By Prof. A.V. Narasimha Murthy
Dr. Adinatha Neminatha Upadhye was born at Sadalaga village in Belgaum district in 1906. He had his early education in Belgaum, Kolhapur, Sangli and Puna. He studied at Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, Puna and obtained Masters degree in Prakrit. Subsequently, he joined Rajaram College, Kolhapur, as Professor of Prakrit in which most of the Jaina works have been written.
His mother wanted her son to become a lawyer and earn lot of money. Young Upadhye told his mother "If I become a lawyer, I will be arguing the cases involving murderers, cheaters, thieves and other bad elements. But now I can write about Jina, Thirthankaras, Jaina saints whom you respect most. Hence you should be more happy that I am choosing this career which is nearer to God, than money." His mother was extremely happy at this reply and blessed him.
He dedicated himself to Jaina studies and contributed many books of great rese-arch value. His works include Pravachanasara, Panchasuttam, Varangacharita, Kamsavaho, Lilavati, Kuvalayamala, and numerous others. His contributions were admired by great scholars like Schubring (Germany), Winternitz (Pargue), Keith (Edinburgh), Chatterji (Kolkata), R. Shamashastry (Kautilya fame). Honours came to him from far and wide. He visited Paris, Canberra, Belgium, etc. He was the President of 46th Kannada Sahitya Sammelana held in 1967.
At the age of 65, he joined the Mysore University as the first Professor of the Department of Jainalogy and Prakrits at the invitation of the then Vice-Chancellor, Prof. D. Javaregowda. The VC had a tough time in convincing the authorities for the appointment of Dr. Upadhye as he was 65. My-sore University came to limelight among many foreign universities due to the presence of Dr. Upadhye as the faculty.
There are many anecdotes revolving around Dr. Upadhye. In a function at Mysore, another great scholar D.L. Narasimhachar, while welcoming Upadhye said, "His full name is Ane Upadhye, meaning an elephant and he is like an elephant in Jainology," and the audience applauded this statement. But while replying Dr. Upadhye said, "If you write my name in English (Roman) it will be AN Upadhye and its short for ANU meaning, just an atom." The audience admired his humility and gave him a sta-nding ovation for this observation.
Dr. Upadhye being a great scholar at international level, was writing letters to scholars all over the world and similarly was receiving letters from them. He used to go to the post box to post these letters. Once when he was in Kolhapur, he felt the post box was too far from his house and caused great inconvenience. He wrote to the postal authorities requesting them to shift the post box near his house. The postal authorities were perplexed at this strange request. As they had heard of his greatness, they reacted positively to his request. They watched for a month, the number of letters that were being posted by Dr. Upadhye and also the letters he received from others. They noticed that 90% of the letters in that post box were posted by Upadhye. Immediately they accepted his request and shifted the post box nearer to his house.
Once Dr. H.M. Nayak, appreciating Upadhye's publications, told the youngsters to emulate the example of Dr. Upadhye, otherwise they will perish. Dr . Upadhye in his replay said, "Be careful in publishing. Many people have published and perished. Don't rush towards publication unless you are very sure of what you publish." This advice applies to present times in a more emphatic way.
I had the good fortune of knowing Dr. Upadhye intimately when he was in Mysore University. When we published a Prakrit inscription mentioning cha a patharo and showed it to him, he hugged me and demanded sweets. When I reminded him that he is a diabetic, he laughed and said "Please don't remind me of my diabetes. I will eat sweets and take one more extra tablet." He repeated the same sentence whenever he came to my house for dinner.
Though Upadhye was provided with a typist by the University, he typed personal letters himself without depending upon the official typist. After retirement from the University in 1975, he went back to Kolhapur and died on Oct. 9, 1975, in his house Dhavala on the 8th road (athavi galli). The Municipal Corporation, after his death, named the road as A.N. Upadhye Marg.
The name of Dr. Upadhye will be immortal as long as Jain studies remain in any part of the world. By accepting to be at Mysore University at the age of 65, he made Mysore University proud.
(Inputs from Dr. Preeti Shubhachandra).