Mahāmahopādhyāya Vidvān N. Ranganatha - A Worshipper of DVG

DVG Ārādhaka (A Worshipper of DVG)

The respect that Sharma had developed for DVG and the love and affection the latter displayed towards him are über-worldly. We can only term it as a ṛṇānubandha- a relationship beyond times. It was a bonding hitherto unseen. Starting from the time DVG got introduced to Sharma in the mid-1950s, he made it a point to get all his writings proofread and examined by him. It became a norm to see each other often. For twenty years, Sharma’s company brought great pleasure to DVG. There are no words to describe the reverence that Sharma had for DVG’s inclination to serve the society. The concern for the society that Sharma naturally had in him was bolstered by his constant association with DVG.

DVG hardly needed to voice out his advice and ideas. Sharma would understand the master’s heart without even him expressly stating anything. He put DVG’s ideas into action in no time and did so with great alacrity. In this manner, Sharma got more and more intimately attached to the Gokhale Institute. He involved himself in all the activities of the institute and taught Vyākaraṇa at the study circle. The Sanskrit division of the Institute’s library grew naturally in his presence.

The Sanskrit works that Sharma put together with great effort has been converted into a separate section.

Phenomenal was Sharma’s labour of love for compiling the verses of the Maruḷa Muniyana Kagga after the passing away of DVG. If Sharma hadn’t put in that magnitude of efforts, Maruḷa Muniyana Kagga would certainly not have seen the light of day. It was impossible for anyone else to undertake this task.

Whenever the name DVG fell on his ears, Sharma would be overcome with emotion. The following is the verbal benediction that Sharma offered to DVG on one occasion –



adhītaśrutadṛṣṭānāṃ sakṛd-buddhyanupātināṃ

yāthātathyena saṃsmartā bṛhat-kośanibhaḥ sadā||

api te puruṣo loke

śravaṇe patitaḥ kvacit|

śṛṇu tarhi sakhe so’yaṃ

ḍīvījīsañjitaḥ pumān||[1]


He is the foremost among the wise. He is well-known for his works on political science. His philosophy of life is enshrined in works such as Maṅkutimmana Kagga (‘A Foggy Fool’s Farrago’). He had a prodigious memory that could retain whatever he saw, or heard, or read just once. Indeed, he was akin to an encyclopaedia. O friend, have you ever heard or seen such a person? He is D V Gundappa!   

Internal Robustness

yadeva vidyayā karoti

tadeva vīryavattaraṃ bhavati[2]

(Rather than a task executed in a routinely mechanical fashion, that which is performed with absolute awareness is going to result in the best.)

This is a famous statement of the vedas.

A mechanical job might only fulfil an ephemeral requirement. But tasks that are performed with wholesome involvement of the intellect, mind, and the spirit will be robust, long standing and will have a greater impact. If a task is performed due to the necessity of circumstances or due to an external motivation, it will only fulfil the purpose of whatever triggered it. However, a long-lasting impact will be possible only when the task is performed with utmost internal conviction. Only when a person has firmness within himself will his work yield better results and will also engender peace, stability, and make all external activities smooth, without giving any scope for perturbations.

Sharma was constantly at work. He had great confidence in himself and possessed firm conviction. His work always demanded immense intellectual involvement and was always related to complex issues of the śāstras and it was surprising that there was no evidence of any fatigue on his face.

It appears that he acquired this kind of mental refinement at a young age. Just being with him was a means of profound learning.

Although Sharma had immense scholarship, he had absolutely no inclination to parade it. Only when the occasion was right and the situation demanded it, would his scholarship and expertise in śāstras be revealed to others. Rest of the time, he was filled with childlike simplicity and was easily approachable by all. He would interact with people belonging to all walks of life. He was natural and informal in his interactions with the society and he had no inhibitions in doing so. He was a living example for the statement ‘santoṣaṃ janayet prājñaḥ tadeveśvarapūjanam.[3]

Awareness of Aucitya

One of the outstanding aspects of Sharma’s scholarship was his keen eye to aucitya. “This line of the poet can only mean so much,” “This other sentence can be extrapolated to give a broader meaning” – he would come to such conclusions after immense contemplation and would demarcate the limits of a work.

Someone had once said about A R Krishna Shastry – “He has absolutely no doubt about anything!” Sharma too belonged to the same tribe. T V Venkatachala Shastri[4], a dear friend of mine, often says, “We always look for scholars who can say things with certainty and confidence.” Sharma was one such person. This quality of arriving at optimal and objective decisions is uncommon. Sharma was sure to make his judgement without any excesses or shortcomings in them. Having lessons from him was never boring or dry. It was always an enjoyable experience.

As a professional writer, I have had the tendency of constructing sentences that deviate a bit from grammatical rules but such instances were not common. I had different parameters in mind while writing – I wanted to use words that were familiar to my reader and wished to avoid all kinds of complexities and pedantic usages. The words needed to blend together and must also go well with the nature of the Kannada language. Whenever Sharma spotted an erroneous usage of mine, he would alert me by saying, “You too write this way?” But he was generous enough to ignore and forgive such shortcomings. As recently as two years before left for his eternal abode, I have received such blessings from him.


It is usually thought that one of the characteristics of scholarship is uncompromising adherence to śāstras. However, in the company of Sharma, we always felt that he transcended mere literal adherence to the śāstra and always aimed towards finding its spirit. The fact that scholarship should result in magnanimity and maturity showed up very well in his character. It was a touching experience to see how Sharma stood apart from other scholars – while the others stuck on to the literal sense of a śāstra, Sharma easily transcended it and always had a broader perspective of things. A statement that he repeatedly said was – sthitasya gatiścintanīyā[5]. It is not rare to find statements in śāstric texts that deviate quite a lot from the main stream of thought and might appear out of place at instances. While treating such occurrences, Sharma always strived to widen the scope of the commentary and analysis, thereby bringing sense to the particular statement under consideration in the backdrop of the śāstra as a whole. Each time I witnessed his approach towards śāstras from close quarters, I always felt that his mind went beyond its natural limitations and found its place at a pedestal of unambiguity. The intent and import of the work are more important than the work itself, peace is more important than debates – these principles were prominent in Sharma’s treatment of any subject.

Having said so, one need not get the impression that he was slipping away from the complex matters related to the śāstras. In vākyārtha-sabhās, one could clearly evidence his analytical mind and his brilliant skill at presenting matters using the tools of tarka. When there was a debate over certain nuances of the alaṅkāra-śāstra, Sharma’s acumen at tarka was seen.

Once, while presenting his topic at the Sarva-dharma-sammelana[6] at Dharmasthala in Karnataka, Sharma said –

hariharayoriha bhedaṃ

kalayati mūḍho na vai vidvān |


pratyayabhedāddvidhā bhavati||[7]

Only a dunce discriminates between Hari and Hari. A true scholar would never do it, for their intrinsic nature (prakṛti; original base of words) is one; they appear differently because of varying faiths (pratyaya; affixes).

This immediately touches anyone’s heart. The words ‘Hara’ and ‘Hari’ are both based on the same dhātu and only because of a difference in the pratyaya, the former ends with an ‘a-kāra’ and the latter with an ‘i-kāra[8]. This is the conclusion that Sharma had arrived at and this maturity is hard to be seen in scholars who mechanically learnt the śāstras and have remained loyal only to the letter (instead of the spirit). Sharma’s profound approach was seen from time to time.

To be continued...

The current article is an English adaptation of the Kannada original which has appeared in the Dīptaśṛṅgagalu, authored by Nadoja Dr. S R Ramaswamy. Thanks to Sri Hari Ravikumar for his edits. Thanks to Shatavadhani Dr. R Ganesh and Shashi Kiran BN for providing translations for the verses quoted. Full form of the article is a part of 'A Tapestry of Pen Portraits' published by Prekshaa Pratishtana in December 2020.

[1] राज्यशास्त्रप्रणयनख्यात नीतिविदग्रणीः

मङ्कुतिम्मनकग्गादि ग्रथनस्तुतदर्शनः॥

अधीतश्रुतदृष्टानां सकृद् बुद्ध्यनुपातिनां

याथातथ्येन संस्मर्ता बृहत् कोशनिभः सदा॥

अपि ते पुरुषो लोके

श्रवणे पतितः क्वचित्।

शृणु तर्हि सखे सोऽयं

डीवीजीसञ्जितः पुमान्॥

[2] यदेव विद्यया करोति

तदेव वीर्यवत्तरं भवति

[3] A wise person should cause happiness [to the people around]; that is a worship of the Supreme

[4] An erudite Kannada scholar

[5] We should know how best we can justify and accommodate concepts and practises in the form that they are present today, i.e., we will need to see how to give śāstric sanction to the current set of circumstances.

[6] A conglomeration of representatives of different schools of philosophy/ different sects

[7] हरिहरयोरिह भेदं

कलयति मूढो न वै विद्वान् ।


प्रत्ययभेदाद्द्विधा भवति ॥

[8] The root hṛj is common to both, while Hara has ‘ac’ suffix, Hari has ‘ih’




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.



Arjun is a writer, translator, engineer, and enjoys composing poems. He is well-versed in Sanskrit, Kannada, English, Greek, and German languages. His research interests lie in comparative aesthetics of classical Greek and Sanskrit literature. He has deep interest in the theatre arts and music. Arjun has (co-) translated the works of AR Krishna Shastri, DV Gundappa, Dr. SL Bhyrappa, Dr. SR Ramaswamy and Shatavadhani Dr. R Ganesh

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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...