Masti Venkatesha Iyengar

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Maasthi Venkatesa Iyengar (June 6, 1891June 6, 1986), popularly known as Masti, was an administrator, professor and a popular writer in Kannada language. He obtained a master's degree in English literature (Arts) in 1914 from Madras University. Initially he worked for 26 years in the Mysore Civil Service. He later resigned in protest as he was not made a minister but his junior was made one. Right from an young age he wrote both in English and in Kannada; more than 123 books in Kannada and 17 in English. His literary works covered novels, poetry, drama, criticism, journalism and largely short stories. His first work was Rangana Maduve (meaning marriage of Ranga) in 1910 and the last work was Maatugara Ramanna (meaning talkative Ramanna) (1985) both in Kannada. For his contribution to Kannada literature he was given the epithet Maasti Kannadada Aasti meaning “Maasti is Kannada's Treasure”. The Maharaja of Mysore Nalvadi Krishnaraja Wadeyar honoured him with the title Rajasevasakta. He won the prestigious Jnanpith Award, the highest honour for literature in India, in 1983 for his novel Chikkavira Rajendra a story on the last Raja of Kodagu.


  • Do you know, sir, it is God who has planted such doubts in you. That is His way of putting you to the test
    • To the author Ramachandra Sharma of this book who had said that he was incapable of total surrender to God as Masti had great faith in God page Masti Venkatesha Iyengar (2004). Masti. Katha. ISBN 978-81-87649-50-2. 
  • Sir, who would think of criticizing you for committing mistakes when you speak Kannada? The mistakes you committed whenyou spoke in English could have been made in Kannada too.
    • Masti reacting to a speaker who spoke in English for lest he committed mistakes while speaking in Kannada.Masti Venkatesha Iyengar (2004). Masti. Katha. ISBN 978-81-87649-50-2. 
  • Ramu is our youngest child. He does not know how to write. The only thing he knows is to scribble on the slate. When the slate is covered with lines, he asks me to look at what he has written. Writing for him is nothing but scribbling. If, with some luck, one of the lines turns out to be letter, it’s not his fault. [[w:Brahma}Brahma]]’s writing is no different. Unpredictability is its characteristic. Not even one ina thousand is good. If one turns out to be good it’s not my fault. My wife was convinced that all this was Vedanta. She did not pay any attention to it.
    • His narration at the end of his short story “Velurina Lakshamma” quoted here. Masti Venkatesha Iyengar (2004). Masti. Katha. ISBN 978-81-87649-50-2. 

About Masti

  • Father of Kannada
  • One who has a gentle and profound insight into what lasts in India, and what elements inherent in human nature threaten it...the best in traditions of the East and the West have gone into the making of his liberal humanist philosophy.
    • Anatha Murthy, in his book review, describes Masti, the Sahitya Akademi Awardee as here Masti Venkatesha Iyengar (2004). Masti. Katha. ISBN 978-81-87649-50-2. 
  • When you read Masti you realize that his stories and characters are a part of yourself and in them you see a world you want to touch and long to hold. In these days of transient joys, that is nice feeling to have
  • Some people argue that Masti is not a novelist, and that he is only a short story writer. But there is no evidence that those critics have read Masti's novels. If Masti is not a novelist, neither are Tolstoy and Dostoevsky.
  • The clever folks who claim that we don’t want your temples and that our goodness alone is sufficient, prop up a non-existent opposition to the same indivisible truth that underlies goodness and the principle upon which temples are based…Blind belief is not God. Neither is superstition. However, the social and national good that ensues from such beliefs is Godliness. Because of the capacity of these beliefs to accomplish the aforementioned good, the innate force that inspires these beliefs and traditions is called God. Be it Pandit Nehru or the common people, we learnt the mind set of condemning the superstitions of Hindus from the British. Some sections of the British condemned Sanatana Dharma in order to propagate Christianity. We convinced ourselves that they were telling the truth and began to feel ashamed of Sanatana Dharma. In the process, we overlooked an important aspect. Blind belief and superstitious rituals aren’t exclusive only to Sanatana Dharma. Such beliefs and superstitions exist among the followers of every religion including Christians, Muslims, and Buddhists.
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