A few poems from Srikantaiah’s “English Gītagaḻu” (meaning English Poems) were published at regular intervals in the monthly “Karnataka Granthamāle”. N.S. Subbarao liked the poems and had spoken to us about them. He had compiled the poems and had gotten it neatly bound with the title embossed in gilt. He had gotten the title written in beautiful golden letters. I felt a great sense of pride looking at it.
Love of Scholarship
On another occasion I was walking on the Shankara Matha street from the south of Shankarapuram. An assembly had gathered in the front verandah of the Shankara Matha. It was around 10 or 11 in the morning. Both Chappalli Visweshwara Sastri and Motaganahalli Shankara Sastri were present. I joined the gathering. Sri Chappalli Visweshwara Sastri said:
Among the yesteryear scholars of Kannada literature I know, the most extraordinary ones are S G Narasimhacharya, R Narasimhacharya, M A Ramanuja Iyengar, and Devashikhamani Alasingacharya.
I think I first saw S G Narasimhacharya in 1906–07. I knew him by name before I met him. I had read some of his writings in textbooks. His translations of segments of Kālidāsa’s Raghuvaṃśa into Kannada poems set to the śaṭpadi meter were exceedingly beautiful. I was mesmerized by the elegance of the words and the richness of emotions of many of his poems.
B.M. Srikantaiah was one of the members of the youth club of Srirangapattana. Other prominent members of the club were Vice Chancellor N.S. Subba Rao, Advocate M.G. Varadacharya, Professor Annaaji, Engineer Venkata Subba Rao and Forest Conservator Narasimhaiah.
There were two prominent features of that club: (1) Mutual friendship, (2) Admonishing any outsider who would oppose any member of the club.
Annaji: “Our Subbu’s writing is so articulate!”
Subbu: “I am nothing before Srikantaiah”
Srikantaiah: “Eloquence means M.G. Such a beautiful style!”
As lecturer of Sanskrit Literature at the Central College, Sri Chappalli Visweshwara Sastri earned the gratitude and respect of numerous students. His recitation of poetry didn’t have the sweetness of music because he didn’t have a melodious voice. But the style of his expository commentary was illuminative. He would split each word, explain its origin using examples and then drive home the intent and the feeling of the poet thereby. There’s no greater help to the student than this.
In the history of the revival of Kannada literature, a few Europeans are among those who ought to be remembered with reverence. Antique jewels of (Kannada) literature were initially brought to light by these venerable Europeans. A few distinguished names among them are Reeve, Garrett, Kittel, Rice, Ziegler. Some of them came as here as Christian missionaries. A few others came as employees of the Government’s Education Department.
Shankaranarayana Rao’s name brings to mind a close associate of his, namely S.R Balakrishna Rao. Their friendship and affection for each other was so deep that many people considered them as the twins of Shivamogga.
Let’s now return to the marriage hall. It was a festival of five or six days. Whether he went to the marriage hall or to the temple, Sri Chappalli Visweshwara Sastri mixed with great ease and was patient with everybody. He was soft-spoken. A majority of the numerous Vidwans who met him were Madhva Brahmanas. It appears that several episodes related to our Sastras were brought up for discussion. But I couldn’t spot the Tiger’s Mouth even once. I was astonished: where was the famed Tiger’s Mouth? Where was the lion?
K Shankaranarayana Rao, an epitome of positive values, is one of my favourite people. I first met him when he was an advocate in Shivamogga. He was not only an excellent lawyer, but was also well known in social circles. In those days, Shivamogga was one of the administrative centres of the Mysore Presidency. All diplomats went there because it was one of the major headquarters after Mysore and Bangalore. People of Shivamogga had a Nagara-sabhā and carried out their political discussions under that banner.