Ramanuja Iyyengar M.A. (manDiyam anji rAmAnuja ayyangAr) (ಮಂಡಿಯಂ ಅಂಜಿ ರಾಮಾನುಜ ಅಯ್ಯಂಗಾರ್) 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 Mysore and obtained a B.A. degree in mathematics from the University of Madras. He taught mathematics in the Wesleyan Mission School for some time before being appointed a translator in the department of education, Mysore state. Later on he was a lecturer in Kannada at the Maharani’s college, Mysore.

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, Mysore University, Mysore. Pages 454-456) He has also rendered ‘Adi Parva’ and ‘Sabha Parva’ of Mahabharatha in prose. He has often written scholarly introduction to many of his edited works. He took part in the preparation of text books for the student population. He was very catholic in his approach and edited works written by poets belonging to different castes and regions.

Ramanuja Iyyengar has thus created a niche for himself in the annals of Kannada literature during its renaissance in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.



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