Hosur Narasimhaiah (Kannada: ಡಾ. ಎಚ್.ನರಸಿಂಹಯ್ಯ, 6 June 1921 — 31 January 2005) was a physicist,educator, freedom fighter and rationalist from Karnataka, India. He was popularly known as HN. He was conferred Padma Bhushan by Government of India in 1985.
He was born in Hossur, a village near Gauribidanur in Karnataka, India. His parents were poor, illiterate and belonged to Lowest caste also known as Schedule caste. Upon completion of elementary education, he left for Bangalore where he joined the National High School, Basavanagudi, in 1935. He received his B. Sc. (Honors) and Master's degree in Physicswith first class from Central College of Bangalore (1946). The same year Narasimhaiah started his academic career as a lecturer in National College, Bangalore.
He taught from 1946 until 1957 when he proceeded to Columbus, Ohio to get his PhD degree in Nuclear physics from Ohio State University(1960). During 1961-72 he led National College, Basavanagudi, Bangalore, as its principal. During 1967-68, as a Fulbright Scholar, Dr. Narasimhaiah taught as a Visiting Professor at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, Illinois. In 1962, he founded the Bangalore Science Forum, which conducts a weekly series of public lectures on science topics.
As the Vice-Chancellor of the Bangalore University from 1973–77, he introduced psychology, social work, drama, music and dance as subjects. He went on to serve the State Legislative Assembly; and in 1984, received the Padma Bhushan from the Indian Government. At the time of his death on January 31, 2005, Dr. Narasimhaiah was the President of the National Education Society.
Narasimhaiah had interactions with Mahatma Gandhi and translated Mahatma Gandhi’s Hindi speech into Kannada, when the latter visited the National High School.
He published a collection of essays entitled "Tereda Mana" (”ತೆರೆದ ಮನ’) (Open Mind) and an auto-biography named "Horaatada Haadi" (’ಹೋರಾಟದ ಹಾದಿ’), (The Path of Struggle) which were awarded sahitya academy book prizes.
“Do not accept anything without questioning” was his motto in life. Keeping with this, his office was adorned with a quotation of Albert Einstein on the wall “Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds” and a question mark-signifying a spirit of inquiry. He was an atheist. Prof.V.T.Srinivasan, the then Principal of Vijaya college, Bangalore was a staunch believer in God and both used to advocate their faith through letters in the Deccan Herald daily.In spite of this they were close friends.
After he returned to National College with his doctorate degree from the US, with the help of friends from NAL, IISc., and elsewhere he started The Bangalore Science Forum. This non-profit organisation has already conducted more than 1,800 popular science lectures by eminent scientists and over 525 popular science films so far.
During his tenure as Vice-Chancellor, he constituted and chaired The Committee to Investigate Miracles and Other Verifiable Superstitions, to scientifically investigate claims of miracles and paranormal phenomena. The committee challenged the claims of Sathya Sai Baba, one of the most prominent godmen of India, who said that he could materialize holy ash and gold chain from nothing. A public controversy ensued, causing some of the godman's followers to desert him. The committee was also involved in a controversy with Sai Krishna of Pandavapura (a tiny village near Mysore), a mini-Avatar and an alleged protégé of Sathya Sai Baba. See allegations against Sathya Sai Baba. In 1983, he was elected the President of Indian Rationalist Association.
A Hindu by birth, Narasimhaiah often refused to follow religious beliefs blindly. He refused to tonsure his head when his father died and more famously, ate food during a solar eclipse to show it does not cause indigestion, a reason for which some Hindus go on fasting
Dr. H.Narasimhaiah was conferred the Padma Bhushan, one of the top civilian awards instituted by Government of India for his services in the field of education in 1985. He received the Tamrapatra award for his participation in the Indian Freedom Struggle. For his contribution to the popularisation of science he won the Sir M Vishweshwaraiah Award. He was also the only Indian Fellow of the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP International), set up by Paul Kurtz in the USA.