BENGALURU: Malleshappa M Kalburgi, a reputed scholar and academic who served as the Vice-Chancellor of Kannada University in Hampi was shot dead by unidentified men at Dharwad on Sunday morning, police said .
Three men who barged into his house shot him after an heated argument, police said.
While police strongly suspect that he might be the target of Hindu fundamentalist , they have also ruled out personal enemity over sharing of property.
Kalaburgi was awarded the National Sahitya Akademi award in 2006 for Marga 4, a collection of hundred of his research articles.
He was a noted Kannada epigraphist and a renowned scholar of the Vachana literature. However, his scholarship on the Vachanas has come under acute criticism in the 21st century.
A controversy broke out in the early 80s over Kalburgi’s book, Marga-One, erupted. Religious zealots belonging to the powerful Lingayat community came down heavily on Kalburgi and he was forced to recant the allegedly derogatory references to the founder of Veerashaiva-the liberal Shaivism followed by Lingayats-Basavesh-wara, his wife and sister.
The denouncements grew louder among the community and he was summoned to a math in Hubli and forced to ‘recant’ a life’s work.
Kalburgi’s writings are a product of extensive research. Marga-One is a collection of papers on Kannada folklore, religion and culture. The controversy revolves around two articles which deal with Basaveshwara’s wife and sister.
Though Kalburgi had apologised to the Lingayat seers, the controversy continued, with the fundamentalists demanding that the book be proscribed.
A frustrated Kalaburgi had declared later that he would never again pursue any research on Lingayat literature and Basava philosophy.
Last year, Kalburgi’s comments at a public programme raised nany a eyebrows. Speaking at a programme on , Kalburgi had referred to remarks made by late Jnanapith awardee U R Ananthamurthy about idol worship in a collection of essays called “Bettale Puje Yake Kudadhu” (roughly translated as “Why nude worship is not acceptable”).
Kalburgi had stated that writer U R Ananthamurthy had once urinated on the idols of Hindu gods, to prove that they are not powerful.