Rare books of a rare bibliophile

Last Updated 30 June 2014, 14:31 IST

Meet Anantha Nalluraya, a different kind of wonder in these humdrum times. This octogenarian, who lives close to the abode of Lord Kukke Subramanya, has carved a niche for himself with his scholarship in a wide array of subjects. As Nalluraya says, his knowledge in various languages is “self-nurtured”.

To acquire rudimentary linguistic skills, he studied books meant for primary schoolchildren. He also pored over Chandamama story books in various languages. Knowledge of Sanskrit helped me grasp other languages, he says. His study, as he puts it, is not deep, but wide.

A voracious reader, Nalluraya has a personal library, comprising as many as 2,000 books. A standout feature is the thematic collection he possesses of the Jnanpith series.

From the works of Jnanpith laureates starting from Odakkuzhal of G Sankara Kurup, the first recipient of the prestigious award to the works of 2012 Jnanpith awardee Ravuri Bharadwaj, they are all here. Nalluraya’s collection also houses major works of all the languages enlisted in the Eighth Schedule of the Indian Constitution.

Complete works of Kalidasa and William Shakespeare, Upanishadic works, various interpretations and publications of the Veda, holy scriptures such as the Bible (in English as well as Hebrew), Guru Granth Sahib and Khordeh Avesta.

The exclusive collection also has a copy of a Vedic work written in Tulu script. It is one of the oldest collections in Nalluraya’s library. Tulu script is the most suitable medium to encode and decode Vedic hymns, Nalluraya opines.

His memory is astounding, as are his techniques of solving Kannada crossword puzzles. A priest and a horoscope expert, his unfading memory is awe-inspiring, when he jogs down memory lane, to the period of British rule. “Once it so happened,” Nalluraya says, “A Punjabi was surprised to find the Guru Granth Sahib in our house. At a glimpse of the holy book, he covered his head with the traditional scarf and bowed to the book, for he had a close look at the holy doctrine for the first time in his life!”

Nalluraya joined as a clerk in the office of Kukke Sri Subramanya Temple in 1965. Yet another additional responsibility as Parupathedar of the then Mysore Government, connected him closely to the Temple. He retired as senior clerk in 2001.

“I collect rare works from many sources. I get it mostly by writing to the publication houses directly or through my contacts. But the hobby of collecting rare books is an expensive curiosity to satisfy,” he smiles.

(Published 30 June 2014, 14:31 IST)

Follow us on