RAMANUJA IYYANGAR M.A., 1862-1937
Ramanuja Iyyengar M.A. (manDiyam anji
rAmAnuja ayyangAr) (ಮಂಡಿಯಂ ಅಂಜಿ
is among the pioneers who took keen
interest in the editing of ancient Kannada texts. He took upon himself the
difficult task of sifting the various manuscripts and arriving at the correct
version. M.A.R. was born in
Ramanuja Iyyangar was well versed in Kannada, Tamil, English and Sanskrit. He was trained in the art of studying, editing and publishing palm leaf manuscripts by Asuri Ananda Alvar and Komaraswamy Thirumalachar. He started a monthly periodical called Aryamata Sanjeevini in 1888 and serialised many texts such as Ckikkadevaraja Binnapa and the Adiparva and Sabhaparva of Mahabharata under its aegis. He was assisted by S.G.Narasimhachar in this task. Later in 1892, he started another monthly called Karnataka Kavymamjari and more than twenty five works were published under this banner. This achievement was noted and appreciated by well known scholars such as B.L.Rice and H.J.Bhabha. However even this venture had to stop in 1897.
M.A.R. and S.G.N. continued to work with inimitable zeal and started yet another monthly in 1899. This series gained a lot of publicity and acquire canonical status. M.A.R. persisted with this publication until 1916, undeterred by the untimely demise of S.G.Narasimhachar in 1907. These publications covered a wide range of themes such as literature, poetics, dictionary and prosody and they were composed in various meters such as Champu, Shatpadi and Shataka. He published most of these sixty seven works in separate book form also. Many of them were made text books in different universities.
The most important publications edited and published by M.A.R. and S.G.N. are Sahasa Bheema Vijaya (Ranna), Ajitha Theerthankara Purana Thilaka, (Ranna) Mallinatha Purana (Nagachandra) Panchatantra, (Durgasimha) Girijakalyana (Harihara) Leelavathi Prabandha, (Nemichandra) Ardhanemi Purana, (Nemichandra) Yashodhara Charite, (Janna) Kabbiogara Kava, (Andayya) Harischandra Kavya, (Raghavanka) and Nalacharitre (Kanakadasa) He has published all three works of Muddana. Udayadityalamkara, Apratimaveera Charite, Karnataka Nighantu, Chandombudhi, (Nagavarma-2) and Shabdasmriti (Nagavrma) are some of the knowledge based texts published by these two doyens. (For a comprehensive list please see: Maniha Ed. Dr Siddayya Puranika, 1982, B.M.Sri.Prathishtana, Bangalore, Pages 272-274)
In addition to this kind of
selfless service, M.A.R. has written a few independent books. They are Kavisamayam, Suvrata, Kavikarya Prashamse, Pramana Prameya Viveka and Prabhandhavali
(1904). Prabandhavali is one of the earliest
attempts to adapt the genre of the Essay to Kannada. Dr Havanur
Srinivas makes a very favorable review of this book
in his doctoral work. (Hosagannadada Arunodaya, 1974,
Ramanuja Iyyengar has thus created a niche for himself in the annals of Kannada literature during its renaissance in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.