DVG's Profound Devotion and Inseparable Attachment to Tyagaraja

This article is part 17 of 24 in the series DVG Profile by S.R. Ramaswamy

DVG was the main inspiration for Vidwan N. Ranganatha Sharma to embark on the prodigious task of undertaking the comprehensive [Kannada] translation of Srimad Ramayana. DVG authored detailed forewords for several volumes of these translations.

All of us in the Gokhale Institute family obtained the Samskara of Sanskrit language, literature and grammar through the guidance of Sri Sharma. Whenever DVG and Vidwan Sharma met, some element of Sastra or literature would invariably, inevitably crop up. These discussions would imbue a great degree of Samskara within all of us.

Once, Vidwan Sharma had the occasion to visit the doctor for repairing his teeth. On that occasion, DVG sent him the following auspices:

ekadaṃtaḥ prabhuH kuryā-
dadya vo daṃtamaṃgalaṃ   

Being endowed with just one tooth, let Ganapati bestow auspiciousness upon us.

The next day, the other half of the aforementioned verse came from the Vidwan as follows:

asūyayeva pūrvedyuH

As if stricken by jealousy, Ganapati took away two of my teeth yesterday.

The person who obtains this sort of scholarly wit is truly blessed.


The litterateur A.N. Krishna Rao [A.Na.Kru] had enormous respect for DVG. Equally, DVG had great affection for A.N. Krishna Rao. When A.N.K. died in the early days of July 1971, DVG deeply grieved for him. He said:

“Krishna Rao had talent. Apart from first-rate folks such as Mudavidu Krishna Rao and others, A.N. Krishna Rao was the foremost in the class of fine orators. The arrangement of words, the manner of expounding upon a topic so that it impresses people – this art naturally came to him…not just Krishna Rao, I know several people in his family and relatives. They’re all truly eminent people, magnanimous. Krishna Rao’s father, Narasinga Rao, his relative Kerebagilu Krishnappa, his maternal uncle, his brother-in-law…I know all of them well. All these people have shown tremendous friendship towards me. Likewise with Krishna Rao. I don’t know how he was with others; with me, he has behaved with the same consistent affection over the last thirty or forty years. How does one forget such friendship? How much I have made fun of Krishna Rao! The faults that one can point out in Krishna Rao, we can point them out in hundreds of people. However, how many people are endowed with the kind of good qualities, friendship and genuine affection that was in his character?


Artistic Sagacity

DVG’s constant companion till the end of his life was his aesthetic spirit. Music was incessantly strumming in his heart. Whether he was alone or in conversation with friends, he would repeatedly recall various Kritis of Tyagaraja. On occasion, if I was perchance late in arriving at his home, he would hum this Kriti in the Ritigowla ragam, “Nannu vidachi kadalakuraa…” He would say that the words of people who had firsthand experience of divinity were far stronger proofs than the lines in various Sastras. The Samskara of DVG’s Inner Life was truly affluent. It is the special fortune of this land that the Kannada people were benefitted from it.

One evening when I went to his home as usual, DVG was silent for some reason. After a couple of minutes, he said:

“My boy, I have come to a conclusion regarding the place where God does not exist.”


“He is definitely not in the realm of logic.”

DVG had realized the fact that extremities of logic, grammar and endless debates on definition will injure the core essence of pure philosophy [used in the sense of Darshana or Tattva].

Mr. Su, an eminent personality and friend repeatedly prodded DVG at a music concert, “Which Ragam was sung now?” “Which Ragam is this?” After four or five times of this pestering, DVG said: “My dear sir, when you visit a prostitute’s house, why do you want to know her name? And if you ask it, will you get an answer? And even if you get an answer, will that heighten your enjoyment? Shouldn’t you only focus on whether the product is agreeable or no?”

Even amidst his weakness of body [due to old age] and ill-health, DVG’s opportunity for such humour was copious.

Before entering the Gokhale Institute, one has to cross the gate and climb up some six or seven steps. DVG would climb each step and rest for about two minutes. As he climbed, he would recall the Saptapadi Mantras such as “ekamiṣe viṣṇustvānvetu,”and laugh.

Tadbhavananda, a Swami of the Anandamarga sect once invited DVG to deliver a discourse. Explaining his incapability to attend, DVG said, “Just as your god experiences are your own, my arthritis is my own – incommunicable!”

At times, these emotions would take the form of a poem or song.

anubhaviso guṃḍā
goṇagadade baṃdaddannellā nī-
nanubhaviso guṃḍā ||

Undergo it Gunda
Undergo it!
Without cribbing, everything that comes [your way]
You undergo it||

This song would be set to swaras and elaborated musically. Once when the [music] Vidwan N. Chennakeshavayya was visiting, DVG sang these lines in some Ragam and said, “Isn’t this a Panchama Ragam, Chennakeshavayya?”

“Of course it is!” said Sri Chennakeshavayya, laughing.

At times he would sing such lines set to a Ragam:

ogiyo kaṃtenā
hoḍiyo ghaṃṭenā

Whatever happens
Whatever is lost
Throw your bundle
Ring the bell[i]

Such philosophical lines would repeatedly take birth.

AntahpuragIta, a collection of sixty songs that he wrote in 1950 praising the coquetry and dalliances of the Madanikas[ii] at the Belur Chennakeshava Temple is akin to a feast for [classical] music and dance connoisseurs. Equally, his Gita-Shakuntala is a musical translation of Kalidasa’s renowned play, Abhijnana-Shakuntala.


“Natyacharya” V.S. Kaushik adapted Vedanta Desikar’s famous work, Sankalpa Suryodaya into dance form. When he visited DVG to give the invitation card to the performance, DVG mocked him.

“This is all fine, Sri Kaushik. But if the sun rises [Suryodaya=Surya + Udaya. Surya=Sun; Udaya=To rise] by the time the Sankalpa is taken, when does the actual work happen?”

Connoisseurial spirit, poetry and music were inseparable organs of DVG’s Inner Life. When he was admitted to St. Martha’s Hospital in 1972 after suffering from a paralytic stroke, the Vina Vidwan V. Doreswami Iyengar came visiting. DVG was filled with enthusiasm the moment he saw him. Although he found it difficult to speak, he began to hum this mellifluous Tyagaraja Kriti set to Mohana Ragam:

nanu pāliṃpa
naḍaci vaccitivo
nā prāṇanātha
The Lord of my Life
You came walking to
Guide me

Towards the end of his life, DVG would repeatedly recall this Kriti.

DVG had extraordinary devotion towards Tyagaraja. He would constantly recall this saint’s life-incidents and Kritis. Once, Tyagaraja received an invitation from the Maharaja appointing him as the court singer. Tyagaraja respectfully bowed to him saying, “The joy and happiness I derive from serving Sri Rama is not available from following any other path,” and returned home. Tyagaraja’s elder brother who sensed an opportunity to lead a comfortable life thanks to this royal appointment was greatly upset. While he was asleep at night, this brother took the Vigraha of Sri Rama which Tyagaraja had kept for his daily puja, and threw it into the river. The next day after Tyagaraja finished his bath and got ready for his Puja, he didn’t see the Murti which he so dearly loved. In this state of deep anguish, the Kriti that manifested itself on his tongue was set in the Athana Ragam, Ye pApamu jEsitirA rAma [What sin did I commit, Rama?]. In this Kriti, he has lamented with great feeling, “How can I bear this difficulty? I am unable to fathom what to do. Come, stand before me and speak, My Lord. Do you have such forgetfulness towards me?” In another Kriti set to the Devagandhari Ragam, Tyagaraja has openly spoken about “the troubles from my brother.”   

On scores of occasions, I have witnessed DVG shedding tears recalling this and other, similar episodes in Tyagaraja’s life. Indeed, DVG faced many such trying situations in his own life. A close relative was upset with DVG – because DVG had not used his influence with higher officials to help him get a promotion. To this relative, DVG wrote an ancient tenet that he had regarded as an ideal for his own conduct:

akṛtvā parasantāpaṃ
agatvā khalanamratām |
anutasṛjya satāṃ vartma
yat svalpamapi tad bahu ||

Inflicting no hurt on others
Not bowing before petty people in positions of authority
Not abandoning the honest path that naturally comes to good people
The livelihood that one earns in this fashion
No matter how materially poor it is,
It is the only way that is deserving of respect.

To be continued

[i] This verse is notable for its profound simplicity in sketching the essential transient nature of everything, especially the human life. Here, “bundle” signifies the numerous material accumulations and attachments of a person, and “ring the bell” denotes a readiness for departing from this mortal world with serenity.  

[ii] Celestial damsels typically carved in sculpture on the walls of temples




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...