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Hermann Mögling (1836)
Portrait of Hermann Mögling, © Kamat's Potpourri
Hermann Mögling (1811-1881) was a German missionary from the Basel Mission who spent most of his career in the western regions of the state of Karnatakamarker, Indiamarker. He is credited to be the publisher of the first ever newspaper in the Kannada language called as Mangalooru Samachara in the year 1843. He has also been awarded a doctorate for his literary work in Kannada called as Bibliotheca Carnataca. He has also translated lot of Kannada literature to German.

Early life

Hermann Mögling was born in the year 1811 in the town of Brackenheimmarker in the state of Baden-Württembergmarker, Germanymarker. He studied theology in the Eberhard Karls University of Tübingenmarker and joined the Basel Mission. He came to the city of Mangaloremarker in Karnatakamarker as a missionary of Basel Mission in the year 1836.


Mögling, being a Christian missionary, was involved in missionary related work in Mangaloremarker but he also learnt the native Kannada language and contributed significantly to Kannada literature. One of his pioneering works was the publication of the first Kannada newspaper, Mangalooru Samachara (meaning Mangalore News).

Newspaper publishing

In the days of Mögling's career at Mangaloremarker, there was no simple way of communicating news and other items to the general public because of non-existence of a medium like radio and of a newspaper in the native language. He decided to publish a Kannada newspaper with the intention of spreading news items to the public. He decided to name it as Mangalooru Samachara and its first issue rolled out on 1 July 1843. Thereafter it was published fortnightly and contained 4 pages. The paper was printed using stone slabs. Some of the news items covered were local Mangalore-related news, Indian population, news related to the East India Company and its laws and regulations. Even songs of Purandaradasa and moral stories were also printed. There are conflicting reports on whether this newspaper was used by Mögling as a tool for proselytisation or not. The newspaper became popular and it was decided to shift its publication to the city of Bellarymarker where it was renamed as Karnataka Samachara. Karnataka Samachara was first released on 1 May 1844 and in fact it was the 15th issue of Mangalooru Samachara. Karnataka Samachara was the first Kannada newspaper to be printed using movable type. Unfortunately, only three issues of Karnataka Samachara were released. Mögling is credited to be one of the visionaries for a unified Karnataka. In his times, not much communication used to happen between the north and south regions of present-day Karnatakamarker though the people in these two regions spoke the same language, Kannada. In the last issue of Karnataka Samachara, he talks of a Samagra Karnataka (Unified Karnataka) which is essentially a union of these different regions.


Mögling's main job as a missionary of Basel Mission was the spread of Christianity. One of his converts by name Anandaraya Kaundinya and his family have exchanged letters with Mögling which he has published under the title Iraaru patragalu (Twelve letters). This was the first collection of letters ever published in Kannada. Even during his stay in Kodagumarker district during the years (1853-1858) he spent lot of his time on proselytisation and he also published a German book titled Das Kurgland which mainly deals with his activities related to Christianity.


In 1848, Mögling started dealing with Kannada literature by publishing a list of more than 3000 Kannada proverbs. He also composed about 20 poems (along with Weigle who was his cousin brother and a fellow Basel Missionary) in modern Kannada poetical form. This makes him a pioneer of modern Kannada poetry. But his most important contribution to the Kannada literature is regarded as the Bibliotheca Carnataca; which is a collection of Kannada classics edited and published by him between the period 1848-1853.. Mögling was helped in this venture by a philantrophist, J Casamajor who was a retired judge from Chennaimarker and settled in Nilgirismarker. With an exchange of letters, the two discussed on ways to collect Kannada manuscipts, select the important ones among them for publishing and identifying skilled people who would be needed to complete this activity. Casamajor agreed to bear all the expenses required for this venture and was very particular that his name should not be mentioned in any of the publications. A total of eight titles were brought out, the first one being the Ravana digvijaya - Yakshagana Prasanga (the victory of Ravana, based on a scene from Yakshagana). The largest published title running 760 pages was the Basava Purana and the smallest one was Kanakadasa's Haribhaktasara. Other titles published as a part of Bibliotheca Carnataca were Dasara Padagalu (a collection of 170 Haridasa songs) and Lakshmisha's Jaimini Bharata. This venture met an abrupt end due to the sudden demise of Casamajor and Mögling's return to Germany.

During his stay in Kodagumarker, Mögling also published the German book Das Kurgland and also a Kannada book titled Raajendranaame at the behest of the Kodagumarker king, Senior Virarajendra. The whole book Raajendraname was printed using a simpler orthographic form invented by Mögling himself. The Kannada language uses double consonants frequently, which Mögling felt was difficult for children to learn easily and also to print (since a blank line between two print lines was necessitated to print the double consonant). Mögling devised a scheme of accommodating the double consonant in the same single line by breaking the double consonant into a half consonant wherever possible. After getting an approval for his scheme from the Madrasmarker Province's Education Department, Mögling published this entire book in his devised orthography. He also published a book called Coorg Memoirs which is supposedly the one of the earliest history books on Karnatakamarker. In this book, he has described the social life of Kodavas and their customs as well.

On his return to Germanymarker, he translated 24 songs of Kanakadasa and Purandaradasa to the German language which were published by Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft, an Oriental society in Germanymarker. In 1870, he also translated the first two chapters (67 verses) of Bibliotheca Carnataca's Jaimini Bharata into German.

Late years

When his cousin Weigle died in the year 1855, Mögling (at a late age of 45) married Weigle's wife Pauline. This marriage also gave Mögling four step-children from Pauline's earlier marriage. One last contribution to Kannada from him was his interest in coming up with a Kannada - English dictionary. He motivated the Britishmarker in this project and also suggested the name of Ferdinand Kittel as the ideal person to head the project. Mögling died in the year 1881 and his memorial is in Esslingenmarker.



  1. Hermann Mögling's contribution to the Kannada literature is mentioned by
  2. The birth place and life time of Hermann Mögling is mentioned by
  3. A history of Kannada newspapers is provided by
  4. Silver jubilee celebrations of the Mögling Institute of German Language is mentioned by
  5. Kannada press day events are mentioned by

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