RAMANUJAN A.K., 1929-1993


Attipat Krishnaswami Ramanujan, (attipaT kriSNaswami rAmAnujan) (ಅತ್ತಿಪಟ್ ಕೃಷ್ಣಸ್ವಾಮಿ ರಾಮಾನುಜನ್) was a creative writer and a scholar with many achievements to his credit. This note does not pay much attention to his creative output in Kannada as well as English. He has authored three collections of poems, a novel, two stories and a play in Kannada. All of them have contributed handsomely to their respective genre. He has published three collections of poems in English and they have received many accolades.

Ramanujan was born in Mysore and obtained an M.A. degree in English from the University of Mysore in 1950. After teaching English in assorted places such as Belgaum , Madurai , Quilon and Baroda he proceeded to the U.S.A. and secured a Ph.D. degree from the University of Indiana . (1961) His doctoral dissertation was a ‘Generative Grammar of Kannada’. He worked as a lecturer in the Universities of Wisconsin, Berkley and Michigan . He was the professor of Linguistics and Dravidian Studies and Chairman of the Department of South Asian Languages and Civilization till his unfortunate death. (1972-93)

The contribution of Ramanujan cannot be measured on the basis of his publications in Kannada. He has given new directions to the study of folklore, medieval Kannada literature and culture studies by his pioneering work in those fields. His knowledge of many Dravidian languages helped him in his comparative studies. He could look at things in a Dravidian perspective. The distinction that he made between the ‘The Great Tradition’ and ‘Little Tradition’ has helped many a scholar in placing marginalized texts in their proper positions. His method of teaching and his scholarship as elucidated by a student is illuminating: In the classroom and in his scholarly articles, formal lec­tures, and conference papers, he ranged with effortless expertise over linguistics, anthropology, the his­tory of religions, folklore, and literary studies, usually covering several South Asian, British, American, and European discursive traditions. His inter­
disciplinary critical and interpretive engagements resulted in a number of influential articles in the last ten years alone, including "The Indian Oedipus" ( 1983 ), "Telling Tales" ( 1989 ), "Where Mirrors Are Windows" ( 1989 ), "Toward a Counter-System: Women's Tales" ( 1991 ), and "Three Hundred Ramayanas" ( 1991 ).” (Vinay Dharwadkar, 1994)

He wrote a short monograph ‘Gadegalu’ (gAdegaLu= Proverbs) in 1955. This was a model because it laid an emphasis on scientific analysis rather than mere collection.

‘A Generative Grammar of Kannada’ published in 1962 by the University of Indiana has not come to the notice of contemporary Kannada scholars.

Translation was the forte of Ramanujan. His admirable talent for communicating in English and his thorough knowledge of Kannada and Tamil facilitated this activity. “He focused his attention on verse as well as prose, rendering epic and classical poetry from the ancient period (chiefly works composed between about 500 B.C. and 500 A.D.), early and late poetic texts from the middle period (from the eighth to the eighteenth centuries), and poems, short stories, novelistic fiction, and numerous folk­ tales from the modern period (the nineteenth and
twentieth centuries).” (Vinay Dharwadkar, 1994)

A judicious use of the ideas and applied works of this scholar will go a long way in charting new grounds in Kannada Studies. A list of his important Works is provided here.

1.      The Interior Landscape: Love Poems from a Classical Tamil Anthology, 1967

2.      Speaking of Siva, 1973

3.      The Literatures of India. Edited with Edwin Gerow. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1974

4.      Hymns for the Drowning, 1981

5.      A Flowering Tree and Other Oral Tales from India

6.      Poems of Love and War. New York: Columbia University Press, 1985

7.      Folktales from India, Oral Tales from Twenty Indian Languages, 1991

8.      "Is There an Indian Way of Thinking?" in India Through Hindu Categories, edited by McKim Marriot, 1990

9.      "Where Mirrors Are Windows", 1989

10. "Toward a Counter-System: Women's Tales", 1991

11. "Three Hundred Ramayanas", 1991

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