Sheenanna (Part 3)

Sinister view

I have told that my youngest grandfather was someone who indulged in loose talk. His view was also sinister. Sometimes he used to talk ill of my maternal grandmother Sakamma who was an extraordinary woman. With her being in the house, it had brought in a sense of good conduct, regulation and discipline. But our Sheenanna was opposed to being disciplined, “Who is she to this house?”, was his feeling. With such feelings came abusive words too.

Once when such an incident took place, Sakamma felt very bad, contemplated to move into a separate house along with her son and hence rented a small room close to our house. The rent was four or eight āṇa. They took me to that place for lunch.

Even now when I think about those conversations that took place, it pains me. My grandmother and my maternal uncle could not stay away without me even for a second. Even my younger grandfather Ramanna too was the same. That evening when my grandmother carried me back to our house, Sheenanna was not at home. As soon as Ramanna saw me, with a lump in his throat, he said “Oh you came!”, and picked me up in his arms. Later he prostrated to my grandmother, and said

“Amma, this house without you - without the kid, how will I be able to bear? Sheena has a filthy mouth. you already know that. I beg you to not take his words seriously. This is your house. Unless you take care without leaving us, we will not survive.”

- he pleaded with her. From the next day, everything came back to normalcy.

Hakim Saheb

Sheenanna had immense faith in god and customs. But even then, there was no scope bigotry. He never hated other religions. Among his close friends was a Muslim. Everyone called him Baṇḍe (rock) Hakim Saheb. Hakim Saheb was much older to Sheenanna. He had undertaken the Haj pilgrimage; was a doctor by profession. Many people went to him for treatment. His house was close to the dargah - on a rock. Due to this reason, he was called Baṇḍe Hakim.

Saheb used to come to our house daily in the afternoon around 3pm. He and Sheenanna used to sit in the exterior room facing each other. A small table in between them. A chess board and pawns on it.

Like this, from 3 to 6pm - till sunset, they used to play chess. In between some chatting, analysis of religious principles and policy analysis. I vaguely remember one day’s topic.

 

Pāni tēra raṅg

Tum jisamen mile ho baisa

 

This is a subject of vākyārtha[1]. There are two meanings. (1)  “tēra” means “yours.” (2) Thirteen is the other meaning. The logical outcome of this is, “Hey water, you take the same color as that you come in contact with. You are colorless. In such a colorless thing, ‘you thirteen colors’ meaning does not seem appropriate”.... To make this line of argument, Hakim Saheb quoted eight-ten pertinent examples. Sheenanna also provided some supporting statements to boost the argument. I really felt amazed by listening to their arguments. Such great people, such intellectuals.

  Baṇḍe Hakim was detached, person true to his philosophy, compassionate and a very genuine person. Thousand salutations in his memory.

Music connoisseur  

Sheenanna was very much interested in music and literature. It reminds me of an incident. During my five day wedding, on one of days a music concert was held, from a Andhra veena player Venkataramanadasappa from Vijayanagara. He was a famous performer. Sheenanna was sitting close to me. After playing four to five kr̥tis[2], he turned to the audience and said, “If anyone of you would like me to play anything in particular, I would be happy to play as much as my expertise permits”. The audience was ecstatic. Our Sheenanna asked - “Are you familiar with Govinda-svāmi varṇa?”. The veena player said - “Which of the five do you want?”. Sheenanna said - “Śaṅkarābharaṇa would be good”. Venkataramanadasa played the Śaṅkarābharaṇa varṇa. As he was about to conclude, Sheenanna asked a youngster present in the hall to get a garland and presented to the veena player once he finished the varṇa, greeted him with folded hands and said, “felt extremely happy / blissful”. The audience agreed too.

Sheenanna’s daughter Gouramma was married to a house near Anekal. Dommasandra, close to Bengaluru was his in-laws place. Elder daughter’s house was in Yelahanka. Thus his family and relatives were in different places. Sheenanna spent his time travelling between his relative’s places. He used his horse to travel to all these places.

Shamanna

Sheenanna had a son, named Shamanna or Shama Rao. He lived in Mulbagal as a kid and later in Kolar with his father’s brother. He must have been a bright student. He had received a prize book Śabdamaṇidarpaṇa - edited by J Garret. I believe that if he had concentrated on his studies he would have become a scholar. He was very interested in poetry. Lively in conversations. When he was in his high school, government had brought a scheme to train the youth for railway service. It was during the inaugural days of Mysore railways - must have been around 1880-1882. They had organized a telegraph school for station-master and other posts. To be eligible for it, one had to be from Mysore state by birth, and a senior high school level student.

Through this scheme, Shamanna had joined as a trainee. He got a job as station master after passing the examinations. He worked in places like Nittur and Gubbi, also Kurnool, Nandyala, Kambam, and other places in Telugu region.

My grandfathers were troubled about two things in his regard. (1) That he was in a far off place. (2) And that he did not have kids.

I have earlier told that, Sheshanna was extremely proud of his brother’s son. On hearing that Shamanna was transferred to Kambam, Kurnool and other places, apparently he had tears in his eyes. He then confided his grievance to then Kolar’s deputy commissioner Ramanuja Iyengar. Iyengar being impressed, assured that he would appoint Shamanna to any post under his jurisdiction as and when it fell vacant. Thus Shamanna was appointed to the revenue officer post in the sub-divisional office of Eldooru village of Srinivasapura Taluk in Kolar district around 1900-1901. In this matter, there was a bit of unrest in the house. The reason for it was that Sheshagirappa made some appeals for his brother’s son’s job but not for his own son’s job. Let us leave it at that.

When Shamanna was still in Eldooru, the plague spread throughout Mulbagal and I have told earlier the troubles our family had to face because of it. In those difficult times, my parents along with all the children in the house went to Eldooru and lived in a small portion of great scholar Venkata Shastri’s house. Shamanna was the one who had made these arrangements and other assistance that was required.

This is the third part of the four-part English translation of Fifth essay in D V Gundappa’s magnum-opus Jnapakachitrashaale (Volume 8) – Sankirna smriti samputa. Edited by G S Raghavendra.

Footnotes

[1] A type literary event

[2] A type of Carnatic musical composition.

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)

About:

Varuni KS has a masters degree in Electrical Engineering and is currently based out of Chicago, IL. She is trained in South Indian classical (Carnatic) music and has an abiding interest in Kannada literature.

 

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