Home in Chamarajpet
Puttanna Shetty’s home on the 5th (main) road of Chamarajpet was excellent in all aspects. A huge compound, vast space with abundance of fresh-air and natural light. Lawn on all its sides and small trees around. Campaka, Cannonball and Pādri trees.; Bushes of flowering plants like Jasmine. Garden was kept clean each day by clearing off fallen and dried leaves. Amidst this vast space was a baithak style home and a kitchen behind it. And beyond it was a garage. Walkways on all four sides next to the compound walls. Puttanna Shetty began his daily exercises with a brisk walk in this beautiful garden.
There were three-four kinds of people who came to see him. Among them were a kind of people who wrapped up their business with him by walking together or following him during his morning walk. About fifty out of a hundred people belong to this category. Remaining thirty came to the Veranda of the baithak. This went on till four in the afternoon. Only about ten to fifteen percent of the people belonged to the kind who would cross the veranda and enter the living room. This space had furniture like sofa, soft cushioned chairs etc. Still a rarer class were about five percent. They would enter the room and discuss matters privately.
Thus, visitors had spaces designated. But irrespective of that, they were treated with respect. There was no indifference. Cleanliness and perfection were everywhere. Not a speck of dust to be seen; No sign of mangling or breakage anywhere. An environment that seems conducive to everyone. No sign of grandeur like in the case of Seshadri Iyer’s place. No congestion like in Anand Rao’s place. Puttanna Shetty’s house was a juncture of contentment, joy and convenience.
An advocate came to Puttanna Shetty’s home on a particular afternoon and asked him for his advice:
Adv: “Government has sent me this letter. You should please tell me how to respond to it.”
Pu: “What’s that letter about?”
He saw the letter handed by the advocate. It said that the advocate shall be appointed as a Sub-Judge and that his response to the letter was awaited. Puttanna Shetty smiled at this and said:
Pu: “Very glad. I wonder what’s the income-tax you’re paying now?”
Advocate was reluctant and then hesitantly whispered:
Adv: “I don’t pay anything now.”
Pu: “Then there’s no need to ask anyone else? Please accept this and it’ll do you good.”
Hayavadana Rao was visiting Puttanna Shetty one afternoon and was seated in front of him. I was also present there. A man walked in from the street and folded his hands before Puttanna Shetty. He seems to have worked on some renovation work at Puttanna Shetty’s home. Contractor stood outside the Veranda.
Pu: “What’s it?”
Contractor: “My bill...”
Hayavadana Rao turned to the contractor before he could finish and said:
Hay: “Your bill is settled. Please come to my office and I’ll have a cheque ready to pick up.”
Hayavadana Rao was a trusted associate of Puttanna Shetty in such matters pertaining to finances.
Contractor: “What would be a good time to pick it up?”
Hay: “Come tomorrow, in the evening. I’ll have the cheque ready for three hundred and eighty rupees.”
Contractor said, “As you wish!”
Pu: “What’s the bill amount?”
Hay: “Three hundred and eighty-five rupees, six annas and eight paisa.”
It was a sum decided after inspection of the completed work. Puttanna Shetty turned to Hayavadana Rao and said, “Why do you cut off the remaining five and odd rupees?”. Hayavadana Rao replied “It’s just paltry.”
Pu: “If it’s paltry, it can be given away. Right?”
Such was his character. Overall a calculative mind. Once the calculations were done, there was some magnanimity indeed.
Was Puttanna Shetty successful in his endeavours only because of his tenderness and ingenuity? Was he also erudite? Many people have raised this question with me. Number of people seeking an answer to this question grew during the time when Mysore University conferred LL.D upon Puttanna Shetty. It might turn out to be presumptuous if someone like me - who hasn’t passed any exams - tries to answer this question.
Puttanna Shetty hadn’t passed any examination. Neither did he have any desire of calling himself a scholar. He never even trained to be proficient in any of the sciences. His true investment was his worldly tact - common sense.
सर्वान् ग्रन्थीन् विभेदयति सम्यक्।
I’ll share one of my experiences. A legion of British army stayed in Bangalore during the first world war around 1915. It was a regiment called territorials. Members of this regiment were well educated. They were students of well-known universities like Oxford and Cambridge in England. They were a part of territorials purely out of their nationalistic pride. While they were here, the then British resident, Sir Hugh Daly was of the view that it might prove beneficial to both India and England if these well-read people were introduced to some of the prominent subject matters like Indian History, literature and social customs etc... Acting along these lines, it seems he had requested Puttanna Shetty to deliver lectures on Administration and History of Mysore state. The lecture was not to exceed forty - forty-five minutes. Apparently Puttanna Shetty had agreed too. I wasn’t aware of this. But I got a call to visit him at his home on one afternoon. I accordingly went to his house at about two - two-thirty. Puttanna Shetty asked:
“You please be seated here (veranda). I’ll sit in front of a table inside the room and write things down. I’ll pass on each page to you as I finish up writing. Please read through them and let me know if there are any changes to be made.”
It happened like the way he said. He wrote things down behind sheets of an old calendar and passed it on to me. Notes were on topics aforementioned - Contemporary Mysore History & Administration. I thoroughly read through all the notes. I felt, people who are able to cumulatively summarize on a such a broad topic so lucidly and authentically within an hour’s time are, beyond any doubt, scholars even if they haven’t qualified any examinations.
This is the third part of the five-part English translation of Sixth essay in D V Gundappa’s magnum-opus Jnapakachitrashaale (Volume 6) – Halavu Saarvajanikaru. Edited by G S Raghavendra.