Award presentation ceremony tomorrow
By C. V. Gopinath, Former Additional Secretary to Government of India
The Anathalaya in Mysuru is celebrating the 177th birth anniversary of its Founder, Vrudhapitamaha, Daya Sagara, M. Venkatakrishnaiah. The Anathalaya, serving the poor students, has been in existence since 1896.
As part of Founder’s Day celebration, the institute confers ‘Thathaiah Award’ (Vrudhapitamaha, Daya Sagara, M. Venkatakrishnaiah Award) every year and this carries a purse of Rs. 25,000, a plaque and a citation. Persons who have achieved greater heights in the field of education, journalism, social reforms and service to society are selected for this award.
Thathaiah award for the year 2021 will be presented to renowned Indologist Dr. A.V. Narasimhamurthy (AVN) at ceremony to be held on Dec. 26 at 4 pm at Anathalaya premises on Narayana Shastri Road.
Profile: Dr. A.V. Narasimhamurthy, born in 1935, is a well-known Indologist and historian. He did his MA from the Maharaja’s College, Mysuru and got his Ph.D from Andhra University under the guidance of Oruganti Ramachandraiah. A Fulbright scholar and a researcher at Harvard University, USA, in the initial years AVN worked as a surveyor in the Archaeological Survey of India and later as a lecturer and Professor at Manasagangothri Indology Department.
Dr. AVN, an internationally known Numismatist, was the President-Emeritus of Indian Numismatist Society. He was also UGC Emeritus Fellow of Epigraphia Karnataka. He had a long innings as the Chairman of Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan (BVB), Mysore Kendra and contributed a lot for sustenance of Indian culture. He is a recipient of many awards including Karnataka Rajyotsava Award and Karnataka Sahitya Academy Award.
About Thathaiah and Anathalaya
Thathaiah, who is always referred to as the Grand-old-man of Mysore, established this institution in 1896. Hailing from Magge, a hamlet near Antharasanthe in H.D. Kote Taluk and though coming from a very poor family, he migrated to Mysore and established this institution. Like-minded people such as Ambale Annaiah Pandit, C. Narasimhaiah, Advocate K. Chandrashekaraiah, well-known Chartered Accountant P.R. Hariharan, Landlord Mirle Nanjundaiah, Prof. S.V. Ranganna and in later years Thathaiah’s grandson, M.S. Srinivasa Rao, joined hands with Thathaiah to develop this institution for serving the cause of poor students coming from villages in and around Mysore district.
At the initial stage, Thathaiah himself went around with a begging bowl for feeding poor students. Over the years, completing a century of establishment, it stands as a monument of service to poor in the heart of the city, opposite to Subbarayanakere on Narayana Shastri Road.
The history of Mysore tells us that the Anathalaya was established in Niranjana Mutt on Krishna Vilas Road. The visitors to Thathaiah’s Anathalaya included great personalities like Swami Vivekananda, Mahatma Gandhi, Rabindranath Tagore, Sringeri Jagadguru, Sri Narasimha Bharatiji, Sri Chandrashekar Bharatiji and V.V. Giri, the former President of India.
It may be mentioned here that the alumni of this institution such as C. Narasimhamurthy, IAS Officer, Keshavamurthy, well-known Economist, S.L.N. Simha, a renowned artist, S.R Rao, Scientist, Dr. G. Ramakrishna, Saraswati Samman awardee and noted novelist Dr. S.L. Bhyrappa, senior RSS leader N. Krishnappa and yours truly C.V. Gopinath, former Additional Secretary to Government of India, reflect the calibre of the institution which has produced such great personalities.
Till 1975, the Anathalaya used to get revenue resources from places like Mirle, Holenarasipur and others through the cultivable land holdings of Anathalaya, which was donated by several donors throughout Karnataka and the old inmates of the hostel. But later due to land reforms it lost all the land holdings. Anathalaya also runs a separate hostel for girl students and the building is offered free of cost from P.R. Hariharan Charitable Trust. There are students who pursue their studies in various faculties like engineering, medicine, commerce, science and arts.
Thathaiah, the Grand-old-man of Mysore (the title given by Mysore Maharaja) was very simple but a great visionary. He had his role in establishing Sarada Vilas Educational Society and Marimallappa’s School also. Thathaiah encouraged girls education and made his own wife learn. He established vocational training centres for women and encouraged widow marriages. In fact, the present President of the Anathayala (C.V. Gopinath) feels that such social reforms were brought in much before Raja Ram Mohan Roy’s reforms. However, unfortunately, being in a remote place, Thathaiah could not come to the forefront of the national scenario. He was a journalist too and had established Sadhvi newspaper in Mysore.
Thathaiah was very popular amongst all communities of society transgressing the barriers of caste, creed and religion. And Anathalaya feels proud in presenting the ‘Vrudhapitamaha, Daya Sagara, M. Venkatakrishnaiah Award (Thathaiah Award) to Dr. A.V. Narasimhamurthy.
I am proud to be an alumnus of this institution — Anathalaya. During 1960-61, we the students of Anathalaya hostel were made to go out of Mysore and collect donations for examination fees. I was a 14-year-old boy. On one of my such trips of donation collections, I went to Mirle in K.R. Nagar Taluk carrying a list of the previous year’s donors.
The Government Hospital doctor was one of the donors and his name was Dr. Bashir. On meeting him, I told him that I had come from M. Venkatakrishnaiah’s free hostel seeking donation and informed him that he had donated Rs.2 in the previous year. When I showed him the appeal letter and my identity card, Dr. Bashir asked me in his colloquial Urdu mixed Kannada, “you have not told me that you are coming from Thathaiah’s Anathalaya.” Thathaiah’s popularity had cut across caste, creed and religion. Dr. Bashir enquired about my academic performance and expressed his happiness with my reported performance. He took out a Rs. 5 note, asked for a receipt and put his hands on my head to bless me. – C.V. Gopinath