Chandrashekhara Kambara

Chandrashekhara Kambara
Chandrashekhara Kambara
ಚಂದ್ರಶೇಖರ ಕಂಬಾರ
Born 2 January 1937 (1937-01-02) (age 74)
Ghodageri, Hukkeri taluk, Belagavi district, Karnataka
Occupation Poet, Playwright, Professor
Nationality India
Alma mater PhD from Karnatak University, Dharwad[1]
Period 1956 - present
Genres Fiction
Notable award(s) Jnanpith Award
Sahitya Akademi Award
Padma Shri
Pampa Award
Spouse(s) Satyabhama
Children Rajashekhara Kambara
Jayashree Kambara

Chandrashekhara Kambara (Kannada: ಚಂದ್ರಶೇಖರ ಕಂಬಾರ) (born January 2, 1937) is a prominent poet, playwright, folklorist, film director in Kannada language and the founder-vice-chancellor of Kannada University in Hampi.[3] He is known for his effective usage of North Karnataka dialect of Kannada language in his plays and poems and is often compared with D.R. Bendre.

Dr. Kambara's plays mainly revolves around folk or mythology interlinked with contemporary issues,[4] inculcating modern lifestyle with his hard-hitting poems and has became a pioneer of such literature.[5] 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.[6]

He has been conferred with many prestigious awards including the Jnanpith Award in 2011 for the year 2010,[7] Sahitya Akademi Award, the Padma Shri by Government of India, Kabir Samman, Kalidas Samman and Pampa Award. After his retirement, Kambara was nominated Member of Karnataka Legislative Council, to which he made significant contributions through his interventions.[8]


Early life

Chandrashekhara Kambara was born in Ghodageri village in Belagavi district. 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.[5] From an early age he was interested in folk arts, local culture and ritual.[1] His favorite Kannada writers include Kumara Vyasa, Basavanna, Kuvempu & Gopalakrishna Adiga and among English writers, it is W. B. Yeats, Shakespeare and Lorca.[9]

Popularly known as Shivapur Kambar Masther in his native district, Kambara had his schooling in Gokak and returned to Belagavi for higher education at Lingaraj College. Owing to poverty, he had to drop out of school[9] but Jagadguru Siddaram Swamiji of Savalagi Matha blessed Kambara and took care of all his primary and high school educational expenses which is the reason why Kambara honours the seer in many of his writings.[5] After his post-graduation, he did his PhD thesis on Uttara Karnatakada Janapad Rangbhumi ("The Folk Theatre of North Karnataka") from Karnatak University, Dharwad.[10]


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.[1]

He served as the chairman of National School of Drama Society, New Delhi from 1996 to 2000 and as the president of Karnataka Nataka Academy from 1980 to 1983. He started using north Karnataka dialect of Kannada in his poems and plays which is not very common in Kannada literature.

Dr. 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. The architecture, the choice of the subjects that cover the diverse variety of culture and society of Karnataka, selection of place, faculty or academic activities, the scholars whom he drafted from different parts of the state and the Nadoja honorary award instead of the honorary doctorate which he introduced, show Kambara's native vision which was evolved in his literary works for decades.[6]

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.[11]

He is a strong supporter of imparting school education with Kannada language as the medium of instruction.[12] 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.[13] This concurs with UNESCO's recommendation that "providing education in a child's mother tongue is a critical issue."[14]


Dr. Kambara has to his credit 22 plays, 8 anthologies of poems, 3 novels, 12 research works and several scholarly write-ups on folk theater, literature and education.[1] Some of his popular plays include Aramane, Mahamayi, Singaravva and Harakeya Kuri. He was conferred with the Sahitya Akademi Award in 1991 for another popular play Sirisampige.[15]

He was a pioneer in introducing Bailahongal's famous Sangya Balya (bayalata) and Jokumaraswamy, a traditional ritual of his native district, to the literary world[1] which have seen thousands of performances, not only in Kannada, but several other Indian languages as well.[2] His most recent novel, Shikhar Soorya, is rated among the best Kannada novels.[10]

Many of his works have been translated to English and several other Indian languages. The play Jokumaraswamy has been translated to English (Seagull Books, Calcutta in 1989), Marathi (Abholi Prakashan, Solhapur in 2000), Hindi (Vidya Prakashan Mandir, New Delhi in 1985), Telugu (Mudrika Printers, Kurnool in 1993), Tamil, Punjabi and Malayalam among others. The Sahitya Akademi Award-winning play Sirisampige has been translated to English (Seagull Books)[16] and to Tamil, Hindi, Marathi and Rajasthani by the Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi. Kulothe Chingaramma, which was translated to Malayalam by C Raghavan, is one of his works that has become popular in Kerala.[17]

Besides being a littérateur, Kambara has also been involved in film-making. He has directed a number of movies based on the plays written by him. Karimayi, Sangeeta and Kadu Kudure are some of his major films as a director.[15] He has composed the music for all his movies and the title song of Kaadu Kudure won a National Film Award.[18] He has also adopted his play G.K. Maasthara Pranaya Prasanga for television. Kambara has produced several documentaries for both state and central governments.


In his lengthy narrative poem Helatena Kela ("Listen, I will tell you") in the early 1960s, Kambara introduced some of the recurring themes which he would often return to in his later works. Themes of tradition and modernity, crises of feudalism, native identities, colonialism, march of history, sex, loss of faith, the death of God and several related themes explored later in his plays, novels and poetry had found metaphorical expression in the narrative poem.[6] The eponymous, long narrative poem has the musicality and rhythm of the Lavani form and uses rich earthy imagery.[19]

Shivapura is an imaginary utopian village which continues to be a character, a metaphor and the locale in most of his works. It forms the locus of his poems and tales.[20] In his characterization, Lord Shiva and Parvati visit the place and bless the villagers. Even Rama, when he was going to Sri Lanka in search of Sita, visits the village en route.[10]

Awards and honors

Five of his books have been awarded by the Karnataka Sahitya Academy. His well known play Jokumaraswamy has won the "Kamaladevi Chattopadhyaya Award" of Natya Sangh as the "Best Play of the Year" in India in the year 1975. Another popular play Jaisidanayaka won the Vardhamaana Prasasti as the "Best Book of the Year" - 1975 in Karnataka.

His Saavirada Neralu won the "Ashan Award" (Kerala) as the best collection of poems in 1982. He won the K.V. Shankare Gowda Award for Theatre in 1990. He is the recipient of the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award, New Delhi,[2] for playwrighting in the year 1983 and the Sahitya Akademi Award, New Delhi, for the play Siri Sampige in 1991.[21]

Dr. Kambara received the eighth Jnanpith Award for the Kannada language, the highest literary honor conferred in India, in September 2011 for the year 2009.[15] The prestigious award which was instituted in 1961, carries a cheque for INR7.5 lakh, a citation and a bronze replica of goddess Vagdevi.[22] The Chief Minister of Karnataka, D. V. Sadananda Gowda was among the many dignitaries who wished him on the occasion of receiving this award.[23] 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.[24]

List of awards:

List of works


  • Mugulau – 1958
  • Helatena Kela – 1964
  • Takararinavaru – 1971 (State Academy of Literature Award)
  • Saacvirada Neralu – 1979 (Ashan Award in 1982, Kerala)
  • Aayda Kavanagalu – 1980
  • Belli Meenu – 1989
  • Akkakku Haadugale – 1993
  • Ee Varegina Helatena Kela – 1993
  • Chakori (Epic) – 1996 (Translated into English by Penguin Publication, India in 1999)
  • Rocks of Hampi — (Collection of poems translated into English by Nagabhushana Swamy. Published by Sahitya Academy, New Delhi 2004)


  • Bembattida Kannu – 1961
  • Narcissus – 1969
  • Rishyashringa (Filmed) – 1970
  • Jokumaraswamy – 1972
  • Chalesha — 1973 (Translated to Hindi by Dakshina Bharath Hindi Prachar Sabha, Madras in 1973)
  • Sangya Balya Anabeko Naadolaga – 1975
  • Kittiya Kathe – 1974
  • Jasisidanayaka – 1975 (Translated to Hindi by Saraswathi Vihar, New Delhi in 1984 and English. State Academy of Literature Award and "Vardhamana Prashasti" as the Best Book of the Year in Kannada)
  • Alibaba – 1980 (Translated and published in Indian Literature, Sahitya Academy)
  • Kaadu Kudure – 1979 (Filmed and received National Award)
  • Naayi Kathe – 1980 (Filmed as Sangeeta and received 5 Karnataka State Film Awards)
  • Kharokhara – 1977
  • Mathanthara – 1978
  • Harakeya Kuri – 1983 (Filmed and received National Award, translated into Hindi by Gyan Bharathi, New Delhi in 1989)
  • Kambara Avara Natakagalu – 1984
  • Sambashiva Prahasana – 1987 (Translated into Hindi, English by Seagull Books, Calcutta in 1991 and Tamil)
  • Siri Sampige (Sahitya Akademi Award, New Delhi in 1991)
  • Huliya Neralu (Filmed) – 1980
  • Boleshankara – 1991
  • Pushpa Rani – 1990
  • Tirukana Kanasu – 1989
  • Mahamayi – 1999 (Translated into English by NSD, New Delhi in 2000 and Hindi)
  • Nela Sampige – 2004 (Collection of plays published by Kannada Pustaka Pradhikara, Government of Karnataka)
  • Jakkana – 2008
  • Shivaratri – 2011[28]

Novels and Stories

  • Anna Tangi – 1956
  • Karimaayi – 1975 (Filmed)
  • G.K.Maastarara Pranaya Prasanga – 1986 (Filmed for Doordarshan, translated to Hindi by Vidya Prakashan Mandir, New Delhi)
  • Singarevva Mattu Aramane – 1982 (State Academy of Literature Award, translated to English by Katha, New Delhi in 2002, Hindi by Radhakrishna Prakashan, New Delhi in 1984 and to Malayalam by DC Books, Kottayam in 1999 as Kulothe Chingaramma)
  • Shikhara Soorya — 2007 (Published by Akshara Prakashana and second edition by Ankita Prakashana)

Research and critical perceptions

  • Uttara Karnataka Janapada Rangabhumi – 1965
  • Sangya Balya – 1966
  • Bannisi Hadavva Nana Balaga – 1968
  • Bayalaatagalu – 1973
  • Matado Lingave – 1973
  • Namma Janapada – 1980
  • Bandire Nanna Jaeyolage – 1981
  • Kannada Folkore Dictionary (2 volumes) – 1985
  • Bedara Huduga Mattu Gilli – 1989 (State Academy of Literature Award)
  • Lakshapathi Rahana Kathe – 1986
  • Kasigondu Seru – 1989
  • Nelada Mareya Nidhana – 1993
  • Brihaddesiya Chintana – 2001
  • An Anthology of Modern India Plays for the National School of Drama – 2000
  • Desheeya Chintana – 2004 (Collection of articles on culture and literature. Published by Ankita Pustaka)
  • Marave Marmarave – 2007
  • Idu Desi – 2010

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e Jnanpith award: Deccan Herald - Kambar realised the universal in indigenous, native culture in modern times
  2. ^ a b c d e Hindu - Jnanpith for Kambar
  3. ^ "Giri Seeme: The Tribal Village". Department of Tribal Studies, Kannada University. Kannada University, Hampi. Retrieved 2007-07-11. 
  4. ^ IBN Live - Kambar does Karnataka proud with Jnanpith
  5. ^ a b c Times of India - Home village Ghodageri erupts in celebration
  6. ^ a b c The Hindu - Speaking from Shivapura
  7. ^ [1]
  8. ^ Deccan Herald - The living bard
  9. ^ a b Times of India - Kambar's next is a comedy on thieves
  10. ^ a b c The New Indian Express - Eighth moment of glory for Kannada
  11. ^ Times of India - Kannada varsity has Kambar stamp all over
  12. ^ Deccan Chronicle - Nationalise school-level education, says Kambara
  13. ^ Deccan Herald - Kambar bats for Kannada in schools
  14. ^ Results of the 7th consultation of member states on the implementation of the Convention and Recommendation against discrimination in education (Para. 41)
  15. ^ a b c ಡಾ. ಚಂದ್ರಶೇಖರ ಕಂಬಾರರಿಗೆ ಜ್ಞಾನಪೀಠ ಪ್ರಶಸ್ತಿ
  16. ^ Modern Indian Drama, ed. G.P. Deshpande, Sahitya Akademi, 2004]
  17. ^ Times of India - Kambar deserves Jnanpith: M Leelavathy
  18. ^ a b Bangalore Mirror - Kambar wins eighth Jnanpith for Kannada
  19. ^ Frontline Magazine - Modern myth-maker
  20. ^ Times of India - Shivapur, his magical world
  21. ^ a b c d e "Sri Chandrashekar B. Kambar". Official website of Karnataka legislature. National informatics center.'list/Sri%20Chandrashekar%20B.htm. Retrieved 2007-07-11. 
  22. ^ Deccan Herald - Kannada poet, playwright Kambar gets Jnanpith
  23. ^ CM Greeted to Gnanapeeta Awardee Sri Chandra Shekar Kambara in Bangalore
  24. ^ DNA India - Karnataka govt to popularise Kannada litterateurs
  25. ^ Jnanapeeth for DR Chandrasekhara Kambara
  26. ^ "Kambara gets Pampa award 2003". Online webpage of The Times of India (The Times of India). 2004-01-21. Retrieved 2007-07-11. 
  27. ^ "Subhadramma Mansur receives Nadoja Award". The Hindu. 7 January 2004. Retrieved 15 December 2010. 
  28. ^ Express Buzz - Play set in the Basavanna era

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