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Updated: December 25, 2013 02:19 IST

Shivarudrappa – man of liberal values in life and death

Muralidhara Khajane
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G.S. Shivarudrappa
G.S. Shivarudrappa

Distinguished Kannada poet G.S. Shivarudrappa, who passed away on Monday, always lived by liberal ideals and wanted to ensure that they are followed even in the manner in which he is cremated.

According to family members, Shivarudrappa had decided two years ago that no religious or caste-specific rituals should be followed in his cremation.

Jayadeva, younger son of Shivarudrappa, said his father left written instructions on how his funeral was to be conducted and the family would follow them strictly. Mr. Jayadeva said his father wished that no religious rituals should be conducted at his funeral.

In his note, Shivarudrappa said he saw himself as someone who belonged to whole of Karnataka and not to any particular caste or community. His last wish was that he should be cremated and not buried. The Jnana Bharathi campus of Bangalore University was so dear to him that he wished to be cremated there and his ashes be immersed in the Cauvery. His funeral would be conducted at Kalagrama on the Jnana Bharathi campus on Thursday.

This faith in liberal values, not rooted in religion or caste, is the hallmark of his writings too. Shivarudrappa’s poem Ello hudukide illada devara kallu mannugala gudiyolage / Ille iruva preeti premagala gurutisadadevu nammolage…” (We look for the non-existent god, in vain, in temples of brick and mortar / We fail to see love and affection right in our midst) is testimony to this.

Noted writer K. Marulasiddappa (who happens to be Shivarudrappa’s son-in-law) says that though Shivarudrappa was an atheist, he was secular at heart. He opposed caste system throughout his life.

Prof. Marulasiddappa recalled that Shivarudrappa had stood behind Jnanpith recipient Masti Venkatesha Iyengar when his novels Channabasava Nayaka and Chikaveera Rajendra published in the 1950s attracted the ire of the Veerashaiva community on the ground that it had insulting references to them. He also stood by writer P.V. Narayana when Dharmakarana became controversial in 1996.

Vachana tradition

“At that time, a section of the Veerashaiva community threatened to even ostracise him. Shivarudrappa responded by saying that he did not belong to any one caste or community. He lived true to values propagated by the Vachanakaras, who disregarded caste in the 12th Century and produced great literature,” Prof. Marulasiddappa said.

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