If there’s anything good in my life, Sri Vedamurti Venkatarama Bhatta is one of the people responsible for it. He is akin to my grandfather.
Once my craze for English came under control, the craze for Kannada began. During those days [i.e. the early 20th century], for people of my age, a prominent name amongst living legends was Bal Gangadhar Tilak (1856–1920). “Tilak is singularly brave; everyone else falls short in comparison with him; Tilak is the only man-lion!” – these were our thoughts during that time. It appears those words were true.
A Tragic Episode
We know that in December 1919, the Mysore People’s Convention, a citizens’ initiative, met in Bangalore. Among the members who came to attend the meeting, around seven or eight of them stayed in the house of sub-judge Lakshminarayanappa, who lived on Hardinge Road, Shankarapuram. This crowd included M Venkatakrishnayya from Mysore, Srinivasaraya, Vasudevaraya, and Narasingaraya from Chikkamagalur, along with a few others.
In and around the period 1907–08, Advocate Sri. D. Venkataramaiah was among the foremost public personalities in Bangalore. A road in Malleswaram has been named after him, granting eternity to his memory. Before he built a house on that road, I’ve heard that he used to live in a residential building called ‘Ratnākara’ in one of the by-lanes of Balepet.
I vividly remember the opening ceremony of the abalāśrama. It must have been in 1909 or 1910. That day of celebration started with the traditional nāgasvaram. The weather was pleasant with sunshine; it was neither too warm nor too cold. Many important people of the city were present. The most prominent amongst them were – Retired Sub-Judge S.
Now, a tragic episode. Sri Venkatanarana Bhatta’s wife (I think her name is Smt Venkamma. I can’t clearly recollect it now) hit upon a plan that seems bizarre. There’s a road that passes to the southern side of my house. Next to it is the Kopparam Vaishya function hall, a massive stone building. She encamped in one of the rooms there. With a large metal pot in her hand, she began going to a few houses, begging for food. The inmates of the houses would ask:
Sri Venkatanarana Bhatta hailing from Mulbagal was a relative and a disciple of Sri Venkatarama Bhatta. His speech was affected with mild stammering but that didn’t come in the way of his Pourohitya.
Sri. Hebbani Sheshacharya belonged to an era when thirty-five ounces (roughly a kilogram) of rice was available for just a rupee and six tender coconuts could be bought for a single paisa. He was highly learned in Sanskrit literature and Dvaita philosophy. He was already old when I first saw him. Even at that age, his personality was a sight to behold. And he spoke affectionately as well. That is the reason his memory is vivid in my mind.