DVG never sought recognition. When the Jnanapith Award was first instituted, Maṅkutimmana Kagga, one of his major works, came before it for consideration. When one of his friends was indignant about this work not winning the award, DVG replied in his characteristic self-effacing, humorous manner: “Why do I want a lakh of rupees? Do I not look well-fed?” He went on to make a profound observation: “The idea of competitive prizes for literature is basically absurd. My whole nature rises in revolt against it. Valmiki and Vyasa and Potana and Thyagaraja are our ideals.
Sastri’s students recall that he never came late for a class nor did he ever leave early. He would start off by dictating notes, which were precise and dense. Every now and then he would stop and elaborate on a point, giving explanations and clarifications. Owing to his partial deafness, he found it a challenge to listen to questions posed by students and so it appears that he cultivated the art of anticipating the question that the student would ask and answer it even as the question was being posed!
V Si. and Shastry always got their writings reviewed by the other. They would exchange ideas and opinions, mainly for their own clarity. Those were the years of great joy for both. V Si, in his pen portrait of Subrahmanya Shastry writes, “Whenever I recollect the discussions on literature we both had, I feel that the company of a person like him makes life light and easy…. I had never found that kind of friendliness elsewhere”.
An apt epithet for Prof. Srikanta Sastri would be satyānveṣī – ‘the seeker of truth,’ for all through his life, he worked against all odds to get to the truth, to declare it without hesitation, and uphold it despite trials and tribulations.
Srikanta Sastri – the Person
Soṇḍekoppa Srikanta Sastri was born on November 5th, 1904 at Nanjangud and was named no doubt after the presiding deity – Śrīkaṇṭheśvara. Both his parents hailed from illustrious families of Sanskrit and Telugu scholars, poets, and pundits.