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A poem coming alive – The Hindu

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A poem coming alive – The Hindu

Continued…When distance education or correspondence course was not even thought of by our universities, K.V. Iyer was running such course from Bangalore in Physical Culture. They were popular even abroad. To supplement the study material he wrote short books and posted them to his students. They were all well illustrated. The handbills were written with carefully chosen words and catchy headlines. He vigorously promoted himself and gymnastics, appearing in magazines such as Health and Strength and The Superman, and describing himself as ‘India’s most perfectly developed man’ with ‘a body which Gods covet’.

KV Iyer sits third from left
| Photo Credit: Picasa

He would also assure absolute success for any one promptly following his method. Though there were many unique body builders and physical culturists in some other countries, K.V. Iyer’s approach and methodology gave a new dimension to the whole process of personality development. He attempted to blend Yoga, Hindu Mysticism and Western Physical Culture. This technique was something that attracted the aliens. He constantly updated his knowledge of the subjects by following the latest developments across the world. He learnt Physical Culture Naturopathy from an American firm and had been awarded professorship from them. Considering the limited communication facilities available at that time, his incessant quest for knowledge, relentless efforts to acquire the same and rendering the knowledge and experience for the welfare of humanity is really remarkable. Hence, he was sought after so much that his house used to be flooded with letters. It’s a matter of pride that even eight decades ago, Bangalore showed the right path of living to the world. For many Bangaloreans K.V. Iyer was not just a strong body of packed muscles, but he was a poem personified. K.V. Iyer’s Vyayamashala was a like a Dharmashala, a choultry. For the rural folk coming from far off villages he would provide treatment and also nutritious food and space to stay overnight. For them he was the saviour, the living God. On the other hand, literary luminaries of that time like DVG, Masti Venkatesha Iyengar, G.P. Rajaratnam, Shivaram Karanth, T.P. Kailasam, and Vi. Sitaramaiah and many others were also frequent visitors to his place. Well-known musicians like M.S. Subbulaksmi, Ragini Sisters performed at his place. Including Aluru Venkata Rao, who is today remembered as the Kannada Kula Purohita (High priest of the Kannada Community), he had close association with many other stalwarts of different fields.

KV Iyer with Alur Venkata Rao  
| Photo Credit: Picasa

A few years ago, when I spoke to K.V. Iyer’s son, Dr. Karna, he proudly remembered that his father was a personal physician to the Maharaja Krishnaraja Wadiyar. When the King stayed in Bangalore Palace he had been treated by K.V. Iyer. The King liked the beauty of his physique as well as his approach in alleviating the problems of the body. He had said that though wrestlers and body builders do tone their muscles, there was some divinity in K.V. Iyer’s body. Though K.V. Iyer treated him with all reverence, the Maharaja insisted that he should accept Rs. 5000 as gurudakshina. With all humility he received and invested the same to build his new Vyayamashala on J.C. RoadK.V. Iyer’s body was not just a robust one. The muscle power was equally immense. Once, he was standing with his friends in a queue at Rex theatre. A young man jumped the line and went ahead in spite of protests by others. K.V. Iyer lifted him and placed him at the end of the line. The young man amazed by his strength and requested to be forgiven. Another incident, referred to in his biography, is when he was going on Shankar Mutt Road a Bullock was stuck in a crevice along with the cart. Though there was a crowd, no one had ventured to free the animal from the trouble. K.V. Iyer rushed and easily lifted the animal out.Instigated by someone, a lean person filed a complaint that K.V. Iyer had hit him. He was summoned for an explanation. K.V. Iyer told him that he would just hit him once and if he sustained the blow, he would surrender. Immediately, the complainant gave up and apologized.V. Seetharamaiah, popularly known as Vi.Si, another well-known name in the Kannada literary circles also taught in a college. He was a close friend of K.V. Iyer, and people called them “thick and thin’!

Actively involving himself with Ravi Kalavidaru, K.V. Iyer has done a yeoman service to the theatre movement in the city. His novels Roopadarshi, Shanthala and others are popular even now and show that he had mastered the art of writing too. For Bangalore history lovers his stories like Dayyada Mane, Kailasam Smarane, and a few others, available in the second volume of his complete works published by Kannada and Culture Department in the year 2000, gives a vivid picture of Pete area, Garadi manes, Dharmambudhi Tank, (present day Kempegowda bus stand and Metro station) and Chamarajapete and a few other places during the 1930s and 40s.We need to have plaques with information on K.V. Iyer. The present generation should know that with determination to serve the society, the ordinary can achieve extraordinary.

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