Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Sepulture of the Kannada scholar Basappa Shastry lies in ruins

The Sepulture of the Kannada scholar Basappa Shastry lies in ruins

It is a matter of pride that the princely State of Mysore during the reign of Sri Chamarajendra Wadiyar Bahadur had adopted a state anthem, 'Nadageethe', that is even today offered as a prayer in some temples. But many may not be aware that this famous hymn beginning with the lines, "Kaayow Sri Gowri Karunalaharee...." praising Goddess Gowri was composed by a great palace scholar and litterateur named Vidwan Basappa Shastry (1843-1891).

So impressed was the King that he himself composed the music taking the help of Band Master Bartlus and court musician, the famous Veena exponent, Sheshanna. This Nadageethe would one day become an integral part of the daily prayers for the Kannadigas, so much so, that even school children sang it daily in the morning before the beginning of their classes.

Earlier on every occasion when the King visited a public function the song was sung to the accompaniment of musical instruments just as the King entered the venue and once again when he left. In those days one stanza of the song was being sung at every public function.Only after singing this, two lines of the British national anthem was sung.

Basappa Shastry, a great scholar in both Kannada and Sanskrit, was bestowed with the title 'Abhinava Kalidasa'. When he was 18 years old he composed 'Krishnarajabhyudaya' in praise of the then ruler of Mysore Sri Krishnaraja Wadiyar and later became a tutor for Chamaraja Wadiyar. He later became the court scholar and Chief Priest (Rajapurohit) of Mysore Palace. In all he wrote 28 scholarly works of which 11 were translated and the remaining 17 were independent works of his own ( 5 in Kannada and 12 in Sanskrit).

But it is extremely unfortunate that his entombment place is today lying in a dilapidated condition, with weeds growing all over the place in main road of Mysore-Bangalore Road, next to LIC office in Bannimantap.

The cement pillars blocks have been fallen, with his name painted 'Sri Abhinava Kalidasa Basavappa Shastrigala Smaraka Bhavana' on one of the cement slabs is all that remains as a mute testimony of this once great scholar.

His grave has become a meeting place for gamblers and dunkards who frequent it everyday. The place needs to be cleaned, covered with green lawn along with a stone tablet inscribed with the famous devotional hymn that was once sung as a State Anthem. The civic authorities should clean this place and make it a beautiful monument as a remembrance for our future generations and save our heritage.

Speaking to Express Resident of Bannimantap Hema said that `corporations is planning to protect historical monuments but has failed to protest the great scholar memory. At least the officials should come and clean this place once in 15 days.

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