviews, that Prof. Hiriyanna wrote to various newspapers, periodicals and journals of prestigious research institutions and universities (Mysore: Kavyalaya Publishers, 1970)
Foreword by S R Ramaswamy to the new edition of Indian Conception of Values published as part of The Mysore Hiriyanna Library (Bengaluru: W.I.S.E. Words and Prekshaa Pratishtana, 2018)
Foreword by Kapila Vatsyayan to the special edition of Art Experience (New Delhi: Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, 1997)
The author wishes to express his heartfelt thanks to Śatāvadhāni Dr. R Ganesh and Hari Ravikumar for their valuable inputs. Edited by Hari Ravikumar.
 Hiriyanna, M. The Quest After Perfection, Mysore: Kavyalaya Publishers, 1952. p. 43
 Journal of the American Oriental Society, Vol. 73, No. 3 (July-September 1953), p. 171
 Durant, Will. The Story of Philosophy. New York: Garden City Publishing, 1938. p. 30
 This is title of the last essay of Prof. Hiriyanna’s critically acclaimed anthology Art Experience (1954)
 Hiriyanna, M. Outlines of Indian Philosophy. London: George Allen & Unwin, 1932
 Taken from the well-known essay by D V Gundappa on Prof. Hiriyanna titled ಹಿರಿಯಣ್ಣನವರ ಪರಿಶುದ್ಧ ಪಾಂಡಿತ್ಯ (Hiriyannanavara Parishuddha Panditya). See the later part of the article for details
Appendix – M Hiriyanna’s Writings
In the early part of his career Prof. M Hiriyanna wrote a few books on education. D V Gundappa, in his essay on M Hiriyanna mentions that Hiriyanna had published two works in Kannada titled ‘ಬೋಧನಕ್ರಮ’ and ‘ಸ್ಮೃತಿಶಕ್ತಿ’ for the benefit of students and teachers.
Apart from the works mentioned here, Prof. Hiriyanna wrote innumerable essays, articles, and reviews to journals of learned research institutions, prestigious universities, reputed papers, and periodicals. He also wrote forewords for a few books.
The following list is reproduced (with a few additions) from T P Ramachandran’s book M. Hiryanna (The Builders of Indian Philosophy Series). New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal, 2001. pp. 262–63.
Īśāvāsyopaniṣad with the commentary of Śrī Śaṅkarācārya, translated into English with Introduction and Notes (Srirangam: Sri Vani Vilas Press, 1911)
Kenopaniṣad with the commentary of Śrī Śaṅkarācārya, translated into English with Introduction and Notes (Srirangam: Sri Vani Vilas Press, 1912)
Kaṭhopaniṣad with the commentary of Śrī Śaṅkarācārya, translated into English with Introduction and Notes (Srirangam: Sri Vani Vilas Press, 1915)
Bṛhadāraṇyakopaniṣad, Part I, Sections 1–3, with the commentary of Śrī Śaṅkarācārya, translated into English with Introduction and Notes (Srirangam: Sri Vani Vilas Press, 1919)
Tales from the Sanskrit Dramatists (with S K De, Kunhan Raja, P S Subramania Sastri, G I Somayaji, T L Krishnaswami Aiyar, and Kamala Satthianadhan), with a Foreword by Sir C V Kumaraswami Sastri (Madras: G A Natesan & Co., 1924)
The Naiṣkarmyasiddhi of Sureśvarācārya with the Candrikā of Jñānottama. Introduction and Explanatory Notes (Poona: Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, 1925; Bombay Sanskrit and Prakrit Series No. 38)
Vedāntasāra, a work on Vedānta Philosophy by Sadānanda, edited with Introduction, Translation, and Explanatory Notes (Poona: Oriental Book Agency, 1929)
Outlines of Indian Philosophy (London: George Allen and Unwin, 1932)
(This work has been translated into Kannada titled ಭಾರತೀಯ ತತ್ವಶಾಸ್ತ್ರದ ರೂಪು ರೇಖೆಗಳು by Prabhu Shankara. Mysore: Prasaranga, University of Mysore, 1973)
Iṣṭasiddhi of Vimuktātman with extracts from Vivaraṇa of Jñānottama, critically edited with Introduction and Notes (Baroda: Oriental Institute, 1933; Gaekwad’s Oriental Series No. 65)
The Essentials of Indian Philosophy (London: George Allen and Unwin, 1949)
(This work has been translated into Kannada titled ಭಾರತೀಯ ತತ್ವಶಾಸ್ತ್ರದ ಮೂಲಾಂಶಗಳು by K B Ramakrishna Rao. Mysore: Prasaranga, University of Mysore, 1971)
Popular Essays in Indian Philosophy (Mysore: Kavyalaya Publishers, 1952)
The Quest After Perfection (Mysore: Kavyalaya Publishers, 1952)
Art Experience (Mysore: Kavyalaya Publishers, 1954)
Sanskrit Studies (Mysore: Kavyalaya Publishers, 1954)
Indian Philosophical Studies (Mysore: Kavyalaya Publishers, 1957)
The Mission of Philosophy (Mysore: Kavyalaya Publishers, 1960)
Reviews, with a Foreword by V Raghavan (Mysore: Kavyalaya Publishers, 1970)
Indian Philosophical Studies – 2 (Mysore: Kavyalaya Publishers, 1972)
Indian Conception of Values (Mysore: Kavyalaya Publishers, 1975)
Apart from the above mentioned independent works, M Hiriyanna was on the Editorial Board (along with W R Inge, L P Jacks, E A Burtt, and P T Raju) in bringing out Radhakrishnan: Comparative Studies in Philosophy Presented in Honour of his Sixtieth Birthday (London: George Allen and Unwin, 1951). This special volume was brought out in the honour of S Radhakrishnan, eminent scholar of Indian philosophy, a junior contemporary and a friend of M Hiriyanna, who rose to the office of the Vice-President of India and later President of India.