Chandrashekhara Kambara – Poet
Chandrashekhara Kambara was born on 2nd January 1937. He is a prominent poet, playwright, folklorist, film director in Kannada language and the founder-vice-chancellor of Kannada University in Hampi. He is well known for his usage of North Karnataka dialect of Kannada language in his plays and poems and is often compared with D.R. Bendre. Kambara’s plays mainly revolves around folk or mythology interlinked with contemporary issues,inculcating modern lifestyle with his hard-hitting poems and has became a pioneer of such literature. His contribution as a playwright is significant not only to Kannada theatre but also to the Indian theatre in general as he achieved a blend of the folk and the modern theatrical forms.He has been conferred with many prestigious awards including the Jnanpith Award in 2011, Sahitya Akademi Award, The Padma Shri by Government of India, Kabir Samman, Kalidas Samman and Pampa Award. After his retirement, Kambara was nominated as Member of Karnataka Legislative Council, to which he made significant contributions through his interventions.
Chandrashekhara Kambara was born in Ghodageri village in Belagavi district, kanataka. He was the third son in the family, with brothers Parasappa and Yallappa who still reside in the small house belonging to the Kambara family in the village. From an early age he was interested in folk arts, local culture and rituals.Chandrashekhara Kambara is popularly known as Shivapur Kambar Master in his native district, Kambara did his schooling in Gokak and returned to Belagavi for higher education at Lingaraj College. Owing to poverty, he had to drop out of school, but Jagadguru Siddaram Swamiji of Savalagi Matha blessed Kambara and took care of all his primary and high school educational expenses. After his post-graduation, he did his PhD thesis on Uttara Karnatakada Janapad Rangbhumi from Karnatak University, Dharwad.
After a brief stint in teaching in the University of Chicago, he taught in Bangalore University for over two decades and was a Fulbright scholar. He served as the chairman of National School of Drama Society, New Delhi from the year 1996-00 and he also served as the president of Karnataka Nataka Academy from 1980-83. He started using north Karnataka dialect of Kannada in his poems and plays which is not very common in Kannada literature.Kambara is the founder vice-chancellor of the Kannada University at Hampi. His grand vision of Kannada literature and Karnataka culture is reflected in the way he showed commitment to build it. As the first vice-chancellor of the University, Kambara served two terms of three years each, during which he could shape it in a unique manner, compared to other traditional universities. All the constructions during his tenure as the vice-chancellor are on hillocks, with huge stone structures resembling the Vijayanagara period architecture. He also created a separate publication unit for publishing the results of research and project works going on in Kannada University.
He is a strong supporter of imparting school education with Kannada language as the medium of instruction.His justification for this stance is that only mother tongue can provide an “experience,” which is an integral part of learning and learning through any other language only gives people “information,” which makes them less competent. All in all five of his books have been awarded by the Karnataka Sahitya Academy. In the year 1975,Jaisidanayaka,another popular play won the Vardhamaana Prasasti “Best Book of the Year” award. Jokumaraswamy,his well known play has won the “Kamaladevi Chattopadhyaya Award” of Natya Sangh as the “Best Play of the Year” in the year 1975. Saavirada Neralu won the “Ashan Award” as the best collection of poems in 1982.He also won the K.V. Shankare Gowda Award for Theatre in 1990.In the year 1983 he was the recepient of the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award, New Delhi, for playwrighting.also for the play Siri Sampige in 1991.
Kambara received the eighth Jnanpith Award for the Kannada language, which is the highest literary honour conferred in India, in September 2011. The prestigious award which was instituted in 1961, carries a cheque for 7,50,000 Rs and a citation along with a bronze replica of goddess Vagdevi. The Chief Minister of Karnataka, D. V. Sadananda Gowda was among the many dignitaries who wished him on the occasion of receiving this award. At a felicitation ceremony held a week after winning the award, the Government of Karnataka announced that it will reprint all works of Kambara, including his plays and make them available at all government school libraries. His works will also be translated to different languages. A drama festival featuring his plays will be staged to honour the laureate.
Awards and honours :
- Akademy Ratna Award
- Jnanpith Award : 2011
- Devaraj Urs Award : 2007
- Joshua Sahitya Puraskaram
- Nadoja Award : 2004
- Pampa Award : 2004
- Sant Kabir Award : 2002
- Padma Shri : 2001
- Masti Award : 1997
- Janapada and Yakshagana Academy Award : 1993
- Sahitya Akademi Award : 1991
- Karnataka Sahitya Academy : 1989
- Rajyotsava Award : 1988
- Nandikar Award : 1987
- Karnataka Natak Academy : 1987
- Sangeet Natak Akademi Award : 1983
- Kumaran Ashan Award : 1982
- Kannada Sahitya Parishat : 1975