“Karnataka is my homeland but I feel a deep connection with Punjabi language and I consider it my mother tongue”. These are the words of Pandit Rao Dharennavar who was born and brought up in Karnataka but has been spreading and promoting Punjabi language for the past ten years.
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. Pandit Rao, who always felt certain connection with Punjab and Punjabi language, wonders why people of Punjab are losing touch with their mother tongue. Pandit Rao now actively promotes Punjabi and cycles to the villages near Chandigarh after college spreads knowledge about Gurmukhi language.
Pandit Rao makes sure that he carries pen and paper with him and teaches basic 35 Punjabi alphabets in exchange for a rupee per letter. Professor Rao has even started taking one hour class for PGI doctors daily as he feels that being in Punjab, doctors must know Punjabi.
Pandit rao has even 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 and Bhai Jaita ji into Kannada.
“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.