Source : Mr.Yashwant Gujaran, Mumbai
On 15.08.1947, the day India achieved independence was an occasion of extreme joy for every citizen of the country. It was a day of immense significance for the people of that age in their lives. A dream which appeared very distant & which was taking a high toll of its people was realized. An ancient civilization, which had gone into bad days, which was raped, ruled, colonized & which was living a life of ignominy was finally breaking free after a long and hard struggle. It was a dream comes true. It was once in a life time moment. It was a day when people of all walks of life, of all ages, expressed their joy by various means. Writing poetry, dancing on the streets with gay abandon, blowing horns, trumpets etc etc. Like everybody everywhere in India, in a small sleepy town called Madikeri in district Kodagu, in the southern part of Karnataka, a young bubbling 14 year old boy had grown up to get the importance of the day & was enjoying a great moment in his life. He was moved to write a poem, which he promptly showed to his friends to appreciation & one critical comment A poet was born who was later known in the Kannada literary world as R.S.Suta & to the world as R.S.Devadiga.
Like hundreds of others in that age, if you are born poor, you have nothing to loose & everything to gain by moving to Bombay (now Mumbai). And so did young R.S.Devadiga who, although a scholar in St. Michals High School in Madikeri, just picked himself up, left his childhood & idyllic countryside behind & moved to the all time El Dorado of India & to the grind of Bombay. Those days the grind was comfortable & the place had a great charm. Like hundreds of others he worked in a hotel during the day to make a living & but also at the same time joined the Mogaveera Free Night High School to pursue a dream. In those days if you are Kannadiga, the night school was the place to be in. Because it meant you had courage & the ambition. The night schools brought the best out of you & gave you the freedom to dream. Those were the times, when night schools provided the nurturing to the brave little souls who had left their homes & hearths in search an identity. This city has many such glittering men who graduated from the night schools to attain their place in the society.
R.S Devadiga also happened to be made of such mettle: working through the day & studying at night. For sleep there would a hole in the hotel’s attic or the hotel benches would be available only much past the midnight. And when whenever he had a day off he went for a walk on the sands of chowpati beach in the mornings. And if he had a night off he would walk on the large open grounds in the city like Cross Maidan, Azad Maidan or the Oval. His walk particularly during the full moon nights would be his most enchanting. The cool wind and the frothy boisterous waves on the beach and the soft moon light during the night relaxed his tired body and refreshed his mind. It also provided him space for his daydreams & inspiration in life & poetry.
Late B.M.Kodikal Era: In 8th standard he came under the spell of the very remarkable man named Shri B.M.Kodical, a Kanada Vidwan. He was very influenced by his personality to a large extent and it helped him shape his future. To understand R.S.Devadiga it is necessary to understand his teacher. Shri B.M.Kodical was a great scholar & the students were spell bound in the magic spun by their teacher. The teacher delivered a fluent, easy, flowing Kannada in a very simple and nice way that there would be pin drop silence. In his opinion Shri B M Kodical was important for Kannada to flourish during that period in Bombay. Although Shri BMKodical was not first class in his MA, taking note of his command over the language and due to pressure from students, the Bombay University as a special case allowed him to teach Kannada to College students in Siddharth & Jaihind colleges. Shri BMKodical’s influence was not restricted to school but it extended to the theatre also. RS.Devadiga watched with deep awe the epic historicals like Satya Harishchandra, Navaba Nandini, Chanakya Tantra & so on, written & directed by late Shri BMKodical. Who also wrote & directed social stunners like Samaja Sudharaka, Prema Vivaha, Atma Samarpana, Samajada kadu athava Vidhaveya Padu, Maduveya Sahasa.
Such was the impact of the ideas & ideals of Shri B.M.Kodical that a whole generation of Kannada night school students came to worship him. To mention a few eminent names sarvshri Sadanand Suvarna, Dinkar Rao, VRShetty, N C Shetty, RSDevadiga, GKKarkera, NMAmin & Anand Suratkal.
Unfortunately very few people know even today that Shri B.M.Kodical stood for Babu Moily Kodikal and was a Devadiga which even Shri.R.S.Devadiga came to know much later.
Later he came admire Shri Sadanand Suvarna his senior, and who greatly inspired him in his literary work. He worked back stage with him in their drama group called Uday Kala Niketan which staged many dramas. They staged shows for many good causes & the money earned would be sent for such worthy causes. One such occasion was helping devastated Dakshina Kannada district due the heavy floods, which happened in the late sixties. They had such great bonding that Shri Sadanand Suvarna wrote the forward to his poetry publication titled Abhaya.
R.S.Devadiga contd: After he passed his SSC he started his long & sustained journey in the field of education & social work which has no parallel. He began teaching free in the same night school as a teacher. For more than twenty years he continued teaching free in the night schools. After Mogaveera Night School he went teach in Canara Vidyalaya in Modi Steet. Later as Shri B.M. Kodikal moved to the Sewree Kannada Night School, he started teaching there. Never took any remuneration for his teaching in any school, which resulted in schools not even maintaining his name in the school muster. He was a good teacher in Hindi & Kannada. After his graduation he joined for law studies & completed his law in 1975.
Married Rohini in 1962, has a son Ravi Kumar & a daughter Rekha & these days he spends his time with his grand daughter Gayatri. Worked for many years in M/s Dodsal Pvt Ltd for nearly twenty years. He then started his own law practice as an advocate in 1977. In 1989 he was made a Notary Public by the Govt. of Maharashtra & at present he is also a Special Executive Officer. Held many positions of responsibility including Secretary of Shastri Nagar Tenents Association in Goregaon, Mumbai. Held many posts in Goregaon Karnataka Sangha like trustee, vice president etc and at present as the President.
Mean while the poet R S Suta was busy writing poems. Kannada Sahitya Sangama, Bombay in 1987 to great acclaim, published his collection of poems called “Abhaya”. Recently his collection of poems titled “Prema Jyoti” has been printed & published by the Goregaon Karnataka Sangha. The poems take you to the depth of human feelings. The poems enter your heart & you begin to feel the author’s feelings. It also gives you satisfaction of a poem. His poem “Kashtavanne Kodu” is a reflection of his inner belief. In this poem the poet says please God give me only hard times so that I can remember you always as it is possible I may forget you when you give sukha which is what happens with normal people. If you give dukha then we appreciate the sweetness of sukha. For many years he wrote regularly for the Mogaveera monthly bulletin & also to Mumbelaku, Goregaon Karnataka Sangha’s annual sovenir & to other magazines.
This in brief is the life of R.S.Devadiga alias R.S.Suta. A rare poet with deep human feelings, a committed social worker who does want any adulation or recognition for any work he has done. It is his belief that he has come here with a job & he is doing his job. Which is why he shuns publicity, public glare. He scrupulously stays away from any kind of praise, publicity or media. In this age of publicity seeking social workers R.S.Devadiga stands out as a rare exception. As a president sometimes he would shy even sitting in his own chair. We wish Shri R.S.Suta as well as R.S.Devadiga great time in times to come.
ADDRESS: 8/225,Shastri Nagar, Goregaon (W). Mumbai-400104 . Telephone: Res. 8722493/8744889