National News Analysis

22 May 2024, 0:47 AM

REMEMBERING RASHTRA KAVI A KUVEMPU TRIBUTE

Mr.Prakash Murthy Sahitya parishat Director Bangaluru District. Suresh Gowda, Mr. KE.NA.LI Gowda,President of Yuva Shakiti Karnataka ,Govende Gowda Mr..Puutta Swamy,Hanumanthappa,, KG Kumar ,Muniratna,,Krishna Murthy, Tenali GowdaHanume Gowda , Varalakshmi were candeling lamp during 119 birth day of Great Kuvempu in Bengaluru.

Remembering Rashtrakavi: A Kuvempu tribute

November is a good time to remember the greatest Kannada poet of the 20th century Kuvempu, who passed 29 years ago on the 11th of the month.

There are many reasons to celebrate November, chief among which are nippy Bengaluru mornings, the glorious pink of the tabebuia blossom, the lengthening afternoon shadows that herald the dark nights of Deepavali, and the fact that it is Karnataka’s birthday month. It is also a good time to remember an extraordinary man, arguably the greatest Kannada poet of the 20th century, who passed 29 years ago on the 11th of November.

Bengaluru: Growing up in Kuppalli, a small hamlet nestled in Karnataka’s picturesque Malenadu region, the young Kuppalli Venkatappa Puttappa (later, he would take on the penname Kuvempu) was enthralled by the natural beauty that surrounded him. His early education in a Sanskrit school trained his ear to the cadences of that language, and exposed him to the great stories of the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. In stark contrast to that magnificence was the society around him, a feudal one riven by caste and class distinctions, blind superstition, and rampant discrimination. All these early influences would fashion Kuvempu’s ideas, and find moving and radical expression in his writing, establishing him as a thinker far ahead of his time. Many Kannada activists were spoken well on Kuvempu

At the Wesleyan High School in Mysore, Kuvempu came under the spell of English poets like Wordsworth and Milton. In 1929, at the age of 25, he graduated from Maharaja College, Mysore, with a major in Kannada, all set to embark on a literary and academic career.

Interestingly, his first book of poems – Beginner’s Muse – was in English. A chance meeting with the Irish mystical poet James Henry Cousins changed Kuvempu’s outlook – chiding him gently, Cousins exhorted him to write in his own mother tongue. Once that course correction had been made, there was no looking back – plays, poetry, essays, biographies, literary criticism, novels, collections of short stories, quirky stories and poems for children, translations, adaptations of English works, including Shakespeare’s plays, all poured out of his prodigious pen, attacking societal evils, subverting epic stories, advocating the equality of all humankind, as Basava and the Buddha had done before him, through his conception of Vishwamaanava, the Universal Human.

In his first play, Jalagaara (The Sweeper), written when he was only 24, Lord Shiva appears before the eponymous low-caste protagonist to assure him that he (Shiva) and the jalagaara were no different from each other, for Shiva was a sweeper as well, one who swept away the world’s injustices. In his magnum opus, the two-volume epic poem Sri Ramayana Darshanam, which won Kuvempu the Jnanpith Award for 1967, making him the first Kannada writer to be so honoured, Rama volunteers to undertake the Agnipravesha with Sita, so that they can each prove their fidelity to the other. In his little text, Mantra Maangalya, he lays out the framework for an alternative, meaningful wedding ceremony, devoid of Vedic ritual, that can be performed by partners of any caste or religion. Happily, several Kannadiga couples continue to opt for this secular, ‘modern’ ceremony.

Kuvempu, the greatest Kannada poet of the 20th century passed away 29 years ago on November 11. (HT )Kuvempu, the greatest Kannada poet of the 20th century passed away 29 years ago on November 11. Kuvempu’s voice was, and continues to be, a towering presence in the Kannadiga discourse about social equality. His conviction that children in Karnataka should mandatorily learn Kannada alongside English, significantly influenced state education policy in the 1950’s. But perhaps what resonates most with Kannadigas is his deep love for the state and the Kannada language, expressed most eloquently in the Karnataka state anthem, ‘Jaya Bharata Jananiya Tanujaate, Jaya He Karnataka Maate’ (‘O daughter of Bharat, O Mother Karnataka, all hail to you!’), and the poem, simply titled ‘Kannada’, that opens with – ‘Kannada ene kunidaaduvudennede Kannada ene kivi nimiruvudu’ (‘Say Kannada, and my heart dances with joy / Say Kannada, and my ears perk up with delight…’). Goosebumps.

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