G P Rajarathnam: The Gem who Trod the Royal Path - Part 4

Kāleju Baravaṇigè (‘College Writings’)

Rajarathnam gave ample opportunities to his students to showcase their talents through publications like Namma Bendre, Namma Nammavaru, and Bāla-sarasvati.

One among his many achievements was to inspire students to write, followed by editing and polishing their articles, finally leading to the publication of Kāleju Baravaṇigè. The finesse he demonstrated in teaching also showed up in organizing and executing extra-curricular activities. The diligence and care he showed in everything – organizing events, organizing essay writing or debate competitions, publishing, maintaining official records – is rare to see even in huge organizations that have numerous employees at their disposal. When V Si. remarked, “Rajarathnam has considered his participation in the activities of the Karnataka Sangha as a sacred inviolable vow,” it was no exaggeration.

Devotion and Finesse

As an orator Rajarathnam earned widespread fame. The reasons for this were his style of exposition and a booming voice. However, one reason stood above all these: his preparation. To deliver a talk spanning half an hour, he would spend multiple hours in study and deliberate on the topic in detail. This diligent study, which was invisible to the audience, was the main foundation [of his skill as an orator]. This devotion and finesse came naturally to him. His sense of humour and comic timing hid the herculean effort that went through the preparation. He would be present at the venue on the dot, even if it required him to leave home three hours earlier and the commute required him to change three to four buses.

People who knew him for decades didn’t find any change in his personality. His enthusiasm remained unimpaired even in his twilight years. Misfortunes couldn’t diminish his workaholic nature. Probably these lines from the Dhammapada, which he remembered time to time, was the key to his undimmed youthfulness –

मनसा चे पसन्नेन
भासति वा करोति वा ।
ततो नं सुखमन्वेति
छाया व अनपायिनी ॥

[If one speaks and works
with a clear mind,
peace follows him/her
like an undeparting shadow]

His life philosophy is best gleaned from his own words –

“In life both happiness and sorrow are inevitable, unavoidable. The wretched in times of sorrow become disheartened. The firm and steadfast laugh at the misfortune, thus decreasing the weight of the situation!”

ತಾಂಬೂಲಕೆ ನಾನಾ ಫಲ,
ಹೊರಗೆ ಕರಟ ಒಳಗೆ ಜಲ
ನನ್ನ ನೋಡಿ ನೀನು ಕಲಿ,
ನನ್ನ ಹಾಗೆ ನೀನು ಬೆಳಿ

[Coconut for tāmbūla
Hard shell outside, sweet juice inside
Look at me and learn,
You too grow like me!]

An Award

An instance from Rajarathnam’s Nūru-puṭaṇi (A Hundred Little Ones). Some elders showed Rajarathnam to a child who was around five or six years old and instructed him, “You should become like this gentleman when you grow up!” The next time when it was the child’s turn to visit the saloon for a haircut, he opted for a ‘summer cut.’ This was an innocent child’s award to Rajarathnam who liked his poem!

ಕವಿ ಬೋಳು ತಲೆಯವನು
ಬಂತು ಪದಕ ಪವನು
ಹೊಗಳಿದರು, ಹಾಡಿದರು, ಹುಚ್ಚು ಹಿಡಿಸಿದರು.
ಬಾಲ ಬಿಚ್ಚಲು ತೊಡಗಲಲ್ಲೆ ಮಡಿಸಿದರು
ಬಂತೊಂದು ಹೊಸ ಮೆಚ್ಚು
ಮಿಕ್ಕೆಲ್ಲಕ್ಕೂ ಹೆಚ್ಚು –
ಮಗುವೊಂದು ಕವಿಯಾಗಬಯಸಿದಂದು
ಬಯಸಿ ತನ್ನೆಳೆಗುರುಳ ಕುಯಿಸಿದಂದು!

[The aged poet of bald pate
Won numerous awards and fame
They praised him and sung paens, made him go mad with fame
As he became haughty they cut him down to size
Then came a new appreciation
Better than everything before
When a child wanted to emulate him,
and opted to cut his tender locks for that!]

Appendix: Important Milestones of GPR’s Life

Date/Time Milestones
5th December 1908 Birth
1928 Completion of BA, started writing, first marriage
1931 B M Sri gold medal awarded for his poem “tāre”. Completion of MA. Published his first book, Soligara Sidda mattu Nenapu (Soliga Sidda and memories)
1932 Published Cīnādeśada bauddha-yātrikaru, Gaṇḍu-goḍali, Tuttūri, and Yeṇḍkuḍka Ratna
1933 Father’s death. Devaraja Bahadur Award for Cīnādeśada bauddha-yātrikaru
1934 Death of his first wife Lalitamma. Second marriage
1935 Devaraja Bahadur Award for Ratnana Padagaḻu
1937 Devaraja Bahadur Award for Buddha-vacana-paricaya
1938 Joined University of Mysore as a lecturer. President of the writers’ symposium of Bellary Sahitya Sammelana
1939 Published Hattu-varuṣa (Ten Years) and Namma-nammavaru, a collection of student writings
1940 Published Mahākavi Puruṣa-sarasvati
1942 Established Gandhi Sahitya Sangha
1945 President of the writers’ symposium of Rabakavi Sahitya Sammelana
1952 Started working in Karnataka Sangha, Central College (till 1964). Published Nāgana Padagaḻu
1957 Rajarathnam’ felicitation volume published/dedicated by his students
1964 Retirement
1967 Death of his second wife Sitamma
1968 Sixtieth Birthday
1969 Severe health problems. Felicitation in Malleswaram, dedication of the money obtained by book sale. Namma Rajarathnam published. Receives the Karnataka Sahitya Akademi Award.
1970 Karnataka Rajyotsava Award
1971 President of the Dakshina Kannada district Sahitya Sammelana in Karkala, president of the Shivamogga district Sahitya Sammelana in Hombuja.
1972 A Na Kru memorial volume ‘Snehada Dīpa’ published
1973 Vicāra Raṣmi published
1975–77 Nirbhayāgraphy published as nine episodes
1977 Honorary D. Litt. awarded by the University of Mysore
1978 President of the Delhi Sahitya Sammelana. Kandana Kāvyamāle published
1979 President of the children’s literature symposium in Dharmasthala Sahitya Sammelana
13th March 1979 Death

(Credit: Ārada Beḻaku by Nilattahalli Kasturi, 1980)

This is the final part of the four part translation of the article on Sri. G P Rajarathnam authored by Nadoja Dr. S R Ramaswamy. Thanks to Sri Hari Ravikumar, Dr. S R Ramaswamy and Prof. L V shantakumari for their suggestions and edits.



Nadoja Dr. S R Ramaswamy is a renowned journalist, writer, art critic, environmentalist, and social activist. He has authored over fifty books and thousands of articles. He was a close associate of stalwarts like D. V. Gundappa, Rallapalli Anantakrishna Sharma, V Sitaramaiah, and others. He is currently the honorary Editor-in-Chief of Utthana and served as the Honorary Secretary of the Gokhale Institute of Public Affairs for many years.



Raghavendra G S is a keen student of classical literature in Sanskrit and Kannada. He is one of the contributing editors of Prekshaa.

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