Kannaḍa Sāhitya Pariṣad (Part 1)

Karṇāṭaka Sāhitya Pariṣad is one of the most prominent public institutions of our state. The key objectives of this organization as envisioned by its founders were to refine the Kannada language, develop Kannada literature, and make the language and its literature useful for various day-to-day transactions as well as to facilitate the promotion of education and culture.

An organization free from political interference, untouched by casteism or communalism, and unconsumed by factional rivalries was the founders’ expectation and during those days, there wasn’t even a hint of any such differences or divisions.

The Karṇāṭaka Sāhitya Pariṣad was established in the year 1915. Two to three years prior to this, people began thinking and discussing about how the organization should be and how it should function. These discussions would take place in an institution called the Mysore Economic Conference.

Mokshagundam Visvesvaraya became Chief Engineer of the Mysore State in 1909. He suggested to His Majesty, the Maharaja of Mysore (Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV) to establish the Economic Conference, a centre for resource development (and economic affairs). It was only after that the organization came to life. As a part of this, three committees were formed:

  1. Committee for Industries and Factories – this was presided over by Chief Engineer Visvesvaraya himself
  2. Committee for Education
  3. Committee for Agriculture (Land Cultivation)

H V Nanjundaiah was the president of the Committee for Education and V Subrahmanya Iyer was the secretary. Two major issues came up for discussion in the committee:

  1. Mysore University
  2. Karṇāṭaka Sāhitya Pariṣad

A Meeting Concerning the Pariṣad

The aforementioned Committee for Education organized a few lectures to learn the opinions of various scholars in the state about the formation of the Sāhitya Pariṣad.

One such lecture took place sometime during 1912-13 in the city of Mysore. The members of the Citizens' Representative Assembly (ಪ್ರಜಾಪ್ರತಿನಿಧಿ ಸಭೆ) of Mysore had come to the city for the Dasara Session. Deeming it an appropriate time, one fine morning a meeting was arranged on the rooftop of the district office building in Mysore’s Garden Park. At that time, even the Citizens' Representative Assembly session was being held there. This meeting concerning the Sāhitya Pariṣad was attended by many people of great eminence. M Venkatakrishnaiah, Ambale Annayya Pandita, and many other luminaries came there in their personal capacity. And amongst those employed by the government, Karpura Srinivasa Rao and K Krishna Iyengar were present. The lecture was from nine to eleven in the morning. Prof. B M Srikantaiah (B M Sri) was scheduled to deliver the lecture.

B M Sri’s Lecture

If my memory serves me right, it was on that day I first saw B M Srikantaiah. I had heard about him earlier. He was quite well-known as a great literary scholar and as a gifted lecturer and educator.

That morning’s lecture was in English. He read out most of his speech from a written essay that he had brought along with him. The audience was impressed by its style and structure. What he proposed that day can be summarized thus:

1. Kannada needs fresh literature.

2. The ancient literature is voluminous. Further encouragement is necessary to promote the serious study of classics. A thorough understanding of the language’s old vocabulary and usages is an essential preparation for all future writings.

3. That alone will not suffice. Anyone who ventures into writing new literature must be introduced to Sanskrit. Without the help of Sanskrit, it will not be possible to accumulate sufficient word power to create new literary material.

4. However, the new crop of literature should have limited usage of Sanskrit vocabulary. It shouldn’t be used as excessively as they have been used in our Haḻagannaḍai.e. classical Kannada – poetry.

5. Just as Sanskrit literature is imperative, so is English literature. We must gather fresh emotional perspectives and new thought processes from English. Our new Kannada literature should absorb and internalize the literary imageries, emotions, and thoughts from literary works across the world and thus become universal.

6. The new works in Kannada literature should possess the rasa-puṣṭi (nourished by a rich sense of aesthetic enjoyment), brilliance, entertainment, and purity of language of our classics, in addition to new metrical usages (in poetry), newly created words, and creatively constructed fictional story worlds – these should collectively make our literature a great (emotional) stimulant for people’s lives.

This, to the extent I remember, was the essence of Srikantaiah’s speech.


After the lecture, K Krishna Iyengar, one of the members in the audience stood up to criticise it. Krishna Iyengar was an engineer who had scaled to the highest position in his department. An extremely honest man. That apart, he had extraordinary scholarship in English literature. He had committed to memory hundreds of pages of historian [Edward] Gibbon’s giant treatise (The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire) and was so familiar with it that he could instantly reproduce the same whenever needed. That’s how strong his powers of retention were! He could recite several of Milton’s poems the moment it was sought.  

In addition to this, he had gained mastery over Sanskrit through the ancient method. He was born in a lineage of scholars. His elder brother, Vidvan Kandade Srinivasacharya was an eminent scholar. Krishna Iyengar had not only studied Sanskrit poetry elaborately, but also had learnt Sanskrit grammar in the traditional manner.

B M Srikantaiah’s opinions about Sanskrit didn’t seem right to him. Srikantaiah had mentioned that Sanskrit had been excessively used in the earlier Kannada poetic works. What does ‘excessive usage’ of Sanskrit mean? Can good things ever be excessive? Can anyone ever get enough of the Supreme and of Divine Grace? This was Krishna Iyengar’s line of thinking. By nature, he was prone to being easily agitated. Whatever he wanted to say, he said with sharpness and intensity – that was his habit. His face was turning red. In a fit of emotion he bitterly criticised Srikantaiah accusing him of having disrespected Sanskrit and said that his (B M Sri’s) criticism of Sanskrit was inappropriate and unfair.

Soon after that, I stood up and spoke a few words. “For me, Krishna Iyengar is worthy of worship in all aspects. It appears to me that he has not grasped the import of B M Srikantaiah’s words and has raised an objection, wrongly interpreting one of the statements made during the lecture. Srikantaiah is not a Sanskrit hater. Just like Krishna Iyengar, he too is an admirer of Sanskrit. However, if our impoverished Kannada has to prosper, it has to utilize its own material as much as possible. Feasting in the palaces of kings, one shouldn’t forget his own kitchen. Only after exhausting what one has in his own storehouse should he take refuge in Sanskrit for what he doesn’t have. This, I believe, was B M Srikanatiah’s opinion. It also appears agreeable to me.”

After I said this, a gentle smile appeared on Krishna Iyengar’s face. He said, “What’s this, man? Have you come here to dispense justice like a judge of a kangaroo court (Qāzi nyāya)?”

Srikantaiah, walking up to where I was standing, shook my hands and said, “Blessed are the peacemakers!” That was how our friendship started.

Thereafter, for a couple of years, whenever we met each other he would greet me with: “How do you do, Qāzi Saheb (referring to the kangaroo court judge)?”

In those days, people were not malicious at heart. They laughed instinctively when they felt like laughing and would be resentful when they got angry. When people made fun of someone, that person would allow them to tease him and himself would join them in laughter.

To be concluded.

This is the first part of a two-part English translation of the tenth essay in D V Gundappa’s Jnapakachitrashaale – Volume 3 – Sahityopasakaru. Thanks to Śatāvadhāni Dr. R Ganesh reviewing the translation. Edited by Hari Ravikumar.



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.



Karthik Muralidharan is an entrepreneur, educator, and a motivational speaker. An MBA in Human Resource Management, Karthik currently runs businesses in Leadership Education, Training, and Wealth Management. He is deeply interested in prosody, philosophy, and literature.

Prekshaa Publications

The Mahābhārata is the greatest epic in the world both in magnitude and profundity. A veritable cultural compendium of Bhārata-varṣa, it is a product of the creative genius of Maharṣi Kṛṣṇa-dvaipāyana Vyāsa. The epic captures the experiential wisdom of our civilization and all subsequent literary, artistic, and philosophical creations are indebted to it. To read the Mahābhārata is to...

Shiva Rama Krishna

சிவன். ராமன். கிருஷ்ணன்.
இந்திய பாரம்பரியத்தின் முப்பெரும் கதாநாயகர்கள்.
உயர் இந்தியாவில் தலைமுறைகள் பல கடந்தும் கடவுளர்களாக போற்றப்பட்டு வழிகாட்டிகளாக விளங்குபவர்கள்.
மனித ஒற்றுமை நூற்றாண்டுகால பரிணாம வளர்ச்சியின் பரிமாணம்.
தனிநபர்களாகவும், குடும்ப உறுப்பினர்களாகவும், சமுதாய பிரஜைகளாகவும் நாம் அனைவரும் பரிமளிக்கிறோம்.
சிவன் தனிமனித அடையாளமாக அமைகிறான்....

ऋतुभिः सह कवयः सदैव सम्बद्धाः। विशिष्य संस्कृतकवयः। यथा हि ऋतवः प्रतिसंवत्सरं प्रतिनवतामावहन्ति मानवेषु तथैव ऋतुवर्णनान्यपि काव्यरसिकेषु कामपि विच्छित्तिमातन्वते। ऋतुकल्याणं हि सत्यमिदमेव हृदि कृत्वा प्रवृत्तम्। नगरजीवनस्य यान्त्रिकतां मान्त्रिकतां च ध्वनदिदं चम्पूकाव्यं गद्यपद्यमिश्रितमिति सुव्यक्तमेव। ऐदम्पूर्वतया प्रायः पुरीपरिसरप्रसृतानाम् ऋतूनां विलासोऽत्र प्रपञ्चितः। बेङ्गलूरुनामके...

The Art and Science of Avadhānam in Sanskrit is a definitive work on Sāhityāvadhānam, a form of Indian classical art based on multitasking, lateral thinking, and extempore versification. Dotted throughout with tasteful examples, it expounds in great detail on the theory and practice of this unique performing art. It is as much a handbook of performance as it is an anthology of well-turned...

This anthology is a revised edition of the author's 1978 classic. This series of essays, containing his original research in various fields, throws light on the socio-cultural landscape of Tamil Nadu spanning several centuries. These compelling episodes will appeal to scholars and laymen alike.
“When superstitious mediaevalists mislead the country about its judicial past, we have to...

The cultural history of a nation, unlike the customary mainstream history, has a larger time-frame and encompasses the timeless ethos of a society undergirding the course of events and vicissitudes. A major key to the understanding of a society’s unique character is an appreciation of the far-reaching contributions by outstanding personalities of certain periods – especially in the realms of...

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...


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


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


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


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


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...


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...


“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...