Y K Ramachandra Rao is one among the people to be remembered from the Parishad’s initial history. He retired as a Railway Chief Engineer. He hailed from Elandoor. He had a natural, abiding interest in Kannada; when Gopal Krishna Gokhale died in 1915, Ramachandra Rao arranged an essay-writing competition in Kannada, offering a gift to the best essay written about that great soul. I remember that the prize-winning essay—it was written by a student—was published in the Parishad’s periodical.
Y K Ramachandra Rao wrote many treatises in Kannada. One among them was Swami Vivekananda’s ‘Nanna Ācārya’ (My teacher). Another was regarding Gladstone’s political insight. Yet another was a life history of former US president, James Abram Garfield.
Ramachandra Rao’s biography of Garfield was chosen by the Government’s Education Department to be a textbook (probably for the Lower Secondary examination). R Raghunath Rao, one of the directors of the Parishad then, freshly edited the book and had it published. The opinions on certain topics in the re-published version deviated from original. For example, in the segment relating to Garfield’s birthplace, the State of Ohio, Raghunath Rao made subtle modifications to Abhinava Pampa’s poems like ‘ಗಾಡಿನ ಸೀಮೆ ಚೆಲ್ವಿಗಾಗರಂ’ by changing the word order and so forth. He also modified Ramachandra Rao’s statements. The critics and scholars said, “This is Raghunath Rao’s book indeed and not Ramachandra Rao’s book, which was the one we were in agreement with.”
Raghunath Rao was a great scholar. He was particularly interested in complex constructions. He was dull neither in his behaviour nor in his literary style. All his works would be robust. His touch would transform the structure of the writing.
The same complaint is made with regard to our [Bellave] Venkatanaranappa’s editing style. He had once edited C. Vasudevaiah’s Āryakīrti. Afterwards it ceased to be Vasudevaiah’s Āryakīrti; instead it became the Āryakīrti of Venkatanaranappa.
Well, what happened, happened. All the income Y K Ramachandra Rao got from the sales of the second edition of Garfield’s biography, he donated to the Parishad. I remember it was in excess of fifteen thousand rupees. The Parishad had a financial crunch at that time and they badly needed monetary help. Ramachandra Rao came to the rescue during those troubled times.
Y K Ramachandra Rao was friendly and amicable; a good fellow by heart and a pious soul. He was dear to all and respected by all.
This is an English translation of the thirteenth chapter of D V Gundappa’s Jnapakachitrashaale – Vol. 3 – Sahityopasakaru. Translated by Somashekhara Sharma from the original Kannada. Edited by Hari Ravikumar.