|Varakavi Dr D.R.Bendre|
The best modern writing, whether in Europe or in Asia, attains excellence only because of a unique synthesis of ancient and modern culture, of science and art. Every great writer illustrates this synthesis in his own way, either on the plane of intuition, emotion or reason. This is what Dr D.R.Bendre (Dattarteya Ramachandra Bendre) , the great kannada poet, does and he is among the best writers that the modern world has produced.
Dr D.R.Bendre, commonly known as Bendre (or Bendre Masther) is a very well known literary figure in Karnataka. He spent most of his life at Sadhakeri, a small village about five kilometeres from Dharwad in North Karnataka.
Dr Bedre Studied in Dharwad and Pune. He worked as a school teacher in Dharwad and later was a college professor at Sholapur. He returned to Dharwad after spending sixteen years outside his home-town. He stayed in his own house "Shreematha" at Sadhanakeri (gifted by his uncle) till his death in the year 1981.
Dr Bendre is the recipient of "Bharatheeya Jnanapeeta award", the highest literary award in India in the year 1973. He was also awarded the "Padhma Shri" in the year 1969. Dr Bendre was known for his scholarship in many areas like geography, philosophy and mathematics. He was attached to many people, from the cobbler on the street to the wandering astrologer to the snake charmer and the fruit vendors.
I have earlier written about Dr Bendre and his life as i understood from a play Gangaavatarana .
|"Varakavi Nivasa", # 13, "Shreematha", Residence of Dr D.R.Bendre, Sadhanakeri, Dharwad|
Last week, me and a few of my friends got an opportunity to visit Dr Bendre's house # 13, "Shreematha" at Sadhanakeri, Dharwad. We had heard about "Bhendre bhavana" (ಬೇಂದ್ರೆ ಭವನ ), an exhibition of photographs from the life of Dr Bendre. But we did not know that one can even visit Dr Bendre's house. Actually we went into "Shreematha" thinking that it was only "Bhendre Bhavana".
I was the first to reach the door of the house. It was drizzling. I peeped into the house. Someone sitting inside looked at me and said "ಬರ್ರಿ ಒಳಗೆ" (please come inside). All of us went inside the house and we were given one spoon of sugar each. The man who gave us the the hospitality was none other than Shri Vaman Bendre, the sixth son of Dr D.R.Bendre. I have read somewhere that D.R.Bendre use to carry toffee in his pocket and use to give it to children he met during his walks.
|Sri Vaman Bendre|
Vaman bendre must be in his early 70s. A short man,at present, working on compiling some works of Dr D.R.Bendre.
Vaman bendre was very warm and was very happy to see "young" people at his residence. We did not pick up a discussion right away. We looked around the small room where all the books of Dr D.R.Bendre were kept. We could see some of his personal belongings, his jnanpeeta and padhma shri awards.
After a small introduction of ourselves, we started engaging Vaman Bendre in our discussions. None of us had any idea about Kannada literature other than my friend Girish who has studied a bit of literature.
Nonetheless we did start talking about D.R. Bendre, his life and his works. Vaman bendre was just too happy to talk to us about his father. He was very happy that we knew atleast a little bit about the literary genius, his father varakavi Dr D.R.Bendre. He was generous in his talk and gave a very vivid picture about the life of his father.
|Dr D.R.Bendre's personal items.|
Sri Vaman Bendre took us into a wonderful journey into the literary and personal world of his father. He told us many things about his father that is not written in any mainstream academia. The discussion went on for about 90 minutes.
Though we learnt a lot about the genius Dr D.R. Bendre, i am going to confine myself and write only a few interesting facets that we learnt about the genius, seer and poet Dr Dattatreya Ramachandra Bendre.
Not many know that Dr D.R. Bendre use to write in English as well during his college days at Pune. He was writing under the pen name "Ben Ramson". It was only when a professor at Pune university, observing the name questioned Bendre about it, did Bendre disclose that it was he himself. "Ben Ramson" meaning Bendre, Son of Ram (Ramachandra).
D.R.Bendre had a great love for "Knowledge". His thoughts use to flow from History to mathematics, Geography to number theory, Physics to grammar. Dr D.R.Bendre could find synthesis to all his thoughts and eclectic thinking in his poetry. In fact ,Dr Bendre has written prose and poetry on mathematics.
|"Naaku tanthi", the jananpeeta award winning collection of poems.|
|Bendre's Library in Sadhanakeri|
Dr Bendre had borrowed a large number of books from the library in D.A.V.College Sholapur (where he was a professor from 1944 to 1956). He had to return all the books when he retired from the college. But Dr Bendre had made plenty of marks and notes on the books . He had also written his comments on the books itself. This was in clear violations of the the rules of the college. So, Dr Bendre requested the principal that he be allowed to take the books with him and the college could cut the cost of the books from his retirement benefits. But the principal did not agree and Bendre had to return the books back to the Library. The marks, notes and commentaries on the books had to be left intact. Those marks, notes and commentaries would be in lieu of the interest that Bendre had to pay.
But the American embassy refused, still tried to persuade Bendre to visit America for fifteen days. Bendre asked them to give him a place on top of a hillock and put a fence around him. He said that for fifteen days he would not have any contact with the world. Confused, the American embassy asked him why he would want to do that. So Dr Bendre replied that, for fifteen days he would observe the sunrise, the sunset, the moon, the moon set, the stars and the skies. He would feel the freeze and would soak in the sun. He would do all this to see if there is any difference in them between America and Dharwad.
|"ವಿವೇಕಾನಂದ ಶಿಖರ ಪ್ರಗಾಥ" (Tribute to the great saint Vivekananda)|
There was something divine in the writing style of Dr D.R.Bendre. It is as if someone was telling Dr Bendre. When Dr Bendre started writing "ವಿವೇಕಾನಂದ ಶಿಖರ ಪ್ರಗಾಥ" (Tribute to the great saint Vivekananda), for the first time, it rained very heavily that evening and his whole work was lost since it was kept near the window. Bendre did not worry or get upset. That night Bendre wrote the the work again sitting next to the same window.
|With Vaman Bendre.|
Its interesting that all of Dr D.R.Bendre's grandchildren are software engineers. Dr D.R.Bendre also used to talk about binary symbols "0" and "1". He used to say God is "1" and he is complete "0".
|At Bendre Bhavana|
After a gripping discussion, we bid good bye to Vaman bendre and proceeded towards "Bendre Bhavana". Bendre bhavana is built by government of Karnataka and managed by Varakavi D.R.Bendre rashtreeya trust. The land for the same is donated by the Bendre family.
Bendre Bhavana has two floors. The ground floor has a library and an auditorium. The first floor contains many photographs from the life and works of Varakavi Dr Bendre. We were accompanied by the amazing voice of late Dr C.Ashwath as we went around seeing the photographs.
It was finally time to leave Sadhanakeri. We had spent close to two and a half hours there. I picked up three books on Varakavi Dr D.R.Bendre.
The last lines that i read of Dr Bendre as i was stepping out of Bendre Bhavana were "ರಸವೇ ಜನನ, ವಿರಸ ಮರಣ, ಸಮರಸವೇ ಜೀವನ " . It roughly translates as "Struggle for harmony through conflict is life" .
These lines are the best description of Dr Bendre's life and works.
I recommend a trip to sadhankeri to anyone interested in knowing something about the literature of this great land. I bet anyone interested in modern literature would not be disappointed after a small tour around Dr Bendre's house.
I am signing off with a great song "ಇಳಿದು ಬಾ ತಾಯೇ" (Come down oh the sacred mother, come down and bless us....... ) of Dr Bendre.