By Prof. A.V. Narasimha Murthy
The word Mysuru is generally attached to items like Mysuru Mallige, Mysuru Pak, Mysuru Dasara, Mysuru Palace, etc. and this practice has been continued by Mysuru Ranganath popularly known as Ranganna. In fact, he would love to be called Mysuru Ranganna.
I do not remember when exactly I met him first but I remember that he came to my house requesting me to accept the Hoysala Award which he gives every year to achievers in various cultural fields including history and archaeology. Though I have received many awards, this Hoysala Award is still green in my memory because it is named after the Hoysalas, a great dynasty which gave Karnataka King Vishunuvardhana.
Secondly, Hoysalas patronised architecture and sculpture which is unprecedented in Indian art history. Any VIP who visits Karnataka definitely would like to see Hoysala temples at Belur, Halebeedu and Somanathapura. On any given day, hundreds of tourists would throng the portals of these great temples and foreigners particularly are found in great numbers. These temples make Kannadigas proud. All these thoughts came to my mind when I thought of the Hoysala Award. Ranganna is not a rich man but the Hoysala Award function is arranged in a grand manner. When I asked him how he managed, he simply smiles and says can I not do this much for the sake of Kannada.
Now let me come back to our hero Ranganna or Ranganath. It is difficult to believe that he is past fifty as he not only looks young but also works like a youngster. His father, now late, Rajarao wanted him to get a University degree and become a high school teacher. But Ranganna had other ideas. He obtained a law degree and his father was happy that he would uphold law and help poor clients. But his love towards Kannada literature took him to the service of honouring Kannadigas.
Ranganna edits and publishes a journal or a newsletter called “Savigannada” entirely devoted to Kannada. He attends functions connected with Kannada culture and takes photographs of events and publishes them. Thus he is a journalist in his own right. He has enlisted the lovers of Kannada and they are his supporters without asking. People do it just because of the affection and love for Ranganna. Thus the hard work looks like a one-man-show but Ranganna says that it is being done by the lovers of Kannada and he is fortunate that he has been chosen as an instrument for this noble task.
In addition to his service for Kannada, he is an advocate also. I have not seen him donning the black robe and serve his clients because he has no time. Ranganna is not merely an organiser of literary meets but himself is a writer of eminence. He has written for many newspapers under different pen names, such as Chittara, Sparsha, Bimba, Bhumi, etc. His pen name is Mukunda Priya.
Another hobby of Ranganna is photography. Many do not know that he is a singer too — bhavageethes and folksongs. In addition, he is an actor in dramas and conducts programmes. His published works are Kavyasaurabha, Kavitebikkuttide (collection of poems); Nadu Kattidavaru (life sketch of distinguished persons), Chilume (modern vachanas) and has edited many works like Nenapinaladinda, Chiguru, Kavyanjali, Samskriti Deepamale, etc. He continues to write and many works which are in press are Hasida Hotteya Hadu, Mattebidda male, Hejje Moodadahadi. He has been a columnist in various newspapers for the past twenty years.
He has been the founder Chief Secretary of Kannada Kalakoota; Hoysala Kannada Sangha, Inchara Samskruthika Prathistana, etc. He has also taken part in Gokak agitation and did uruluseve for that. We had to fight for the Shastriya Bhasha status for Kannada and Ranganna was active in that agitation too.
Kannada writers have admired the literary and cultural contributions of Ranganna and have honoured him with many Abhinandana works. Most important of them is a six-hundred page felicitation volume edited by famous writers Dr. C.P. Krishna Kumar and Dr. Latha Rajashekhar. It is aptly titled as Vijaya Ranga (Victorious Ranga). This title summaries the personality of Ranganna. Bellichukke is another volume given to Ranganna under the editorship of B.P. Ashwathanarayana and M. Chandrashekar. Ranganna has been honoured by Svarasangama, Snehasinchana, Suvarna Ladies Club, Spandana Samskruthika Parishat, Karnataka Muktaka Sahitya Academy, Kalaprapancha, Kannada Sahridaya Balaga, Nitturu Srinivasa Rao Trust, etc. Ranganna has got many awards which includes Muktaka Sahitya prashasthi, Dashamanotsava prashasthi, Sahitya Sri, Adarsha Pratibha Ratna, etc.
Ranganna has completed fifty years of his life in serving the cause of culture of Karnataka. On this occasion, he is publishing “Savigannada” fifteenth year special issue soon. Ranganna has been able to achieve all these great things because of his wife Vijayalakshmi. In fact in all functions they are seen together. Ranganna lives in ‘Nandagokula’ and all his admirers pray Goddess Chamundeswari to bless his home as a real Nandagokula. I am sure all Kannadigas will join me in wishing Ranganna and his wife more laurels, many more awards and more service to the cause of Kannadamma. Let Vijaya and Ranga live long with all prosperity.