Very few of my friends have heard of it. In a genealogical sense, 3-4 generations separate me and my relatives living there! Never mind those facts; Kanjarpane(ಕಂಜರ್ಪಣೆ) remains my native place.

I had a desire to visit Kanjarpane during the christmas vacation. On the fourth of January, I reached Subrahmanya at 5:30 PM. I had to stop riding somewhere, and what better place than Kanjarpane. This was my second visit to the place overall. The first one was thirteen years ago, but surprisingly my memories of the place were green. Kanjarpane is three kilometers away from Kukkujadka, which in turn is close to Sullia in Dakshina Kannada district.

Stopping by Doddathota, I peered around. I had been advised to take a shortcut from there to Kanjarpane. The only open shop in Doddathota didn't seem to be selling anything. Three people were discussing local affairs. My head light and tail light provided the much needed distraction. Their enquiries started soon after. It didn't take them long to start asking who I would be. I pondered over the question for a couple of seconds. Hoping for a faint glimpse of recognition from them, I replied, with some hesitation, "son of Abasama". Their reaction was a complete surprise. "ಓಹೋ ಅವರಾ ? ನಾವು ಅವರನ್ನು Englishman ಅಂತ ಕರಿತಾ ಇದ್ವಿ. ದಿನಾ ನಮ್ಮ ಮನೆಗೆ ಬರ್ತಾ ಇದ್ದರು. ಮನಗೆ ಬಂದ ಮೇಲೆ ಐದು ನಿಮಿಷ ಬೆವರು ಒರಿಸಿಕೊಳ್ಳುತಿದ್ದರು !". (him? we used to call him an Englishman. He was an everyday visitor to our house. After coming inside the house, he would spend the first five minutes wiping off his sweat!) Dad had a way of leaving an impression on people. He used to be very particular about dressing up. Out of the house, he was always seen wearing a suit and Bata Ambassador shoes. In those surroundings, he would look out of place in these times. Can you imagine the situation thirty years ago ?

My father died when I was just passing out of class 6. For now, he is a fading memory. He must have been the only "Abasama" in India. Yes, that was his legal name, quoted for your reference. A person with a mind of his own, and not one to stick to conventions. Born K S Gopalakrishna, he changed his name to Honnamma Gopalakrishna way before feminism became fashionable. Honnamma was my grandma. My father apparently argued, "why should people be named just after their fathers", and followed it up with a name change. My uncle says that the idea behind coming up with the name Abasama was to show up first in the alphabetical order. The third letter "a" would have put any "Abbas" out of contention for the first slot in the attendance register. The Aamirs and the Jayalalithaas were unheard of in those days. Some say he wanted something unique, or perhaps a meaningless name, and hence chose Abasama. Google didn't exist then, else he would have learnt about Daud Abasama, an African King, and perhaps chosen something else ?

Kanjarpane is a place with some history. Or depending on the way you look at it, people there like to preserve their history. A good example of that is the preservation and renovation of the Bala Durgaparameshwari Temple. This temple is reckoned to have a history of 6-8 centuries, though exact numbers are hard to come by. A better example of preserving history ? The extensive family tree.

Largely due to the efforts of Kudumbila Gopalakrishnam and Ramakrishna Kanjarpane, we have a printed book that documents our family tree. Ten generations of it, starting from the year 1720. 34 pages of a size greater than A4. The patriarchal tree starts with one Annamari Govinda Hegde of Hosanagara (Uttara Kannada District). 1251 people are mentioned in the tree. These people are spread over five villages : Hasanadka, Shankaratota, Ajjanagadde, Poonadka and Kanjarpane. Just FYI, I am at generation 8. Grandpa to many many kids, see ! Traversing a family tree isn't easy, and can easily confuse most people. One reason for that are the naming conventions of old. In one case, I noticed a person, his father and grandfather. They were all curiously named "Venkatramanayya". Trivia : Wikipedia has a very good information about how kids were named in England, Scotland and Ireland.

By now, you are probably wondering who are the people I could have visited. Thanks to the family tree, I have a clear picture of how we are related. A quick confession: I had to study the family tree for 15 odd minutes to understand the relationships. Kudumbila Gopalakrishna, Ramakrishna Kanjarpane and Maipadka Satyanarayana. All these show up as Generation 8, same as me, and hence are all elder brothers to me. Kudumbila Gopalakrishna is going great guns above 70, whereas Ramakrishna is somewhere in the 40s. Maipadka Satyanarayana is in the 50s. Anybody heard of a "generation gap" in the same generation ? How am I related to them ? We have the same great great grandfather. Simple, eh?

I also visited Kanjarpane Satyanarayan, who, for reasons unknown to me, seems to be the most popular personality around. Mention "Kanjarpane" to anyone, and pat comes the reply, "is Satya related to you?". However, the credit for popularising Kanjarpane should go to Satya's elder brother, Balasubrahmanya. If you follow kannada literature, then you probably know that he won the Muddanna Award recently. These guys are a little closer to me - we share the same great-grandfather. Enough talking about relations for one article.

My stay in Kanjarpane lasted just a day. However, it sure was more memorable than that. I heard a lot many of the old stories. Many of them revolving around my father and his adventures. I thoroughly enjoyed these. As a bonus, I got to watch an old marriage video dating to 1990. Fleeting glimpses of my father were the highlights of the video. Wearing a suite, and everyone else in a dhoti. Quite a sight, never mind the blurry video. I also met M G Satya's sons, and much time was spent remembering the good old days of childhood.

Right next to Kanjarpane is this mountain called Bantamale. Good enough for a trek. Add in a visit to relatives who are closer to me than our relationship would suggest. Plus throw in a few more days of relaxation from the hustle bustle of namma Bengaluru. Would I need any more reasons for another visit ?

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  1. Kona Sutra ಹೀಗಿದೆ?ಎತ್ತಿನಗಾಡಿ ದಾರೀಲಿ ತೊಂದರೆ ಇಲ್ಲದೆ ಊದುಸ್ಬಹುದ?
    Kona Sutra heegide? Yetthinagaadi daarili thondre illade oodusbahuda? (read in Kannada)

  2. @Vivek : look at my latest post. Yettinagaadi daarili odisabahudu, but slowly 🙂

  3. Nice write up Shree.
    (Balasubrahmanya kanjarpane)

  4. @Anna: Thanks. Let me know any corrections too 🙂

  5. hi,

    you have not mentioned the universal number language that mr abasama tried to popularise. it was unique. remember seeing the booklet when i was a little kid.


  6. @Govind: Point well taken. The reason I didn’t mention my father’s work was : the focus of this post was not that. It was about Kanjarpane. You are right about one aspect : Kanjarpane was perhaps better know due to him at some point in time in the past. However, that is not true now. I may write a post in the future about my father, and yes, I have seen the blue booklet too 🙂

  7. Nice write up! I used to remember Abasama, he was a regular visitor at my grandfathers Gundugutti Manjanathayya. Drop me a private email and we can catch up.

  8. Your father was a great man, many times misunderstood.

    I fondly remember the times I used to visit your home between ’85 n ’89 (you and Santosh were kids and Bharati was a baby. Santosh used to pull my leg sometimes and you used to giggle along.

    I admired not only his unconventional thinking but also his intelligence in coming up with original solutions and thinking that embraced humanity. In earlier days, as heard from my father (who was quite close to him), he was quite successful in business but also lost all the money he made, maybe due to trusting wrong people.

    Whenever he used to visit our place in Madras (1, Halls Road, Kilpauk) the heydays of his business success, there used to be some taxiwallas turning up regularly outside our home, vying to make him their customer, since he was so generous with his tips!

    Next time he came to Madras was in the early eighties, when he was trying to get government support for the universal link language he had invented. Called ‘Abasama’, he used to work on finetuning the language by writing out individual A4 sheets for each word, with the phonetics, meaning, etc. and neatly filing it in order.

    After trying at various places, he found success with the JNU at Delhi and that is how he shifted there, where he lived during the last phase of his life.

    At ease with kings and paupers at once, he had great ambitions about the universal link language and it was a great tragedy and loss for humanity when he died suddenly at a relatively early age.

    I wonder what happened to the huge trove of valuable books on language and communication he had at UDCRI (Universal Digital Communication and Research Institute) he founded and the original work on Abasama the language. Is it preserved somewhere in JNU, waiting for someone to discover it and continue the work on it? Hope so.

    A man of great charm, intelligence, patience, presence, understanding, love for fellow human beings, he was a man who stood tall and stood out, even in my memories now.

  9. I had met Shree ABASAMA (Kanjarpane Gopalakrishnayya )at least twice. He spent a night in my room in Hotel Highlands when he came here to attend Rotary Conference with my brother & cousins- He even taught me a few words of his Digital language for which he set up an institute at Delhi later.
    Ishwar Daitota ishwardaitota@gmail.com

  10. Hi, I ended up coming across your blog which brought back some memories. I used to keep “buthi” (lunch box) along with a few Kanjarpane kids in your parents’ residence in Kukkujadka when I used to attend the school there. They perhaps were married just a few years ago and didn’t have any children at the time. We used to keep our lunch box there in the morning and go back during lunch time to eat it. It was more comfortable to eat there than eating at school. I met your father only a couple of times, but, have very fond memories of your mother. Very joyful lady! I still gratefully remember the affection she showed and the laughter we had together! There were lots of folders lying around related to the language and your mother used to do some work related to it.

  11. Abasama and his parents lived in Kodagu for a long time, we had a lot of interaction

    with them, and whenever your father used to come to Bangaluru from Delhi or Chennai

    he used to stay with us.

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