KRISHNA SHASTRY A.R., 1890-1968

 

Ambale Ramakrishnashastry Krishna Shastry (ಅಂಬಳೆ ರಾಮಕೃಷ್ಣಶಾಸ್ತ್ರೀ ಕೃಷ್ಣಶಾಸ್ತ್ರೀ) is one of the most respected figures in the renaissance of modern Kannada that was witnessed during the early decades of twentieth century. His erudition, modernity of outlook and critical acumen were invaluable at that juncture and his writings which were prolific and of high quality are admired even to this day. He was a scholar, literary critic, linguist, biographer, journalist all rolled in to one. The fact that he could do justice to each one of these endeavors while pursuing a full fledged teaching career speaks volumes about his capacity for hard work and commitment to the chosen cause. In addition to all this, he took up the responsibility of fostering young writers by starting ‘Prabuddha Karnataka’ a quarterly journal in Kannada.

A.R.K. was born in Mysore and obtained his early education in Wesleyan Mission High School and Maharaja’s College. He secured his B.A. degree with English, Kannada and Sanskrit as his major subjects in 1913 and M.A. degree in 1915 with Kannada and Sanskrit as major areas of study.

He was appointed as a lecturer in Kannada at Central College, Bangalore and he was given the responsibility of nurturing Kannada at a place which was the nucleus for science education. He accomplished this task admirably by starting ‘Central College Karnataka Sangha’ (1918) and ‘Prabuddha Karnataka’. (1919) The manner in which he could garner the support of the cultural luminaries of Bangalore is praiseworthy. 

He was transferred to the Oriental Library at Mysore in 1919 and took up the task of textual criticism diligently. He went back to the Central College in 1927 and continued his mission there for twelve more years. The sudden and pre mature demise of T.S.Venkannaiah in 1939 was responsible for his return to Mysore. He became the Professor and Head in the department of Kannada at the University of Mysore and worked there till his retirement in 1946. He worked in various other capacities during his service and after his retirement. He was an editor of English-Kannada dictionary published by the University of Mysore from its inception to completion. He was the first editor of the Kannada-Kannada Nighantu published by Kannada Sahitya Parishat during 1943-57 and he was responsible for its general lay out. He had a flair for literary journalism and edited ‘Prabuddha Karnataka’ and ‘Sahitya Parishath Patrike’ very competently.

The contribution of A.R.K. to Kannada literature and scholarship has to be enumerated in different categories.

  1. Textual Criticism: Krishna Shastry focused his attention on textual criticism when he was working in the Oriental Library, Mysore. He gave able assistance to R. Shamashastry who was the general editor of all such publications. He had a major share of responsibility in the works he edited with R.Shamashastry and T.S.Venkannaiah. His accomplishments in this field are as follows.

1.      Keladi Nrupa Vijayam by Linganna (assisted R.Shamashastry)

2.      Dharmamritam by Nayasena (assisted R. Shama Shastry), 1924, 26

3.      Harishchandra Kavya Sangraha by Raghavanka (With T.S.V.) 1931             

4.      Kavijihvabandhanam by Eshvara Kavi                               1952

 

  1. Translations:

1.      Naga Mahashaya                                                       1939

2.      Nibandha Malaa                                                                     1963

3.      Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsara Charitre (With T.S. Venkannaiah) 1917

4.      Swami Shishya Samvada (With T.S. Venkannaiah)            1923

       3.   Original Works:

                  1. Samskrita Nataka                                                         1937

                  2. Bankimachandra                                                                    1960

                  3. Sarvajna                                                                                   1948

                  4. Vachana Bharatha (Based on Vyasa Bharatha)                 1950

                  5. Kathamritha (Based on Katha Saritsagara)                                    1952

                  6. Nirmala Bharathi (For Children)                                            1960

                  7. Sripathiya Kathegalu (Short Stories)                                    1948

                  8. Bhashanagalu mattu Lekhanagalu                                         1948, 1949

                  9. Kannada Kaipidi, Part 1, Kavya Lakshana                         1927

A detailed review of all these works is not possible in this context. It will suffice to say that every one of them has survived to this day. He was one of the makers of Modern Kannada Prose. Generations of readers were introduced to chaste and standard Kannada by Vachana Bharatha and Kathamritha. It is said that a book like ‘Bankimachandra’ does not exist even in Bengali. ‘Samskritha Nataka’ is informative, analytical and critical all at once. He has written a couple of stories that are anthlogised even to this day. His critical review of ‘Tollugatti’ raised some seminal questions. Prabuddha Karnataka was virtually the cradle of creative literature, criticism and research in the first half of the twentieth century.

Krishna Shastry won the Sahitya Academy award for his ‘Bankimachandra’. He was honoured with the president ship of the Kannada Sahitya Sammelana held at Hyderabad in 1941. He was awarded the D.Litt. degree by the University of Mysore in 1960. “Abhivandane’ is the felicitation volume brought out in his honour.

 

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