Birth of Kannada Sahitya Parishat
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Birth of Kannada Sahitya Parishat

November 18, 2017

Kannada Sahitya Parishat has a history of its own and has passed through various stages to come to its own as we see it today. An organisation called Sampadabhyudaya Samaja organised a conference in 1914 and its annual conference discussed the issues relating to the development of Kannada. In that conference it was decided that to help writers in Karnataka language, an independent Parishat should come into existence and further it was decided that Sampadabhyudaya Samaja should send its recommendation to the Government.

Having this in view, it was decided to request all prominent persons on 31.10.1914 to be at Bengaluru. The agenda was to discuss reforms of Karnataka language and development of books in Karnataka language. To help this and to chalk out a programme, a Sub-Committee was constituted. The Committee consisted of M. Shama Rao, Karpura Srinivasa Rao and P. S. Achuta Rao.

At the request of the Sub-Committee, many prominent Kannadigas sent their opinions and 31 such writings were collected. These were placed and discussed at a meeting held at Bengaluru Government High School. This meeting was held on 3.5.1915. This was the first Annual Conference of Kannada Sahitya Parishat. Representatives came from Dharwad, Belgaum, Uttara Kannada, Bombay, Bellary, Dakshina Kannada and many districts of Mysuru State. Many newspapers also sent their representatives to cover the event and give wide publicity to the cause of the Parishat.

The first conference was held under the Presidentship of Rajamantra Praveena V. Nanjundayya, who was elected unanimously. The conference was held for four days. In course of time, K. P. Puttanna Chetty and Karpura Srinivasa Rao became Presidents. On the third day of the conference, it was decided after a lot of deliberations to formulate the Constitution, rules and regulations. The following decisions were taken:

  1. The Sangha should be named Karnataka Sahitya Parishat and it headquarters should be in Bengaluru.
  2. Its work was to get books written on grammar, history of Kannada language, compiling dictionaries and technical terms for the use of writers.
  3. Translation from other languages.
  4. Publication of ancient good books.
  5. Collect history and its publication.
  6. Establishment of a Museum of old objects.
  7. Encouragement to publication of Kannada newspapers.
  8. Arranging lectures by eminent persons of Karnataka in Kannada.
  9. Publication of independent Kannada works.
  10. Purchase of Kannada books in bulk to help the Kannada writers.
  11. Encouraging authors by awarding titles (prashastis) and giving remunerations.
  12. Giving scholarships to expert researchers in Kannada.
  13. To establish Kannada libraries and reading rooms.
  14. Arranging lectures in Kannada by eminent persons.
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Further it was decided that the Executive Committee should have a President, Vice-President, Treasurer, Secretaries not exceeding thirty persons drawn from Mysore State, Mumbai Karnataka, Madras Presidency, Hyderabad, Southern Maharastra districts and Kodagu. It was also decided to have members mentioned above and to have some more celebrities like M. Venkatakrishnayya, R. Narasimhachar, R. Raghunatha Rao, Bapu Subba Raya, Vasudevaiah, Sosale Ayyasastri, Benagal Ramarao, Alasingacharya, M. Muthanna etc. Parishat has been making changes as and when required. Another important change was to name the organisation as Kannada Sahitya Parishat at the Bellary conference in 1939.

Kannada Sahitya Parishat was working from hired building for a long time. But it was felt that a separate building should be built to suit the needs and prestige of the organisation. They collected funds for the construction from the general public. Mysore Maharaja Nalwadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar gave Rs.5,000 and Yuvaraja Kanteerava Narasaraja Wadiyar contributed Rs.3,000 while Kantharaja Urs gave Rs.5,000.

On 12.4.1931, Karpura Srinivasa Rao laid the foundation stone. As soon as the building was ready for occupation, it was named as Krishnaraja Parishanmandira and the Parishat began working from there in 1933. As Masti said all services including sweeping the floor of the building, office work, publication of books etc., were done by Bellave Venkatanaranappa.

Dr. D. V. Gundappa, who became Vice-President, worked from 1934 to 1937. During his tenure many useful works were undertaken and the Parishat became popular among the common people. Gamaka art was added to the activities of the Parishat, and Gamaki Bindu Rao was the first Gamaka teacher. Now Gamaka has developed into a major cultural art. A. R. Krishnasastri made Parishat Patrike into a scholarly magazine.

During the tenure of B.M. Srikantaiah as Vice-President, Parishat became closer to people. He started a ladies’ wing which is working even now. His another contribution is Kannada bavuta or Kannada Flag. He also finalised the emblem for the Parishat. It is circular in shape and the outer ring contains the words Kannada Sahitya Parishattu, Bengaluru and above is the legend Sirigannadam Gelge. In the second inner circle is found twelve petals of a flower. The innermost circle contains a map with an open book and an oil lamp spreading light. During his period, Kannada Sahitya Patrike was being published from 1916 and is doing good service for people in Karnataka.

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During the time of subsequent Vice-Presidents, specially M. R. Srinivasa Murthy and G. Narayana more developments took place. On 26.12.1970 the Golden Jubilee was celebrated. In course of time, District Units  of the Parishat came into existence which are working well.

So far, 82 conferences have been held at various places all over the State and Mysuru had hosted it three times in 1917, 1929, 1955 and now in 2017, the 83rd All India Kannada Sahitya Sammelana is going to be held on 24th, 25th and 26th of November 2017. Our interest is that it is going to be held in our own city at the Maharaja’s College Grounds. Nearing the date of the conference, all roads in Karnataka lead to Mysuru. It is going to be a huge affair and it will be presided over by Prof. Chandrashekar Patil.

Manu Baligar is the man behind this Conference, who is also the Executive President and a person with rich experience. His team consisting of M. Chandrashekar, Dr. Y.D. Rajanna, Maddikere Gopal and others are doing an excellent job in making the Conference a great success. In any Conference, food is most important and I learnt that good arrangements have been made to serve tasty dishes of Mysuru and Uttara Karnataka.

Manu Baligar and his team have selected about sixty persons who have contributed to the development of Kannada and it is my good fortune that I am one of them. I hope, this Parishat Jatre will be a great success and continue the good name Mysuru enjoys. For the present, I salute all the savants who have helped the Parishat to come upto this prestigious stage. There cannot be better slogans than Barisu Kannada Dindimava and Sirigannadam Gelge and Sirigannadam Balge.

[Source: Article published in Karnataka, Kannada Vishwakosha, Kannada Adhyayana Samsthe, Mysore University, 1979]

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