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Durable Link to this BlogWednesday, March 17, 2010

Scholarship amidst Hardship

Earlier in this column I had mentioned that I am a proud owner of a set of eleven bulky volumes of D.V.Gundappa (DVG), doyen among Kannada writers. But I confess, I could hardly complete any volume, during these four years, skipping pages of all volumes now and then.

Recently I fell ill and could not sit and write. However I could recline and read for hours together. I am happy I could read volume VI of DVG's Kritishreni (series of writings). It contains his reminiscences of men and events, he came across, in his long public life.

I am translating one letter DVG. received from a very poor primary school teacher who sought his help. This teacher was a sound scholar in Kannada and Sanskrit languages.

Quote Begin

I lost my wife two years ago. I have two daughters who are nine and seven years old. My mother is old and suffered a paralytic stroke some time back. Everyday I get up early. Finishing bath and help bathe & dress my mother with the help of daughters, I finish cooking and go to school. In this village the water well is one mile away from my house. I have to fetch water, two or three times. In this process, I get delayed in reaching school. Drawing water and reaching house with it four or five times a day, leaves me exhausted with no time to study classics. I am ready to go to any other place on transfer with a well nearby. After eight - ten months, I am eligible for pension. I will be luckiest person if you could do some thing in the matter

Quote End

DVG sent this letter to his friend who was an inspector of schools of that region. He himself was a learned man with lot of respect towards scholars. On the third day itself DVG got a reply that the teacher Chenna Krishnayya by name was transferred to a place where, the well was nearest to the school.

"The joy of the teacher had surpassed the victory of an emperor." -- His happiness was mainly due to the fact that he could spare time for study of classics then onwards.

This event is of mid 30s of last century. Water situation in Karnataka now a days is not that bad and wells have disappeared making way for bore-pumps and taps. Salary of primary school teachers has gone up beyond imagination. But one can hardly find a scholar teacher in Kannada and Sanskrit at primary school level, who used his spare time after house-hold chores and cooking to study classics.

Even so called "professors" hardly read beyond the prescribed texts these days!

Amma's Column by Jyotsna Kamat

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Jyotsna Kamat

Jyotsna Kamat Ph.D. lives in Bangalore.


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