Why I like Bendre More Than Kuvempu

It is totally wrong to compare two great writers. That is NOT what I am doing here. We all have our favorites, likes, dislikes and prejudices. I just want to tell you why I like da. ra. Bendre much more than Kuvempu. Both are great writers, no two words about that. But, I personally consider Bendre to be one of the greatest ever writers in modern Kannada literature. Infact, if you ask me, he ranks number one in my list of 20th centruy Kannada writers.

What I like about Bendre is the way he creates magic by using very simple words. An illiterate can sing and enjoy the poems. That is the beauty of Bendre poetry. Here is one simple example of why I like Bendre more than Kuvempu:

Let us say I am seeing red all over. Romance is in the sky, wind and water. I want to sing something really nice to my beloved. Which one of the following two songs do I choose?

ಸೋರ್ಮುಡಿಯದೆ ಕರ್ಮುಗಿಲಿನ ಬಾನು
ಕಡೆಗಣ್ಣೋಟದಿ ಮಿಂಚಲು ನೀನು
ಚುಂಬನ ದಾನಕೆ ಪ್ರೇಮದ ಪಾನಕೆ
ಕಾತರವಾಗಿಹ ಚಾತಕ ನಾನು


ಮಲ್ಲಿಗಿ ಮಂಟಾಪದಾಗ
ಗಲ್ಲ ಗಲ್ಲ ಹಚ್ಚಿ ಕೂತು
ಮೆಲ್ಲ ದನಿಲೆ ಹಾಡೋಣಾಂತ
ಯಾರಿಗೂ ಹೇಳೋಣೂ ಬ್ಯಾಡ ಯಾರಿಗೂ

For me, it is a no brainer. I would obviously choose the latter. And, that’s why I like Bendre more than Kuvempu.

The biggest gift we have is mother nature. The crests and depths, hills and valleys, blues and greens are magnificent. And it is truly beautiful to enjoy a poet’s creation celebrating nature. How about these two?

ಚಿಂತಾತೀತಂ ಭಾಷಾತೀತಂ
ಬುದ್ಧಿಗಸಾಧ್ಯಂ ಹೃತ್ಸಂವೇದ್ಯಂ
ವಿವಿಧಾಕಾರವ ತಾಳುತಿವೆ
ಗಗನ ಮಹಾಮನದಿ


ಇದ್ದಲ್ಲಿ ಇರು ಹೂವೆ
ಗಾಳಿ ಹೊಳೆಯೊಳು ನಾವೆ

Again, it gives me so much pleasure to sing the latter just because it’s direct, simple and yet so full of life.

Kuvempu just cannot use simple words. Even if he did, the poems are quite complex and does not convey the message that easily. Take these two examples:

 ಎನಿತು ದಿನ ನಿನ್ನ ನಾನೆದುರು ನೋಡಲಿ
ನಿನ್ನನಗಲಿ ಕೆಳದಿ ಕವಿತೆ ಬೆಂದು ಬಾಡಲಿ


ಒಲವೆಂಬ ಹೊತ್ತಿಗೆಯ ಓದ ಬಯಸುವ ನೀನು
ಬೆಲೆ ಎಷ್ಟು ಎಂದು ಕೇಳುವೆಯ ಹುಚ್ಚಾ?

The first one is from Kuvempu and the second one is from Bendre. Infact, the first one above, is one of my favorites. But, even with simple words, look how Bendre can make you live the life of a poet, more than Kuvempu.

One other point about Bendre is the brilliance in rhythm. The 8 beat ta ki Ta – ta ka – ta ki Ta in the following lines is unique and superb:

ನಿನಗೆ ಪೊಡ ಮಡುವೆ
ನಿನ್ನ ನುಡು ತಡುವೆ
ಏಕೆ ಎಡ ತಡೆವೆ
ಸುರಿದು ಬಾ

You really feel like Ganga is powerful, glowing and flowing, don’t you?

Before I conclude, I will say that every rule has exceptions. Kuvempu‘s works for kids, which include poems like ಬೊಮ್ಮನಹಳ್ಳಿಯ ಕಿಂದರಿಜೋಗಿ and ದೇವರ ಪೆಪ್ಪರಮೆಂಟೇನಮ್ಮ are brilliant. And, till today I am trying to figure out what Bendre meant when he said ಆವು, ಈವು, ನಾವು, and ನೀವು. He has an explanation, if you want to believe that.

Again, I am NOT stating that Bendre is better than Kuvempu. I am just stating that I like Bendre more than Kuvempu and citing some examples here, that’s all.

Explore posts in the same categories: Kannada, Literature

33 Comments on “Why I like Bendre More Than Kuvempu”

  1. Prashanth M Says:

    Totally agree with you DS. And the example you have given are beautiful & apt.

    And me too love that kindarijogi haaDu – doDDoli, saNNili, chikkili, appili, ammili, aNNili…. 🙂

  2. Veena Says:

    Great lines DS… thanks!!

  3. bachodi Says:

    Never gave time to appreciate poems. I love Kuvempu’s both the novels. They are awesome.

  4. mouna Says:

    perhaps, with the extracts that you’ve provided us. bendre sounds more approachable. though, i would like to have said this after having read both their works. i would have some knowledge then. but as of now, i’m going by what u have put up 🙂

    thanks for sharing it with us.

  5. SJ Says:


    Good comparison with apt examples. I would like to add an anecdote here. Somewhere I have read/heard that Bendre used to express his “saarthakabhaava” upon hearing a common man (say a mason, or a carpenter or a farmer – who in India mostly would be illiterate, leave alone having ‘saahityada gamdhagaaLi’) humm his song. Once Bendre saw some wood cutters (men, not birds) uttering one particular song of Bendre, for pepping up their stamina, he said: dhanyanaade ee haadu baredaddakke. True, I too believe in “utility item” more than “show piece”.

    And you sound bit extra-cautious, taking proactive steps to avoid heated debate. It’s perfectly ok, afterall blogging is for expressing personal opinion. You are not attempting to impose it on others, so you are good!


  6. pArijAta Says:

    Umm… After reading your examples, even I should say that I like Bendre more than Kuvempu…I love Kuvempu’s ‘malenADina chitragaLu’ and raktAkShi, and poems like ಬಾ ಇಲ್ಲಿ ಸಂಭವಿಸು.
    On the other hand, Bendre’s poems are elegant and much more lyrical. The way in which he encases profound ideas in simple words, (in poems like ಇರುಳಿರುಳಳಿದು ದಿನ ದಿನ ಬೆಳಗೆ) is amazing. Kuvempu’s poems do not have much mAdhurya and lAlitya, but they are abundant in bEndre’s poems.

  7. As of what little I know about these legends, Bendre’s lyrics has celebration of life, life of mysterious pattern, the morning, the sun set, the butter fly, all normal things…

    But Kuvempu’s lyrics is pretty rich in its vocabulary, his intension seems to be celebrating the “Kaavya” than “Bhaava”… where as Bendre celebrates Kaavya thru Bhaava. Thats why he touches hearts; where as Kuvempu amazes one with his wisdom and the perfection in poetry.

    Both the legends, better left un compared.

    Kuvempu had stated about Bendre something as It amazed him to note that the kind of poems can emerge from “Bayaluseeme” as well…

  8. decemberstud Says:

    @ Prashanth:
    Glad you agree with me. I have always enjoyed Bendre thoroughly and yes Kuvempu’s bommanahaLLiya kiMdarijOgi is very nice too.

    @ Veena:

    @ Bachodi:
    You should try reading Bendre. You are missing out on something…really.

    @ Mouna:
    LOL…trust me, I know what I am saying 😉

    @ SJ:
    So, now you’ve started calling yourself SJ, huh? 😉 I did not know about that incident which bendre went through. That’s pretty much captures what iw as saying. That is exactly why I feel Bendre is the greatest 20th century poet in Kannada. “Utility item” is certainly good. More so, when it is beautiful as well.

    True, I was very cautious when I wrote this post and yes I wanted to avoid a heated debate. I think I was successful. I have seen a lot of heated exchanges on some of my previous posts. This issue of Bendre vs Kuvempu is quite sensitive, for more than one reason (and some not good reasons at all). So, iw anted to avoid it completely.

    @ pArijAta:
    Yes, Bendre’s poems are truly lyrical. And thanks for reminding, ಹಕ್ಕಿ ಹಾರುತಿದೆ ನೋಡಿದಿರಾ is one of his greatest poems. I am glad I prejudiced you 🙂

    @ Srik:
    You have hit the bull’s eye. Indeed, Kuvemou celebrates “kaavya” and Bendre celebrates “bhaava”. I don’t want to compare them to Girish Kasaravalli and Puttanna Kanagal, still 🙂 At a personal level, I ahve to compare. I do like one more than the other, way more than the other.

  9. some body Says:

    off on a tangent like i mostly am – check out geekiest vacation #1. the lol dude reminds me of you – you have the most “lol”s in the comments.

    – s.b.

  10. decemberstud Says:

    @ SB:

    ROFL…how’s that? 😉

    Well, you haven’t seen me in person yet….wait until then (And I try hard not to LOL here)

  11. Yes, as you say, we can compare Bendre only to Kuvempu in modern times, and the vice versa too is true. It adds value to the legends as well.

    Bendre is my preference too when it comes to the dancing of words.

  12. SJ Says:


    I have been using “SJ” initials in email, online forums (like kannadaaudio.com etc) for long time. May be you didn’t come across 🙂

    In fact when myself and Janardhana Swamy (cartoonist/Californiast/Sunmicrosyst) exchange emails, we start with “JS,….. SJ” (and viceversa), as if the acronyms act like symmetric paranetheses!

  13. decemberstud Says:

    @ Srik:
    Welcome to the club 🙂

    @ SJ:
    Alright alright…it’s just that you used to sue your full name on my blog, until now. Better late than never 😉

  14. Aram Says:

    There is another contrast between these two diggajas. Kuvempu’s mother tongue was Kannada but he used too many Sanskrita words. (Didn’t he know about Aandayya?)

    On the other hand, Dattatreya Ramachandra Bendre
    was not a Kannadiga at all. He, I believe, was a Konkanastha Maratha Brahmin. Anyway, his mother tongue was Marathi. Yet, he used as far as possible more of Kannada words and especially the robust gandu kannada of Dharawad seemi – a point to be noted and appreciated by language fanatics on both sides – Karnataka and Maharashtra.

    In fact, I had read somewhere that the contribution of non-kannadigas to the Kannada literature was far greater, both quantitatively and qualitatively than pure blood Kannadigas. Panje, Kasthuri, Masthi, Rajarathnam, DVG, Karnad, BGLS, etc. etc.

    And Bendre loved wordplay and punning. One of his collection of poems was titled Baa Hattara which he wrote when he was 70. Baahattara in Marathi means 70.

    Like the raging controversies of today, Bendre too had a lifelong feud with another doyen of Dharwad – Sham. Baa. Joshi.

    Another great thing about Bendre was how he recognized that even the veshyaas were only human and emotional. Innoo yaaka baralillaavaanh Hubballiyavaanh, Vaaradaaga mooru sarthee bandu hogaanvaanh!

    Such an insight was elaborated in prose by my favorite short story teller, Ashwattha in one of his memorable stories, where the woman feels so happy with one of her unusual clients that she feels like paying him. ( I hope my memory serves me well, I had read the story decades ago).

    However, DS, your post is not only scholarly but also thoroughly enjoyable. What amazes me is though we all had read enjoyed both the poets, it never occurred to us we could love one more than the other.

  15. decemberstud Says:

    @ Aram:
    Thanks, you made my day, again 😉 I have read and heard about so many non-Kannadigas contributing to kannada literature. Again, it strengthens my belief that the environment plays such a big role in how a human is molded. Plus, I am not sure we can call DVG, karnad et al as ‘non-Kannadigas’. I have always wondered if other Indian languages have the same pattern of famous writers talking a different language at home.

    Yes, I do agree that Bendre was brilliant in wordplay. I just cannot stop talking on how great a writer Bendre was. Thanks for reminding a beautiful song…I love the words so much. It is so simple, yet so heavy.

    ಚಹಾದ ಜೋಡಿ ಚೂಡಾಧಾಂಗ ನೀ ನನಗಂದಾವಾ
    ಚೌಡಿಯಲ್ಲ ನೀ ಚೂಡಾಮಣಿಯಂತ ರಮಿಸ ಬಂದಾಂವಾ
    ಬೆರಳಿಗುಂಗುರ ಮೂಗಿನಾಗ ಮೂಗ ಬಟ್ಟಿಟ್ಟಾಂವಾ
    ಕಣ್ಣೀನ್ಯಾಗಿನ ಗೊಂಬೀ ಹಾಂಗ ಎದ್ಯಾಗ ನಟ್ಟಾಂವಾ

    ಯಲ್ಲಿ ಮಲ್ಲಿ ಪಾರೀ ತಾರೀ ನೋಡೀರೇನವ್ವ
    ನಿಂಗೀ ಸಂಗೀ ಸಾವಂತಾರೀ ಎಲ್ಲಾನ್ಹ ನನ್ನಾಂವಾ
    ಸೆಟ್ಟರ ಹುಡುಗ ಸೆಟಗೊಂಢೋದ ಅಂತ ನನ್ನ ಜೀವ
    ಹಾದಿ ಬೀದಿ ಹುಡುಕತೈತ್ರೆ ಬಿಟ್ಟ ಎಲ್ಲ ಹಾಂವಾ

    Ashwattha was undoubtedly one of the best short story writers in Kannada. i don’t recall the story which you have mentioned here. But, his stories certainly touched all the nerves.

    Again, thanks for a very insightful comment.

  16. Aram Says:

    “Again, it strengthens my belief that the environment plays such a big role in how a human is moulded”

    How remarkable! the very act of my comment and your reply further establishes the superiority of environment. I had given up reading poetry 35 years ago in favor of hindustani music where words (saahitya) have less importance than in its counterpart carnatic music ( Parijata has published a very good post on this). It was only your delightful post that rekindled my interest. So, if I had not entered into your space/environment and if you had not written about Bendre, my insight would never have born, laying to waste the genes which gave strength to my insight.

    You have raised another extremely important point. “Kannadigas’: I have always wondered if other Indian languages have the same pattern of famous writers talking a different language at home.”

    Kannadigas are known for their tolerance. While Karnataka lent its name to Carnatic music, it also gave birth and nurtured some of the greatest names in Hindustani music.

    I would say it is the Mannina Guna which makes Kannadigas what they are.

  17. decemberstud Says:

    @ Aram:
    Thanks, but I am just a messenger here. As for the ‘maNNina guNa’, yes have ehard that several times. But, I am not sure if that is indeed the case. I do not know how the other states fare in this regard. Something to find out….

  18. Aram Says:

    I am glad Ashwattha was your favorite too.

    I felt like getting specially for you this particular story about the sex worker’s ecstacy and send it across to you.

    To my great disappointment, I found that the great Ashwattha’s name was not known at all. Google failed miserably. Mr. Arun/Raja of Sahitya Bhandar informed me that the publishers of Ashwattha had closed shop long back.

    When asked where I could lay my hands on his works, he said my best bet was some of the old college libraries but they might not allow me to borrow.

    I guess I will have to go to my village college to take the books.

    It is amazing how great men and their great works and memories fade away so quickly in the flood of today’s trash.

    I have observed the same trend in the recorded music industry also -some of the finest albums, especially of Imrat Hussain Khan are simply not available at all. When I contacted the great maestro himself in the U.S. he was full of complaints against HMV and how they cheated him or some such fuss.

    I see an opportunity for some body of resurrecting the old forgotten treasures, just like how some of the more enterprising music companies searched for old concert recordings of Pandit Bhimsen Joshi and made a huge killing.

    Anyway, my mission in the next few months will be to find that story for your reading pleasure.

    I sincerely hope December Stud ID will continue till that time.

    It was more than two decades that I had last read his story.

  19. decemberstud Says:

    @ Aram:
    I like Ashwattha, yes. Sure, please send me a copy of the story if you find it.

  20. iznogoud Says:

    DS: I am much, much relieved that you are going to continue as DS, the way we know you.

    Considering how the Kannada sahityaloka has conveniently forgotten this great but low-profile legend called Aswattha, it struck me that one should resurrect all his work – samagra saahitya.

    I then talked to Dr. Srinivasa Havanur of whom you must have heard – his articles have been appearing in various magazines, especially Kasturi since the 1960s.

    He said he and Aswattha had competed in a story competition way back in 1946 conducted by Jayanthi magazine and that Aswattha got the first prize and he the second.

    He gave me the address of Dr. Sujatha of Mysore University who gave me the address of Aswattha’s trust, Lalitha Aswattha Trust – trustees Canara Bank Bangalore who hold the rights. She also told me that his son is in the U.S. ( I wonder what he has to say about his father and his literary genius.

    I don’t know to what extent I can carry this forward.

    I suppose if Aswattha really deserves resurrection, it will certainly happen some day.

  21. decemberstud Says:

    @ iznogoud:
    Thank you 🙂 I wish you all the best in your endeavor. Do you happen to know where Aswattha’s son is or what his name is?

  22. Aram Says:

    Jeevishivu’s review on Jayant Kaikini’s TV interview with Girish Karnad on Bendre


  23. Aram Says:

    I went to Kannada Sahitya Parishat and bought the 3-volume (very thin volumes really) set of “Ashwatthara Aprakatitha Kathegalu” which was published by ka.saa.pa from the interest amount of a Rs 100000 datthi established by Ashwattha in favor of ka.saa.pa.

    In the introduction to one of the volumes, there is a mention of Ashwattha’s son, Narasimhamurthy who had settled down in Nagpur and that the publishers had to contact Narasimhamurthy’s wife Smt. Surama for permission/manuscripts and that the contact was throughsomebody who knew Narasimhamurthy. I got a feeling that he might be recluse.

    Will try to type out and send a story I found in one of the volumes.

    None of Ashwattha’s other books are available in the market, though I found some 7-8 books in the college library in my village.

  24. @ Aram:
    Thank you very much for the link. As for the story, sure, pelase take your time.

  25. Aram Says:

    ““Again, it strengthens my belief that the environment plays such a big role in how a human is moulded”

    the word genetics that I used in “Die Another Day” reminded me about this.

    The best example of how environment is far superior to the genes can be found when tracing how man’s best friend, the dog has evolved over thousands of years ago, from wolves of the wild.

  26. @ Aram:
    Certainly. And, I will always believe that environment has a more important role than genes.

  27. knitnkanmani Says:

    I remember reading a short story when I was in school ‘audarya’ does anybody remember who the author was
    Thank you

  28. Haravu Lokesh Says:

    I liked the main presentation and the responses of the learned readers and their well thought out writings.
    my two cents kuvempu…bendre, RajKumar…ashwath, Ramayana…mahabharath, sampige…mallige, Right eye…left eye..!! needless to say that I am not able to choose. as each one has its own grandeur , elegance, and fragrace. I dare not compare but only appreciate,enjoy each for its own merit and be thank full for the opportunity to do so.

  29. Manoj Kuduvalli Says:

    Aram and December Stud,

    I am Ashwattha’s grandson, and I live in the UK. I was interested to learn about your intentions to resurrect my grandfather’s works. I don’t know if you are still on this blog, but I would be happy for you to contact me. My e-mail is manojkud@hotmail.com

  30. A Ram Says:

    Dear Manoj,

    It is great to hear from the grandson of the legendary Ashwattha.

    I had read your name in his biography written by Prof. H.S. Sujatha of Mysore.

    Yes, I am definitely interested to take this forward.

    I had contacted Prof. H.S. Sujatha of Mysore many years ago for this very purpose. She had said she was ailing from health problems and did not have the energy or time. The late Dr.Srinivas Havanoor had introduced me to her. Havanoor Sir also revealed to me that he and Ashwattha were contemporaries and had partaken in a literary competition which Ashwattha had won.

    Thereafter, the matter was forgotten by me due to my own problems.

    I am very happy that you have expressed your interest in this now.

    I thank Decemberstud also who has an equally impressive pedigree for keeping alive his blog which has now brought us together.

    I am no longer active in any field now and have moved to the west coast.

    However, your contacting me has aroused my interest and it will be my pleasure to proceed as follows:-

    I believe that the copyrights are vested with Canara Bank, Bangalore.

    If you can give me an authorization, I shall visit them to get permission to proceed further.

    Visit old libraries and get all available works of Ashwattha.
    of which short stories alone run into some ten thick volumes.

    Get a popular Kannada website like sampada.net or kendasampige.com or any other community website to publish the short stories every week.

    Get a popular print magazine like Sudha/Taranga to publish the stories every week. This might provide us some resources for this project. It will also provide excellent publicity and attract new readers. Equally important, this will revive Ashwattha’s name and fame.

    Get somebody to design a website in Ashwattha’s name and put all his works into it.

    Decemberstud: I shall be highly grateful for any suggestions, ideas, etc.

    A Ram

  31. NanKannada Says:

    Bendre is for Bhava and Kuvempu is for shahitya.
    Ebara holike thapu..
    Kuvempu has introduced rich words to kannada litreture.
    lets not forget his ‘o nan chetana’, to convey something strong, we need to use strong words.

    • vinay Says:

      Kuvempu has contributed in all forms of kannada literature and only scholarly can understand kuvempu in entirety. The core, content and message he delivers have true cultural meaning and contribution. Its quite hard for layman to comprehend his stuff. If you have read old literatures, read kuvempus critics on them and see how much you can make out of it. Camparing the two is comparing oranges with apples

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