Prof. Dr. Bellikoth Ramachandra Sharma, a distinguished Sanskrit scholar of international fame and author of several works, was born to Sri Janardhan D. Shenoy and Mahamaya alias Shri devi in the year 1912 at Bellikoth (erstwhile South Kanara District of Madras Presidency) of the preset Kasargod district of Kerala State. During the Freedom Movement in 1920’s his father sent him to a Sanskrit Pathashala instead of Higher Elementary School. After passing the Sanskrit Siromani Examination at Tiruvaiyaru, he found it difficult to get a job without the knowledge of English. This prompted him to study English which stood him in goodstead to achieve higher positions in Institutions of Higher Learning and Universities. From the very childhood he nourished an ambition to become a University Professor and to develop flavor for writing. Both his ambitions were fulfilled in his life when we look back on his brilliant career and the eminent positions he has held and innumerable scholarly works on Indology he has produced.
Dr. Sharma started his humble career as the Headmaster of Srinivasa (Sanskrit) Pathashala, Mangalore. While serving here, he passed Vidwan A (Sanskrit main and Malayalam Secondary), Vidwan B (Kannada-Preliminary), Intermediate, B.O.L., and M.A., degrees of Madras University by self-study, After obtaining the Postgraduate degree, he joined the Deccan College postgraduate Research Institute, Poona, for doing research in the field of Vedic Literature. He worked day and night incessantly on his thesis ‘The concept of Apah in Vedic Literature’ first under the guidance of Dr. V.M. Apte and carried out his research further under the able guidance of Dr. S. M. Katre, and authority on Indo-Aryan Linguistics, and got the Doctorate degree from the University of Bombay.
Dr. Sharma worked for a term in London School of Oriental and African Studies, doing research in Phonetics and Linguistics under Prof. Firth. He got a Diploma in Librarianship, Leeds England). He served for about a year in various libraries in Britain including the University Library, Birmingham, Lancshire Country Library, Preston, Croydon Public Library, Croydon and National Central Library, London.
On his return from England, Prof. Sharma worked as Curator, Anup Sanskrit Library, Bikaner, and thereafter as Professor of Indo-European Philology and Vedic studies at the Mithila Institute, Darbhanga (Bihar). He was the founder Director of the Kendriya Sanskrit Vidyapeetha, Tirupati, which was established by the Ministry of Education, Government of India in the year 1962. He served the Tirupati Vidyapeetha for eight years. During his service at the Vidyapeetha, Dr. Sharma brought out welve critical editions of the rare and valuable Samaveda Brahmanas and the ancillary works of the Samaveda. Some of the publications were reprinted by the Tirupati Vidyapeetha is a true index to its’ popularity among the Sanskrit scholars. His magnanimity is evident when we see that he has dedicated the Pratihara Sutra, his last publication during his tenure as the Director to the staff of the Vidyapeetha as a token of his appreciation and gratitude for the service and cooperation extended by the latter for the alround development of the Vidyapeetha.
Dr. Sharma has also worked as Professor-cum-Director at he Vishveshvaranand Vedic Research Institute of Punjab University-a wellknown centre of international reputation for Vedic research and also as Visiting Fellow at the Nepal Research Centre, Kathmandu (established by the German Oriental Society). He has been U.G.C. Professor in the University of Mysore for sometime and also worked as Honorary Professor, Central Institute of Indian Languages, Manasa Gangotri, Mysore.
Prof. Sharma has contributed over a hundred research papers to various journals and has edited a number of rare original Vedic texts with old commentaries and critical apparatus including learned introductions. So far he has brought out twenty Samaveda Brahmanas, two lexicographical texts, and two descriptive catalogues of very rare and important collections of Raj Manuscripts at Darbhanga and manuscripts at Hoshiarpur (Punjab)
Dr. Sharma’s critical editions of the Vedic and other texts are well received by scholars all over the world. His own commentary in Sanskrit ‘Sadhana’ (named after his daughter, a scientist in U.S.A.) on Puspasutra of the 8th century B.C., a work on Sama-Pratisakhya, was published by the German Oriental Society. The major works of Dr. Sharma besides the Puspasutra in three parts (1700 pages), include Arseya Kalpa in two parts (1120 pages), Drahyayana-Srautasutra (1000 pages), the ‘Brahmanas’ and technical works of the Sama Veda (3944 pages) and the critical edition of the Shukla Yajurveda of Kanva recension, with three commentaries and padapatha (over 4000 pages).
At present he is editing the Sama Veda in all its three recensions, viz., Kauthuma, Ranayaniya and Jaiminiya. Many of his editions are published for the first time in this most abstruse and neglected field of Vedic studies. Prof. Michael Witzel of the Netherlands has rated Prof. Sharma next to Caland, celebrated authority on Vedic studies. He states that Dr. Sharma is the first of all the scholars in Samaveda and the International Indology will never forget Prof. Sharma’s contributions. Dr. Sharma’s Samaveda Project has received the approval of the Government of India for which he was appointed Honorary Professor by the Central Ministry of Education.
Dr. Sharma is a member of many learned bodies in India. He is a life member of Linguistic Society of India and V.V.R.I., Sadhu Ashram, Hoshiarpur. He was an Executive Committee member and the Joint General Secetary of All India Oriental Conference for many sessions (including the Silver Jubilee Session). He presided over the Vedic section of A.I. O.C. held at Ujjaini, where he displayed his uncommon skill and ability in Vedic literature and was held in high esteem by one and all and gained great reputation, honour and distinction. He has been recognized as an authority on Vedic literature. He was a corresponding member of Indian Historical Records Commission for a number of years. He is also a member of the Academic Committee, Asiatic Society, Calcutta.
Dr. B.R. Sharma is the recipient of the President‘s award for the year 1983. The award is in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the cause of Sanskrit, Indology in general and Vedas in particular. The award was conferred on him by His Excellency Shri Zail Singh, President of India in March 1984. He is an awardee of Saraswati Educational and Cultural Trust, Mysore and Konkani Lovers, Bangalore. He is also honoured with NEW YEAR AWARD for 1986 by Manipal General Educational Society, Manipal, Syndicate Bank, Manipal and Rotary Club of Udipi.
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