Kannada literature has carved a niche for itself in the huge repertoire of literary brilliance India has to offer in various languages. For starters Kannada has won as many Jnanpith Awards as Hindi has, which is the most commonly spoken language in India. This shows the prowess and the reach of the literature of Karnataka.
A.N. Krishna Rao, Kuvempu and R.K. Narayan are some of the English and Kannada writers who’ve put the state of Karnataka under the spotlight at a national level. A.N. Krishna Rao was an activist and a writer whose work was widely appreciated during his time.
The Early Life of Aa.Na.Kru
A.N. Krishna Rao, who was more popularly known as Aa.Na.Kru, was born on May 9th, 1908 in Kolar, Karnataka. He hailed from the small town of Arkalgud in the Hassan district. He started his career as an editor of magazines in Kannada like Vishva Vani and Katha Manjari.
He also edited Kannada Nudi, which was published by the Kannada Sahitya Parishath. Aa.Na.Kru was nominated as the President of the 43rd Kannada Sahitya Sammelan.
He was so popular that Maasti Venkatesh Iyengar introduced him by calling him a pure Kannada speaking person, or Kannadiga. This reflects the literary fame and popularity that Krishna Rao had attained at a very early age in his life.
His Work and Achievements
Aa.Na.Kru was not only a writer but a social activist as well. He fought hard for the unification of the scattered Kannada speaking populace after India’s independence. He envisaged a movement to popularize the Kannada language and he openly criticized those who neglected the language and its literature.
Once he even spoke against R.R. Divakar, the first Governor of Bihar and the then President of Kannada Sahitya Sammelan, in Kannada Nudi, the magazine that he edited. He later resigned his post when he was asked to apologize for this act.
Aa.Na.Kru’s writing career spanned over 40 years and he completed more than 100 novels, with an output of more than 80,000 pages. Quite like Kuvempu, Aa.Na.Kru was also a part of the modern literary movement in Kannada literature, the Navodaya movement.
However he did not support this form of literature as according to him, it did not reflect the stark and painful realities of life. He went on to start his own literary movement called the Pragatshila or the Progressive Movement.
The Writer’s Controversial Stance
Aa.Na.Kru could very well be deemed as an iconoclast of his age as he broke the moral restrictions of the time and wrote on sensitive and taboo subjects like prostitution in his novels Nagna Sathya, Sanje Gaththalu and Shani Santaana.
He was charged with vulgarity, to which he famously said that if unveiling a social truth suffered by certain people was vulgarity then he would rather be called vulgar. He also wrote in the artist-novel model that narrates the life of a born artist and his journey to success. He won the Sahitya Academy Karnataka State Award.
Aa.Na.Kru served as the President of the Kannada Sahitya Sammelan for a brief period of time. He was also awarded an honorary doctorate by Mysore University in the field of literature. His story Sandhyaraga, a fiction, was adapted into a Kannada film of the same name, which was a major hit. He breathed his last on the 8th of July, 1971, in the city of Bangalore in Karnataka. His books remain popular till date, and his works are oft followed and studied.