Remembering the work of Fa.Gu. Halakatti

The 142nd birth anniversary of Fa.Gu. Halakatti was celebrated on Friday.

The 142nd birth anniversary of Fa.Gu. Halakatti was celebrated on Friday.

Amid the COVID-19 restrictions, several organisations across North Karnataka region held symbolic programmes on Friday remembering the contributions of Fa.Gu. Halakatti, the man credited with ‘reviving Lingayatism’ through his efforts of collecting and publishing ‘vachanas’ in the first half of the 20th century.

Members of various Basava Kendras and other organisations celebrated the 142nd birth anniversary of Fakirappa Gurappa Halakatti through webinars and talks at various places on Friday.

Born in Dharwad on July 2, 1880, Fakirappa Gurubasappa Halakatti, is fondly remembered as ‘Vachana Pitamaha’ (godfather of Vachanas) mainly because of his work towards unearthing the hidden treasure of ‘Vachana literature’ and also subsequently introducing to Kannada literature a few hundred ‘vachanakaras’ (12th century sharanas) who wrote in common man’s dialect.

Fakirappa had his primary education in Dharwad before taking admission at St. Xavier’s College in Mumbai where he had the company of another champion of Kannada, Alur Venkatarao (known as Kannada Kulapurohita ).

After completing his law degree in 1904, Fakirappa began his practice as a lawyer in Dharwad before shifting to Vijayapura to continue his legal profession.

Having been influenced by his father Gurubasappa, a teacher and writer, Fakirappa had picked up the habit of reading manuscripts from his student days.

According to an anecdote, it was a bundle of palm leaf manuscripts of ‘vachanas’ at the residence of Shivalingappa Manchali in Dharwad, which changed his life’s course.

The impact of ‘vachanas’ compelled him to take up the task of collecting the ‘vachanas’ of sharanas including those of 12th century social reformer Basavanna, considered as the founder of Lingayatism by his followers.

Collecting the palm leaf manuscripts of vachanas was not an easy job as many were in damaged state either due to neglect or due to daily worship.

In fact many people did not want to part with them as they considered them holy. Fakirappa toured several districts from households to mutts and after 17 years of tireless efforts he managed to collect 1,000 bundles of ‘vachanas’.

As preserving the manuscripts was a herculean task, Fakirappa began writing them down on paper, segregated them, and wrote notes for complex vachanas.

Many scholars believe Fa.Gu. Halakatti single-handedly achieved what a university could not.

After having compiled ‘Vachanashastra Sara’ (Part-1) in 1921, Fakirappa tried to get it published from Basel Mission Printing Press in Mangaluru.

But he managed to get it published from Mahaveer Printing Press in Belagavi.

His ambition of publishing all vachanas he had collected, forced him to sell his house for setting up a printing press ‘Hitachintaka Mudranalaya’, where he published all the vachanas he collected during his lifetime, apart from works on ‘sharanas’, ‘Lingayatism’, and related issues. He also translated some into English, published the magazine Shivanubhava for 35 years and a weekly magazine Navakarnataka which was dedicated to the cause of unification of Karnataka.

Fakirappa donned several roles. He presided over the 12th Akhil Bharat Kannada Sahitya Sammelan at Ballri in 1926, was a senate member of Bombay University, and received a honorary doctorate from Karnatak University. Fakirappa dedicated his life for proliferation of Vachana literature, spent all his earnings for the same, and passed away in 1964 in poverty but left behind a huge treasure of Vachana literature.

Subsequently, the BLDE Society of Vijayapura has published all the works of of Fa.Gu. Halakatti in 12 volumes and also set up Fa.Gu. Halakatti Research Centre to continue what he had begun more than a century ago.

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Printable version | Aug 14, 2022 12:42:40 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/remembering-the-work-of-fagu-halakatti/article35121450.ece