Kuppali Venkatappa Puttappa (29 December 1904 – 11 November 1994),[2] popularly known by his pen name Kuvempu, was an Indian novelist, poet, playwright, critic and thinker. He is widely regarded as the greatest Kannada poet of the 20th century.[3][4][5] He is the first among Kannada writers to be decorated with the prestigious Jnanpith Award.[6]

Kuvempu studied at Mysore University in the 1920s, taught there for nearly three decades and served as its vice-chancellor from 1956 to 1960. He initiated education in Kannada as the language medium. For his contributions to Kannada Literature, the Government of Karnataka decorated him with the honorific Rashtrakavi ("National Poet") in 1958 and Karnataka Ratna ("The Gem of Karnataka") in 1992. His epic narrative Sri Ramayana Darshanam, a modern rendition of the Indian Hindu epic Ramayana is regarded as the revival of the era of Mahakavya ("Great Epic Poetry") in contemporary form and charm. His writings and his contribution to "Universal Humanism" (in his own words, "Vishwamaanavata Vaada") gives him a unique place in modern Indian literature. He was conferred the Padma Vibhushan by the Government of India in 1988. He penned the Karnataka State Anthem Jaya Bharata Jananiya Tanujate.


Early life and Education

Kuvempu was born in Hirekodige, a village in Chikmagalur district of the erstwhile Kingdom of Mysore (now in Karnataka),[5] into a Kannada-speaking Vokkaliga family. His mother Seethamma hailed from his birthplace while his father Venkatappa Gowda was from Kuppali, a village in Thirthahalli taluk (in present-day Shimoga district), where he was raised.[7][5] Early in his childhood, Kuvempu was home-schooled by an appointed teacher from South Canara. He joined the Anglo-Vernacular school in Thirthahalli to continue his middle school education. Kuvempu's father died when he was only twelve. He finished his lower and secondary education in Kannada and English languages in Thirthahalli and moved to Mysore for further education at the Wesleyan High School. Thereafter, he pursued college studies at the Maharaja College of Mysore and graduated in 1929, majoring in Kannada.


Kuvempu married Hemavathi on 30 April 1937. He was forced to enter marital life on this faculty out of Ramakrishna Mission. Kuvempu has two sons, Poornachandra Tejaswi and Kokilodaya Chaitra, and two daughters, Indukala and Tharini. Tharini is married to k.Chidananda gowda the former Vice-Chancellor of Kuvempu University. His home in Mysore is called Udayaravi ("Rising Sun"). His son Poornachandra Tejaswi was a polymath, contributing significantly to kannada literature, photography, calligraphy, digital imaging, social movements, and agriculture.


Kuvempu began his academic career as a lecturer of Kannada language at the Maharaja's College in Mysore in 1929. He worked as an assistant professor in the Central college, Bangalore from 1936. He re-joined Maharaja's college in Mysore in 1946 as a professor. (group photo) He went on to become the principal of the Maharaja's college in 1955. In 1956 he was selected as the Vice-Chancellor of Mysore University where he served till retirement in 1960. He was the first graduate from Mysore University to rise to that position.[8]

Works and message

Kuvempu started his literary work in English, with a collection of poetry called Beginner's Muse but later switched to his native Kannada. He spearheaded the movement to make Kannada the medium for education, emphasizing the theme "Education in the Mother tongue". To cater to the needs of Kannada research, he founded the Kannada Adhyayana Samsthe ("Institute of Kannada Studies") in the Mysore University, which has since been renamed after him as "Kuvempu Institute of Kannada Studies". As Vice-Chancellor of Mysore University, he pioneered the study of sciences and languages. He championed the publishing of Knowledge for the laymen with by G. Hanumanta Rao.

Kuvempu was more than a writer for his life was in itself a 'great message'. He was against casteism, meaningless practices and religious ritual. Kuvempu's writings reflect his resentment against these practices. The Shoodra Tapaswi ("untouchable saint") was one such writing. Kuvempu who was from the Vokkaliga community gave a perspective to the ancient epic Ramayana that was quite unlike the portrayal of the characters by the original author Valmiki. Kuvempu's version of the epic called Sri Ramayana Darshanam won him the prestigious Jnanpith Award. His epic underscores his vision of Sarvodaya ("upliftment of all"). The protagonist of his epic, the Hindu god Rama, personifies this when he tests himself along with his consort Sita by jumping into the fire.

The speech he made during the convocation ceremony of Bangalore University was published in the book Vichaarakranthige Aahwaana. It calls for a re-assessment of developmental policies. Though it was delivered in 1974, the message is still considered relevant to modern society. In the year 1987, The Government of Karnataka started the Kuvempu University in the Shimoga district, Karnataka. This is located in the Jnana Sahyadri campus, 28  km from Shimoga city.


  • Chakracharanake swagatha  – "Welcome to wheel footed" when he bought his first car
  • Uluva Yogi ("tilling Yogi") is the title he gave the farmer
  • Sarvarige samapaalu, sarvarige samabaalu ("Equal share for all, Equal life for all", when he called for egalitarian society).
  • O nanna chetana, Agu nee aniketana ("Be unhoused O my soul, only the infinite is your goal").





  • Birugaali/ಬಿರುಗಾಳಿ (1930)
  • Maharatri/ಮಹಾರಾತ್ರಿ (1931)
  • Smashana Kurukshethra/ಸ್ಮಶಾನ ಕುರುಕ್ಷೇತ್ರ (1931)
  • Jalagaara/ಜಲಗಾರ (1931)
  • Raktaakshi/ರಕ್ತಾಕ್ಷಿ (1932)
  • Shoodra Tapaswi/ಶೂದ್ರ ತಪಸ್ವಿ (1944)
  • Beralge koral/ಬೆರಳ್ಗೆ ಕೊರಳ್ (1947)
  • Yamana solu/ಯಮನ ಸೇೂಲು
  • Chandrahasa/ಚಂದ್ರಹಾಸ
  • Balidaana/ಬಲಿದಾನ


  • Nenapina Doniyali/ನೆನಪಿನ ದೇೂಣಿಯಲಿ (1980)

Collection of stories

  • Sanyaasi Mattu Itare Kathegalu / ಸನ್ಯಾಸಿ ಮತ್ತು ಇತರೆ ಕಥೆಗಳು (1937)
  • Nanna Devaru Mattu Itare Kathegalu / ನನ್ನ ದೇವರು ಮತ್ತು ಇತರೆ ಕಥೆಗಳು (1940)


  • Malenaadina Chitragalu / ಮಲೆನಾಡಿನ ಚಿತ್ರಗಳು (1933)

Literary criticism

  • Atmashreegagi Nirankushamatigalagi (1944)
  • Kavyavihara (1946)
  • Taponandana (1951)
  • Vibhuthi Pooje / ವಿಭೂತಿ ಪೂಜೆ (1953)
  • Draupadiya Shrimudi (1960)
  • Vicharakrantige Ahvana (1976)
  • Sahityaprachara
  • Ithyadi
  • Raso Vai Saha

Essay and Other

  • Manujamatha Viswapatha
  • Kavya Vihara
  • Mantramangalya


  • Swami Vivekananda(1932)
  • Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa (1934)


  • Guruvinodane Devaredege
  • Janapriya Valmiki Ramayana

Stories and poems for children

  • Bommanahalliya kindarijogi(1936)
  • Mari vijnani(1947)
  • Meghapura (1947)
  • Nanna mane (1947)
  • Nanna gopala
  • Amalana kathe
  • Sahasa pavana
  • Modannana Tamma
  • Narigaligeke Kodilla
  • Haluru
  • Panchajanya
  • Prema Kashmira
  • Anuttara : Premopanisattu
  • Kutichaka

Kuvempu's works in visual media


Awards and honours


Kavimane — Kuvempu Memorial

Kuvempu's ancestral house in Kuppali
Kuvempu's memorial in Kavishaila, Kuppali

The childhood home of Kuvempu at Kuppali has been converted into a museum by Rashtrakavi Kuvempu Pratishtana (a trust dedicated to Kuvempu). This trust has undertaken immense developmental works in Kuppali to showcase Kuvempu and his works to the external world.[14] On November 23, 2015 night, many valuables including the Padma Shri and Padma Bhushan awards conferred on poet laureate Kuvempu were stolen from Kavimane.[15][16][17]

The entire museum has been ransacked. The surveillance cameras there have also been damaged. Interestingly the Jnanapith award kept there has remained intact..


The gradually rising hill south of the house is named Kavishaila, Kuvempu's mortal remains were placed at Kavishaila.[14]

Biographies on Kuvempu

  • Annana Nenapu, Poornachandra Tejaswi
  • Yugada Kavi, K.C. Shiva Reddy
  • Kuvempu, Pradhan Gurudatta
  • Magalu Kanda Kuvempu, Tharini Chidananda,


The Kuvempu University in Shimoga, Karnataka was established in 1987.[18] The Vishwamanava Express[19] was named in honour of Kuvempu's idea of "Vishwa Manava" ("Universal Man").[20]

India Post honoured Kuvempu by releasing a postage stamp in 1997[21] and 2017.[22]

See also


  1. ^ "Who is Kuppali Venkatappa Puttappa? Know all about Indian novelist honoured by Google through doodle". The Financial Express. Retrieved 29 December 2017. 
  2. ^ "The Gentle Radiance of a Luminous Lamp". Ramakrishna Math. Archived from the original on 22 August 2006. Retrieved 31 October 2006. 
  3. ^ "Kuppali Venkatappa Puttappa: Kuvempu's Kannada legacy". www.aljazeera.com. 
  4. ^ "Kuvempu's 113th birth anniversary: Google doodle honours 20th century Kannada poet". hindustantimes. 29 December 2017. 
  5. ^ a b c Rao, L. S. Sheshagiri (2012). Kuvempu. Sapna Book House Pvt. Ltd. ISBN 9788128017933. Retrieved 29 December 2017. 
  6. ^ "Jnanpith Awards". Ekavi. Retrieved 31 October 2006. 
  7. ^ "After burglary, Kuvempu museum steps up security". The Hindu. 25 November 2015. 
  8. ^ Bharati, Veena. "Poet, nature lover and humanist". Deccan Herald. Archived from the original on 18 March 2006. Retrieved 2 September 2006. 
  9. ^ a b c d "Culture p484-485" (PDF). A Handbook of Karnataka. Government of Karnataka. Archived from the original (PDF) on 8 October 2011. Retrieved 10 December 2010. 
  10. ^ a b "Padma Awards Directory (1954–2009)" (PDF). Ministry of Home Affairs. Archived from the original (PDF) on 10 May 2013. Retrieved 10 December 2010. 
  11. ^ "Jnanpith Laureates Official listings". Jnanpith Website. Archived from the original on 13 October 2007. 
  12. ^ "goldenJubliee". 
  13. ^ "googleIndiaTwitter". 
  14. ^ a b "Where the poet once lived". Deccan Herald. 29 June 2009. 
  15. ^ CORRESPONDENT, STAFF (24 November 2015). "Kuvempu memorial ransacked". The Hindhu. 
  16. ^ "Padma Awards, Cash Stolen From magane Memorial". The New Indian Express. 25 November 2015. 
  17. ^ Kumar R B, Santosh (29 June 2009). "Padma awards of renowned Kannada poet Kuvempu stolen". The Indian Express. 
  18. ^ http://www.kuvempu.ac.in/php/about.php
  19. ^ http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/vishwa-manava-express-hits-the-tracks/article18549736.ece
  20. ^ http://www.deccanherald.com/content/613839/vishwamanava-express-story-behind-name.html
  21. ^ http://www.indianphilatelics.com/stamps/commemorative-stamps/1996-1997/item/12110-jnanpith-award-winners-kannada-click-for-stamp-information.html
  22. ^ http://postagestamps.gov.in/NewsPage.aspx?uid=164

Further reading

External links