In 1982, Bharatiya Jnanpith decided to present annually an award in the memory of Smt. Moorti Devi, mother of Sahu Shanti Prasad Jain, the founder of Bharatiya Jnanpith to a "contemplative or intellectual work" created by any living author writing in any of the languages enlisted in the VIIIth Schedule of Indian Constitution.
The award is specifically given out to such writings that underline and express Indian philosophy and cultural heritage based on wider ideals and human values. The award consists of a Saraswati Statue, a Citation Plaque and Cash Award.
The first recipient of the award was the Kannada writer C. K. Nagaraja Rao who was honoured in 1983 for his novel, Pattamahadevi Shantala Devi, which was published in four volumes.
The Process of selection
1. The Award instituted by Bharatiya Jnanpith is presented every year for a contemplative and perceptive work written in any forms of literature which expresses, underlines and illumines human values rooted in the broad vision of Indian philosophy and cultural heritage. The objective of the Award is to foster social and individual commitment to higher values of life through the medium of literature in its larger sense. In that perspective, analytical, reflective and perceptive writing of a higher order would be considered for the Award.
2. Only the work of a living author, published at least one year and at the most ten years before the relevant Award year is considered for the Award.
3. Proposals for the Award may be submitted by the publisher or by any other person or an institution. Proposal forms may be downloaded from the website of Bharatiya Jnanpith. The Selection Committee is free to consider any other works besides the proposals submitted to it. Only the proposal forms, received by due date, will be considered in the selection process,
4. If, during any Award year, the selection Committee does not find any work measuring upto the required standard, no Award may be declared for that year.
5. The Selection Committee is fully empowered to decide all matters regarding the process of nomination, evaluation and selection.
6. The language of the awarded book that receives the Award in a particular year will not be eligible for competition for the next year’s award.
7. Once a writer has been selected for the Award, none of his other works will be considered for any subsequent Award.