Kambar and Karnad, Bhyrappa and Puttappa & Co

There are mole hills and snake pits and then there are “literary circles”.

For all their bonhomie and camaraderie, for all their high ideals and even higher aspirations from humankind, poets, novelists, writers and playwrights are a peevishly insecure lot, loudly backslapping their peers in public and quietly backstabbing them in private.

Maybe, this is as it should be given the small, lonely, insular and egotistical world that true intellectualism is (when it is not incestuous, that is). For, what good is a wise thinker or wordsmith who doesn’t think he and he alone (or she and she alone) is the almighty’s gift to the world to crack all its problems?

The occasion of Chandrasekhar Kambar becoming the eighth Kannada writer to bag the Jnanpith Award provides a small window for ordinary mortals to observe the small minds, the giant egos, the juvenile jealousies, and the awfully sour grapes on display.

Make no mistake. On the whole, there is great cheer and jubilation at a non-polarising figure like Kambar bagging the honour. But scratch the surface and the cracks are all too visible.

There are the professional flame-throwers like Patil Puttappa. On Monday, he was welcoming the honour and on Tuesday he was openly saying that Kambar didn’t deserve it and that he won it only due to hectic lobbying. And that—no surprise, no surprise—S.L. Bhyrappa deserved it more than Kambar.

Then there are the wise sages like M. Chidananda Murthy who suspect a vast secular, liberal conspiracy behind every tree and lamp post to deny Bhyrappa his due.

And then there are the sophisticates like Girish Karnad, who, in simultaneous letters to the editors of Deccan Herald (above) and Praja Vani, manages to turn Kambar’s moment of glory into his, and artfully manages to sneak in an advertisement for himself a la Norman Mailer.

Image: courtesy Deccan Herald

Also read: Chandrasekhar Kambar on our sense of history

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9 Responses to “Kambar and Karnad, Bhyrappa and Puttappa & Co”

  1. Ananth Says:

    I am not sure whether Kambara is eligible or not, but i am happy that my mother tongue is honored with 8th Jnanapeetha award.

    I have read lots of SL.Bhyrappa kadambari’s and he surely deserves Jnanapeetha award. I dont think the government will award him because of his inclination towards Hindutva.

  2. dharawad Says:

    @Ananth : Jnanapeetha is not awareded by Govt. Its selection committee is filled with communist sympathisers, hindu haters and congress chamachas.

    I am unhappy that my kannada brothern have again denied the award to much deserving SLBhyrappa. Thanks and kudos to Patil Puttappa for rasing this issue – though he is aware of criticism he will face in north karnataka from Kambar supporters.

    I have read all novels from SLB and major works from all kannada writers. SLB deserves it much better than kambar and of course UAR, Karnad etc.

  3. December Stud Says:

    I bet SLB will have a different view, especially on Kurthukoti and Manohara Granthamala. We should give a copy of ‘bhitti’ to Karnad and ask him to read it :)

  4. hottige Says:

    Kambararige Shubhashayagalu

  5. Gajanana Bhatta Says:

    Bhyrappa supposedly knows the nuances of hindustani Music, but we have never heard him sing. But Kambara is a born / natural singer. He even composes music, can articulate on a good musical tone. He always fairs better than Bhyrappa when it comes to understanding the Karnataka’s real music.
    Bhyrappa has written novels. Of course he has specified that he stuck to novels only. But Kambara has written dramas, novels, poetry.
    The only area where Kambara fails is that his works are not translated into other Indian Languages. People criticise U R Ananthamurthy for translating his works into Swiss language (ostensibly to capture Nobel Prize) but nobody thinks that Bhyrappa’s novels are translated just to be on record. It is not the translated works that matter, but the diversity of knowledge, where Kambara naturally excels over Bhyrappa.
    Bhyrappa has campaigned for Sanskrit, and recently for mother tongue in Education. Agreed. But Kambara has always fought for Kannada.
    Bhyrappa never built an institution, but Kambara was successful in building Kannada University (though his dream about the University is shattered now).
    Kambara always believes in plurality, where as Bhyrappa argues for a singular rule in his novels.
    All of Bhyrappa’s novel have divided families, soured relationships, broken members from a family etc., He has never depicted a nice Indian Family in any of his novels. Readers are free to discuss this. I have read all of his novels and everywhere the families crumble. Kambara, though depicted sexual imageries in his novels, never expressed negative emotions but tried to visualise a happy material life.
    These are enough to say that Kambara deserves the Jnanapith well before Bhyrappa.
    It is irony that people who bat for Bhyrappa once say he does not need Jnanapith, and in the same breath say that Jnanapit selection committee is ignoring him. Let these Bhyrappa d evotees either should denounce Jnanapith or accept its verdict. You cannot kill a snake without braking the stick.

  6. gjlraj Says:

    Karnad’s writeup is an honest account of the way things spanned. Had it not for BV Karanth and GB Joshi they would not have reached the heights that they have now, I think its only fair to pay tribute to them at this time of glory. I did not see any tinge of Karnad attempt at seeking personal mileage out of this.

  7. tsubba Says:

    agree with gjlraj. I for believe that GB Joshi’s efforts took ondanondu kaaladalli to the highest level.

    its nice to know that karnad is grateful to the men who mattered. as GB Joshi would have perhaps said, award koTTara anta ‘kunDi hindin gaaLi maaDi’ hoglill noDu.

    i for one dont understand all this mai kai parchkoLing. its great news for kannada. thats all that matters.

  8. Pulikeshi the Last Says:

    How did the Jnaanapeeth commitee, composed of no Kannada knowing people, decide that Shri Kambara was deserving of the award, that too for his largely untranslated samagra saahithya?

    Kannada’s importance doesn’t depend on this or that award to this or that writer. It depends on the importance of those who speak it on a daily basis, write it, and read it.

    What have our writers contributed to raising the literary level of our people?

  9. sudhir Says:

    It’s funny that people make so much of an award. Shivarama Karanth did not become great because he won Jnaanapeeth award for Mookajjiya Kanasu. The same goes for others who won the award. Let’s not get into comparing one artist to the other. Appreciate good literature and let not awards matter.

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