Moegling, Hermann F.

1811 - 1881
Missionary, littérateur, publisher
Basel Mission

Hermann Friedrich Moegling was a German missionary from the Basel Mission who spent most of his career in the western regions of the state of Karnataka, India. The publisher of the first ever newspaper in the Kannada language Moegling pioneered the idea of a unified Karnataka state. Acknowledged in the Kannada literary world as the first modern Kannada writer, Moegling introduced an orthography of splitting the double consonant in Kannada script to a half consonant. This not only facilitated printing in a single line but also made it easier for children to learn. 

Hermann Moegling was born in 1811 in the town of Brackenheim in the Kingdom of Württemberg, Germany. He studied theology at the University of Tübingen and joined the Basel Mission. Before setting out for India, Moegling took to heart the advice of Anthony Groves who was visiting Basel and learnt Sanskrit.[1] Moegling came to the city of Mangalore in Karnataka as a missionary in 1836. 

In seven years, Moegling had mastered Kannada and in 1843, published the first Kannada newspaper – Mangalura Samachara, [2]; printed on the press set up by Father Godfry Faigal in the year 1842 in Mangalore.[3]   

Concerned about the local populace’s lack of exposure to the outside world, Moegling brought out the newspaper with a vision to inform and also educate. The newspaper encouraged the readers to contribute stories. In its four pages published fortnightly, the news coverage included Afghanistan, wars waged by the East India Company with native States, population in India, and the like. Local news from Mangalore was given priority, in order to keep the locals abreast about the new laws and regulations of the British Government. There were also the moral stories and songs of Purandaradasa and few quotations from the Bible.[4]

The response was good, prompting Moegling to think along the lines of getting it printed on a letter-press instead of lithography, at Bellary from its 15th issue, dated May 1 under the title Karnataka Samachara. It would then accommodate more news stories and a wider circulation. In those days there was absolutely no contact between the Mysore Kannadigas (South Karnataka) and those in North Karnataka. Moegling was the first to conceive a samagra(united) Karnataka. He announced as such in his last issue. Unfortunately Karnataka Samachara did not survive longer than three issues.[5]

The Basel Evangelical Missionary Society (BEM) Theological Seminary at Mangalore was established in 1847 with Hermann Moegling as the founder-principal. This seminary was established to train pastors for the Protestant churches in Karnataka and Malabar(North Kerala) areas. In 1965, BEM Theological Seminary merged with Union Kanarese Seminary at Tumkur and was renamed as the present Karnataka Theological College. It can be rightly said that the seminary laid the foundation for the port city of Mangalore becoming a centre for education.[6]

Moegling made another attempt to bring out a newspaper entitled Kannada Varthika, in 1857 to highlight the changing political scene after the Sepoy Mutiny.[7] However, it lasted only for a year.[8] Kannada journalism, with over 4000 registered publications today[9] was ushered in with the publication of Mangalura Samachara in 1843. And the date of the first issue, July 1 is observed every year as “Journalism Day” in Karnataka.[10]

In 1848, Moegling forayed into Kannada literature by publishing a list of more than 3000 Kannada proverbs. Moegling also composed about 20 poems along with Gottfried Weigle his cousin and a fellow Basel Missionary in modern Kannada poetical form.[11] Pilgrims Progress was published in Kannada by Moegling and Weigle in 1848.[12]

When his cousin Gottfried Weigle died in 1855, Moegling, who according to reports was a confirmed bachelor (at age 45) married Weigle's wife Pauline. This marriage also gave Moegling four stepchildren from Pauline's earlier marriage.

Bibliotheca Carnataca

Moegling etched his name in Kannada literature with a six-volume collection of traditional Kannada literary texts edited and published under the series Bibliotheca Carnataca, during the period 1848-1853, sponsored by one J Casamajor - a retired judge from Madras who had settled in the Nilgiris (blue mountains). Casmajor did not understand a single letter of the Kannada language but seemed providentially led to support Moegling’s venture.

A detailed correspondence took place between them in which Moegling outlined his plan of collecting the manuscripts. He says: “I should of course take care to purchase nothing but what would appear to me valuable”(letter dated July 17, 1848).[13] To this Casamajor responded thus: “Agreed. Do you think a proper person could be employed with an access to go about the Canarese country and collect good manuscripts? Could such a person be found on a monthly salary?”
Casamajor voluntarily bore all the expenses. In a later correspondence, he writes to Moegling: “From next month, you will, instead of a 70 Rs. have 150 Rs. at your disposal as a running credit”(letter dated January 30, 1849).[14]

Regarding acknowledgement, Casamajor almost warned Moegling in this regard: “There must be no mention of my name in that title page, or indeed in any part of the binding. Let the title be Bibliotheca Carnataca, a collection of the best Canarese writings or something of this sort” (letter dated August 11,1848).[15]

Finally eight works were brought out, of which Raavana digvijaya - a Yakshagana prasanga was the first one, Kanakadasa's Haribhakthisara the smallest, and Basava Purana, including the songs of Basavanna, an early Lingayat[16] poet;[17]  the largest, containing as many as 760 pages. Other titles published as a part of Bibliotheca Carnataca were Dasara Padagalu (a collection of 170 Haridasa [18]songs) and Lakshmisha's [19] Jaimini Bharata. This venture met an abrupt end due to the sudden demise of Casamajor.

In Coorg

In 1852, Moegling was getting ready to go back to Germany, when he was met by one Alamanda Somayya from Coorg[20], who wanted to convert to Christianity and also invited him to Coorg, offering his land for construction of a church in Coorg.  Moegling cancelled his plans to return to Germany, and instead moved to Coorg, in 1853, along with an associate, Rev. Anandaraya Kaundinya. Among Moegling’s first converts, Kaundinya who also added the name Hermann to his own, and his family exchanged letters with Moegling which are published under the title Iraaru patragalu (twelve letters). This was the first collection of letters ever published in Kannada.

On January 6, 1853, Alamanda Somayya was baptised into Christianity, taking up the name of Stephanas Somayya.

During his stay in Kodagu district during the years (1853–1858) he spent much of his time in proselytisation. He also published a German book titled Das Kurgland detailing evangelical work in Coorg, and another in English, called Coorg Memoirs, an in depth study of the history of Coorg – one of the earliest history books on Karnataka. In this book, he has described the unique social life and customs of the Kodavas, the ethno-linguistic people group native to this region.

A modest church was built on Somayya's land. The then Chief Commissioner of Coorg, Lt. Col. Mark Cubbon helped  Moegling to set up the first Protestant church and a school in Mercara (Coorg), in 1855. The Kodavas, a proud ancient people, possibly migrants from Central Asia, warriors, and ancestor worshippers however proved resistant to Moegling's efforts.

Rev. Georg Richter, from the Basel Mission was introduced to Coorg by Moegling in April 1856. Richter spent most of his life in promoting education in Coorg and was the first principal of the Central School in Madikeri, started in 1869. He later took charge as Inspector of Schools.[21] 

In 1857, the British administration granted Moegling 97 acres of land to establish a church and a coffee estate settlement. The book Freedom has a Face: Anandapur (Albrecht Frenz) narrates the Moegling couple's work done at Anandapura, a village that they carved out of a jungle.[22]

The new settlement was named Anandapura(City of Happiness). After  Moegling left, the work at Anandapura continued under his disciple and another fellow German missionary, Rev. Ferdinand Kittel.

One of the major hurdles faced at the Anandapura settlement was malaria, which the Europeans referred to as the “Coorg Fever”. There were many deaths, and gradually this scourge affected the project adversely. Anandapura coffee estate was subsequently taken over by British planters who had shifted to Coorg from Sri Lanka and is now a part of Tata Coffee Limited. It still retains the name: Anandapura Estate.

At the behest of the Kodagu king, Senior Virarajendra, Moegling also published a Kannada book titled Raajendranaame, containing information on Coorg. The whole book Raajendraname was printed using a simpler orthographic form invented by Moegling himself. The Kannada language uses double consonants frequently, which Moegling felt was difficult for children to learn easily and also to print (since a blank line between two print lines was necessary to print the double consonant).

Moegling 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 Madras Province's Education Department, Moegling published this entire book in his revised orthography. [23]

Moegling was very much fond of Coorg and used to call it his second home. He left Coorg in 1860, to be with his ailing wife in Germany. But distance did not diminish Moegling’s commitment to the Kannada language.

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

Moegling made another significant impact in the literary landscape. When a proposal for a Kannada dictionary was mooted, it was Moegling who suggested the name of Ferdinand Kittel. And Moegling through extensive correspondence with British officers got the project moving.

Rev. Hermann Moegling died in 1881 and his memorial is in Esslingen, Germany.


At the recommendation of Rudolph Roth (a reputed Indologist), Moegling's alma mater; the University of Tübingen awarded Moegling an honorary doctorate in 1858 for his work, Bibliotheca Carnataca.

A German language institute in Mangalore, affiliated to the Mangalore University is named after Moegling.

Moegling's 200th. birth anniversary was celebrated in 2011, by unveiling of a bust at the Karnataka Theological College, Mangalore.


  1. ^ Mogling:The German who pioneered Kannada journalism,, June 30,2012,
  2. ^ Wikipedia contributors, Hermann Mögling, Wikipedia, February 16, 2024,
  3. ^ Deekshitha Niranjana, “Christian Missionaries' Role in Creating “Unified Karnataka” Through Kannada Language”, International Journal Of Arts Humanities And Social Sciences Studies 8, no. 1 (January 2023): 29,
  4. ^ K.Puttaraju, D.S. Shivarudrappa, “Rev. Moegling’s Contributions to Kannada Journalism”, Communications Today, Dec.30, 2014,
  5. ^ A S Balasubramanya, “Early years of Kannada journalism”, Deccan Herald, July 27, 2015,
  6. ^ C. P Beliappa, “Three Germans Who Pioneered Education in Coorg”, Coorg Tourism Info, accessed March 8, 2024,
  7. ^ The Indian Rebellion of 1857 was a major uprising in India in 1857–58 against the rule of the British East India Company, which functioned as a sovereign power on behalf of the British Crown. The rebellion began on 10 May 1857 in the form of a mutiny of sepoys of the company's army in the garrison town of Meerut.
  8. ^ Balasubramanya, “Early”.
  9. ^ C P Beliappa, “German Kannadigas”, Deccan Herald, June 16, 2014, German Kannadigas (
  10. ^ “Herr Kannada”, Deccan Herald, January 18, 2004,
  11. ^ Herr Kannada” ,  Deccan Herald (
  12. ^ G Shiri, Wholeness in Christ: the legacy of the Basel Mission in India (Karnataka Theological Research Institute,1985), 358.
  13. ^ “Herr Kannada”, Deccan Herald
  14. ^ “Herr Kannada”, Deccan Herald
  15. ^ “Herr Kannada”, Deccan Herald.
  16. ^ A sect found predominantly in Karnataka and Maharashtra, the Lingayats also called Veerashaivas worship Shiva, but depart from mainstream Hinduism in rejecting the caste system, vedas, puranas, ritualistic practices, and rebirth.
  17. ^ Gerald H. Anderson, ed., Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions (New York: Simon and Schuster Macmillan, 1998), 464, Biographical dictionary of Christian missions : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive.
  18. ^ A  devotional movement which originated in Karnataka, after Madhvacharya, and spread to eastern states such as Bengal and Assam of medieval India.
  19. ^ Lakshmisa was a noted Kannada  writer who lived during the mid-16th or late 17th century. His most important writing, Jaimini Bharata is a version of the Hindu epic Mahabharata.
  20. ^ Called “The Scotland of India”, Coorg is a popular coffee producing hill station popular for its beautiful green hills and streams cutting right through them.
  21. ^ C. P Beliappa, “Three Germans Who Pioneered Education in Coorg”.
  22. ^ Renu Ramnath, “The Gundert connection”, The Hindu, February 8, 2005, The Hindu : Life Kochi : The Gundert connection (
  23. ^  “Herr Kannada”, Deccan Herald


Philip Malayil

The writer is the coordinator for the South Asia region for


Anderson, Gerald H. ed. Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions. New York: Simon and Schuster Macmillan, 1998.

Balasubramanya A S. “Early years of Kannada journalism”. Deccan Herald, July 27, 2015.…

Beliappa, C P. “Three Germans Who Pioneered Education in Coorg”. Coorg Tourism Info. Accessed March 8, 2024.…

Beliappa C P. “German Kannadigas”. Deccan Herald, June 16, 2014.

"Herr Kannada”. Deccan Herald, January 18, 2004.…

"Mogling:The German who pioneered Kannada journalism"., June 30,2012.….

Niranjana, Deekshitha. “Christian Missionaries' Role in Creating “Unified Karnataka” Through Kannada Language”. International Journal Of Arts Humanities And Social Sciences Studies 8, no. 1 (January 2023): 29–33.

Ramnath, Renu. “The Gundert connection”. The Hindu, February 8, 2005.…

Shiri, G. Wholeness in Christ: the legacy of the Basel Mission in India. Karnataka Theological Research Institute,1985.
Wikipedia. “Hermann Mögling”. Last modified February 16, 2024.