Pandit Rao Dharennavar, a South Indian who made Punjabi first love

May 24, 2015 10:39 AM

“People in Punjab lack passion for their mother tongue which is not the case in Karnataka”
CHANDIGARH:  Born and brought up in remote Salotagi village of district Bijapur in Karnataka, typical'>south Indian Pandit Rao Dharennavar (40) who came to Chandigarh in 2003 for his teaching assignment at a Government College has made a mark of being torchbearer of promoting Punjabi'>language. He travels across the city and Punjab on his bicycle with his message. His inability to communicate with students in local'>language motivated him to learn Punjabi and then he fell in love with the'>language so much so that it became his passion of life.

An Assistant Professor in Sociology at Government College Sector 26 here, Pandit Rao is celebrity in his domain who has made research on Sikh history and Punjabi culture and translated many Sikh hymns to kannada'>language and kannada poetry into Punjabi. A relentless crusader for Punjabi'>language Prof. Pandit Rao is keen to get due place for Punjabi. He wonders why people of Punjab do not love their mother tongue which is not the case in Karanataka. He reveals his mind in an interview with SATINDER BAINS. Excerpts

What are your activities to promote Punjabi'>language?

I have translated Sikh holy hymns like ‘Japuji Sahib’, ‘Sukhmani Sahib’, ‘Assa di Vaar’ and Zafarnama (the letter by the tenth Sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Singh, to Mughal emperor Aurangzeb in 1705) and tales of great Sikh warriors like Baba Deep Singh Bhai Jaita ji into kannada'>language and also translated works of Vachan Sahitya in kannada'>language to Punjabi. I am going places carrying bill boards of Punjabi alphabets to make people aware of their'>language. I have persuaded management of all government and private colleges in Chandigarh to display college sign boards in Punjabi along with national'>language of Hindi and English. Of late I am taking Punjabi classes of South Indian doctors working in PGI Chandigarh and also written a book ‘Sat Sri Akal Doctor Sahib’ to learn Punjabi for them.

What motivated you to learn Punjabi'>language and ultimately falling in love with it?

I was destined to fall in love with Punjabi'>language. I had no idea that Punjabi'>language is so soulful till the time I started learning it basically to communicate with my students. After reading few Punjabi poets and Sikh religious scriptures, I found hooked to Punjabi culture and it motivated me to do something for Punjabi. It pained me to see that people in Punjab lacked passion for their mother tongue whereas in Karnataka we are bent to die for honour of our mother tongue.

What are the reasons you find disconnect people from their'>language?

I think people in Punjab have lost interest in reading books. There are more liquor shops than libraries in towns and villages. There is no culture of interaction between writers and students in the education institutes. In Karnataka people buy books to gift on birthdays and other important occasions which is missing in Punjab. The state government has no policy to promote Punjabi literature and writers. The activities of writers associations are limited to exclusive audience.

Have you got any recognition for your work from Punjab Government?

No. I don’t expect even. I have decided not to accept any honour from Punjab government till the time Punjabi'>language is not given due recognition. I am worried to see problem of drugs in Punjab. On my visit to holy city of Amritsar I was pained to see liquor vends in every nick and corner. These sentiments restrict me from accepting any support from state government.

How do you finance your activities like publishing books?

I don’t seek any financial support from anybody. I am paid Rs.70, 000 monthly salary and I spare Rs.30, 000 each month for promotion of Punjabi.  I have contained my personal needs.

What are your desires and plans for promotion of Punjabi?

I wish to translate the holy Sikh scripture Guru Granth Sahib into kannada'>language. He said that Sikh holy hymns which he translated were widely read by kannada writers and scholars and the feedback motivated me to accomplish the task though it would long time.  My other wish is to see setting up of Punjabi Folk University in Punjab. Punjabi culture is very rich but its sheen is fading. Punjabi folklore must be translated into all'>languages.

How do you find Chandigarh administration’s attitude towards Punjabi?

It is not very encouraging. I wanted to admit my son in Punjabi medium school but I was shocked to see that there is not even a single Punjabi medium school in the city. Now I am planning to file a petition in the Punjab and Haryana High Court to seek due status to Punjabi in Chandigarh which happens to be capital of Punjab.  The Home Secretary had issued instructions to display Punjabi along with Hindi and Punjabi on all sign boards and many departments are reluctant to display Punjabi on sign boards.

What is most satisfying for you?

Punjabi University has given chance to certain students to do research on comparison of literary works in kannada and Punjabi'>language based on books translated by him. I successfully persuaded the Chandigarh colleges to put up sign boards in Punjabi. Finally people in Punjab have started recognizing his efforts.

And what is not satisfying?

The kannada'>language has so far got eight Gianpeeth awards and Punjabi writers have got only one and half award-one for Amrita Pritam and second shared by Gurdial Singh. The Punjabi'>language deserves better treatment and it is time for introspection for the Punjab government and people of the state. I am upset that Punjabi folk singers are polluting Punjabi culture and promoting drugs and exploitation of women. Even the singers like Gurdas Mann who got so much fame are singing songs like ‘Ghar di Sharab Hove’. It is disgusting. There needs to be censor board for Punjabi songs.

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Readers' Opinions
col JS Multani Chandigarh 5/30/2015 9:27:56 PM

My dear Rao, I salute you for your love and work you do for Panjabis mother tounge. your image is the true panjabi. We all so called panjabis especially sikhs should take que from you and start working for the promotion of this language. with my sincere regards Jagtar

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