A literary body Kannadigas are proud of, the Kannada Sahitya Parishat was set up in a historical move to unite Kannada litterateurs to work for the development of the language.
During the British rule, English had gained prominence. The knowledge of English was an asset that got people better pay and prestige in society. It was fashionable to know English. In the book Bengalurina Ithihasa, Ba Na Sundar Rao says that this trend of English overtaking Kannada, prompted Nalvadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar to take up the cudgels to fight for the Kannada language.
One day at a function, he promised to promote Kannada. At the same time, then Mysore Diwan Sir M Visveswaraya and other luminaries that included the likes of D V Gundappa, got together and decided to set up a body that would work for the progress of the language.
The credit for setting up the Kannada Sahitya Parishat goes to the farsighted Sir M Visveswaraya, whose vision for the state was a wholesome one. On the one hand, he was working for the infrastructure development of the state and on the other, for its culturaldevelopment. In the Mysore Economic conference of 1913, he set up a committee to look into the development of education. The Kannada Sahitya Parishat came under this committee. In a historic mega meet in the May of 1915, the Kannada Sahitya Parishat came into existence.
Prominent Kannada litterateurs came to the convention. The meet was a turning point in the history of Kannada literature.
Kannada got a platform to flourish and be re-discovered. It was a beacon of hope for new and upcoming writers to get noticed and it also got patronage from the Mysore Maharaja.
Did you know that ironically, H V Nanjundaiah, who presided over the meet, gave his speech in English? This drew sharp criticism from the crowd and he ended up apologising for it. It was a norm in those days to give speeches in English and that is why his speech was in English in the first place! The KSP started functioning in 1935.
The Parishat used to rent a small office in Chamrajpet and then Shankarapura. The then Diwan Ismail Mirza was later approached to sanction a building and it was he who made sure that the Parishat got a bigger space to serve as its office. Now, the Kannada Sahitya Parishat stands tall and proud on Pampa Mahakavi Road in Chamrajpet.
The Parishat was nourished out of love and dedication for the language. It organises the annual conference on Kannada literature called Kannada Sahithya Sammelana.
It has district units functioning as well. Many literary stalwarts have been and are part of the Parishat that sometimes finds itself in the middle of controversies. No matter what, it will always hold a special place in the heart of Kannadigas.