H.Y. SHARADA PRASAD: A Mysorean Like No Other

Yella Ballavarilla, the Kannada version of H.Y. Sharada Prasad’s book The Book I Won’t be Writing and Other Essays (edited by Prabhu Shankar) was released in Bangalore on Sunday, World Book Day, by the former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of India, Justice M.N. Venkatachalliah.

The 75th book brought out by Abhinava Publishers, the book came a week after Sharada Prasad’s 82nd birthday. Every member in the audience got to celebrate with a dharwad peda. But it was the flurry of mind-blowing adjectives heaped on a true-blue Mysorean, information advisor to three prime ministers, that was even sweeter.

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M.N. VENKATACHALLAIAH on H.Y. Sharada Prasad

Sharada Prasad is an extraordinary life in our times. He is a 16-annas Mysorean, but he is also a 18-annas Indian. He is a great gift of Mysore to the country, who epitomizes sajjanike, saralate, panditya, humility and simplicity. But concealed behind all this is tremendous learning and the strength of great scholarship.

In our simple but wonderful culture, connubial felicity used to be the thought behind a husband bringing Mysore mallige to his wife, a little Mysore pak, maybe even some Nanjangud rasabale. To that connubial felicity, we can add the graciousness of Sharada Prasad. Please do not think it as a triviality, it has deep meaning.

He represents a kind of civilisational culture. A culture of sobriety, dignity, humility and enormous amounts of learning. I request Sharada Prasad to spend more time in Mysore and Bangalore. His presence will have a civilizing effect.

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CHIRANJIV SINGH on H.Y. Sharada Prasad

Sharada Prasad has read what has to be read, he has seen all that has to be seen, heard what none of us have. He has ridden the elephant of knowledge and the horse of power. Yet, what strikes anybody who met him in his hey-day and those who meet him today is how a man of such stature manages to live with such sahaja.

To have such decency in an atmosphere of power-play and corruption, is his greatest strength. He is like sampige hoovu. Wherever you plant it, the kampu of its vyaktitva spreads all over.

Sharada Prasad wrote the speeches for three prime ministers. They were all bluepencilled heavily, because ultimately it’s the PM’s voice. Still, I remember what Rajiv Gandhi said at the opening of the Vishwa Kannada Sammelan in Mysore 20 years ago: “Eesa beku. Iddu jayasa beku.” It had to be Sharada Prasad.

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T.S. SATYAN on H.Y. Sharada Prasad

When we are in school and college, all of us come in contact with a few friends, get acquainted a lot more with some. But it rarely proceeds forward. On the other hand, Sharada Prasad and I have known each other for 62 years since we met at Maharaja’s College. A friend became a guide; a mentor became a guru.

Even as a student he was renowned for his intelligence and dedication. When he was arrested in the Quit India movement, the whole college went to the court to hear the judge read out his sentence (18 years). Sharada Prasad’s role in the independence movement could be written in letters of gold.

A whole generation of Mysoreans has been influenced by his Gandhian values. His simplicity, his friendship, his humanity, his shraddhe and his swavalambate have all made him one of the most outstanding secular gentleman-scholars. There will never be another like him.

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RAMACHANDRA GUHA on H.Y. Sharada Prasad

If I was to describe Sharada Prasad in one word, it would be “civilized”. He’s the most civilized person I know and that is embodied in his appreciation of the four great arts: music, painting and aesthetics, literature, and cricket.

I first came in touch with him through the book on Karnataka that he and T.S. Satyan did in the late 1970s. It was a celebration of the State, and in it Sharada Prasad wrote: “The grace and elegance of Karnataka are expressed in the brush strokes of K.K. Hebbar and the square cuts of G.R. Vishwanath.” Wow!

The true validation of a columnist is when readers buy a publication only to read him. Sharada Prasad does just that each week in the ‘Asian Age’ with his refined, elegant prose that conveys wisdom, civility, humaneness. He evokes envy in all other columnists, including yours truly. It leaves me wondering: “Why couldn’t I think of it that way? Or what couldn’t I write like him?”