ಕನ್ನಡ (Kannada)

- Life and Times- His Initiation into Learning- School Days -
Introduction

Kuvempu- His Birth, Childhood and Life

His Initiation into Learning- School Days

A Poem That Became His Childhood Guru

His Studies at Mysore

His First English Poem

Kannada at the Time of Colonial Rule

His Meeting the Irish Poet James H Cousins

His Writing poetry in Kannada

His Trip to Calcutta

His Marital Life

His Teaching and Writing

KaviShaila, Poets home after 1994
 

Kuvempu's initiation into learning began on the day of 'Saraswathy pooje' that fell during the NavarAthri days. An AyyagoLu from the South Canara district initiated the boy into learning by drawing the auspicious letter on sand. It was a long drawn ceremony. They gave the boy a ceremonial bath; sanctified him, taught him how to rest the index finger over the mid finger; and to learn each letter by overwriting it many times. Thus began the learning. Ayyagolu died sometime later. Then one Nagappa Shetty came from Udupi as a teacher. Within six days of his coming, he went to the Koppa shandy only to disappear from there. He had run away as he was unable to bear the never-ending Rama- Ravana battle of the children of KuppaLi house. Someone else was brought to his place. That was a drunkard, and a non-stop smoker. Afraid of the fate of children left in his hands, the family asked him to leave immediately. Of course, learning nothing was better than learning something from him.

"That was the time the British Empire had begun to establish its roots in the Bharatha Khanda- the Indian subcontinent. The rulers who had brought order to the administration system wanted our own people as workforce to carry on the work related to running the administration properly. Therefore, they introduced a convenient and fitting education system. Among their initiatives, most important were introduction of English teaching and instituting English as the medium of instruction for the natives.

" So, shall we stop studying Kannada? Under the reign of Englishman, can we do without learning English? But, who will teach us English, the language of the lords? When the people from MalenADu were absorbed in finding answer to these questions, the missionaries who had the aim of spreading the religion and converting people to their faith entered the MalenADu as vanguards of the British Empire as well as Christianity and opened schools and hospitals. They said to people convincingly, 'We will show the light to you- who had been Hindus and yet were rejected by the Brahmins as ShUdras- who are nave and live in the shadow of ignorance. We shall deliver you from your slavery to the Brahmins.'

The missionaries took the children of the ShUdras into their educational institutions at Mysore and Bangalore; they gave them free food, clothing and education and won the admiration and gratitude of their parents as well as their kith and kin. With all this amity and the closeness they gained, the Christian priests graced the balcony school of the KuppaLi house with the services of an English teacher. His name was Moses. This Moses was the first teacher to create interest and inquisitiveness for learning in the KuppaLi children. His arrival at the balcony school fully wiped out the nomenclature Aigalu and established the noun Master over the throne. Thus, the modern world of western influence moved into the balcony school of the KuppaLi house.

The elders who went to Bangalore and Mysore under the influence, encouragement and help of missionaries and returned home, had conscientiously grown a desire in them to put their wards to schooling, though their own desire to learn English had died down. They were not certain about the purpose; yet, they had thought that the children could never have a future of their own in the British ruled country unless they learnt the language of the rulers. Because of this understanding, the children from KuppaLi joined the 'iskool' at the Theerthahalli town."

Puttappa's primary and middle school studies began with his admission into the Anglo-Vernacular school at Theerthahalli. He was in this school when the world fought its First War (1914-1918). He was growing up with his schoolmates and playmates during those days. The war left an indelible mark on his life.

We all know well how the First World War devastated the lives of people by its direct and indirect effects and how people suffered the consequences of the war. But, totally obscured from that history, and trivially, the family of KuppaLi suffered a great lot. That is a real tragedy.

The undivided KuppaLi family broke unable to recover from the losses it suffered owing to the war. Puttappa was then at Theerthahalli pursuing his studies and wandering about the forests around as a pastime occupation.

Even at this distance of time, one can easily visualise the havoc played by the war: A German war ship named Emden, which had participated in the world war, shot a firearm targeting the Madras lighthouse. The impact of shooting, the quiver it created, touched even the far off KuppaLi house. Puttappa's uncle Ramanna had gone to Madras market at the same time the ship fired at the lighthouse. He had taken with him areca nuts worth tens of thousands of rupees. He had purchased the nuts from farmers with the money brought on credit envisioning a huge profit. The people who had been to Madras had to run away leaving aside their merchandise in order to save their lives. The loss Ramanna thus suffered brought an untold misery to the family. They were in huge debts. The differences cropped up between the kinsmen. Puttappa's father Venkatappa Gowda left to Theerthahalli to live in the hut where the children were staying.

In just two days of his going to Theerthahalli, Venkatappa Gowda fell ill. The uncontrolled cold, cough, and fever invaded his body while the turbulence in the family that broke the undivided family distressed his mind. They compounded his physical suffering. In the result, Puttappa lost his father at his early age, in the year 1961.

That was the time when DAnamma, Puttappa's sister, eldest among the younger, joined the Theerthahalli School. His mother Seethamma joined them with Puttappa's youngest sister to cook food for them and to take their care. Puttappa stayed at Theerthahalli between 1918 and 1920. He got through Kannada and English Lower Secondary Examinations. It was his desire to continue studies at Mysore. However, after his father's death, his uncle RamannagowDa took up the management of KuppaLi house. Puttappa's desire for higher studies did not get approval of his uncle. RamannagowDa suggested Puttappa that the joint family property need be partitioned and hence Puttappa should stay back to take care of his house. Puttappa had unappeasable ambition to continue studies, come whatever may. About the same time, C.R. Reddy who was then the Principal Officer in Education Department of the Mysore Province came to Theerthahalli on an inspection circuit. He was from Vokkaliga community and was keen on advancement of non-Brahmins. Therefore, he was to meet Devangi RamannagowDa the most popular among gowDas of MalenADu area and a member of the Mysore Praja Prathinidhi Sabha. RamannagowDa summoned his son in law ManjappagowDa to communicate with Reddy in English. ManjappagowDa understood Puttappa's sheer interest in learning English. He spoke to Reddy about this. He also took interest in Puttappa's further studies at Mysore. Thus, the dreams of Puttappa to go over to Mysore for further studies came true.

[Picked from Shri K. C. Shiva Reddy's book - Ugada Kavi (Poet of the Era). Translated to english by Shri R Vijayaraghavan]

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