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SUNY Distinguished Service Professor of Linguistics and India Studies, Stony Brook University, New York
Professor, University of Mysore (Retd)

Date & Time

Fri, 26 Jan 2024


Bangalore International Centre
7, 4th Main Road, Domlur II Stage
Bangalore, Karnataka 560071 India

Kumaravyasa’s Bharata is a crown jewel of Kannada literature, beloved by scholars and common people alike. In this 15th-century classic, Kumaravyasa reimagines Vyasa’s epic, making it more compact, dramatic, closer to everyday life and language. He dispenses with most didactic material, cuts out subsidiary tales, and concludes with the end of the war. Here, Krishna, who is cool, clever, charming, and charismatic, is the central character, but many others, such as Draupadi, Karna, and Duryodhana leave an indelible mark. He narrates the story through fast-moving, deftly crafted situations, where characters confront grand conflicts and articulate subtle and complex emotions in brilliant metaphorical language. In this series of masterclasses, Professors SN Sridhar and Krishnamurthy Hanuru will introduce the audience to several aspects of Kumaravyasa’s poetic genius, illustrating them with the modern English translations the first volume of which has just been published as The Kannada Mahabharata by Harvard University Press in the Murty Classical Library of India series.

The third session delves deeper into Kumaravyasa’s narrative techniques and stylistic brilliance and originality, which have earned him the title, the “Emperor of Metaphors”. We will examine his bold extension of the boundaries of the language, his creativity in forging a hybrid idiom, an easy commerce between Sanskrit and Kannada. In this episode of BIC Talks, we see how he compares with the masters of world literature, such as Shakespeare, and why his work belongs in the pantheon of Indian and world classics.

This is an excerpt from an in-person masterclass series that took place in January 2024.

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SN Sridhar

SUNY Distinguished Service Professor of Linguistics and India Studies, Stony Brook University, New York

SN Sridhar is SUNY Distinguished Service Professor of Linguistics and India Studies, and Director of the Mattoo Center for India Studies at Stony Brook University, New York. He earned the MA degree in English literature and linguistics from Bangalore University with a first class and first rank, and the PhD in Linguistics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He has taught at Stony Brook for 43 years, where he founded the Department of Asian and Asian American Studies and the Mattoo Center for India Studies. With the help of the Indian American community, he has led the establishment of a $7 million endowment for India Studies. The Center teaches 30 courses on India per year and hosts visiting scholars and artists from India.

Professor Sridhar’s research concerns bilingualism, sociolinguistics, psycholinguistics, second language acquisition, Indian English and World Englishes, and South Asian linguistics.

He is author of three books: Modern Kannada Grammar (a comprehensive reference grammar), Cognition and Sentence Production: A Cross-Linguistic Study (psycholinguistics), and Indina Kannada (Contemporary Kannada: Structure and Function). He is co-editor of two reference volumes, Ananya: A Portrait of India and Language in South Asia (Cambridge University Press), as well as six special issues of journals. He has published over 75 papers. He has also translated the novel, Gangavva Gangamayi, and is working on a monograph on Kumaravyasa.

Currently, as Editor and translator, he is leading a consortium of renowned scholars translating Kannada’s greatest literary classic, The Kannada Mahabharata by Kumaravyasa, into English. This bilingual text is being published in four volumes by Harvard University Press in the Murty Classical Library of India series. The first volume has just been published.

Krishnamurthy Hanuru

Professor, University of Mysore (Retd)

Krishnamurthy Hanuru is from Hanuru, a village near Mysuru. He did his Master’s and PhD in Kannada literature at Bangalore University, under the guidance of Dr. M Chidananda Murthy.

He has taught Kannada literature and folklore for over fifty years. He taught Kannada in various colleges across Karnataka for 28 years, joined the Kuvempu Institute of Kannada Studies, University of Mysore, in 1999, and retired in 2012. He served as Professor Emeritus at the University of Mysore from 2012-2014. In 2015, he joined the Dr. BR Ambedkar Post Graduation Centre, Chamarajanagara and he is now Visiting Professor at Manteswamy Peetha, Chamarajanagara University. In 2019 and 2022, he was a Distinguished Research Fellow in the Mattoo Center for India Studies at Stony Brook University, New York.

He is a renowned folklore scholar, creative writer, and critic in Kannada. He has published over 55 books. From 1985 to 1990, he served as an editor of The Encyclopaedia of Folk Culture of Karnataka for the Institute of Asian Studies, an English version of Kannada Janapada Vishvakosha.

His most famous novel is Ajnathanobbana Atmacharitre, of which Kolkata’s Bee Books has published an English translation as Agnyatha: The Memoir of Tipu’s Unknown Commander. His recent works are the novels, Siddiya Kay ChandranattaKalayatre, and Kannamari. His memoir, Kalu Daariya Kathanagalu, narrates his 40 years of folklore research and field work. He has been awarded the Karnataka Rajyotsava Prashasthi, Karnataka Sahitya Academy Award and Karnataka Janapada Academy Award.