SUBBANNA K.V., 1932-2005
Kuntagodu Vibhuti Subbanna (kunTagODu viBUti
ವಿಭೂತಿ ಸುಬ್ಬಣ್ಣ) was scholar with a creative bent of mind. His
scholarship was a blend of the eastern wisdom and the western modernity. This note
does not propose to give a comprehensive portrayal of this multifaceted
personality. It is confined to the engagements of Subbanna with the ancient
culture and arts of Karnataka. As usual a very brief biographical accompanies
it. Subbanna, born in Heggodu a small village in Sagara talluk of Shivamogga
district in an agriculturist family returned to his village after obtaining a
B.A. (Hons.) degree in Kannada from the
Subbanna was well versed in the literary history of the main stream and he was pre occupied with the marginalized little traditions also. His adaptation of Sanskrit classics is not merely an act of translation. He was providing a new mode of approaching these texts and there by made them relevant to our times.
Subbanna has translated ‘Dasharupaka’ by Dhananjaya from Sanskrit. This goes well with his lifelong pre occupation with theatre. ‘Loka Shakuntala’(lOka shAkuntala) and Vidisheya Vidushaka’ (vidisheya vidUSaka) are trans creations of the original works by Kalidasa. He has translated ‘Bhagavadajjukiya’ another Sanskrit play as ‘Sule-Sanyasi’. Subbanna reinterpreted the story to create texts that were all together different.
‘Kavirajamarga mattu Kannada Jagattu’, an important book that fetched Subbanna a Sahitya Academy award is another attempt in looking at an ancient text in a very insightful manner. ‘Kavirajamarga’, which was till then considered as a text delineating Alankara Shastra with some local details thrown in, becomes a mile stone in the cultural history of Karnataka in Subbanna’s interpretation. Subbanna studies the text in the context of the history of Karnataka both in its political and cultural dimensions. Kavirajamarga was trying to find ways to negotiate the all pervading influence of Sanskrit. Subbanna’s contention is that Kavirajamarga was a text set in to motion with the tacit approval of the king. The king was interested in the standardization of the language at the cost of myriad dialects that were prevalent at that point of time. Kannada did not adopt the exclusivist policies of Tamil and Subbanna feels that it was a step in the right direction. For him, Sanskrit has not hindered the progress of Kannada and the closed door policy adopted by Tamil was detrimental to that language. He has given a detailed analysis of Kavirajamarga and delineates the modes in which that foundational text has shaped the consciousness of the Kannada community.
Another essay in this text is about a perennial favorite of Kannada people, ie the story of Punyakoti the truthful cow and its confrontation with Arbuta the tiger. Subbanna has thrown new light on this story and the philosophy that underlies it.
is important in the context of ancient literature because his insights have
given us ways of understanding the classics in the modern context. His ideas
are polemical and need further discussion. Subbanna has won the coveted
Magsaysay award and the