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m. h. krishna

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M. H. Krishna
Maharaja College Group Photo - M. H. Krishna & S. Srikanta Sastri
Flinders Petrie
Halmidi Inscription
Maharaja College Group Photo - M. H. Krishna & S. Srikanta Sastri
Mummadi Krishna Raja Wodeyar
M. H. Krishna

Mysore Hatti Krishna Iyengar (M. H. Krishna: 19 August, 1892 - 23 December, 1947) was born in Mysore to parents Ranga Iyengar and Lakshmamma. His father was a Sanskrit scholar and teacher to Nalwadi Krishna Raja Wodeyar during the Maharaja’s younger years. Ranga Iyengar was Chief of Treasury at the Palace. This was a position afforded to a person of high integrity. This person was required to reside in quarters close to the Palace – in accommodations referred to as “Hatti”; hence the inclusion of “Hatti” in the names of all family members! Ranga Iyengars’ ancestors were closely associated with the Mysore Royal family since generations. One such ancestor was Ramaswamy who was Dharma-adhikari in the court of Mummadi Krishna Raja Wodeyar. They were all natives of a region by name Kalale. Ranga Iyengar and Lakshmamma had five boys and M. H. Krishna was the second of these five children.


M. H. Krishna had his initial schooling at ‘Jayacharya Patashala’ followed by a brief tenure at the ‘Wesleyan Mission High School’ where he was a year junior to the doyen of Kannada literature – Masti Venkatesh Iyengar with whom he retained a close friendship for several years to come. Krishna then gained admission to Maharaja College, Mysore in 1911 to pursue his B. A. degree. Here, he was a classmate of noted Kannada writer Talakina Venkanayya and both studied under Denham. His early interest in Cultural Studies, Numismatics, Archaeology, Indian History, Economics and Political Science was evident by this time. By 1917, Krishna secured a M. A. qualification from Madras University.


M. H. Krishna worked as a teacher under the Mysore Government Education Department for some time soon after his B. A. He was appointed as Lecturer in the University of Mysore History Department by 1916.

Completing his Master’s Degree from Madras University, he gained Membership in The Royal Asiatic Society, London in 1919. The then Vice Chancellor of University of Mysore Brajendranath Seal and Prof. Radha Kumud Mukherjee were impressed with M. H. Krishna’s academic diligence and hard work. They decided to depute M. H. Krishna to Department of Archaeology office at Bangalore, Numismatics division for two years between 1920 – 22, during which time he was tasked with cataloguing the vast coin collection in their archives. He could sadly never publish this vast and painstakingly compiled catalogue and would revisit the same for further improvements only in 1928 – 31. During his tenure here, he was well tutored in the administrative nuances of the department of archaeology by then director – R. Narasimhacharya and accomplished epigraphist of his time Chincholi Venkannacharya (Popularly remembered as “Akshara Brahma”). R. Narasimhacharya retired in 1922 and was succeeded by R. Shamasastry.  M. H. Krishna was sponsored for further studies in 1924 and he went to University College, London for higher  studies in archaeology. His guide for research studies during this period was the eminent British archaeologist Ernest Arthur Gardiner. Here he studied extensively ‘Epigraphy’, ‘Study of Sculptures’, ‘Architecture’, ‘Numismatics’ and ‘Excavation Science’. Apart from Gardiner, he was under the illustrious tutelage of L. D. Barnett, Sir Flinders Petrie, Eliot Smith, Seligman, W. G. Perry and Edvard Westermarck. M. H. Krishna accompanied Flinders Petrie on his Egyptian excavations. He made use of his time in Europe to visit and study collections of South Indian interest at ‘British Museum’, ‘Ashmolean Museum, Oxford’, ‘Fitz William Collection, Cambridge’, ‘National Museum, Paris’ and ‘Kaiser Frederic Museum, Berlin’. He submitted his theses ‘Deccan Numismatics’ for publication to the Royal Institute at this time. M. H. Krishna was invited to deliver a series of public lectures on ‘Indian History and Archaeology’. He totally delivered about seven lectures in 1926.  

University of Mysore

M. H. Krishna came to Mysore in 1926. In addition to his position in the History Department at University of Mysore, he held an additional brief at the Department of Archaeology till 1944 where after the department was divulged away from the umbrella of the University. He assumed full time leadership at the Department of Archaeology from 1944 onwards.

The next two to three decades would come to be remembered later as the ‘Golden Age’ of University of Mysore. Maharaja Nalwadi Krishna Raja Wodeyar and Diwan Sir M. Visweswaraiah had assembled a star faculty at the University having roped in some of the best minds in every stream of study from across the nation.

To name a few, Brajendranath Seal from Bengal, Radha Kumud Mukherjee, Nishikantha Chattopadhyaya (father of Sarojini Naidu), A. R. Wadia (from Bombay), K. T. Shah, C. R. Reddy (from Hyderabad), S. Radhakrishnan (from Madras), M. Hiriyanna, M. H. Krishna, R. Shamasastry, N. S. Subba Rao, M. V. Gopalaswamy, B. M. Srikantaiah, T. S. Venkannayya and A. R. Krishnasastri.

During this time, he was president of the “University Historical Association”. M. H. Krishna emphasized on the study of Karnataka history and cultural history of Karnataka; a tradition subsequently carried on by his student S. Srikanta Sastri (1935 onwards). Krishna became the head of the department of History at University of Mysore in 1932. Next year he was made a member of the University Senate Academic Council. In 1939, he was made Dean of Faculty of Arts.

M. H. Krishna was, for many years, an examiner for various courses in the University, Indian Civil Service exams, and at University of Allahabad and University of Bombay. M. H. Krishna nurtured many a future scholar under his wings while at the University. His students include S. Srikanta Sastri, Jayachamarajendra Wodeyar, Dinakara Desai, M. Seshadri, N. Anantarangachar, M. N. Srinivas, S. R. Rao, B. Sheikh Ali, A. V. Venkatarathnam, C. M. Vedavalli, M. P. L. Sastry, E. R. Sethuram, D. Javaregowda, G. Venkatasubbiah, S. V. Parameshwara Bhatta and Chaduranga.

His years as an archaeologist

The Mysore Government Archaeological Department had its inception in 1885. Pioneers like Benjamin Lews Rice, R. Narasimhachar, R. Shamasastry toiled to lay strong foundations for this great establishment. The organization was instrumental in the initial decades in unearthing of hundreds of forgotten inscriptions from across the state. B. L. Rice himself was instrumental in collecting close to 9000 inscriptions in his tenure. He later brought forth these in 12 Volumes as ‘Epigraphia Carnatica’. His successor R. Narasimhacharya discovered and catalogued 5000 inscriptions. R. Shamasastry was instrumental in bringing to light about 1000 inscriptions and M. H. Krishna added to this corpus by discovering close to 2000 inscriptions in his life time!

To name some of the famous inscriptions discovered by M. H. Krishna:

1) Mayura Verma’s Chandravalli Inscription.

2) ‘Rashtrakuta – Pandurangapalli’ Inscription.

3) ‘Gangarasa II Madhavana Keregelur Shashana

4) Vijayanagara Narasimha Copper Plates

5) Kadamba Ravivarma Koramangala Plates

6) Oldest Kannada Inscription – Halmidi (A. D. 450)

7) Nandana Hosuru Copper Inscriptions.

In the Study of Numismatics, M. H. Krishna’s contribution in cataloguing 6000 coins in the archives of Bangalore Museum is well remembered.


1928 – Chandravalli, Chitradurga.

M. H. Krishna was among the first to use ‘Stratigraphy’ in India for excavations. At Chandravalli, he was able to unearth remains of an elaborate building, Roman coins – imprinted during the time of Emperor Augustus, Pottery with beautiful illustrations and more.

But his excavation here is best remembered for his successful identification of ‘Isila’ city. In 1892, L. Rice identified Emperor Ashoka’s Inscription here mentioning the city of ‘Isila” near Brahmagiri. But, M. H. Krishna created history in actually excavating the remains of the said city near Brahmagiri. He was further able to impress upon Mortimer Wheeler to continue excavations at this site in 1946. Stone-age and Iron-age relics were also found here.

He excavated different parts of this region and found 16 trenches containing various structures and material. He identified five different cultural strata called ‘Microlithic’, Neolithic, Iron Age, Mauryan and Chalukya-Hoysala strata. He designated the first one (the Microlithic) as the ‘Roppa Culture’ because it was found in the vicinity of that village. His excavations revealed evidences of early human inhabitation in and around ‘Isila’. M. H. Krishna authored ‘Monumenta Karnataka’ and ‘Hoysala Vastushilpa’. Sadly, both were never published. He traced Shivaji’s father’s (Shahaji) burial site. 


1) Hyder-nama: authored by one Nallappa; It is an unabashed and neutral perspective on day to day life of Hyder Ali and that of his people’s under his rule.

2) “Sukthi Sudarnava”: authored by Mallikarjuna under Hoysala Someswara.

3) ‘Navarasa Alamkara’

4) 'Vidyaranya Kala Gnana’

5) ‘Padma Puranada Teke”

6) “Bejawadi Madavanakana Kaavu”

7) “Mysore Samsthanada Doregala Parampare Kraphi Yathi”

Publications under the department of archaeology under M. H. Krishna’s leadership:

1) ‘Epigraphia Carnatica’ – Vol. 14 – Collection of Inscriptions from Mysore and Mandya.

2) ‘Epigraphia Carnatica’ – Vol 15 – Collection of Inscriptions from Hassan.

3) ‘Epigraphia Carnatica’ – Vol 13 – Second Half

4) Annual Reports of Department of Archaeology (1906 – 1918).

5) Travel Brochures on Belur, Halebidu, Shravanabelagola, Talakadu, Srirangapatnam and Nandi Hills.

6) Annual Reports of Department of Archaeology (1929 – 1946).

M. H. Krishna’s associations with various organisations:

1) Maharaja College Karnataka Sangha

2) University Historical Association

3) Kannada Sahitya Parishat

4) Mythic Society

5) Vidyavardhaka Sangha, Dharwad

6) Vijayanagar Smarakothsava Institute

7) Karnataka Historical Research Society

8) Karnataka Historical Congress

9) Indian Science Congress

10) Indian History Congress

11) Indian Historical Records Commission

12) Numismatic Society of India

13) All India Oriental Conference

14) Royal Asiatic Society, London

15) Royal Numismatic Society, London

16) Royal Anthropological Institute, London


1) 1929 – President of ‘Karnataka Historical Congress’, Belgaum

2) 1936 – President of ‘Vijayanagar Shat Shathamanothsava Itihasa Sammelana’, Hampi

3) 1937 – President of ‘All India Oriental Conference – Archaeology Chair’, Trivandrum

4) 1940 – President of ‘All India Oriental Conference – Humanities Division’, Tirupati.

5) 1941 – President of ‘Indian History Congress – Ancient India Division’, Hyderabad.

6) 1942 – President of ‘Indian Science Congress – Humanities Division’, Baroda.

List of his works:

1)Krishna, M. H.: ‘Hindu Charithrasara’

2)Krishna, M. H.: ‘Ajanta Mathu Ellora’

3)Krishna, M. H.: ‘Kannada Nadina Charithre – Kalegalu’

4)Krishna, M. H.: ‘Karnatakada Poorva Charithre’

5)Krishna, M. H.: ‘Tippu Sultan’ (Drama – Unpublished)

6)Krishna, M. H.: ‘Guide to Mysore State’

7)Krishna, M. H.: ‘Great Personages in History’

8)Krishna, M. H.: ‘Guide to Belur’

9)Krishna, M. H.: ‘Guide to Halebidu’

10)Krishna, M. H.: ‘Guide to Talkad’

11)Krishna, M. H.: ‘Guide to Shravanabelagola’

12)Krishna, M. H.: ‘Guide to Srirangapatna’

13)Krishna, M. H.: ‘Guide to Nandi’

14)Krishna, M. H.: ‘Evolution of Kannada Alphabet – A Chart’

15)Krishna, M. H.: ‘Map of Karnataka’

16)Krishna, M. H.: ‘Excavation at Chandravalli – Part I’

17)Krishna, M. H.: ‘Proceedings of the Eighth All India Oriental Conference’

18)Krishna, M. H.: ‘Index to Annual Reports of Mysore Archaeological Survey 1906 – 1908’

19)Krishna, M. H.: ‘General Index to Epigraphia Carnatica Part I’

20)Krishna, M. H.: ‘Epigraphia Carnatica – Vol XIV – Supplementary Inscriptions in Mysore and Mandya districts’

21)Krishna, M. H.: ‘Epigraphia Carnatica – Vol XV – Supplementary Inscriptions in Hassan District’

22)Krishna, M. H.: ‘Mysore Archaeological Survey Annual Reports’ (1929 – 1945)

23)Krishna, M. H.: ‘’Hoysala Architecture’ (Unpublished)

24)Krishna, M. H.: ‘Excavation at Chandravalli – Part III Conclusions’ (Unpublished)

25)Krishna, M. H.: ‘Political & Cultural History of India’ (Unpublished)

26)Krishna, M. H.: ‘Cultural History of India’ (Unpublished)

27)Krishna, M. H.: ‘Sindhu Teerada Puratana Samskruthi’

28)Krishna, M. H.: ‘Mallikarjuna mata mathu Kala’

29)Krishna, M. H.: ‘Vichaara’

30)Krishna, M. H.: ‘Athyantha Prachina Kannada Shashana’

Papers read at Conferences

31)Krishna, M. H.: ‘Rashtrakuta Empire of 5th & 6th Centuries A. D.’

32)Krishna, M. H.: ‘Shivaji and the Mysore Raj’

33)Krishna, M. H.: ‘Pre-historic Pictographs from South India’

34)Krishna, M. H.: ‘Some Curious ways of disposing of the dead in Mysore’

35)Krishna, M. H.: ‘The art of Gomata Colossus’

36)Krishna, M. H.: ‘The Talakad Gangas and Pallavas’

37)Krishna, M. H.: ‘Shahaji’s tomb at Hodigere’

38)Krishna, M. H.: ‘The early Rashtrakutas of 6th Century A.D.’

39)Krishna, M. H.: ‘Mayurasarma Kadamba’s territories’

40)Krishna, M. H.: ‘Vishnuvardhana Hoysala as a Prince’

41)Krishna, M. H.: ‘The Vidyashankara Temple, Sringeri’

42)Krishna, M. H.: ‘Burials in Mysore State’

43)Krishna, M. H.: ‘The Brahmagiri Site’

44)Krishna, M. H.: ‘The Mahamastabisheka of Gommateshwara at Shravanabelagola’

45)Krishna, M. H.: ‘The History of Sri Vijayanarayana temple at Belur

Personal Life

He married in early 1924, Rajamma, who sadly passed away after giving birth to a boy and a girl. Krishna remarried in 1933 - Smt. Jayamma. The couple had four children. He was a devout follower of the Ramakrishna Mission. He shared a keen interest in and was adept at the art of Wrestling. In fact, he was coordinator of Maharaja College Gym for nearly a decade. A strict vegetarian, he was known for his simplicity and humility. He was remembered by his peers and students as “Panche-Professor”! He would 14 – 16 hours a day, literally burning the midnight oil.

Dr M. H. Krishna had been suffering from elevated blood pressure and diabetes for quite some time. He finally succumbed to a heart attack on 23 of December, 1947 at Mysore.

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