Marathi litterateur Karandikar conferred Jnanpith

Poet Govind Vinayak Karandikar, popularly known as Vinda Karandikar, received the 39th Jnanpith Award from President A P J Abdul Kalam this evening for his outstanding contribution to Marathi poetry and literature. He is the third Marathi writer to receive this award.

Conferring the award to the 88-year-old poet at Vigyan Bhavan in the Capital, the President said Karandikar is an example of a ''ceaseless search for creative thinking'' that reflects a high-level of intellectual engagement. ''He popularised new poetry with simplicity of language that could be understood by the common man,'' the President said, after presenting him a citation and a cheque of Rs 5 lakh.

Before reading out his critically acclaimed poem, Yantravatar to the audience, Karandikar said he believed in science, not religion. ''Knowledge is the only power,'' and ''The New Man, (as) I envisage him to be, recognises no distinction of colour, race, religion, sex or nationality.''

Influenced by several strands of ideologies, especially Marxism and Gandhism, the poet, born to a Brahmin family in Dhalwal in Maharashtra, said there is a diversity of ideas in his poetry. ''For those who believe in self-consistent, closed theories,'' he said to a crowd erupting with laughter, ''I am a very inconvenient poet''.

Known for his terse experimental writing style and felicity of words, Karandikar has been a poet, essayist, children's story writer and translator, all rolled into one. His first anthology of poems Swedganga was published in 1949, after which he went on to write several volumes of seminal poetry such as Sanhita, Adimaya and Jatak. His poetry dealt with a range of subjects from humanism, love to ''sensuous imagery''.

The two other Marathi litterateurs to win the award are V S Khandekar (1974) and V V S Kusumagraj (1987). Karanidkar said both the writers have affected him greatly. ''Kandekar influenced my attitude to life, Kusumagraj my poetry.''

Karandikar has also translated into Marathi Aristotle's Poetics, Shakespeare's King Lear and Goethe's Faust. He has also translated his poetry into English.

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