Literary giant's memorial in a shambles

Literary giant's memorial in a shambles

dumping yard The memorial is in a sad state, and is covered with litter and weeds. Photo Gayatri V RajWe are talking about Basavappa Shastry (1848-91).

A memorial built near the LIC building in the Millennium Circle area on the Mysore-Bangalore Highway, is in a shambles. The whole area is littered with waste and pieces of glass. Weeds proliferate the area around the memorial. This should have been one of the important landmarks of Mysore. The State government that spends crores on the promotion of Kannada language and culture, has, it seems, turned a blind eye to the memorial of Basavappa Shastry.

The writer served as the court poet of Mummadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar and was honoured with the title of ‘Abhinava Kalidasa’. Basavappa Shastry, who had mastered Halagannada and Sanskrit literature, especially Sanskrit plays, had a respectable position in the courts of Mysore kings. Basavappa Shastry was just 18 years old when he became part of the Mysore Palace court and served as rajaguru, asthana vidwamsa and rajapurohit (important royal decorations). He published a compilation on Mummadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar titled ‘Krishnarajabhyudaya’. Though he lived only for 43 years, his contribution to Kannada literature was outstanding.

He wrote as many as 28 books including 11 translations, 12 works in Sanskrit and five works in Kannada. The Kannada literary world lost a valuable gem when he passed away in February 1891.

The then Maharaja, recognising his service to Kannada literature, built a samadhi in memory of the great scholar. Several programmes like Deepotsava were held at the samadhi premises regularly. Subsequently, the then Mysore Town Municipal had allocated some funds towards the maintenance of the memorial.

Over a period of time, the significance of the place was lost, and the samadhi was neglected. The surroundings of the samadhi became a place for dumping garbage and a haunt for mischief mongers and anti-social elements.

Seeing the pathetic condition of the samadhi of Basavappa Shastry, a team of five members have formed a committee called ‘Abhinava Kalidasa Sri Basavashastry Smaraka Abhivruddhi Samiti’, to restore the place to its former glory. The team comprises K M Shivashankar, retd principal Prof N Girigowda, Prof S Ramprasad, litterateur Kempachar and veteran photographer H N Venkateshmurthy.

Speaking to Deccan Herald, one of the committee members said several activities are being chalked out to give the memorial a face-lift.

The committee, he said, is following up with the Mysore City Corporation, the Mysore Urban Development Authority and Zilla Panchayat to extend their helping hand to spruce up the memorial.

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