Rationalist with a cause, rebel without a pause

When it became known three weeks ago that K. Ramdas had been stricken by cancer, Gauri Lankesh wrote a warm piece in her weekly tabloid newspaper Lankesh wishing him well. Through three simple anecdotes, Gauri captured the inherent rebeliousness of the man which did not spare his guru, his friend, or his disciple.

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Exhibit A Example 1: Last year, D. Javare Gowda, the former Mysore University vice-chancellor was holding a hunger strike demanding classical language status for Kannada. Although he did not sympathise with his guru’s demand, Ramdas landed up at the protest site upon hearing that DeJaGow’s health had deteriorated. Urged to speak by some of those present, Ramdas launched into the classical language campaign without the slightest hesitation in the presence of DejaGow. The need, he said, was for Kannada to become the people’s language first. The Narayana Gowda faction of the Karnataka Rakshana Vedike pounced on him, but Ramdas carried on regardless.

Exhibit B Example 2: Once Ramdas’s onetime guru turned close friend, P. Lankesh was to be felicitated in Mysore. When he heard that Lankesh was coming all the way from Bangalore to be garlanded, Ramdas turned scarlet. He readied to stage a protest. His reasoning: “Lankesh has only done his job as a journalist and as a writer. What is the need to felicitate him? Do we work only to get felicatated?” Hearing of Ramdas’s stand, Lankesh quietly withdrew and absented himself from the function.

Exhibit C Example 3: A couple of years ago, Ramdas’ read in that morning’s Andolana that his disciple, the former minister H. Vishwanath, was to take part in a religious function where sheep had been lined up to be sacrificed to propitiate the gods. With no time to gather others and organise a protest, Ramdas proceeded to the venue on his own. But the sun was beating down upon him and a tired Ramdas sat down on the road to take a breather. When he saw his friend Swami Anand on a scooter, Ramdas waved him down and proceeded to the venue to stage the protest he owed the cause.

Related link: Avadhi