VENKANNAIAH T.S., (1885-1939)


Taluku Subbanna Venkannaiah (ತಳುಕು ಸುಬ್ಬಣ್ಣ ವೆಂಕಣ್ಣಯ್ಯ) is one of the most revered names in the renaissance of modern Kannada that took place in the early decades of the twentieth century. He was a native of Taluku village in Challakere talluk of Chitradurga district located in central Karnataka. He obtained his B.A. degree in 1909 and M.A. in Kannada in 1914 both at Mysore. After short stints of teaching in Dharavada, Doddaballapura and the Saint Joseph’s College in Bangalore, he became a lecturer in Kannada at the Central College, Bangalore in 1918. He was appointed as the first professor of Kannada in the University of Mysore in 1927 in which capacity he served till his premature death. He has toiled for the cause of Kannada in many ways.

Venkannaiah and A.R.Krishnashastry were singularly responsible for the publication of ‘Prabuddha Karnataka’ a periodical which played a crucial role in the making of modern Kannada literature particularly in the princely State of Mysore. He was actively involved in the development of the Central College Karnataka Sangha at Bangalore and Maharaja College Karnataka Sangha at Mysore. K.V.Puttappa, (Kuvempu) (his protegee and a student) was indebted to him in many ways and recorded the same in glowing terms. T.S.V. was more interested in recognising and fostering talent rather than producing erudite volumes.

Venkannaiah was well acquainted with Telugu, English, Bengali and Tamil in addition to Kannada and Sanskrit. Pracheena Sahitya’ is a collection of seminal articles by Ravindranatha Tagore which was translated from the original Bengali by T.S.V.. Many ideas propounded there have had a lasting influence on the making of modern Kannada literature. Along with A.R.K., he was the translator of a biography of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, published by Ramakrishna Ashrama. He has translated a part of ‘Ramakrishna Leela Prasanga’ from Bengali.

T.S.V. was an expert in the editing of ancient texts. He has edited the following texts based on meager resources that were available:

                    1. ‘Basavarajadevara Ragale’, by Harihara, 1938

                    2. ‘Karnataka Kadamabri Sangraha’, by Nagavarma-1, 1933 

                    3. ‘Siddarama Chariteya Sangraha’ by Raghavanka, (1941) (Posthumous)

                        (With D.L.Narasimhachar)

                    4. ‘Harishchandra Kavya Sangraha’, by Raghavanka (1931)

                        (With A.R.Krishna Shastry)

This work was carried out very diligently even though very few manuscripts were available. For instance ‘Karnataka Kadambari’ had a single manuscript and a printed edition by B.Mallappa based on that very manuscript. T.S.V. went to the original Sanskrit where ever necessary and could produce a dependable edition. Similarly ‘Basavarajadevara Ragale’ had two manuscripts (one palm leaf and another paper) to begin with and the editor could secure one more at the time of a subsequent reprint. The other two works had four and five manuscripts respectively. Even though three of these works are abridges versions lot of scholarship has gone in to them. Each one of them is accompanied by detailed introduction, information about the poet and his times, scholarly criticism and such.

Venkannaiah played a crucial role in the publications of revised editions of ‘Pampa Bharata’ and ‘Kumara Vysaa Bharatha’. He was instrumental in the publication of ‘Kumara Vysa Prashasti’ a volume commemorating that great poet.

He has contributed the sections on ‘Old Kannada Grammar’ and ‘History of Kannada Language’ in ‘Kannada Kaipidi’ a classic text book published by the University of Mysore. ‘Kannada Sahitya mattu Itara Lekhanagalu’ is a collection of Kannada articles written by Venkannaiah.

‘Savi Nenapu’ is the commemoration volume published to honour T.S.V. under the editorship of Kuvempu.



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