Masti Venkatesh Iyengar, popularly known as ‘The father of short stories’, was born in Masti (Hongenahalli) village of Malur, Kolar. This is the house where he was born and spent a few years of his childhood. This house has been converted into a library now. Many books can be found here. Now, in this library, free coaching is being provided especially for CET and other competitive exams.
Masti was born on June 8, 1891 to Ramaswamy Iyengar – Tirumalamma couple. He was brought up in poverty, his primary education took place in Shivarapatnam of Honnenahalli, Malavalli, Krishnarajapete. After completing his high school education at Wesliyan School in Mysore, he perused graduation from Maharaja’s College by obtaining first class in FA degree, BA and M.C.A from Central College, Bangalore and passed by obtaining first class. Masti graduated from the Presidency College of Madras with an MA (English) and served as a lecturer for some time at the same college.
He got first class and passed the Civil Services in Mysore and became Assistant Commissioner in 1914. Masti, who was promoted and served as District Collector, was also the Commissioner of Excise department at the time of his retirement. Masti, who also served Kannada while he was working on all these responsibilities, had started writing stories while he was in college.
Masti who used to write his books under the pen name ‘Srinivas’ and his first book was ‘Rangana Maduve’. Even though Masti’s mother tongue was Tamil, due to his enormous contribution to Kannada literature, he is considered as ‘kannada’s treasure’. The one who has specially made vast contributions by writing short stories, he is popularly called as ‘karnataka’s Katha Brahma’. People still call him ‘story writers Anna’.
Rangana maduve’, ‘Matugara Mallanna’ are short stories written by Masti. He has authored many poetry collections such as Binnaha, Manavi, Aruna, Tavare, Sankranti, and so on. He has also written biographies of Rabindranath Tagore and Sri Ramakrishna. He is the author of several plays and two novels in Kannada. Including his autobiography ‘Bhava’, and ‘Matugara Ramanna’ the one he wrote and published just a few months before his demise, he has written around 123 works. This is the treasure that Masti has given to literary works in Kannada.
Masti, who had spent 21 years as editor of his own monthly magazine, ‘Jeevana’, had an expertise in composing both prose and verse. He has served as Vice-President of the Kannada Sahitya Parishat and also as president of the Akhila Bharata Sahitya Sammelana, Madras Sahitya Sammelana and the Mumbai Akhila Bharata Sammelana.
In 1942, the Maharaja of Mysore has honoured him by awarding the title of ‘Rajaseva Prasakta’. He has been conferred with the honorary doctorate of Karnataka University, Kendra Sahitya Akademi Award and Rajyotsava awards. He has received the Jnanapeetha Award for his ‘Chikaveera Rajendra’ work and is the fourth person to receive Jnanapeetha Award for Kannada.
Masti himself established a library in Masti town and a bookstore in Hongenahalli. Masti, who enriched the Kannada literary world for nearly seven decades, departed this life on June 6, 1986.