Puttappa (Kuvempu), the first ever winner of the Jnanpith award from Karnataka, was born
on December 29, 1904, in Hirekodige and brought up in Kuppalli, both villages in Shimoga
district. Kuvempu came to Mysore for his school education and joined Maharaja's College
for his B.A. degree. He got his M.A. in Kannada in 1929 and started his career as a
lecturer in Kannada at Maharaja's College in the same year. He then became a professor and
a principal, and retired as the Vice-chancellor of the University of Mysore.
Kuvempu strode the world of modern Kannada literature like a colossus, starting a whole
new school of thought in poetic tradition and bringing unprecedented glory to Kannada in
the linguistic and literary sphere of India. His creativity took Kannada poetry to a new
peak and immortalised him in the hearts and minds of generations of poets to come, and he
brought a new sense of pride to the Kannada-speaking masses at large.
Kuvempu was highly prolific as a poet and produced over 30 major collections of poems in a
period spanning five decades. But his creative intellect also expressed itself brilliantly
in his various plays, novels and critiques. He also created significant children's
literature and translations.
Honours and awards 'sought' Kuvempu unceasingly. He chaired the 1957 Kannada Sahitya
Sammelana at Dharwad and was conferred honorary D.Litt. by the University of Mysore and by
the Karnatak, Bangalore and Gulbarga universities, Padmavibhushana by the Government of
India and the 'Rashtrakavi' title by the Government of Mysore. He won the Central Sahitya
Akademi award in 1955 (for his epic Ramayana Darshanam), the very first Pampa award in
1988 of Karnataka and of course, the ultimate recognition of literary work in India-the
Jnanpith award-for his magnum opus Ramayana Darshanam in 1969.
Having lived the life of a true Vishwa Manava-the world citizen conceived and propounded
by him-for 9 fulfilling decades, he passed away in 1994.