Moṭagānahaḻḻi Subrahmanya Shastry - Books and Independent Articles

The Kannada literary world was familiar with two works of the poet Janna[1], namely - Anantanātha-purāṇa and Yaśodhara-carita. Shastry published yet another work of Janna called Anubhavamukura, which runs to about 109 verses. The work is based on smara-tantra, i.e., kāma-śāstra. The publication of this work was an important contribution to the world of Kannada literature. It opened new doors for the study of the poet and his works. Shastry procured a handwritten manuscript from a person by name M A Narasimhacharya and also got a copy at the Oriental Research Institute of Mysore with the help of D L Narasimhachar. He critically studied the manuscripts and brought out an edition of the work. This was published first in the Kannada Sahitya Parishat Patrike (40 -1,2, 1956) and also got published in the form of a book by the Parishat (1956).

 

Independent Articles

Subrahmanya Shastry has penned several independent articles and has also authored critical reviews of the works of other scholars. He has delivered lectures in the All India Radio and has also sung poems there (vācana). 

Many of his writings are related to anyokti - a genre of Sanskrit poetry, purāṇa, kāvya-mīmāsā - literary aesthetics, nāṭaka - plays and playwrights. The following are a few of his notable writings - Anyokti(‘Saṃbhāvanè, B.M.Sri abhinandana-grantha, 1941, Pages 314-19), Purāṇāgaḻu (Compiled by A.N. Krishna Rao, Bhāratīya Saṃskṛti darśana, Bangalore, 1962), 

Kāvya-prayojana, Kāvya-sāmagri (Kannaḍa-nuḍi, 2-26, 30), Beḻḻave Narahariśāstri (Kannaḍa-nuḍi, 16-6), Anyokti-sāhitya(Kannaḍa-nuḍi, 3-20, page 163), Kavitilaka Sosale Ayya-śāstri (śaraṇasāhitya, 27-12), Paurāṇika-nāṭakagaḻu (Subodha, 8-12), Bhāṣaṇa-mīmāmsā, Satyameva Jayate (Jīvana, 6-142, 10-182)

In addition to these, he had written articles on literary criticism for several volumes of the series Kannaḍa Sāhitya Pariṣatpatrikè (8-2,3; 19-2; 23-3,4; 26-1)

Sosale Ayya Shastry was a scholar and one of the people instrumental in helping the evolution of professional theatre in the old Mysore region of Karnataka. The following words of Subrahmanya Shastry about him can serve as an example for his style of writing –

“No one could ever forget the personality of Sri. Ayya Shastry after having met him once. He was neither too tall nor too short – an attractive man. His face was radiant, filled with humility that emerged from his immense learning and betrayed the heart of a connoisseur. His dazzling eyes threw light on the poet inside him. He was fair-complexioned – this is how Ayya Shastry appeared. None could ever forget the mastery he had over Sanskrit and Kannada works, after having once conversed with him. He had, on the tip of his tongue, at least a few thousand poems composed by the ancients.  He could compose poems spontaneously with hardly any effort.”

Subrahmanya Shastry’s critical reviews of works were filled with objectivity and were a product of his analytical mind. He would put forth the subject matter in a concise manner and also identify the best aspects of the work he was reviewing. To give an example, he writes the following about Vid. Vedanta Subbayya’s[2] Śaṅkara-siddhānta – “In this work, the scholar follows the same style of argument that he has employed in his Sanskrit work ‘Mūlāvidyānirāsa’. The debates and discussions that scholars have been having since ancient days about the presence or absence of mūlāvidyā have not yet led to a conclusion. And yet, anyone who reads this work will be convinced that Śaṅkarācārya has never spoken about mūla-avidyā in his prasthāna-traya.[3] As mentioned by the author of the work, there have been quite a number of critics who have disagreed with him. Having known this, the author has given a set of questions at the end of this work under the head ‘A Few Questions for the Subscribers of Mūlāvidyā’.”

 

In the 1950s, several writings of Subrahmanya Shastry were published in popular magazines and newspapers. He wrote reviews of several works for the Kannada daily Prajāvāṇi. He also wrote special articles for the Dīpāvalī edition of the Prajāmata (Dīpāvaḷiya Vaibhava, 1959 and Kārtikada Kathègaḷu, 1960).

Shastry also wrote a series of articles on anyoktis for ‘Samyukta Karnataka’ in August and September. He provided Kannada translations for several well-known anyoktis.

For example,

kiṃ khalu ratnairetaiḥ kiṃ punarabhrāyiten vapuṣā te

salilamapi yanna tāvakamarṇava vadanaṃ prayāti tṛṣitānām|| [Sanskrit Original]

 

ratnagaLa rāsiye tuṃbihudu ninnalli

ninnoḍala noṭavo nīlameghakè sāṭi

enādareṃ jaladhi bāyāri baṃdavara

baLalikèya begèyanu kaLèvèyenai? [Kannada Translation]

O Ocean, you have countless gems within you. You have the hue of a water-bearing cloud. Even so, can you quench the thirst of the people who come to you?

 

The following are a few delightful anyoktis in the Kannada language

 

kāḍa bīḍanu māḍi kaLèyuvudu kèlakāla

besaravè, biḍu ciṃtè, lesahudu kogilèyè

immāvu taLitaṃdu, aLiviṃḍu nuḍidaṃdu

baṃdu nī nalidāḍu, beḍavènnuvarāru?

O Cuckoo, do not lament because the forest is now ruined. Once the mango tree blossoms and the bees begin to bumble, you may come back. Who would stop you?

 

jalakaṇava koṃḍoydu bāna serida nīnu

hiridu hiridāgutte maimarètu o mugilè|

upakṛtiya nènèyadèlè kaḍala melèyè niṃtu

garjisuvè ekiṃtu sāku sāku|

O Cloud, having drunk the waters of the ocean, you stand atop it and roar with pride, without a hint of gratitude! Does this befit you?

 

tallaṇisi nilladiru, naḍè muṃdè, o pāntha

guḍugudaniyālisutè bèdaridèya maruLè

daniyaduvè keLayya jagada kaṣṭava kaLèdu

jīvanava hadagoLipa mugila ninada

O Wayfarer, do not fear the thunder! Walk along coolly. This sound really drives away distress, and seasons life.

To be continued...

The current article is an English adaptation of the Kannada original by Nadoja Dr. S R Ramaswamy. Full form of the article is a part of 'A Tapestry of Pen Portraits' published by Prekshaa Pratishtana in December 2020. The original monography by the author was published by Mysore Mulakanadu Sabha, 2001


[1]A Kannada poet belonging to the thirteenth century CE. He lived during the Hoysala Period and also served as a minister in the royal court.

[2] Vidvān Subba Rao (also known as Vedānta Subbayya) was a renowned Sanskrit scholar and teacher, who was known as Swami Satchidanandendra Sarasvati after he took saṃnyāsa. His seminal writings on Advaita-vedānta comprise the most objective and comprehensive work on the subject since Śaṅkara. He has written innumerable books and monographs in Sanskrit, Kannada, and English and was the founder of the Adhyātmaprakāsha Kāryālaya.

[3] The Brahma-sūtra, principal Upaniṣads, and Bhagavad-gītā are the primary sources for all schools of Indian philosophy and are together called ‘prasthāna-traya’ (the ‘three Foundational Works.’)

 

Author(s)

About:

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.

Translator(s)

About:

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

Prekshaa Publications

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