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Pu.Thi.Na - Jayadeva of Kannada Literature

Celebrated Kannada poet Dr Pu.Thi.Na

Oh! Temple on the Hill,
Where all my tired doubts come home to rest, seeking release;
A salve that calms the restlessness of my being,
Born wandering in nature’s reality and thirsting to know it;

Oh! Gift of the hearts of Saints,
The stable centre of this ever moving world of action,
That shows from each view point,
a different view of joy or sorrow;

Dense with Yogic joy,
Free of values such as straight and crooked,
True or false, good and evil;

I humbly bow before you, my head weight down,
My words stretched out by heavy thoughts

- The Hill Temple: English translation by H.V.Rangachar of the original Pu.Thi.Na’s Kannada Poetry "Male Degula"

Sitting at the window in his room in Melukote,( Poet’s native village in Mandya District in Karnataka state, India), the splendor view of this Hill Temple of Hindu deity Yoga Narasimha, with the backdrop of sunrise in the mornings and the tender moonlight in the night, was the Poet Laureate’s source of inspiration for all his literary creations. At the foothill of this very Hill Temple the Poet Laureate’s literary creations were realised in the form of a two day cultural and literary fest on December 30 and 31.

Dr. P.T.Narasimhachar popularly known as Pu.Thi.Na to the literary circle, is the first song-drama composer in the modern Kannada Literature. PuThiNa along with Kuvempu and Bendre, the other two stalwarts of Kannada Literature are known as ‘Ratnatreyas’. This trio are considered as the rich geniuses that 20th century has produced.

Dr Pu.Thi.Na with his wife Seshamma (Hemmige)
Born on March 17th, 1905 in Melukote, a temple town in the Southern Indian State, Karnataka.Graduating from the Maharaja College in Mysore. He learnt a medley of languages - Kannada, Sanskrit, English, French & Tamil. Perhaps this exposure to range of languages was the biggest trigger for the Poet’s interest in prose and poetry. This also gave him the access to the wide body of literature across the world and shaped his thinking and interest.

As a Litterateur, Dr. PuThiNa was multifaceted - poet, essayist, song-dramatist. But basically the poet in him dominated in all the literary forms - poems, song-drama, essay and poetic criticisms. PuThiNa had a deep knowledge of Indian Classical Music and firmly believed that the aim of all literature should be to give Rasa and that could be best obtained by a blend of music, dance and poetry. He is the master craftsman of the GitaRoopakas. There are 23 in all and he is aptly described as ‘Jayadeva’ of Kannada Literature.

As Lord Krishna was a great and intimate inspiration with Jayadeva, as too with PuThiNa. In fact, the poet yearns for a continuous association of Krishna till the last breathe.

PuThiNa and Melukote are inseparable. He is the product of the natural surroundings of the temple town and also various festivities surrounding the temple. For him, temple is not a symbol of exploitation. On the contrary, PuThiNa has composed many poems surrounding the temple in which very ordinary people, in their own very ordinary means, passionately devout to the Lord.

Melukote, about 45 kms from Mysore, 135 kms from Bengaluru, is a Sri Vaishnava temple town. During the 12th century, Sri Ramanuja, the exponent of Vishishtadaivta bhakti movement stayed here in exile for 12 years and was instrumental in bringing about a mixture of Kannada and Tamil cultural in the town.

It was the Poet’s wish to bring back the glorious cultural tradition of the town through which he grew into a poet of eminence to be resurrected in the town of Melukote and that Poet’s dream came true in the form of a beautifully, aesthetically designed and built open-air theatre - PuThiNa Kala Mandira with the statue of the poet sculpted by famous sculptor and former Chairman of Shilpakala Academy, Shri Venkatachalapati at the entrance of the theatre.

The inauguration of the this Kala Mandira was a great freak of literary and cultural extravaganza for two days to the residents of Melukote. Even rain, winter cold did not hamper the spirits of the artists and the audience. Poets of eminence, Dr.G.S. Shivarudrappa, Nadoja Poet Shri Chennaveera Kanavi, Gyanapith awardee Dr. Chandrashekara Kambar, H.S. Venkatesh Murthy, B.K. Lakshman Rao, Literary Critic like Dr. Narahari balasubramanya, and this year’s PuThiNa Kavya Prashasthi award winner Shri Chintamani Kadlikere and the friends and family of the Poet were present.

The cultural programmes, all based on selected Pu.Thi.Na's works, included a Veena and Flute jugalbandi by Balakrishna and V Vamshidhar, vocal recital by MS Sheela and Bharatanatyam dance recital by Priya V Raman. The function concluded with a dance-drama by Dr Sheela Sridhar.

This inaugural function was followed by a week long Mythological drama and Rathasapthami Car festival which drew villagers around Melukote in large numbers and the dream vision of the Poet laureate all seen in reality and the show seems to have just began...

Literary recognitions of the Poet
Pu.Thi.Na (Purohitha Thirunarayana Ayyangarya Narasimhacharya,1905-1998) was born at Melukote. He is well known for his operas, lyrics, essays, plays and an epic. While ‘Hanathe’, ‘Mandaliru’ were some of his collections of lyrics, ‘Ramachariya Nenapu’, ‘Echalamarada Kelage’ and ‘Yadugiriya Geleyaru’ were collections of very fine essays.

The state government has established a public trust in his name; and his house at Melukote was taken over by the Department of archaeology in the year 2000 and since then has preserved it as a ‘cultural monument'. A literary award has been instituted in his name by the trust to be given to a work of poetry each year. His Hamsa Damayanthi Matthu Ithara Rupakagalu’, a collection of operas won the award from the National Academy of letters in 1965. The University of Mysore conferred on him an honorary doctorate. He presided over the annual Kannada Literary Meet held at Chikkamagalur in 1981. He was admitted as an honorary fellow by Kannada Sahithya Parishath in 1993. His monumental epic ‘Sriharicharithe’ written in a new metre called ‘Brihath Chandas’ won the prestigious Pampa Prashasthi. The same work was selected as the best creative literary work of the year by the Karnataka State Sahithya Academy.

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