M L Shreekantesha Gowda

In an earlier episode, while discussing the revival of modern Kannada, we reminisced about Mysore’s GTA, the university graduates’ association. One among the main people driving the association was M L Shreekantesha Gowda. Soon after completing his B.A., B.L., he got a job in the government’s Judicial Department. For a few years, he was a munsif in Madhugiri. After his retirement he lived in Basavanagudi on the first floor of a house that he owned. The house was in a corner and faced the Maharashtra Girls School. I desired to meet him in person and so I enquired with a friend of mine. Like Shreekantesha Gowda, my friend too belonged to the Vokkaliga community. He discouraged me, saying that Gowda was extremely short-tempered and was known to use harsh language. I had developed respect and admiration for Shreekantesha Gowda because I had gone through his writings. In those early days, about seventy to eighty years ago, he had worked for Kannada with dedication and competence. To my knowledge, he’s the first person in the Vokkaliga community who became popular. He had translated two Shakespeare plays from English to Kannada: one was Romeo and Juliet or ‘Rāmavarma-Līlāvatī;’ the other was Macbeth or ‘Pratāparudra.’ Of these two, I had watched the first one in my childhood. I’ve been searching for a copy of that translation for a few years now. I searched for a long time before I obtained a copy of ‘Pratāparudra.’ A few years ago, an elderly drama connoisseur from Mysore by name Anand Rao gave me his copy. Ananda Rao had a good collection of literature on old plays and dramaturgy. Biographies of notable actors like Sir Henry Irving, pictures of their acting costumes, wigs from the past, moustaches, beards, swords, machetes – he had a collection of such items. Ananda Rao had struck a deal with me – “If you visit our home, I’ll give you the book there.” With a lot of affection he welcomed me to his house, offered snacks and coffee, showed me all his collectables, and then placed the prized copy of ‘Pratāparudra’ in my hands.

Methodology of Translation

The translation methodology employed by Shreekantesha Gowda came into practise in those days; using Kannada or Sanskrit equivalents for English names; modifying the scenes to an extent to show them as our country’s subject matter; using vacanas in conversations and including poems and songs in between. In essence, transforming the language and presentation of the play such that people watching the play should feel that it is from their own culture. I too have followed this method to a certain extent. In the same fashion Basavappa Shastri and C Subba Rao translated ‘Othello’ into Kannada as ‘Śūrasena Caritre.’ Shreekantesha Gowda had mastered the nuances of the provincial and colloquial languages. I am reminded of one of his songs:

ಹಂಗೂ ಕೆಟ್ಟೆ ಹಿಂಗೂ ಕೆಟ್ಟೆ ರಂಗಧಾಮ । ತಂಗಳಿಟ್ಟು  ಹಳಸಿಹೋಯ್ತು ಪಂಗನಾಮ ।।

Shreekantesha Gowda had composed an original poetical work, ‘Cāmanṛpa Candraprabhe.’ It was a small book of poems. The book had poems in the vritta-chandas of Sanskrit and in kanda-padyas as well. The topic of the work was the description of Sri Chamarajendra Wodeyar’s administration and the praise of his munificence and enthusiasm for education. The king being such a great eminence, by the inspiration of his grace— ಸೋಜಿಗವೇ ಪೇಳೆ ಕಬ್ಬವ ಗೌಡಂ? He sings, “Is it a surprise that a bucolic Gowda can also compose poetry?” That book is unavailable now. When I had read the book, I was impressed by its style. That was sixty-five years ago. It had a fine style, rich with emotions. A long review was published in ‘Vidyādāyini’, a monthly magazine of the yesteryear about the works of Shreekantesha Gowda. The reviewer had used the name ‘Bhāṣābhimāni.’ It was not a friendly review at all. “Gowda has said ‘the pig grunted.’ If so, then what did the bull do?” The reviewer had pointed out one or two such errors. It was his opinion that it was not appropriate to translate some of the original poems. One might as well say—

ಸಮ್ಮರ್ ಸನ್ನಿನ ಅರ್ಲಿ ಪವರುಂ ಯೂಸ್ಡ್  ಟು ಗಿಲ್ಡ್ ಮೆಟಿಲ್ಡೆಯ ಬವರುಂ

(This is basically writing the English poem in the Kannada script with a few changes to the case endings. The present example is “The summer sun, whose early power / Was wont to gild Matilda’s bower,” which are the opening lines of the sixth canto of Sir Walter Scott’s Rokeby). Why not translate it like this, the reviewer had berated. In the end, he twisted Gowda’s own words “ಸೋಜಿಗವೇ ಪೇಳೆ ಕಬ್ಬವ ಗೌಡಂ” to give a meaning of irony, suggesting that it was a surprise that a Gowda could write poetry. It was a harsh review. In response to this review, in the same magazine, Vidyādāyini, another reviewer taunted the previous one to change his pseudonym from ‘Bhāṣābhimāni’ (lit. ‘one who takes great pride in language’) to ‘Doṣābhimāni’ (lit. ‘one who takes great pride in finding faults). We are removed from that period by more than half a century and so, in current times, we can read those arguments and counter-arguments for fun. People of those times tried to give a new dimension and a new discipline to the Kannada language. It was a new effort, an unprecedented effort, and a pioneering effort. With such efforts, it is but natural that shortcomings and blemishes seep in. To take them seriously is not the way of appreciation. Their shortcomings are small, their value is large. When seen from this lens, Shreekantesha Gowda’s efforts are worthy of adulation.

This is an English translation of the fourth chapter of D V Gundappa’s Jnapakachitrashaale – Vol. 3 – Sahityopasakaru. Edited by Hari Ravikumar.

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:

Dhruva Somayaji holds a bachelor's degree in Electronics and Instrumentation engineering and a master's degree in Business Administration majoring in Finance and Marketing. Dhruva currently works as a senior financial analyst for State Street Global Advisors, a renowned asset management company. His major interests are in history, philosophy, literature, art, politics, and religion. He blogs at http://themeindia.blogspot.in.

Prekshaa Publications

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, Śatāvadhāni 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...

Yaugandharam

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

Vanitakavitotsavah

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

Vaiphalyaphalam

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

Nipunapraghunakam

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

Bharavatarastavah

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...

Bharatilochana

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...

Vagarthavismayasvadah

“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...