Born On: 1880 (date unknown)
Born In: Maharashtra, India
Died On: 1972 (date unknown)
Career: Indologist and Scholar
Some of the greatest writings on social reforms of India came from this man, Dr. Pandurang Vaman Kane. He was conferred with an honorary degree of doctor of law at a special convocation ceremony. He was an indologist, i.e., a person who excels at languages and literature, and could converse easily in both Sanskrit and English. He authored several books, especially on religious and civil law. In these books, he compiled the scriptures of ancient and medieval India. Being a scholar, this great person was revered all over the country. The book 'History of Dharmasastra', penned by Dr. Kane is, by far, one of the most inspiring books written about the social reforms of ancient India. The title 'Mahamahopadhyaya' (the greatest teacher of all teachers) was bestowed upon him in his later days and in 1963, he was given the highest civilian award of India, the Bharat Ratna.
Dr. Kane was born in the Ratnagiri district of Maharashtra to a very conservative Chitpavan Brahmin family. Not much is known about his background or his family history. Dr. Kane graduated from the University of Mumbai and worked there as a historian and Vice Chancellor. He also helped in establishing the Kurukshetra University in Indic studies.
In 1930, Dr. Kane's best known work, 'History of Dharmasastra' - which was under the subtitle 'Ancient and Medieval Religions and Civil Law in India' - was published. This book's launch was announced by Dr. Radhakrishnan and it has been a significant landmark in the history of India. The book was a true combination of conception and execution and has nearly 6500 pages of information, such as several texts and manuscripts, all compiled in one. It is also known to contain certain information on the Mahabharat, Puranas and Kautilya in Sanskrit. Dr. Kane's basic idea behind writing the book was to make the public aware of the ancient social laws and customs in India and also to study the social processes that were prevalent in ancient India. The last publication was on November 17th 1962. He was said to have used reliable resources like the Asiatic Society of Bombay and the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute.
His next work as an author was a book called 'Vyavaharamayukha'. An introductory paragraph on the history of Dharmasastra was included in this book so that the reader got a fair idea of the subject, apart from the contents of the book itself. This became one of his major works and was translated into English and Marathi, apart from being written in Sanskrit. It was made up of nearly 15000 pages.
An additional part of Dr. Kane's career was spent in debating the Indian constitution. He believed that these set of rules and regulations were a break from traditional ideas that were widespread in India. He further implied that people residing in this country have rights but no obligations.
Several issues were brought to light due to the nature of his work and writings. During the reign of the Atal Bihari Vajpayee in India, there was a discussion whether the ancient Indian ate beef. For answers, they reverted to Dr. Kane's works to prove that Hindus respected and worshipped the Cow and eating beef was not allowed. Another example was the issue of whether girls in India were allowed to wear the sacred thread. But, it was found out, through his books, that it was restricted only to men.
The exact date and cause of Dr. Kane's death remain unknown. However, it is confirmed that it happened in the year 1972 when he was 92 years old.
Awards And Accolades
He was the Mahamahopadhyaya for his excellence in writings. Therefore, his name is always prefixed with an MM.
He was awarded the prestigious, Sahiya Akademi Award in 1956 for 'History of Dharmasastra, Vol IV' under the category of Sanskrit translation.
Dr. Kane was also an esteemed honorary member of the Bhartiya Vidya Bhavan where he achieved new heights of greatness.
Becoming a part of the Rajya Sabha as a Member of Parliament (MP) was also under his list of achievements and he was there for having a distinguished record in the field of academics.
Last but not least, he was conferred with the highest civilian accolade of India, the Bharat Ratna, in 1963.
In 1974, for his study on Religious and Civil Law, the town hall of the Asiatic Society of Bombay (where he conducted his research) commemorated him with an institute called the MM P. V. Kane Institute for Post Graduate Studies and Research.
His legacy is furthered by the fact that a P. V. Kane Gold Medal is given to scholars for their outstanding contribution in the study of Vedic, Dharmasastra or Alankara Literature.
1880: Pandurang Kane was born to a conservative family in the Ratnagiri district of Maharashtra.
1930: First publication of 'History of Dharmasastra' was released.
1956: Dr. Kane received the Sahitya Akademi Award for 'History of Dharmasastra, Vol IV' under the category of Sanskrit translation.
1962: Last publication of the 'History of Dharmasastra' was released.
1963: The Government of India bestowed Dr. Kane with the Bharat Ratna (highest civilian award in the Republic of India) for excellence in Literature.
1972: Died at the age of 92.
1974: The Asiatic Society dedicated an institute in his name for study in Religions and Civil Law.