There was a large population of Madhva Brahmanas in Mulabagal. The locality they lived was divided as the Upper and the Lower Agraharas. In total, there were about two hundred and fifty or three hundred Madhva Brahmana homes. Of these, about a hundred and fifty or two hundred homes constituted those of the Vaidika Acharyas. Most of these folks were deeply learned in the school of Sri Madhvacharya’s Dvaita philosophy. Typically, traditional education and discourses was carried on in almost every such home.
The Anjaneyaswamy Temple of Mulabagal is extremely famous. Folks from the Mysore-Bangalore region who went on a pilgrimage to Tirupati would typically travel via Mulabagal, visit the Anjaneyaswamy Temple, take his Prasadam and resume their journey. According to one legend, this town derived its name “Mulabagal” because it lies to the east[i] of Tirupati. Apart from this main Temple, there were numerous other Anjaneyaswamy Shrines in the town. There were two in the Agraharam of the Madhva Brahmanas.
Among those who built the Kannada Sahitya Parishad, it is essential for my contentment to reminisce about the early few. Nangapuram Venkatesha Iyengar is one of them. He was the chief of the government’s meteorological department. Apparently he was Bellave Venkatanaranappa’s teacher. Their affection and respect towards each other was intense. His contributions to the activities of the Vijñāna Pracāra Saṅgha run by Venkatanaranappa and to the publication of the newsletter Vijñāna were both wholehearted and invaluable.
My first Sanskrit Guru was Sri Kashi Raghavendracharya. Although there were numerous Sanskrit Vidwans in Mulabagal, there was no formal Sanskrit Patashala (School). The three or four schools in town didn’t have any facility to teach Sanskrit. My father had immense enthusiasm and reverence towards Sanskrit. He made repeated applications to the Government requesting it to introduce Sanskrit classes in my school, the Ango-vernacular Middle School.
It was night-time. Sometime during 1914-15. Venkatanaranappa visited my house and said, “I had been to Mysore the day before yesterday to attend the senate meeting. Mirza saheb was there. He is a senate member and an old disciple of mine. He was seated next to me and he asked me, ‘Sir, do you know the editor of The Karnataka?’ I replied, ‘Yes, I know him well. His father and I are good friends.’ Encouraged, Mirza saheb continued, “He writes well. His English is great.
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.
From what I’ve heard, Sri Vasudeva Sastri hailed from Doddaballapura. His Highness the Maharaja of Mysore bestowed upon him the title of “Vidyanidhi” (literally: Treasure of Knowledge). Perhaps he was the first in a line of scholars to receive the “Vidyanidhi” honorific. He also earned renown as “Jaganmithya” Vasudeva Sastri.
M S Puttanna was a person who toiled for the revival of Kannada right from the beginning. During his initial days, he worked for a while along with Venkatakrishnayya and B M Srinivasa Iyengar, and later, on his own. I’ve heard that M S Puttana began his career with a government job at the Chief Court. He used to work as a translator. There is an interesting anecdote of those bygone days. In the Chief Court of those days, the manager of the office was one Bhimaji Rao. An announcement was made for the post of an office assistant in the Chief Court. This vacancy attracted several aspirants.
Much like Togere Nanjundashastri, the Nanjundashastri of Kadaba was also a traditional scholar. A person with complete mastery over both Sanskrit and classical Kannada. If the scholar from Togere was well-versed in Epigraphical Literature, the one from Kadaba had a deep knowledge of music. He has written an insightful article about how the Kannada poetic meters such as the Ṣaṭpadi fit perfectly within tāḻas.