K.S. KRISHNA MOORTHY
The teaching fraternity owes much to Prof. G.N. Chakravarthy
Opposite the famous Banni Mantapa in Mysore, in huge, sprawling premises, St. Philomena’s College got on its feet in 1947. From the very first day of its existence, I served the college as a teacher of Kannada. It was perhaps in 1948, that the college had a Sanskrit Department. G.N. Chakravarthy was appointed as Sanskrit teacher. It was only after he joined college that I met him. Sparkling white dhoti, a beige close-collared overcoat, a Mysore peta with a golden border and a long, red naama (a religion marker) on his forehead… his persona radiated dignity and seriousness. Soon he had a big following in college. In fact, he was looked upon with awe and respect by one and all, especially for starting a free canteen for poor students.
By the time Chakravarthy joined college he was already a scholar in Sanskrit literature, of the Vedanta and Vedic philosophy. He had studied all the philosophical texts of the West and it was evident in his erudite discourses. When the Mysore Palace published 36 volumes of Rigveda, Chakravarthy supervised the entire series. The subject was complex and it required tremendous amount of study, and we were so proud that ‘our’ Chakravarthy was part of the project.
Chakravarthy and I shared an intimate relationship. We kept each other’s company, talked, discussed and went out together; almost like Kannada and Sanskrit couldn’t bare to be separated. A man of great conviction and integrity, nothing ever prevented him from right action. This is something that I want to share, something for which the entire teaching community must remember him for. When the college management failed to sanction DA as per their promise, teachers of the college went on a strike. The architect of the Navya movement, M. Gopalakrishna Adiga was in the English department of our college. Chakravarthy along with Adiga met the Syndicate members and explained the crisis; they also called a press conference and briefed the press about it. They left no stone unturned and ensured that the future of teachers in private colleges was made secure. K.V. Puttappa who was the vice-chancellor of the Mysore University then, framed rules and regulations for the smooth and effective functioning of private colleges. I distinctly remember the mercurial zeal of Chakravarthy who ran from pillar to post – he even met members of the legislative council. In fact, he was largely responsible for the University to take notice of the problems of private colleges. He met the UGC chairperson and ensured that language teachers got UGC pay scale too.
Chakravarthy and I shared a close bond for nearly three decades. Even in times of great crisis, he never failed a promise. My trust in him was always implicit. I cherish the days…
(Translated by Deepa Ganesh)