DVG: A Life of Expansiveness, Confidence, Heartiness, Fuss, Food and Poetry

This article is part 21 of 24 in the series DVG Profile by S.R. Ramaswamy

Spending five mirthful minutes with DVG was sufficient to make us forget the fatigue of undertaking four hours of brain-wracking work. In the overall reckoning, he had a habit of making a fuss about things.

Let’s assume that DVG would be seated in the front room or the living room of his house. He could call Chandra (son of DVG’s younger brother, D.V. Rama Rao) and ask him to fetch some book from DVG’s bedroom: “There’s a blue-stringed book inside a green plastic bag next to the stool at the right. Bring it.” Chandra would say, “Yes,” and head to the bedroom.

Within ten seconds, by the time he had reached the end of the living room, DVG would shout out: “Did you get it?” Chandra would say, “Yes,” and quicken his pace. And by the time twenty seconds would have elapsed, DVG’s second shout would issue forth: “Didn’t you find it?” Chandra would shout back, “Got it, coming.”

By this time, three quarters of a minute would have passed. And by the time the minute would finish, DVG would roar, “Should I come there myself?” Before the last syllable of “myself” was completed, Chandra would have reappeared.

Chandramouli and others would re-enact all these scenes among themselves and have great fun and forget such minor troubles given by this old man. On many occasions DVG would laugh at his own behaviour. After such episodes were over, DVG would himself report them to us and laugh at himself. He would say, “What can I do? I have become habituated from childhood to this kind of undisciplined life. Shameless life. God has somehow enabled me to lead this sort of life so far – for eighty years. Now it is impossible for me to rectify myself.”  


Sometime in 1970, V.C. came to visit DVG as usual.

DVG: “Come my man, Sitaramappa…”

VC: “How are you sir?”

DVG: “Look at me. I’m like this. I’m looking forward to the fall of this body as Partha said.”[i]

VC: “That will happen on its own. What should you do for that?”

DVG: “Why do you say that, my man? “looking” is also a job, right?”

Both laughed.

(There was no dearth of sarcastic irony even in these words of DVG. The aforementioned line occurs in Kumaravyasa’s Mahabharata in an episode where Arjuna disguises himself as a Sanyasi and says, “Suffering the chain of fruits of this mortal life with all its Karmas, We are now looking forward to the fall of this body.” After speaking such lofty words of renunciation, Arjuna elopes with Subhadra.)


A Trait Inherited from his Father

It can be said that the trait of DVG fussing over everything was inherited from his father. I will narrate what he used to say about his father, in his own words:

“My father’s nature was to fuss over things. My grandmother’s (mother’s mother) annual death rites fell in the month of Vaishakha. For these Vaishakha rites, my father’s commotion would begin right in the month of Chaitra. “Oh! It’s already here! The ceremony will begin tomorrow itself!” He would start his rigmarole a month earlier. We would discuss among ourselves that the moment any death ceremony was on the anvil, it was the onset of troubles for my mother. My father would put his hands on his head as though the sky had fallen on his head and ask his wife – “What do you say? It’s fast approaching, right? What all will you prepare?” She: “There! You started your grumbling again – there’s still twenty days left; what’s your hurry now?” But he would grumble further, “None of them have any concern about this. Nobody takes it seriously in their minds.” Two more minutes of complaining in this fashion, he would again ask his wife: “What sweet delicacies will you prepare?” She: “I’ll prepare some Obbattu. What else should I make?” My father: “Che! Only Obbattu! Can’t you make anything else at all?” She: “It’s the death ceremony of a pious wife. It is said that one must prepare only Obbattu. It is auspicious. That is the tradition of our home.” He: “You prepare Obbattu to keep up with the Sastras. Prepare something else for the satisfaction of the Brahmanas. Can’t you make Chiroti?” She: “I don’t know how to make it. How can I prepare something that I’ve never seen, something whose name I’ve never heard? If you want that, get someone else to make it. What I prepare are the traditional dishes.” By the time the rites were complete, such arguments would be repeated at least five or six times.

“Overall, death rites would be performed with great enthusiasm. One can say that the grandeur of death ceremonies had an upper hand over that of festivals. All those folks lived their lives with great Shraddha. Akin to a proof of this conviction, my father died passed away on the day of his mother’s annual death ceremony. He was not in a position to perform her ceremonies – extreme illness; he couldn’t get up from the bed. The ceremony was performed by his cousin Surappa under the aegis of the Purohita, Sri Rama Sastri. My father would repeatedly ask Rama Sastri in sign language, “Is it done?” After all the ceremonies were complete, Rama Sastri took the Mantrakshata and sprinkled it on my father’s head. Lying on the bed, my father enquired, “Was everything done properly?” Rama Sastri said, “Oho! It went on really well. Nothing was lacking.” My father: “Who performed it?” Rama Sastri: “Surappa.” After this, Rama Sastri had his meals and left. Within an hour, my father passed away.”


Active Voice

Even if DVG had to say something minor or trivial, it had to be said in a high pitch. The lessons that he used to teach to his daughter’s son Naati (Nataraj) at his home would reach everybody’s ears. The word “urgency” was absent in DVG’s dictionary. The lesson on just one sentence would not be complete even after an hour had passed. In the end, a fatigued Naati would stand up, spread both his hands upwards and shout, “I have understood.” Only then would the vehicle of DVG’s lesson would move forward.

Recently, my elder friend, Dr. B.P. Radhakrishna’s biography of V.C. (titled Fruitful Life) was launched (28 May 1997). On this occasion, Nittur Srinivasa Rao remarked amidst a conversation: “None of us have heard V.C. speaking in a loud voice. Nobody has ever heard D.V. Gundappa speak in a soft tone!”

Be it speech, writing, snacks or meals—DVG was expansive in everything – unconstrained, confident, hearty. He would take even the most insignificant episode, clothe it with grandeur, expand it, and describe it in a high pitch. This quality was embedded in his nature. His voice would envelop his entire surrounding.

Some beggars would obstinately remain rooted at the spot even after they were given money or other stuff. If they had to be sent on their way, DVG would roar at his sister-in-law, “Should I come? If you tell them in such a soft tone, they won’t go.”

Once when the Working Committee of the Gokhale Institute met, the topic of a certain gentleman came up. The person in question was completely deaf. Our Committee member, Sri Rama Chaitanya said, “He is stone deaf. Perhaps he will be able to hear only if our Chief [DVG] speaks.”

Be it an incident, episode, short story, a Sanskrit Sloka, a quote from someone – everything had to be said in a full-mouthed fashion. Every alphabet had to be expressed with the right amount of force.

This was the rule that DVG followed not just on stage but in everyday conversation.

Once Masti was delivering a discourse at the Gokhale Institute. In between, he quoted Bommera Potana’s famous verse, bAla rasAla sAla navapallava to elucidate the context. After reciting a couple of words, Masti himself felt that he was reciting it in a rather plain fashion. He looked at DVG seated next to him and said, “You recite it.” DVG recited the verse with extraordinary force, the entire hall reverberating his voice.

To be continued

[i] The line ending with “Partha” is drawn verbatim from Kumaravyasa’s Karnatabharatakathamanjari. Partha is another name for Arjuna.




Nadoja Dr. S R Ramaswamy is a renowned journalist, writer, art critic, environmentalist, and social activist. He has authored over fifty books and thousands of articles. He was a close associate of stalwarts like D. V. Gundappa, Rallapalli Anantakrishna Sharma, V Sitaramaiah, and others. He is currently the honorary Editor-in-Chief of Utthana and served as the Honorary Secretary of the Gokhale Institute of Public Affairs for many years.



Sandeep Balakrishna is a writer, author, translator, and socio-political-cultural analyst. He is the author of "Tipu Sultan: The Tyrant of Mysore" and "The Madurai Sultanate: A Concise History." He translated Dr. S L Bhyrappa's magnum opus "Avarana" into English.

Prekshaa Publications

Indian Perspective of Truth and Beauty in Homer’s Epics is a unique work on the comparative study of the Greek Epics Iliad and Odyssey with the Indian Epics – Rāmāyaṇa and Mahābhārata. Homer, who laid the foundations for the classical tradition of the West, occupies a stature similar to that occupied by the seer-poets Vālmīki and Vyāsa, who are synonymous with the Indian culture. The author...

Karnataka’s celebrated polymath, D V Gundappa brings together in the sixth volume of reminiscences character sketches of prominent public figures, liberals, and social workers. These remarkable personages hailing from different corners of South India are from a period that spans from the late nineteenth century to the mid-twentieth century. Written in Kannada in the 1970s, these memoirs go...

An Introduction to Hinduism based on Primary Sources

Authors: Śatāvadhānī Dr. R Ganesh, Hari Ravikumar

What is the philosophical basis for Sanātana-dharma, the ancient Indian way of life? What makes it the most inclusive and natural of all religio-philosophical systems in the world?

The Essential Sanātana-dharma serves as a handbook for anyone who wishes to grasp the...

Karnataka’s celebrated polymath, D V Gundappa brings together in the fifth volume, episodes from the lives of traditional savants responsible for upholding the Vedic culture. These memorable characters lived a life of opulence amidst poverty— theirs  was the wealth of the soul, far beyond money and gold. These vidvāns hailed from different corners of the erstwhile Mysore Kingdom and lived in...

Padma Bhushan Dr. Padma Subrahmanyam represents the quintessence of Sage Bharata’s art and Bhārata, the country that gave birth to the peerless seer of the Nāṭya-veda. Padma’s erudition in various streams of Indic knowledge, mastery over many classical arts, deep understanding of the nuances of Indian culture, creative genius, and sublime vision bolstered by the vedāntic and nationalistic...

Bhārata has been a land of plenty in many ways. We have had a timeless tradition of the twofold principle of Brāhma (spirit of wisdom) and Kṣāttra (spirit of valour) nourishing and protecting this sacred land. The Hindu civilisation, rooted in Sanātana-dharma, has constantly been enriched by brāhma and safeguarded by kṣāttra.
The renowned Sanskrit poet and scholar, Śatāvadhānī Dr. R...

ಛಂದೋವಿವೇಕವು ವರ್ಣವೃತ್ತ, ಮಾತ್ರಾಜಾತಿ ಮತ್ತು ಕರ್ಷಣಜಾತಿ ಎಂದು ವಿಭಕ್ತವಾದ ಎಲ್ಲ ಬಗೆಯ ಛಂದಸ್ಸುಗಳನ್ನೂ ವಿವೇಚಿಸುವ ಪ್ರಬಂಧಗಳ ಸಂಕಲನ. ಲೇಖಕರ ದೀರ್ಘಕಾಲಿಕ ಆಲೋಚನೆಯ ಸಾರವನ್ನು ಒಳಗೊಂಡ ಈ ಹೊತ್ತಗೆ ಪ್ರಧಾನವಾಗಿ ಛಂದಸ್ಸಿನ ಸೌಂದರ್ಯವನ್ನು ಲಕ್ಷಿಸುತ್ತದೆ. ತೌಲನಿಕ ವಿಶ್ಲೇಷಣೆ ಮತ್ತು ಅಂತಃಶಾಸ್ತ್ರೀಯ ಅಧ್ಯಯನಗಳ ತೆಕ್ಕೆಗೆ ಬರುವ ಬರೆಹಗಳೂ ಇಲ್ಲಿವೆ. ಶಾಸ್ತ್ರಕಾರನಿಗಲ್ಲದೆ ಸಿದ್ಧಹಸ್ತನಾದ ಕವಿಗೆ ಮಾತ್ರ ಸ್ಫುರಿಸಬಲ್ಲ ಎಷ್ಟೋ ಹೊಳಹುಗಳು ಕೃತಿಯ ಮೌಲಿಕತೆಯನ್ನು ಹೆಚ್ಚಿಸಿವೆ. ಈ...

Karnataka’s celebrated polymath, D V Gundappa brings together in the fourth volume, some character sketches of the Dewans of Mysore preceded by an account of the political framework of the State before Independence and followed by a review of the political conditions of the State after 1940. These remarkable leaders of Mysore lived in a period that spans from the mid-nineteenth century to the...

Bharatiya Kavya-mimamseya Hinnele is a monograph on Indian Aesthetics by Mahamahopadhyaya N. Ranganatha Sharma. The book discusses the history and significance of concepts pivotal to Indian literary theory. It is equally useful to the learned and the laity.

Sahitya-samhite is a collection of literary essays in Kannada. The book discusses aestheticians such as Ananda-vardhana and Rajashekhara; Sanskrit scholars such as Mena Ramakrishna Bhat, Sridhar Bhaskar Varnekar and K S Arjunwadkar; and Kannada litterateurs such as DVG, S L Bhyrappa and S R Ramaswamy. It has a foreword by Shatavadhani Dr. R Ganesh.

The Mahābhārata is the greatest epic in the world both in magnitude and profundity. A veritable cultural compendium of Bhārata-varṣa, it is a product of the creative genius of Maharṣi Kṛṣṇa-dvaipāyana Vyāsa. The epic captures the experiential wisdom of our civilization and all subsequent literary, artistic, and philosophical creations are indebted to it. To read the Mahābhārata is to...

Shiva Rama Krishna

சிவன். ராமன். கிருஷ்ணன்.
இந்திய பாரம்பரியத்தின் முப்பெரும் கதாநாயகர்கள்.
உயர் இந்தியாவில் தலைமுறைகள் பல கடந்தும் கடவுளர்களாக போற்றப்பட்டு வழிகாட்டிகளாக விளங்குபவர்கள்.
மனித ஒற்றுமை நூற்றாண்டுகால பரிணாம வளர்ச்சியின் பரிமாணம்.
தனிநபர்களாகவும், குடும்ப உறுப்பினர்களாகவும், சமுதாய பிரஜைகளாகவும் நாம் அனைவரும் பரிமளிக்கிறோம்.
சிவன் தனிமனித அடையாளமாக அமைகிறான்....

ऋतुभिः सह कवयः सदैव सम्बद्धाः। विशिष्य संस्कृतकवयः। यथा हि ऋतवः प्रतिसंवत्सरं प्रतिनवतामावहन्ति मानवेषु तथैव ऋतुवर्णनान्यपि काव्यरसिकेषु कामपि विच्छित्तिमातन्वते। ऋतुकल्याणं हि सत्यमिदमेव हृदि कृत्वा प्रवृत्तम्। नगरजीवनस्य यान्त्रिकतां मान्त्रिकतां च ध्वनदिदं चम्पूकाव्यं गद्यपद्यमिश्रितमिति सुव्यक्तमेव। ऐदम्पूर्वतया प्रायः पुरीपरिसरप्रसृतानाम् ऋतूनां विलासोऽत्र प्रपञ्चितः। बेङ्गलूरुनामके...

The Art and Science of Avadhānam in Sanskrit is a definitive work on Sāhityāvadhānam, a form of Indian classical art based on multitasking, lateral thinking, and extempore versification. Dotted throughout with tasteful examples, it expounds in great detail on the theory and practice of this unique performing art. It is as much a handbook of performance as it is an anthology of well-turned...

This anthology is a revised edition of the author's 1978 classic. This series of essays, containing his original research in various fields, throws light on the socio-cultural landscape of Tamil Nadu spanning several centuries. These compelling episodes will appeal to scholars and laymen alike.
“When superstitious mediaevalists mislead the country about its judicial past, we have to...

The cultural history of a nation, unlike the customary mainstream history, has a larger time-frame and encompasses the timeless ethos of a society undergirding the course of events and vicissitudes. A major key to the understanding of a society’s unique character is an appreciation of the far-reaching contributions by outstanding personalities of certain periods – especially in the realms of...

Prekṣaṇīyam is an anthology of essays on Indian classical dance and theatre authored by multifaceted scholar and creative genius, Śatāvadhānī Dr. R Ganesh. As a master of śāstra, a performing artiste (of the ancient art of Avadhānam), and a cultured rasika, he brings a unique, holistic perspective to every discussion. These essays deal with the philosophy, history, aesthetics, and practice of...


इदं किञ्चिद्यामलं काव्यं द्वयोः खण्डकाव्ययोः सङ्कलनरूपम्। रामानुरागानलं हि सीतापरित्यागाल्लक्ष्मणवियोगाच्च श्रीरामेणानुभूतं हृदयसङ्क्षोभं वर्णयति । वात्सल्यगोपालकं तु कदाचिद्भानूपरागसमये घटितं यशोदाश्रीकृष्णयोर्मेलनं वर्णयति । इदम्प्रथमतया संस्कृतसाहित्ये सम्पूर्णं काव्यं...


इदं खण्डकाव्यमान्तं मालिनीछन्दसोपनिबद्धं विलसति। मेनकाविश्वामित्रयोः समागमः, तत्फलतया शकुन्तलाया जननम्, मातापितृभ्यां त्यक्तस्य शिशोः कण्वमहर्षिणा परिपालनं चेति काव्यस्यास्येतिवृत्तसङ्क्षेपः।


इदं खण्डकाव्यमान्तं मालिनीछन्दसोपनिबद्धं विलसति। मेनकाविश्वामित्रयोः समागमः, तत्फलतया शकुन्तलाया जननम्, मातापितृभ्यां त्यक्तस्य शिशोः कण्वमहर्षिणा परिपालनं चेति काव्यस्यास्येतिवृत्तसङ्क्षेपः।


इयं रचना दशसु रूपकेष्वन्यतमस्य भाणस्य निदर्शनतामुपैति। एकाङ्करूपकेऽस्मिन् शेखरकनामा चित्रोद्यमलेखकः केनापि हेतुना वियोगम् अनुभवतोश्चित्रलेखामिलिन्दकयोः समागमं सिसाधयिषुः कथामाकाशभाषणरूपेण निर्वहति।


अस्मिन् स्तोत्रकाव्ये भगवन्तं शिवं कविरभिष्टौति। वसन्ततिलकयोपनिबद्धस्य काव्यस्यास्य कविकृतम् उल्लाघनाभिधं व्याख्यानं च वर्तते।

Karnataka’s celebrated polymath, D V Gundappa brings together in the third volume, some character sketches of great literary savants responsible for Kannada renaissance during the first half of the twentieth century. These remarkable...

Karnataka’s celebrated polymath, D V Gundappa brings together in the second volume, episodes from the lives of remarkable exponents of classical music and dance, traditional storytellers, thespians, and connoisseurs; as well as his...

Karnataka’s celebrated polymath, D V Gundappa brings together in the first volume, episodes from the lives of great writers, poets, literary aficionados, exemplars of public life, literary scholars, noble-hearted common folk, advocates...

Evolution of Mahabharata and Other Writings on the Epic is the English translation of S R Ramaswamy's 1972 Kannada classic 'Mahabharatada Belavanige' along with seven of his essays on the great epic. It tells the riveting...

Shiva-Rama-Krishna is an English adaptation of Śatāvadhāni Dr. R Ganesh's popular lecture series on the three great...


ಮಹಾಮಾಹೇಶ್ವರ ಅಭಿನವಗುಪ್ತ ಜಗತ್ತಿನ ವಿದ್ಯಾವಲಯದಲ್ಲಿ ಮರೆಯಲಾಗದ ಹೆಸರು. ಮುಖ್ಯವಾಗಿ ಶೈವದರ್ಶನ ಮತ್ತು ಸೌಂದರ್ಯಮೀಮಾಂಸೆಗಳ ಪರಮಾಚಾರ್ಯನಾಗಿ  ಸಾವಿರ ವರ್ಷಗಳಿಂದ ಇವನು ಜ್ಞಾನಪ್ರಪಂಚವನ್ನು ಪ್ರಭಾವಿಸುತ್ತಲೇ ಇದ್ದಾನೆ. ಭರತಮುನಿಯ ನಾಟ್ಯಶಾಸ್ತ್ರವನ್ನು ಅರ್ಥಮಾಡಿಕೊಳ್ಳಲು ಇವನೊಬ್ಬನೇ ನಮಗಿರುವ ಆಲಂಬನ. ಇದೇ ರೀತಿ ರಸಧ್ವನಿಸಿದ್ಧಾಂತವನ್ನು...


“वागर्थविस्मयास्वादः” प्रमुखतया साहित्यशास्त्रतत्त्वानि विमृशति । अत्र सौन्दर्यर्यशास्त्रीयमूलतत्त्वानि यथा रस-ध्वनि-वक्रता-औचित्यादीनि सुनिपुणं परामृष्टानि प्रतिनवे चिकित्सकप्रज्ञाप्रकाशे। तदन्तर एव संस्कृतवाङ्मयस्य सामर्थ्यसमाविष्कारोऽपि विहितः। क्वचिदिव च्छन्दोमीमांसा च...

The Best of Hiriyanna

The Best of Hiriyanna is a collection of forty-eight essays by Prof. M. Hiriyanna that sheds new light on Sanskrit Literature, Indian...

Stories Behind Verses

Stories Behind Verses is a remarkable collection of over a hundred anecdotes, each of which captures a story behind the composition of a Sanskrit verse. Collected over several years from...