URA's connection with temple town of Udupi

Though Udupi Rajagopalacharya Ananthamurthy, popularly known as U R Ananthamurthy was not born and brought up in Udupi, he had always been in constant touch with the temple town till his last days.

Ananthamurthy had his origin in Udupi as his grandfather Padmanabha Acharya belonged to Alevooru on the outskirts of Udupi. But eventually, Acharya had to move to Kerala. Acharya took the decision to leave Udupi, following a family dispute. He sold tamarinds collected from his garden to earn some money enough to go to Kerala. Later, he carried out the job of a temple priest for his livelihood. 

Many years later, he settled down at Melige in Theerthahalli taluk, with his son Rajagopala Acharya, where Ananthamurthy born. People who were close to the family recall that Padmanabha Acharya had worked in Udupi mutt as a priest for some time.

U R Ananthamurthy was instrumental in the development of humanities department in Manipal University. He headed the department when Jnanpith was announced to him. Serving the university for three years, he pioneered the various courses in the department, such as Philosophy and English’, said senior critic, Muralidhara Upadhya who had seen Ananthamurthy closely.

Upadhya further said that he received opinions on the topic he chose for discussion, from many people, irrespective of their age. He was of the firm stand that as a critic, he will not remain away from people and the respective culture while discussing the issue.

Pejavar Mutt seer Vishweshtheertha Swamiji and Ananthamurthy, shared a unique bond. Ananthamurthy has written a letter to the seer in appreciation, for visiting Dalit colonies 20 years back. But, when he felt that Swamiji did not make a right move, he had opposed it strongly. 

Owing to kidney related ailment, Ananthmurthy had been hospitalised to Kasturba Hospital, Manipal in 2012 and availed treatment for six months. During the time, he had taken part in various literary programmes in Udupi and Manipal.

Anathamurthy had great reverence to English poet William Blake. I remember him quoting the lines of Blake often during his speech at MGM College in Udupi, Upadhya recalls. 

U R Ananthamurthy has also been the Vice Chancellor of Mahathma Gandhi University in Kottayam in Kerala.

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