Jnanpith award winner U.R. Ananthamurthy, who passed away on Friday, was cremated with full State honours at Kalagarama on the Jnana Bharathi campus of Bangalore University here on Saturday, in the presence of thousands of his admirers.
The last rites were performed by his son Sharath Ananthamurthy. Those present include Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and his Cabinet colleagues, Ananthamurthy’s students and people from the literary fraternity.
Earlier in the day, people made a beeline for his house “Suragi” and later to Ravindra Kalakshetra where the body was kept for the public to pay their last respects. People started pouring in at Suragi from Friday night itself. People gathered on the streets too, en route to Ravindra Kalakshetra from his house as the body was taken in a procession in a decorated hearse. Ananthamurthy’s persona was reflected in the large and diverse crowds at the kalakshetra. Hundreds of people had come from Shimoga, from where he hailed, and from Mysore, where he studied and taught.
A senior police official, who oversaw the arrangements, said at least 10,000 people paid their respects at the kalakshetra. The queue for public to pay their respects was nearly a km long.People gathered in small groups and discussed the loss to the Kannada world. Reflecting the writer’s warm personality, everybody had an “Ananthamurthy story” to tell.
Another Jnanpith award winner, Girish Karnad, who visited Suragi, recounted the role played by Ananthamurthy in his life, with Samskara marking his debut in films. Mr. Karnad said he respected Ananthamurthy’s commitment to democratic debate. Historian Ramachandra Guha was among those who paid their respects to Ananthamurthy.