V Si: A Worshipper of Sweetness

A Worshipper of Sweetness

V Si. had great respect for life. He wanted to find grace in life and in literature. He picked out graceful and sweet elements from works of art and it was this quality that shaped his life too. In V Si.’s view, a work that lacked direct connection with life was not a literary work at all.

He gave more importance to the internal quality of life than the external parameters. One needs a special kind of ability to identify the subtle aspects of character in another. V Si.’s fussy behaviour was usually because he was quality-conscious. In many instances, it might not have demanded heavy expenses either. It is not uncommon for us to spend a lot of money and energy on things of low quality. We must simply be happy that V Si. did not have the misfortune of witnessing the consumption of junk food that is rampant today.

For several years, many of us ridiculed and laughed at V Si., who at times, appeared to fret about silly things and have great affection for useless objects. Shivarama Karanth once said, “Instead of paying attention to neat and formal clothes and the ancient majestic outfits of old Mysore, it would have been better if V Si. paid more attention to putting on ten kilograms of fat.” Amidst all that good-natured fun, however, we must keep in mind the affinity to profundity that he always had. When we see it in the backdrop of the mechanical life that has today become the norm, we can only humbly bow down to the peaks of his personality.

Our friends who saw T S Venkannayya and V Si. taking a stroll together often called them ‘the long and short of Kannada.’

Thanks to V Si., Kannada became prosperous but Kannada did not help fill V Si.’s stomach.

Gratefulness flowed in V Si.’s blood. He had immense respect and gratitude to those who helped him overcome his days of difficulty. He was from a very poor background and there were many who had been of great assistance during his school days. A N Subba Rao, Kanakanahalli Varadacharya, M Hiriyanna, S Radhakrishnan, C R Reddy, and others were his teachers during the college days. He remembered them with utmost reverence and gratitude until his last breath. V Si. fondly recollected the goodwill of people who had hosted him years ago during his travels. He never forgot a good deed of others.


V Si.’s Pen portraits

V Si. was a transparent person within and outside. He has written captivating pen portraits of his seniors and contemporaries. Those are signal contributions from the perspective of the history of our society. It was V Si.’s ability to grasp the best aspects of another person that made him author such works. Sri Ranga often remarked, “V Si. is adamant about showing positive qualities only!”

The people about whom he has written were all famous. There must have been hundreds of people who came in contact with those stalwarts. But the kind of details that V Si. provides are like none other; they are not available elsewhere. Such writings not only require a skill at writing but also a special culturing of the mind. Such culture was abundantly present in V Si.

B M Srikantayya, Bellave Venkatanaranappa, T S Venkannayya, M Govinda Pai, Panje Mangesha Rao, Shivarama Karanth, M R Srinivasa Murthy, Da. Ra. Bendre, G P Rajarathnam, Motaganahalli Subrahmanya Shastry, P V Joshi, K V Iyer, Dr. M Shivaram – V Si. considered all these people as a part of himself.


Renaissance Man

V Si. can be hailed as a Renaissance Man. Classical literature was his favourite but there was no subject that he was not interested in. He had put in efforts in all different genres of literature: poetry, drama, literary criticism, travelogues, Lalita Prabandha (being inspired by English essayists of Romantic Period. ‘Creative Non-fiction’ - writings filled with humour, profundity and at times, anecdotal).

He enjoyed Carnatic music, Hindustani music, and also Western classical music. He had understood the heart of classical and modern painting and could speak with conviction about them. He knew the nuances of polity, law, economies, and ethics; he had dived deep into these areas.

He had consistently toiled in all areas of his interests. He authored articles on Sanskrit and Prakrit chandas [prosody], mātrā-gaṇa and akṣara-vṛttas, aṃśagaṇas, etc. He published one such article in 1952. V Si. not only strove to understand the metrical patterns in Kannada, English, and Sanskrit but also in understanding of Greek and German poetic meters. He had learnt the Bengali language and had gone through the works of Rabidranath Tagore and others in the original.

Even at a time when Karnataka was populated with several such stalwarts, it was rare to find a person with V Si.’s versatility.


Dedication to Tradition and Dharma

Whenever we met, V Si. always told me, “You are a fossil!” or “All your Vedas, Purāṇas, and Śāstras are mumbo-jumbo!”. I often retorted by saying that his was meaningless prattle. These kinds of exchanges had almost become the norm between the two of us. Whenever he had to introduce me to another person, he would say, “Here comes a grammarian. He stands for systems and codification. I am the opposite. I say, blast all your systems!”

It was also the norm for these debates to end in laughter and light-hearted humour. V Si.’s ethical and dhārmic values were deep-rooted. His atheistic conversations were only at the surface level. He never gave up the śikhā behind his head, performance of ācamana, pariśecana and citrāhuti on a daily basis or visiting a Śiva temple every Śivarātri. His devotion to the divine was intense.

One night, he appeared to be greatly agitated and low on energy. He was a bit unwell. As I stepped into his room, he placed his hands over his head and I heard him humming the last caraṇa of the composition Tèra tīyagarādā in the rāga Gauḻipantu. The words of the last caraṇa are – Vāguramanitè-liyakamṛga-gaṇamulu... [The import of the entire line is 'Owing to the veil of my ignorance, my mind is caught by evil, just as ignorant beasts are trapped in the hunter's net]. He had tears in his eyes. He asked me to sit down and started praising the spiritual heights Tyāgarāja had reached. We sat silent for a while. Then he said, “I have been feeling very insecure about my life since morning. All the while I keep talking some nonsense; I keep demeaning the deities. I felt very weak in the afternoon, felt as if I will collapse. I recited the Śivāparādha-kṣamāpaṇa-stotra. Yet my mind is not gaining back its equanimity!”

That night I too could not sleep.


Whenever I think of V Si., myriad thoughts flood my mind as I walk down memory lane. I have written down a couple of them. All my friends know the high respect and regard I had for V Si. I thank the almighty for blessing me with the company of Sri V Sitaramaiah.


The current article is an English adaptation of the Kannada original which has appeared in the Dīvaṭikegaḻu, authored by Nadoja Dr. S R Ramaswamy. Thanks to Sri Hari Ravikumar for his edits. Full form of the article is a part of 'A Tapestry of Pen Portraits' published by Prekshaa Pratishtana in December 2020.




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.



Arjun is a writer, translator, engineer, and enjoys composing poems. He is well-versed in Sanskrit, Kannada, English, Greek, and German languages. His research interests lie in comparative aesthetics of classical Greek and Sanskrit literature. He has deep interest in the theatre arts and music. Arjun has (co-) translated the works of AR Krishna Shastri, DV Gundappa, Dr. SL Bhyrappa, Dr. SR Ramaswamy and Shatavadhani Dr. R Ganesh

Prekshaa Publications

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...


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...