During my family’s last trip to Mumbai, we all had gone to roam around south Mumbai. Apart from visiting various landmarks and historical/heritage sites dotted in south Mumbai, I had been dreaming of visiting the famous Strand Book Stall. Finally, I got to visit it. This blog is not about the book stall itself, though many have written very nostalgically about it. I wanted to write about a very unusual book I found there, and intend to introduce you to the topic of the book as well.

The book is about Madhurchenna. The famous poet from Karnataka-contemporary of Bendre. The book talks about his famous poem Nanna Nalla(ie. My Beloved) and containing English translation of the poem along with original. Madhurchenna was influenced by Sri Aurobindo. The book is usual and special because it bilingual with parallel text ie. in English and Kannada. Every word in the book is in both the languages. I have not seen such a book anytime in the past.

The author of the book Prof Dr G V Kulkarni, popularly known as Jeevi. He has written many books, specifically his books on Gokak and Bendre are considered reference works. Apart from the translation of the poem itself, the book contains prologue by the author where it is stated that book was planned to be published on the birth centenary of Madhurchenna in 2004. It also has another article introducing poem and it appreciation by R G Kulkarni which is abridged from his own book in Kannada ‘Madhurchennara Anubhava Mattu Kritisampada’. It also has article on Madhurchenna by Dr Mangesh Nadkarni who is international scholar on Sri Aurobindo. The book has epilogue by Vaman Bendre(son of famous Kannada poet D R Bendre) wherein he writes about life about the poet, his thoughts of spirituality.

D R Bendre, V K Gokak and Madhurchenna were trimurti(trinity) of Geleyara Gumpu(The Friends’ Circle) much like in Marathi there was a group of famous poets(Madhav Julian, Girish and Yashwant and many others) called Ravikiran Mandal.

I am no fan of reading poems, and have never delved into that very seriously, but all in all, the book achieves its task of introducing Madhurchenna, his work and the bygone era in Kannada literature to naive reader like me in a very comprehensive manner, though it will take long time for me to understand and appreciate the poem itself.


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