Prime News, National, Karnataka, Literature, New Delhi, December 29:- Munjane manjinolu/ Pasuralli nadevaaga/ Anjisuva sanjeyolu/ Usirannu yelevaaga/ Yele poove aalisuve/ Naa ninna geeteyanu/ Yele poove solisuve/ Naa ninna preetiyanu!
(Amidst the early morning dew/ Walking across the greenery/ And in the evening that is scary/ While taking a breath, Oh flower, I listen to your song/ Oh flower, I defeat your love!)
Such are the verses of the poem titled Poovu (The Flower) by Kuvempu. The Kannada writer and poet (full name Kuppali Venkatappa Puttappa) is the subject of today’s Google Doodle, which commemorates his 113th birthday.
Kuvempu is considered among the greatest writers in the Kannada language. As indicated in the poem above, Kuvempu’s writings reflected the wonders of the natural world, which is why, when illustrator Upamanyu Bhattacharyya and letterer Swati Shelar were working on the doodle, they chose to portray him surrounded by nature.
Most of his works are written in Kannada and he was a strong proponent of the language. He founded an organisation at the University of Mysore to research the Kannada language which has been named after him as “Kuvempu Institute of Kannada Studies.”
Kuvempu’s writings reflected his resentment towards casteism, meaningless religious rituals. Throughout his time in academia, Kuvempu also wrote prolifically. He published 25 collections of poetry, two novels, in addition to biographies, literary criticism, story collections, essays and about 10 plays. His epics — Sri Ramayana Darshanam (in two volumes) and Chitrangada — and his autobiography (Nenapina Doniyali; published in 1980) remain among his noted works.
Kuvempu won the Jnanpith Award for Sri Ramayana Darshanam (in 1968, for the year 1967) — the first Kannada writer to receive the honour. He was also only the second Kannada poet to be named ‘Rashtrakavi’ in 1958. Apart from these, he was conferred several other honours, including the Padma Vibhushan (1988), Padma Bhushan (1958) and Karnataka Ratna (1992).
Kuvempu wrote his first-ever poetry collection in English; most of his other works that followed were written in Kannada. He remained a lifelong advocate for the language, especially as a medium of instruction in state educational institutions. He was also a staunch champion of gender equality, anti-casteism and anti-superstition.
Incidentally, this week also marks the golden jubilee of Kuvempu’s Jnanpith Award, and his birthplace is the site of a two-day symposium (December 29, 30) where scholars will discuss the significance of Kuvempu’s work. The Google Doodle honouring Kuvempu couldn’t have come at a better time.
Kuvempu was born in 1904 at Kuppalli in Shivamogga district of Karnataka. In 1929, he graduated from the Maharaja College of Mysore, having majored in Kannada. He began his academic career there as a lecturer, and after a stint at a Bengaluru University, returned to Maharaja College as a professor in 1946. He became principal of the college in less than a decade later, and when he retired in 1960, he was the vice-chancellor of University of Mysore.
He passed away in Mysuru on November 11, 1994, aged 89.
–(NGB, Inputs: Agencies)