ಕನ್ನಡ (Kannada)

- Life and Times- Kannada at the Time of Colonial Rule -
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
 

With the return of Mahatma Gandhi from South Africa to India and his entry into the socio-political arena of the country, an era of renaissance took root in the life of people across entire nation. Though the centre of that churning was in the British India, the high tide waves of its effects did not spare the regional provinces. The student community that always kept its faculties open to newer rumblings opened itself to many influences. The poet-soul in Puttappa too opened all its windows and invited the energies of the east and the west. Interestingly, the first fruit of his literary expression did not emerge in his mother tongue; it came out in the foreign English; in the language of those people whom India had been determinedly fighting to drive away. Kuvempu broaches the social, political, and educational environs at the time of colonial rule thus:

    "Twice or three times the hatred I had for the British for their oppression and exploitation, I had love and respect for the English language. Firstly, I was mesmerised by its literature, more by its poets, rather for the attractive teaching of English poetry in classes than the reason that the English poets were superior to our poets. Added to that, the modernism of the subject matter of English poems, their lyrical qualities, and the beauty of subjective delineation of the experiences were more captivating than the mythological narratives of our poets. Secondly, when my thirst for knowledge had set me on a voyage in search of the ocean of nectar to quench it, the Kannada literature, I can say, was a desert. At least for me it was so. The English language first supplied the food for the philosophical interests and the subjective discourses naturally grown in me from my childhood days. The subject matter was Indian, but I could first get it only through the English language. I had no belief in the present day rituals of the Vedic Hinduism; instead, I abhorred it. I had hatred for the dictum of the Manu Shastra that ordered the concept of superior and inferior, caste system, and professed that the Brahmin is the superior being that has come from the mouth of the Brahman. Its dictum that ShUdra should not study Sanskrit and stipulation that if he listens to anyone reciting it, (punish him with) 'pour molten lead into his ears' and thousands of such contrived and ridiculous thoughts had invited my hatred for them. I first heard the voice of Swami Vivekananda through the English language. He was like an axe to all such hostilities. The voice of Vedanta of our ancient sages who declared that self is no different from the Shiva TaTva, sang the reverence, purity, and esteem of Atman so wondrously that we comprehended it and it sank deep into our hearts. It gained entry into my conscience only by the grace of the English language. Thirdly, the English had conquered India and had brought a kind of order to its political anarchy. The Indians had studied English history and English literature and they had been influenced by the English culture. That prompted the ShUdras and other downtrodden people who lived like dust under the feet of Brahmins and other people from upper castes for thousands of years acknowledging the enslavement as god given, to stand up and stare the very oppression in its eye. For the first time, English as administrators' official language had bound entire India into one and graced the Pan Indian cognitive till then found only on the religious canvas to establish itself in political and other arenas. Though just a quarter or half percent of the people knew that language, it acquired an all India spatial extent. It gained respect of everyone. Like the Englishmen, English-speaking persons too became revered ones, kings, and sahibs. This was also the reason why English established its sovereign rule over the young minds like mine and earned veneration for it."

[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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