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Sumitra Mangesh Katre – Lexicographer – Linguist And Indo – Aryan Scholar

Professor Dr Sumitra Mangesh Katre (1906 – 98) was born at Honnavar, Karnataka in India and passed away at the age of 92 in San Jose, California. Prof. S. M. Katre did his B.A. from Madras University. He got his Ph.D in Linguistics in 1931 from the School of Oriental and African Studies (London) on early Buddhist ballads and their relation to the older Upanishads.

After his return from London, he taught at Nowrosjee Wadia College and also S.P. College, Pune, and then in 1939 he joined the newly founded Deccan College Postgraduate and Research Institute as Professor of Indo-European Philosophy. He served as its Director from 1942-71. Under Katre’s dynamic and inspiring leadership, the Deccan College became a world renowned research institute.

He served in various academic and administrative capacities, such as – President, Linguistic Society of India (1946); Treasurer (virtually Managing Editor) of Indian Linguistics (1954-69), Journal of the Linguistic Society of India, Director, Center of Advanced Study in Linguistics (1964 – 69); Director, Language Project (1954 – 59); General Editor, Sanskrit Dictionary Department / Project, Deccan College (1951 -71).

After retiring from the Deccan College in 1971, he became professor (1971 – 76) in the Department of Oriental and African Languages and Literature, University of Texas, Austin. Under his guidance, 32 students were awarded a Phd. in Sanskrit or Indo-Aryan Linguistics.

Prof. S. M. Katre was the founding editor of New Indian Antiquary, Oriental Literary Digest, Bulletin of the Deccan College Postgraduate and Research Institute. He contributed mainly in the areas of Indo-Aryan, MIA, Paninian Studies, Konkani, Marathi, Sanskrit lexicography. He published 12 books and about 250 research articles and reviews.

Katre’s outstanding contribution is the initiation of the Encyclopedic Dictionary of Sanskrit on Historical Principles. Some of his very important and significant words are – Introduction to Indian Textual Criticism (1942, reprint 1981, Deccan College); The Formation of Konkani (1942, reprint 1966, Deccan College); Prakrit Languages and their Contribution to Indian Culture (1945); Dictionary of Panini : I – III (1968 – 69); Ganapatha (1971); Ashtadhyayi of Panini (Roman Transliteration and English Translation, 187 Austin, Texas, reprint 1989, Motilal Banarsidass, New Delhi).

In recognition of Katre’s manifold services to the Linguistic Society of India and to the Deccan College, his colleagues and admirers dedicated Indian Linguistics, Vols 29-30 (1970-71) and the Bulletin of the Deccan College Postgraduate and Research Institute, Vols 51-52 (1991 – 92) as felicitation volumes of Katre.

Katre was mainly responsible for developing and introducing modern linguistics in India through summer and winter schools. He was an able institute builder, an insightful scholar, and a visionary.

SourceEncyclopedia of Hinduism Volume VI – page 6 - 7 – IHRF-Rupa 2011