Karnataka has lost two great geniuses in the last four days. It would not be a cliché if we say our world will be a lot poorer without these two renowned scholars. Scholar, discourser, journalist Bannanje Govindacharya and World famous scientist Roddam Narasimha died just two days apart leaving behind a great body of work, disciples and followers.
While Govindacharya was a scholar who wrote and spoke about philosophy, Puranas, mythology, Vedas and Upanishads, Narasimha did path-breaking researches in aerospace, making him one of the World’s greatest in that field. Bannanje and Roddam were their native villages that later became Govindacharya and Narasimha’s respective surnames. In their chosen professions, both were like north and south poles.
While Govindacharya was restricted mostly to Karnataka and Kannada speaking audiences, Narasimha travelled across the world, talking about aerospace, fluid sciences, rubbing shoulders with who is who of the globe’s scientific World. They had little in common.
But, they had something in common. Both of them had a deep interest in philosophy, Indian culture and traditions. They were firmly rooted in our ancient culture and traditions. They had a great command over Kannada and Sanskrit and spoke brilliantly, enthralling the audiences all over the World.
Both had a great love for Kannada and Sanskrit classics. Their interpretation was brilliant and there was always something new in it.
For all his orthodox looks, Govindacharya was a liberal. He was modern in his attitude, outlook and his approach towards life and society. According to a noted Kannada writer, Boluvaru Mohammed Kunhi, he was a gentleman Guru who was an open-minded and a secular thinker. As a journalist, he had taught writing to many.
Meanwhile, Narasimha had taught at several great institutions and nurtured talent across the World. He was a member of Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s scientific advisory council in the 1980s. He also headed India’s premier aeronautics lab National Aeronautics Laboratory or NAL. A distinguished professor of World eminence, Narasimha taught at the Indian Institute of Sciences (IISc), Bengaluru, headed National Institute of Advanced Studies or NIAS, Bengaluru and was also a member of the Indian Space Commission advising the ISRO.
He also wrote and spoke about Indian philosophy and traditions with amazing knowledge.
Both Govindacharya and Narasimha had a belief that India can open itself to Western thinking and learn from that, firmly believing in its ancient culture and traditions.
In today’s highly polarised and ever narrowing thinking or public discourses about Hinduism and the concept of India, one will surely and sorely miss these two eminent scholars of our times because they believed in “give and take” and cultural assimilation.
Also in the immortal lines of Rigveda “let the knowledge come to us from all corners of the World”.