16 January 2011

neither by dramatic skill nor by literary merit - Yakshagana

Here is an example on how much ignorance and contempt 'elite' Kannada writers had for Yakshagana literature (Click on the image above). Above is a snapshot from the book "History of Kannada Literature" by one Narasimhacharya arguably a good scholar. This negligence and elitist attitude  towards Yakshagana still continues in Sahitya Parishath.

Read the book here : History of Kannada Literature. 

The author of this book appears to have not been able gather name of a single Yakshagana Prasanga or its poet's name. Yet, concluded that Yakshagana is not of any literary merit! I seriously doubt if they even had access to Yakshagana Prasangas. Because it is acted in villages, "to the immense joy of the masses" it is a "rude" and "rustic" thing! This is a judgment based on lack of information even can be called denigration. These writers have cornered Yakshagana literature in to a less than folk, waste of time artifact. It takes a huge amount of intellectual laziness to look down up on a style of writing that has the more number of poems than any other form in Kannada. It is from these kind of people that Yakshagana literature needs liberation.

I read a well known "history" of Kannada literature by none other than R S Mugali. This book got Kendra Sahitya Academy award. The book completely fails even to mention that there is Kannada literature category called Yakshagana. Interestingly he talks about Dasa Sahitya. His claims about dasa sahitya are also similar to above "lines". He compares kRuti's to those writings which were pure exercises in writing forgetting that kRuti's are meant to be sung not read. I am very disappointed that self serving group of people have continued to neglect Yakshagana literature.

R S Mugali book is a text book for Kannada under graduate students! They will grow up believing that there is a waste body of compositions called Yakshagana which are not even worth a mention in their history text. Then it becomes a duty of lecturers to teach students that people like R S Mugali probably did not consider Yakshagana worth the paper to print on. It is high time Universities revise their texts add information about Yakshagana right away, so students are rescued from this blissful celebration of ignorance.


  1. Sharath G Bhat12:06 pm

    Which Narasinhacharya is this? If it is DL Narasimhacharya, he indeed is a great scholar, he might not be completely right in this aspect but then he is not completely wrong if this was written befire 1950s. There was a time when Yakshagaana was considered a "Paamarara kale.

    Sharath Bhat

  2. @Sharath The author is R Narasimhacharya a very good scholar going by his work. But as everyone else he fell to the usual traps:
    1) Villagers stuff so must be inferior!
    2) Not of literary merit compared to classical Kavyas.

    Here he forgets that Yakshagana as a whole is DRushya Kavya. The poems should be analysed based on the restrictions that they have to be suited for singing. Yakshagana should not be compared to other Kannada (not suited for performance) Kavyas. What is the literary merit of Karnataka Sangeetha Krutis in comparison to say Pampa Bharatha ? It is comparing Apples and Oranges.


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