Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Dr S. Srikanta Sastri's interview (AIR) by Prof Ananthanarayan

This Interview was conducted at the All India Radio Office at Yadavgiri, Mysore in 1972. The interview at Mysore Akashavani was conducted by Prof Ananthanarayan of Mysore University. Dr S.Srikanta Sastri discusses his ancestry, yearning for true scholarship, zeal for learning the truth and expressing these as objectively as a historian ought to. 

Sondekoppa Srikanta Sastri was born to poor brahmin parents of Mulukanadu origins in  the small town of Nanjanagud near Mysore. The  family were immigrants from Andhra Pradesh in the 16th Century and settled in  the Nelamangala region of Karnataka. An  ancestor on the paternal side - Yagnapathi  Bhatta was a famous court poet in the court of Immadi Kempegowda. The family stayed in the  few acres of land given by Kempegowda for nearly a century. S.Srikanta Sastri's maternal  lineage were descendants of the Vellala Motaganahalli clan. An ancestor on the  maternal side by name Umamahesvara Sastri was a court poet in the court of King Devaraya of Vijayanagara empire. Umamahesvara Sastri's famous work "Bhagavata Champu" earned him the title of Abhinava Kalidasa. His maternal uncles Motaganahalli Mahadeva Sastri, Vidwan Ramshesha Sastri and Vidwan Sankara Sastri were eminent court poets in the Mysore Palace. Vidwan Ramshesha Sastri was the first person to translate "Bhagavata" to Kannada from Sanskrit. His other works include "Mudra Rakshaka" and "Mukundananada Bhana", "Balika Gitavali", "Karnataka Hitopadesham" and a script for Gubbi Veeranna titled "Pandava Vijaya". Vidwan Sankara Sastri taught at "Rao Bahadur Arcot Narayanswami Mudaliar patashala" and is credited with the composition of "Vedanta Panchadarshi" later quoted by D.V.Gundappa. His son Asthan Vidwan Motaganahalli Subramanya Sastri, editor of "Ranga Bhoomi" is credited with "Karnata Malavikagnimitra" and "JayachamarajendraGranthamalige".

The second child (among seven children) of parents Ramaswamy Sastri (father) and Seshamma (Mother), S.Srikanta Sastri had his childhood spread out across the districts of KolarNanjanagud and Chickaballapur inKarnataka owing to his father's (a civil servant) frequent transfers. S.Srikanta Sastri passed his matriculation exam in 1915 and gained admission to a course in Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) at Maharaja's College, Mysore. After securing a Bachelor's degree in Arts, he embarked on a Master's Course in History (M.A) under the tutelage of J.C.Rollo, B.M.Srikantaiah (Kannada faculty), Prof V.L.D'Souza (English faculty), S.V.Krishnaswamy Aiyangar (Political Science), S.Krishna Rao (Greek History), N.Subba Rao (Economics), Prof S.V.Venkateswara (History), R.Shamashastri and M.H.Krishna (Ancient History). After completing his Master's Degree in History, he appeared for the Civil Services Exam and passed it. Unfortunately, owing to poor health, he was deemed unfit.