Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Book Review

Siri Kavyaloka
Siri Kavyaloka (with Kannada Translation)” The text of the Tulu epic sung by Smt. Kargi Shedthi Collected, edited and translated by Dr. Ashok Alva K. Editor: H. Krishna Bhat, Publisher RRC, MGM College, Udupi 2009. Pages 90 + 608 price Rs. 450/-.

A lot of meticulous study has gone before the publication of this voluminous  book on a particular text of the Siri epic, sung by Smt. Kargi Shedthy. Study of a particular  text sung in a particular context was highlighted by Prof. Honko in his 3 Volume study of the Siri epic sung by Machar  Gopala Naika. On the  same line is Prof. A.V Navada’s edition of Siri epic sung by Ramakka Mugerthi, which however does not have a translation. It was Amrit Someshwara who originally published a translation of the Siri epic in Tulu Paddana Samputa.  There are many literary works based on the Siri  legend.

The work of Dr. Ashok Alva is basically research oriented. It gives the details of  the documentation of the Siri epic sung by Smt. Kargi Shedthy which incidentally gives an account of the life and personality of the singer.  The next section is an analysis of the different versions of the Siri epic as seen in the different publications. It is mainly a descriptive comparison without attempting a value judgement.

The essence of the book is the Kannada  translation, which is given along side the transcription of the original Tulu text given on the left hand page.  The translation aims at being wholly faithful to the  original.  And the Tulu reader has the advantage of comparing the original  and the translation and assessing their relative merit.  It is of immense help for any outsider for understanding the  social, cultural, anthropological  aspects of the Tulu epic and to appreciate its literary  merit.  It is a monumental work which does honour both to the compiler and to the publisher.


Kanakopanishat (in Kannada)-A critical interpretation of the devotional songs and puzzles of Kanakadasa by Bannanje Govindacharya, published by Kanakadasa Adhyayana  Samshodhana Peetha, Rashtrakavi Govind Pai Samshodhana Kendra, Udupi 2008 pages  6+222,  Price: Rs. 150

This may be regarded as the most scholarly criticism on the devotional  songs and puzzles  written by one of the eminent Dasas of Karnataka tradition. As the title itself suggests it is an attempt to skim the philosophical  essence of the great exponent of the spirit of devotion. In the different sections of the work the author takes up groups of songs dealing with the same or a similar theme like philosophy (which is essentially the search for truth), the ten incarnations of the Lord, Lord Krishna of Udupi, Kanaka’s devotion to Hari, Kanaka’s vision of Krishna, Kanaka’s devotion to his Guru, Kanaka’s autobiographical   songs,  Echoes of Sanskrit sayings in Kanaka’s songs, Kanaka’s life and achievements, Kanakas’ message, Kanaka’s puzzles etc. Quite significantly the biography of Kanaka comes only as a part of the analysis of the songs themselves, quite in keeping with the objective of the book.  And the different sections of the book go on narrowing the focus from his worldview to his metaphysical wit as displayed in the  puzzles. The author brings to bear upon this analysis his vast scholarship and his sharp critical sense. He has an uncanny sense to identify the true word which might have been miss-spelt or wrongly copied by copier or to arrive at the proper meaning of the puzzles which have defied the  brains of many critics.

The insights of the author are discernible not only in analysing the philosophical  base of Kanaka’s songs but also in the explanation of the individual songs. The author gives a paraphrase of may songs in simple modern Kannada, which helps the reader in understanding the meaning  of the songs in their true  sense.   It is an excellent example of textual  criticism too.

It would be highly gratifying if the author analysed  other works of Kanakadasa on similar lines. It is really a path breaking analysis of Kanaka’s devotional songs.

Conversational Tulu

Conversational Tulu:Dr. U.P Upadhyaya: A text book for teaching/learning the Tulu Language. Published by Rashtrakavi Govinda Pai Samshodhana Kendra – I Edition Dec. 2009,  XXIV + 144. Rs. 210.

From the Preface by the Author

“ This is text book prepared for teaching/ learning Tulu by non-Tulu speakers based on the principles of linguistics and second language learning.  Here the basic grammatical  structure and sentence patterns are divided into thirty or forty grammatical units and sentence patterns. Each lesson (Cycle) concentrates on two or three such units. Six to ten or twelve  model sentences are given in each cycle illustrating such planned grammatical units. They are arranged in order of declarative (responsive) sentences followed by paired interrogative sentences. This is followed by conversations relating to day-to-day topics based on those model sentences. Then new vocabulary items are given. This is followed the exercises to enable the students  to generate more and more sentences of the same pattern (substitution drills). Grammatical notes give grammatical explanations of the structures and patterns introduced in the lesson. This is followed by the supplement- additional drills and text materials for further practice.

The plan is as per the system followed in the Conversational Kannada, Conversational Tamil, Conversational Malayalam, Conversational Sanskrit etc by Dr. U.P Upadhyaya and N.D Krishnamurthy associates.”

Two essays by the author : one is ‘The Tulu Language and Literature’ and the other on ‘Tulu: An important Language’ have added to the value of the book.  They serve to instill motivation in teachers to teach and learners to learn.

Yakshagana Kavi –Kavya Vihara

Yakshagana Kavi –Kavya Vihara:  Dr. Kabbinale Vasantha Bharadwaj : A book on Yakshagana poets and their works. Published by Yakshagana Kendra, Udupi. I publication: 2010. p.p.x +240 Rs. 150.

There is a big lacuna in the Histories of Kannada literature that have appeared so far in the sense that the compositions or the texts of Kannada poets who have  written the songs for the Yakshagana have been ignored.  The compositions of the devotional poems have also received little attention. Dr. Kabbinale Vasanth Bharadwaj’s a step in the right direction. He introduces 10 representative Yakshagana poets from the past and 10 Representative poets from the 20th century.

The authors introduces each poet briefly and gives the salient features  of his works. There is an attempt to compare the poet’s composition with the source from  which he has drawn the story or even the style or phraseology. The researcher in the  author is quite alert here.  Basically it is text-based  criticism but indications  are there to show that there could be may more  approaches to the study.

This book would point to the need for a comprehensive  work to study all the major Yakshagana works from all possible angles: cultural, literary, linguistic, dramatic etc. This could provide inspiration to many other scholars to get fresh insights into a highly  to neglected body of literature.

Kannada-tulu-Shabda Prayoga Kosha

Kannada-tulu-Shabda Prayoga Kosha: Compiled  by Dr. Padekallu Vishnu Bhat and Dr. K Padmanabha Kekunnaya, Udupi, published by Rashtrakavi Govinda Pai Samshodhana Kendra, Udupi 2009. pages  20 + 202.  Price Rs.180/-.

This bilingual dictionary published during the Vishwa Tulu Sammelana in Dec. 2009 at Ujire is almost a bi-product of the colossal Tulu Lexicon compiled by Dr. U.P Upadhyaya and his team and published by the Rashtrakavi Govinda Pai Samshodhana Kendra. The compilers of this pocket  dictionary have  the experience  of working for the  Tulu Lexicon  project and have explained in detail the principle behind representing the special Tulu sounds in the script and  the problem encountered  in selecting  the vocabulary  from a source which infinitely vast.  The book can be very useful for learners of Tulu Language in the sense that they can find out the vocabulary  needed in a context.  Kannadigas of the non-Tulu speaking   regions interested in getting an exposure to Tulu will greatly benefit by this book.

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