Da Ra Bendre

Here is Bendre in the words of Shankar Mokashi-Punekar, a younger contemporary and himself a writer and thinker of rare originality. (I have translated them from the original Kannada.)

“Shri Bendre was not simply a personality; he was a charisma. He was a rishi, a seer. The acuity of his intellect was beyond description. No matter what was being discussed, his imagination bounded ahead instantly, leaving everyone else far behind. It was for this reason that men of unusual intelligence surrounded him and challenged him; and why, even in defeat, emerged with a sense of pride. What was immediately clear to everyone who came into contact with him was: ‘This man is not of this world; this man is a man-from-heaven. It is  impossible for an ordinary man to have an intelligence so brilliant.’ Shri Bendre used to say that there dwelt in him not one but five personalities. Setting aside for the moment what exactly that meant, this much is clear: the fifth of those personalities had the name ‘Ambikātanayadatta.’

When a literary critic from Dharwad once said, ‘It is time Bendre stopped writing poetry,’ Shri Bendre’s response was: ‘I write poetry for one purpose only; and that is to commune with the Ambikātanayadatta inside me!’

That Ambikātanayadatta will live on forever in Shri Bendre’s work. He shall remain a favoured son of the world. As Shri Bendre himself once said about poetry: ‘O vision seen by the men of god!’ To have known such a man of god is our good fortune; to attempt to understand him is futile: like Gommata, ‘ಅತ್ಯತಿಷ್ಠತ್ ದಶಾಂಗುಲಂ’ (अत्यतिष्ठत् दशाङ्गुलं) – he stands ten angulas above us all.”