Guggari Shanthaveerappa Shivarudrappa, (guggari shAntavIrappa shivarudrappa) (ಗುಗ್ಗರಿ ಶಾಂತವೀರಪ್ಪ ಶಿವರುದ್ರಪ್ಪ) or G.S.S. as he is popularly known is truly one of the makers of the literary culture in modern Karnataka. He is a poet, literary critic, literary theoretician, literary historian, an eminent teacher and an able administrator who has conceived and executed many projects of enduring merit. He has negotiated various literary movements and trends successfully and managed to present a balanced point of view which has found universal respect and admiration.

Shivarudrappa was born in Shikaripura a small town in Shivamogga district of central Karnataka. He obtained a B.A. (1949) and an M.A. (1953) in Kannada both from the University of Mysore with distinction. He worked under the inspiring guidance of Kuvempu the great writer in Kannada and he was awarded a Ph.D. in 1960 for ‘Soundraya Sameekshe’ a pioneering Work in the field of literary aesthetics. This is an erudite study of the aesthetic dimensions of ancient and modern Kannada literature. He served as a lecturer in Kannada in places like Davanagere, Shivamogga and Mysore . He was a part of the Post Graduate faculty in Kannada in the University of Mysore till he moved on to Hyderabad as a reader and head in the department of Kannada in the Osmania University . He shifted his base to the Bangalore University in 1966 and retired from services in 1986 as the Director, Centre of Kannada Studies. He was the president of the Karnataka Sahitya Academy during 1987-90.

G.S.S. is prominent among the small band of scholars who have negotiated ancient Kannada literature from the perspective of a modern literary critic and a historian. He has not evinced much interest in elementary disciplines such as textual criticism and manuscriptology. He has not pursued disciplines like prosody and grammar in a mechanical manner. However, he has examined literary works in their cultural context and made a successful attempt to make them relevant in the modern society. His erudition in Indian Poetics, Western Poetics and literary theory has enabled him to use literary critical tools in the analysis of ancient texts. For instance, his ‘Kannada Sahitya Sameekshe’ is an invaluable attempt of delineating literary history in the context of literary movements and forms. He has written scores of articles on ancient poets of Kannada and most of them are illuminated by critical insights and innovative methodology. His writings on Harihara, Raghavanka, Ratnakaravarni and Pampa are particularly significant. ‘Kannada Kavigala Kavyakalpane’ delineates the literary theory propounded by our ancient poets in their creative texts. ‘Mahakavya Svaroopa’ enunciates the literary genre of the epic, again in the context ancient Kannada literature. He has published an abridged edition of “Shabarashankaravilasa’ by Shadakshradeva in collaboration with Prof B.N.Shastry. ‘Karmayogi’ is a novel based on the life of Siddarama the well known Veerashaiva saint of the twelfth century.

Shivarudrappa has shown his organizational mettle during his tenure as the director of the ‘Centre of Kannada Studies’ and as the president of Karnataka Sahitya Academy . The publication of ‘Samagra Kannada Sahitya Charitre’ in six volumes under his editorship is an important contribution to the historiography of Kannada literature. ‘Samanyanige Sahitya Charitre’ is a ten volume series trying to bring the history of Kannada literature within the reach of an informed common man. This series does not make any compromise in terms of complexity but appeals to one and all with its non pedantic style. The annual seminars conducted by the department of Kannada during his tenure have occasionally addressed themes related to ancient literature. ‘Pampa-Ondu Adhyayana’, ‘Shravana Belagola-sameekshe’ and ‘Karnataka Janapada’ illustrate this point. He was the executive editor of six anthologies brought by the Karnataka Sahitya Academy . Two of them dealing with twentieth century literary research and literary criticism, include ancient Kannada literature and culture within their purview.

It is beyond the scope of this note to enumerate the contributions of Shivarudrappa to poetry, modern literary criticism, literary theory and comparative poetics. He has published more than fifteen poetry collections, four travelogues and a number of critical essays. Some of his important works are enumerated here:

1.      ‘Soundarya Sameekshe’, 1965, (ಸೌಂದರ್ಯಸಮೀಕ್ಷೆ)

2.      ‘Kavyartha Chintana’, 1983, (ಕಾವ್ಯಾರ್ಥಚಿಂತನ)

3.      ‘Parisheelana’, 1967 (ಪರಿಶೀಲನ)

4.      ‘Kannada Kavigala Kavyakalpane’, 1989, (ಕನ್ನಡ ಕವಿಗಳ ಕಾವ್ಯಕಲ್ಪನೆ)

5.      ‘Samagra Gadya’, Volume-2 (ಸಮಗ್ರ ಗದ್ಯ-2)

6.      ‘Kannada Sahitya sameekshe’, 1975, (ಕನ್ನಡ ಸಾಹಿತ್ಯ ಸಮೀಕ್ಷೆ)

7.      ‘Mahakavy Svaroopa’, 1976 (ಮಹಾಕಾವ್ಯ ಸ್ವರೂಪ)

Shivarudrappa has received a number awards and honors by the Government of Karnataka, the Universities and the general public. ‘Kavyarthachintana’ won the Central sahitya Academy award in 1984. He was conferred with the ‘Rajyotsava Award, (1984) ‘Pampa Prashasti’, (1998) ‘Soviet land Nehru Award’ (1974) and the honorary award of the Karnataka Sahitya Academy . The Kuvempu University , the Kannada University and the Mysore University have conferred their honorary doctorate degrees on Shivarudrappa. He was in the chair of the 61st All India Kannada Sahitya Sammelana held in Davanagere in 1991. ‘Sneha Karthika’, ‘Hanate’ and ‘Gaurava’ are the felicitation volumes presented to him. He was chosen for the coveted “Rashtrakavi’ title by the Government of Karnataka in 2006.

Shivarudrappa is one of the few scholars who have molded the way we look at classical Kannada literature over a period of time.


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