Jnanpith award winners recalled him as a man of intellectual and administrative integrity who built institutions and did not mince words when he felt strongly about an issue, though he rarely aligned himself with any political movement.

Jnanpith award winners U.R. Ananthamurthy, Girish Karnad and Chandrashekhar Kambar have recalled their long association with poet and writer G.S. Shivarudrappa.

They recalled him as a man of intellectual and administrative integrity who built institutions and did not mince words when he felt strongly about an issue, though he rarely aligned himself with any political movement.

‘A true leader’

Prof. Ananthamurthy said: “G.S. Shivarudrappa had the qualities of a true leader of the literary world. It was only when he was the head of the Department of Kannada in Bangalore that it got a vitality that comes from inviting various streams of thought into the department. Great literary discussions and seminars were held and we would clash and yet be friends at the end of it. He inherited the legacy of his teacher and great writer Kuvempu. It was Shivarudrappa who connected us to this world, this legacy. In that sense he is a symbol of continuity in literature. He had, at once, a historical sense and an aesthetic sense, which is a rare combination. People speak of literature as ‘pratibimba’ (reflection) of society. He had the imagination to see it as ‘gatibimba’ (reflecting the movement of time).”

‘Lucid, lyrical’

Mr. Karnad said: “He was someone I admired greatly as a poet. He was lucid, lyrical and did not believe in obscuring poetry. He was in the tradition of Kuvempu, which was quite different from the tradition of poets Bendre from North Karnataka on the one hand and Gopalakrishna Adiga (an icon of the modern literary stream in Kannada) on the other. What endeared me to him particularly was his committed stand on secularism and against the Hindutva politics. It was Shivarudrappa who made the first statement against saffronisation of the Bababudangiri shrine at Chikmagalur. He was somebody who responded to issues around him without getting sentimental about it. This made him a great individual apart from being a very important poet.”

‘Inspiring creativity’

Prof. Kambar said: “I recall a seminar on Kannada theatre held in 1972 in Bangalore University when Shivarudrappa headed the department. I wrote ‘Jokumaraswamy’ after that, and Lankesh wrote ‘Oedipus’ and ‘Sankranti’ which became known all over the country. He had the capacity to inspire creativity in people. He built an intellectual tradition in Kannada in his own unique way. He brought brilliant minds into the Kannada Department. He was the last link to a tradition that believed that a language like Kannada needs to be strengthened to counter the colonial hegemony with all its heavy intellectual baggage. When I became the vice-chancellor of Kannada University I often took advice from him and he even visited the campus, always willing to help out with building an institution.”