Dasappa and Varadacharya

A distant relative of mine, who was quite well-to-do and had heard about my academic prowess agreed to provide me with some financial assistance. He, in fact, had seen a potential groom in me. This (his assistance) went on for five to six months. I joined the Fourth Form at the High School in the Maharaja college in Mysuru.

Back then, among the teachers who taught in a manner that captured my heart were Bapu Subbaraya and B. Dasappa. Bapu Subbaraya had worked for Kannada literature. Belavadi Dasappa was extraordinary in his elucidation of English literature; he had authored texts in Kannada as well. I have heard from a different source that he was the warden of the college hostel and that, upon the recommendation of Ramadasappa, he had shown quite a lot of interest in my activities. I was to visit Dasappa’s house every Sunday to render the lessons he had taught. He taught us English at school. There were also instances where he provided explanations in Kannada during his lessons. He had great admiration for  sports such as billiards, hockey and golf. He harboured an even greater curiosity for  horse-riding.

 

Joy in Scholarship

Back then, he seemed to have had some interest in philosophy that was hidden within him. Ten to fifteen years down the lane, his interest in vedānta took a more concrete form.  He had appraoched the Jagadguru of Sringeri to seek his guidance. His devotion in the Guru matured. He learnt lines from the Upaniṣads and from the commentaries on the (brahma)sūtras by-heart. He often quoted examples from them whenever an appropriate context arose. Also, the Ātmavilāsa, a work by Sadāśiva Brahmendra was on the tip of his tongue. He had taught the poem to his daughters too. As Dasappa sat at leisure in the evenings, his daughters sang the poems  adhering to śruti (pitch) provided by a veena. This would please Dasappa and would make him sway his head.

He also made his daughters recite stotras from Jagannātha-paṇḍitarāja's Karuṇālaharī and Lakṣmīlaharī. This was one of his other ways of seeking joy in scholarship. Yet another way was his passion for Shakespeare.

During the years that he to stayed close to National High School in the first street of Basavanagudi in Bengaluru, I resided close to his place in Shankarapura. My usual routine consisted of a visit to Dasappa’s house at about two in the every Sunday afternoon. Coffee and snacks were to be savored there. After that, a few phrases from one of Shakespearean plays were to be read. A few other days, episodes from the historical work ‘(The History of the) Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire’ by Edward Gibbon were read. At half past four, Dasappa would sit in a horse coach and go to the great Cha. Vasudevayya’s house in Malleshwaram. Conversations ensued there. Vasudevayya usually narrated interesting instances from the Rāmāyaṇa and Mahābhārata. Dasappa’s heart knew no bounds for the happinness and contentment it would derive from these activities. This routine went on for three to four years.

 

Authority on Texts

Dasappa had masterd all the works of Shakespeare. The book that he used was from Collins publications. In his copy, he had indicated the subjects in brief on each page and written a summary in the margins. Along with this, he had noted down interesting sentences from Shakespeare's works in another book of Foolscap size. I put in a lot of effort to procure the two books. Nobody knows where they disappeared. If the books  were to be found, students would have greatly benefited from them.

 

Memory Power

Dasappa and Navaratna Ramaraya were close friends. Their memory power never failed to amaze me. Once, Narasimha Murthy and I were heading towards the public library. We had a difference of opinion over an issue related to Carlyle. As our heated debate ensued, Dasappa was seen coming from an adjoining street. Narasimha Murthy informed Dasappa about our dispute. Dasappa unflinchingly gave examples of ten pages from Thomas Carlyle’s “Sartor Resartus” and two to three pages from “Past and Present”. Then, just as an aside, he recited a few poems written by Byron on Napoleon. A bit later, he also spoke about a few funny poems on the state-strategist Balfour that had appeared in the journal Punch. I was amazed. This was the kind of mastery people of that era had on good works of literature.

Dasappa’s final days was, in the words of those who loved him, not a happy time. He was caught up in a few worldly worries but he seemed to be unaffected by them. He took a stroll every day to breathe in fresh air and as a part of physical activity. A servant usually followed him with a canvas chair. He would search for a deserted place. The place was not merely to be deserted, but had to be suitable for meditation. There, sitting alone in the canvas chair for hours on end, he would recite lines from the Upaniṣads. I have seen this with my own eyes.

This happened one morning at about 9-10 AM. B.M. Srikantaiah and I were walking along the Sampangi lake in Bengaluru. Dasappa was, at that time, reciting phrases from Upaniṣad, sitting amidst the branches of a Indan beech (honge) tree.

A number of English poems were dear to Dasappa. Skylark by Shelly was one such work. Dasappa had understood that this was an allegory to the carefree and disenchanted nature of a person. He got Pandit Mandakal Ramashastri to translate the poem into Sanskrit by and had even published the translation.

It gives me great pleasure to recall these special qualities of Dasappa.

 

K Varadacharyara

The most important of  benefits that I accrued due to my student life in Mysuru was the contact of Kanakanahalli Varadacharya. Varadacharya was an excellent scholar. He had  great proficiency in both Kannada and Sanskrit. His was a deep scholarship. Added to this were his heart of a connoisseur  and sense of humour. Another quality was his sharp tongue when angry. Students looked upon him with a mix of fear and love.

Varadacharya’s classes on literature were filled with beauty. His voice was pleasant. Added to his melodious voice were the attractive facial expressions and hand gestures. Not only students from other classes but also the other teachers would stand by the windows (of the classrooms) to enjoy listening to his recitation of poems. Varadacharya had a well cultured and refined taste for music. He had no fear just because something was written by a poet. If he came across a wrong usage, he would say - “here, the poet was absent-minded” or “he stumbled gazing elsewhere”. When he critiqued thus, his tone would turn a bit sarcastic. If a student asked a question, “Do not drag the poet to the streets, my child”, he would quip. We would all have a hearty laugh. Where is the rasa in poetry? Where is the beauty? How do we look for it? – it was Kanakanahalli Varadacharya who taught me appreciation of poetry.

 

Research

After he retired from his job, he researched on the creation of Śabdānuśāsana. It was a research that would go on for years. Whenever one of his students like A R Krishna Sastri, TS Venkannayya or myself, who were well acquainted with him asked him to deliver lectures or articles, he used to reply with a laugh, “What do I do, my dear? If only this ghost of Bhaṭṭākaḻaṅka would leave me... it has gotten me in its grip. Everything else only after this leaves me.”.

This research work kept growing. It grew out of bounds. Who wants this headache? A dry issue based on grammarians? Such a big price for ordering it! In this way, his own earlier work seemed like a big ghost to him. Krishna Sastri was a strong-willed and a patient man. He went to Varadacharya over and over and persuaded him to eventually write a short treatise based on his research. It was published it in Prabuddha Karnataka if my memory serves me right. Let us put aside research and theorization for a moment and just conshider his devotion to the subject. Let us reflect on the single-mindedness, the physical and mental exertion which went on for several years. This is scholarship and penance.

Varadacharya had faith in Ayurveda. He used to provide medication for free. In this way, without bothering about money and effort, Varadacharya was someone who lived and independently toiled only for the welfare of the world and his soul's satisfaction.

|| manasvī kāryārthī na gaṇayati duḥkhaṃ na ca sukham ||

 

This isthe English translation of the nineteenth essay in D V Gundappa’s magnum-opus Jnapakachitrashaale (Volume 8) – Sankirna Smrutisamputa

Author(s)

About:

Devanahalli Venkataramanayya Gundappa (1887-1975) was a great visionary and polymath. He was a journalist, poet, art connoisseur, philosopher, political analyst, institution builder, social commentator, social worker, and activist.

Translator(s)

Shreyas Acharya
About:

Dr. Shreyas Acharya Neelavara is a development engineer working in France. He has an interest in Indian classical music with training in vocal and flute. He also has abiding interest in classical literature.

Prekshaa Publications

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...

Yaugandharam

इदं किञ्चिद्यामलं काव्यं द्वयोः खण्डकाव्ययोः सङ्कलनरूपम्। रामानुरागानलं हि सीतापरित्यागाल्लक्ष्मणवियोगाच्च श्रीरामेणानुभूतं हृदयसङ्क्षोभं वर्णयति । वात्सल्यगोपालकं तु कदाचिद्भानूपरागसमये घटितं यशोदाश्रीकृष्णयोर्मेलनं वर्णयति । इदम्प्रथमतया संस्कृतसाहित्ये सम्पूर्णं काव्यं...

Vanitakavitotsavah

इदं खण्डकाव्यमान्तं मालिनीछन्दसोपनिबद्धं विलसति। मेनकाविश्वामित्रयोः समागमः, तत्फलतया शकुन्तलाया जननम्, मातापितृभ्यां त्यक्तस्य शिशोः कण्वमहर्षिणा परिपालनं चेति काव्यस्यास्येतिवृत्तसङ्क्षेपः।

Vaiphalyaphalam

इदं खण्डकाव्यमान्तं मालिनीछन्दसोपनिबद्धं विलसति। मेनकाविश्वामित्रयोः समागमः, तत्फलतया शकुन्तलाया जननम्, मातापितृभ्यां त्यक्तस्य शिशोः कण्वमहर्षिणा परिपालनं चेति काव्यस्यास्येतिवृत्तसङ्क्षेपः।

Nipunapraghunakam

इयं रचना दशसु रूपकेष्वन्यतमस्य भाणस्य निदर्शनतामुपैति। एकाङ्करूपकेऽस्मिन् शेखरकनामा चित्रोद्यमलेखकः केनापि हेतुना वियोगम् अनुभवतोश्चित्रलेखामिलिन्दकयोः समागमं सिसाधयिषुः कथामाकाशभाषणरूपेण निर्वहति।

Bharavatarastavah

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...

Bharatilochana

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...

Vagarthavismayasvadah

“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...