‘Vaiyakarani’ Garani Krishnacharya: Personality and Erudition

From a young age, Krishnacharya apparently suffered from ill-health. He had several digestion-related ailments for which he tried a variety of treatments, all of which failed. Finally, he decided to create a specific diet and remold his eating habits, and as a result attained good health. He had named that diet ‘ಹವ್ಯಪಾಕ ಪದ್ಧತಿ’ [Anything offered to the fire of yajna is traditionally called ‘havya’ or ‘havis, ‘paaka’ refers to cooking, and ‘paddhati’ is custom or practice. Perhaps he gave this name since in the Hindu tradition, food is said to be offered to vaishvanara, the digestive fire.]

I met him after he had embraced the new dietary practice. Anyone who saw him then [after he adopted the diet] simply wouldn’t believe the fact that at some point Krishnacharya was the same person who had suffered from disease. Such was the vigour and radiance that one would see in his person. In order to propagate his ‘havyapaaka paddhati,’ he wrote and published a few cookbooks and health books in Kannada. At several gatherings, he would demonstrate the methods of preparing food aligned to his dietary practice.

He was wholly devoted to sanatana dharma. And in order to revive the dharma, he had received initiation. The books that he composed with his enthusiasm for that dharma are as follows:

  1. Shruti-smriti Dharmapaddhati,
  2. Dirghayussutra Sadvrittaratnavali,
  3. Samanyadharma Prashnottara,
  4. Visheshadharma Prashnottara,
  5. Samanya Karma Prashnottara,
  6. Samskara Vishesha Karma Prashnottara,
  7. Sadvrittanushtana, and
  8. Bhagavatprarthane

All these are small works that made for easy reading. He had priced these books extremely low with a view of reaching more people and for making the wisdom more accessible. However, this did not erode people’s apathy. It was the writer’s finances that eroded.

Krishnacharya was endowed with a naturally good behavior, a sensitive heart, and a simple lifestyle.

He had impressive physical features; milk-cream-colored skin; a face beaming with delight; clean and bright clothes from tip to toe; a coat, an uttariya, and handkerchiefs – he would instantly evoke reverence in anyone who saw him.

Krishnacharya’s friends’ circle was expansive. The famous literary scholar Chappalli Vishveshvara Shastri, Motaganahalli Shankara Shastri, M T Narasimha Iyengar, Dr. P S Achutya Rao (founder of the Karnataka Sahitya Parishad), R Raghunatha Rao, Karpura Srinivasa Rao, and Nangapuram Venkatesha Iyengar were his close friends. In matters of language and literature, they would always ask for Garani Krishnacharya’s opinion and valued his word immensely.

Krishnacharya participated in several scholarly assemblies. He joined the establishment of the Karnataka Sahitya Parishat with great enthusiasm. But he lived for only three years after it was established. In November 1918, in his 63rd year, he passed away. In the introduction to his translation of the play Mrcchakatika, which he composed in 1890 at the age of 35, he wrote lines that are memorable to me even today –

“...ಇತರ ದೇಶ ಭಾಷೆಗಳಂತೆ ಒಂದೇ ವಿಧವಾದ ಕಟ್ಟಳೆಯನ್ನು ಹೊಂದದೆ, ಅಶಿಕ್ಷಿತರಾದ ಕವಿಗಳು ಹುಟ್ಟಿ, ಮನಸ್ಸು ಬಂದಂತೆ ಭಾಷೆಯನ್ನು ಕೆಡಿಸಿದುದಕ್ಕಾಗಿ ಎಷ್ಟು ಚಿಂತಿಸಿದರೂ ತೀರದು. ಅಂತಹ ನಮ್ಮ ಕನ್ನಡದ ಭಾಷಾ ವಿಷಯದಲ್ಲಿರುವ ಲಕ್ಷ್ಯ ಲಕ್ಷಣ ವಿರೋಧಗಳನ್ನು ಪೂರ್ವದಲ್ಲಿ ‘ನಾಗಾನಂದ ನಾಟಕ’ದ ಉಪೋದ್ಘಾತದಲ್ಲಿ ಕೆಲವು ಮಟ್ಟಿಗೆ ತೋರಿಸಿ, ಇನ್ನೂ ಹೀಗೆಯೇ ಬಹಳವಿರುವುದೆಂದು ಸೂಚಿಸಿ, ಗುಣಜ್ಞರು ಪರೀಕ್ಷಿಸಬಹುದೆಂದು ಪ್ರಕಟಿಸಿ, ಇದುವರೆಗೆ ಎರಡೂವರೆ ವರ್ಷಗಳಾದರೂ, ನಾಡಿಗರಾಗಲಿ ವಿದ್ಯಾರ್ಥಿಗಳಾಗಲಿ ಯಾರೊಬ್ಬರಾದರೂ ಅದನ್ನು ಗುಣ ದೋಷ ವಿಚಾರದಿಂದ ಸಮರ್ಥಿಸಿ ಉಪೆಕ್ಷಿಸಿರುವುದಂ ನೋಡಿದರೆ: ನಮ್ಮ ಕರ್ಣಾಟಕ ಭಾಷೆಯಲ್ಲಿ ಭಾಷಾಭಿಮಾನಿಗಳೇ ಇಲ್ಲವೋ; ಇದ್ದವರಿಗಾದರೂ ಈ ಅವ್ಯವಸ್ಥೆಯೇ ಸಂಮತವೇನೋ; ಇಲ್ಲದೇ ಭಿನ್ನ ಪ್ರಭುತ್ವದಿಂದ ದೇಶಗಳೂ ಭಿನ್ನ ಭಿನ್ನಗಳಾಗಿರಲು ಅಲ್ಲಿ ವಾಸಿಸುವ ದೇಶಾಂತರ ಖಂಡಾಂತರ ಜನಗಳಿಗೆ ಐಕಮತ್ಯವಿಲ್ಲದುದರಿಂದಲೋ; ಅಥವಾ ನಮ್ಮ ಭಾಷೆಯಲ್ಲಿ – ಅದೃಶ್ಯ ಕವಿ, ದೃಶ್ಯ ಕವಿ, ಜ್ಞಾನಸಿಂಧು ಕವಿ, ಕರ್ಣಾಟಕ ವ್ಯಾಸ ಶುಕ ವಾಲ್ಮೀಕಿ ಕವಿಗಳು, ಇನ್ನೂ ವರಕವಿಗಳೇ ಮುಂತಾದ ಪರಮ ಪಂಡಿತರಿಂದ ಮಾಡಲ್ಪಟ್ಟ ಬಹುಲಕ್ಷ್ಯ ಗ್ರಂಥಗಳೂ, ಹೊಸಗನ್ನಡ, ನಡುಗನ್ನಡ, ಕನ್ನಡ ಕೌಮುದೀ, ವಾಣೀಮುಕುರ, ವಾಗ್ವಿದಾಯಿನೀ, ಶಬ್ದ ಭಾಸ್ಕಾರಾದಿ ವಿಲಕ್ಷಣ ಲಕ್ಷಣ ಗ್ರಂಥಗಳೂ ಪ್ರಚುರವಾಗಿರುವುದರಿಂದ, ಸಾಕಲ್ಯವಾಗಿ ಪರಸ್ಪರ ಲಕ್ಷ್ಯ ಲಕ್ಷಣ ಸಮನ್ವಯಂ ಮಾಡುವುದು ಅಸಾಧ್ಯವಾದುದರಿಂದಲೋ; ಉಪೇಕ್ಷೆಯ ಕಾರಣವಂ ತಿಳಿಯದೆ ಅದು ಹೇಗಾದರೂ ಇರಲೆಂದು ತಿಳಿದು, ಮುಂಚೆಯಿದ್ದ ಭಾಷಾಭಿಮಾನಮಂ ತೊರೆದುಕೊಂಡು, ಈ ಕಾಲದವರೆಗೆ ಪದಪದಾರ್ಥಗಳು ಚೆನ್ನಾಗಿ ತಿಳಿಯುವುದೇ ಮುಖ್ಯೋದ್ದೇಶವಾಗಿರುವ ಕಾರಣದಿಂದ, ನಾನು ಕೇವಲ ಲಕ್ಷಣಪರವಾರೆ ಪ್ರಾಚೀನ ಭಾಷೆಯನ್ನೂ ಕೇವಲಾಸಹ್ಯಕರದಾದ ನಿಂದ್ಯ ಗ್ರಾಮ್ಯ ಭಾಷೆಯನ್ನೂ ಬಿಟ್ಟು ಮಧ್ಯಸ್ಥದಲ್ಲಿರುವ ಜೈಮಿನಿ ಭಾರತಕಾರ ಲಕ್ಷ್ಮೀಶಾದಿ ಸಮ್ಮತವಾದಿ ಮಿಶ್ರಭಾಷಾ ಶೈಲಿಯನ್ನೇ ಪ್ರಕೃತೋಚಿತವಾಗಿ ಅವಲಂಬಿಸುವುದು ಯುಕ್ತವೆಂದು ತಿಳಿದು ಹಾಗೆ ಮಾಡಿರುವೆನು.

“ಅಂತಲ್ಲದೆ ನಾವೇ ಕೈಲಾದಮಟ್ಟಿಗೂ ಭಾಷೆಯಂ ಶುದ್ಧಗೊಳಿಸಿ ವಿಧಿಗಳನ್ನೆರ್ಪಡಿಸಿ ಸಮನ್ವಯ ಮಾಡಿ ಭಾಷೆಯನ್ನಭಿವೃದ್ಧಿಗೆ ತರುವೆವೆಂದರೆ – ಅದಕ್ಕೆ ತಕ್ಕಷ್ಟು ಧನೋಪಪತ್ತಿಯೂ ರಾಜಕೀಯ ಸಹಾಯವೂ ಜೀವನ ಸ್ವಾಸ್ಥ್ಯವೂ ಇಲ್ಲವು. ಇನ್ನೂ ಕೇವಲ ಕೀರ್ತಿಕಾಮರಾಗಿಯಾದರೂ ಶ್ರಮಪಟ್ಟು ಗ್ರಂಥಗಳಂ ರಚಿಸಿ ಪ್ರಕಟಿಸುವೆವೆಂದರೆ, ಈ ಕಾಲದಲ್ಲಿ – ‘ಸರ್ವೇ ಯಜಮಾನಾಸ್ಸರ್ವೇ ಋತ್ವಿಜಃ’ ಎಂಬಂತೆ ಬರಹ ಬಂದವರೆಲ್ಲರೂ ಕವಿಗಳೂ, ಓದಲ್ಬಂದವರೆಲ್ಲರೂ ಉಪನ್ಯಾಸಕರೂ, ಯಕ್ಷಗಾನ ಕಾವ್ಯಮಾಲಾದಿಗಳನ್ನೋದುವ ಶಾಲಾವಿದ್ಯಾರ್ಥಿಗಳೆಲ್ಲರೂ ಪಂಡಿತರೂ, ಪಾಠಶಾಲೆಯಂ ಬಿಟ್ಟು ಬಂದವರೆಲ್ಲರೂ ಒಡನೆಯೇ ಪರೀಕ್ಷಕರೂ, ಮತ್ತೆ ಕೆಲವರು ಏತದ್ಭಾಷಾಲೇಶ ಶೂನ್ಯರಾಗಿದ್ದರೂ ಅದಕ್ಕವರು ವಿಚಾರಕರೂ, ರೋಧಕರೂ, ನಿಯಾಮಕರೂ, ಕೋಶಾಭಿಧಾನಲಕ್ಷಣಕಾರರೂ ಆಗಿರಲು – ತತ್ಪ್ರಾಮಾಣ್ಯವುಳ್ಳ ಆ ಜನಗಳ ನಡುವೆ ಜೀವಿಸುವ ನಮಗೆ ‘ಶ್ವಾನಾರೋಹೇ ಕುತಸ್ಸೌಖ್ಯಂ ಪಟನೆ ಕಾ ಅವಮಾನಿತಾ’ ಎಂಬಂತೆ ಅಕಿಂಚಿತ್ಕರವಾದ ಆ ಕೀರ್ತಿಯ ಅರ್ತಿಯೇತಕ್ಕೆ! ಎಂದು ಸುಮ್ಮನಿರುವುದೇ ಉತ್ತಮವು. ಹಾಗಲ್ಲದೆ ಒಂದು ವೇಳೆ ಸ್ವಜಾತಿ ದೇಶಭಾಷಾ ನಿವೇಶ ಚಾಪಲ್ಯಗಳಿಂದ ತದುದ್ಯೋಗದಲ್ಲಿ ಪ್ರವರ್ತಿಸುವವನು ಬೆತ್ತಲೆಯಿರುವವರ ನಡುವೆ ಕೌಪೀನವನ್ನುಟ್ಟವನಂತೆ ಹಾಸ್ಯಾಸ್ಪದವಾಗುವುದಲ್ಲದೆ, ಪುಣ್ಯ ಪುರುಷಾರ್ಥಗಳಿಲ್ಲದೇ ಕಾರ್ಯದಲ್ಲಿ ಪ್ರಯತ್ನಿಸಿ, ‘ಹಾಳು ತೋಟಕ್ಕೆ ನೀರನೆತ್ತಿ ಬೀಳುರಟ್ಟೆ ಬಿತ್ತು’ ಎಂಬ ಗಾದೆಗೆ ಸರಿಯಾಗಿ ವೃಥಾಯಾಸಕ್ಕೆ ಗುರಿಯಾಗಬೇಕಾದೀತೆಂಬ ಶಂಕೆಯಿಂದ ವಿರಮಿಸಬೇಕಾಯಿತು.”

[I have retained the original quotation since the author wished the readers to see the style of Krishnacharya’s flamboyant writing style in Kannada.]

Krishnacharya was a serious and somber person, not given to idle talk. He never craved for praise or social status. To fulfill his responsibilities, to speak appropriate words, to be unattached in the face of favorable and unfavorable outcomes – this was his nature. He was not given to silently bowing down to people in power or to elders. In all matters, he would strictly follow principles and walk in freedom.

I used to visit his house on and off. His nephew Krishnamurti, his aunt’s son Krishnamurti, and I were pretty much of the same age and friends for long. This was the pretext under which I would visit his house. I said ‘pretext.’ But the real reason was different. The reason was a curiosity to see the Acharya from close quarters. By that time, I had already studied his books ‘Shabdaratnavali’ and ‘Dhaturatnavali.’ I was greatly attracted to the verses in those works.

During the establishment of the Karnataka Sahitya Parishat (1915), I became close to him. From then on, he began talking to me in a familiar tone. His love and affection towards me has remained a gratitude-laden memory in my heart. Just like he was in his physique, so was he in his scholarship, and in his qualities – excellent, pure, and brilliant.

This is the second part of a two-part translation of the ninth chapter from D V Gundappa’s magnum-opus Jnapakachitrashaale (Volume 1) – Sahiti Sajjana Sarvajanikaru. Translator's notes in square brackets.

Author(s)

About:

Devanahalli Venkataramanayya Gundappa (1887-1975) was a great visionary and polymath. He was a journalist, poet, art connoisseur, philosopher, political analyst, institution builder, social commentator, social worker, and activist.

Translator(s)

About:

Hari is an author, violinist, and designer with a deep interest in Hindu scriptures, Carnatic music, education pedagogy design, and literature. He has worked on books like The New Bhagavad-Gita, Your Dharma and Mine, Srishti, and Foggy Fool's Farrago.