April 2000










Yakshagana poet Parthisubba is a celebrated composer of many Yakshagana prasangas. His place, time, and authorship have been the subject of much controversy. According to popular legends, Parthisubba was born in Kumble of Kasargod, Kumble was also known as Kanipura. Parthisubba was the son of one ‘Parthi’ (Parvathi) and hence his name. He was a great devotee of Lord Sri Kumble Kanipura Gopala Krishna.

Subba is said to be of prodigic brilliance and artistic abilities. He is believed to have visited and lived in Tiruvankod (Travencore) of Kerala, where he learnt and practiced Kathakkali (Ramanattam of that time). His Ramayana compositions show clear influence of Raja Kottarakara’s Ramayana Attakathagal.

After returning from Kerala, Subba is said to have founded the Mela (troupe) in Kumble, in which he brought in the Ramanattam influence on Yakshagana, which already existed. So Subba is believed to be the originator of a new regional style, the Tenkuthittu, the ‘Southern School’ of Yakshagana.

Subba has written light Ramayana episodes.  Puthrakameshti (including Seethakalyana), Pattabhisheka, Panchavati, Valivadhe, Chudamani, Sethubandhana, Angadasandhana, Yuddhakanda and Lava Kusha. He has also authored Krishna Balaleele and Airavatha. In addition he is also believed to be the author (probably the collector and editor) of Sabhalakshana. This Sabhalakshana is a collection of songs used for the preliminary (Purva Ranga) of Yakshagana.

Subba is a composer, poet of great ability. His compositions show a fine combination of literary flavoures, musical aptness, grip of rhythm and mood. His style is simple, yet profound. His expressions are very moving. He is model for operatic writing and are the basis of learning for Yakshagana singers.

Himself a Bhagawatha and actor, Subba had widely travelled. His Ramayana is being used all over Karnataka by the traditional theatre by all the styles of Bayalata.

Parthisubba is believed to have lived in about 1600 A.D.


M. Prabhakara Joshy



Bhishma Parva' by Idugunji Troupe,
 Sri Shambhu Hegde as Bhishma

Sri Idagunji Mahaganapathi Yakshagana Mela (Troupe) is one of the very important groups of Yakshagana. It has made significant contribution to the field. Idagunji is famous temple Pilgrim centre, about ten kilometre southeast of Honnavar in Uttarakannada District.

There was probably a Yakshagana troupe under the Iadgunji temple, at least by AD 1800. Actually, not one, but may be more than one. Because, Yakshagana troupes of the surrounding areas were all called Idagunji troupes only. So there would be three or four Idagunji Melas, simultaneously.

The presently famous Idagunji troupes, also known as ‘Keremane troupe’ was founded by the great acter Keremane Shivarama Hegde in 1934. This troupe heralded a new age. Shivarama Hegde combined the two Northern styles – the ‘Badagu’ of Dakshina Kannada and the ‘Badagu’ of Uttara Kannada- the two sub styles of Northern Yakshagana. The troupe made a mark on the field because of the great acting abilities of Shivarama Hegde, as well as, the new coordinated style. The troupe continued upto early 1960’s.

Keremane Shambhu Hedge revived his father troupe in 1974 and it ran eleven ‘thirugatas’ successfully. From 1985, it changed the its organisational structure and is now a giving performances of limited duration (Shivananda Hegde, Son of Shambhu Hegde) is now managing the troupe, with his father’s guidance.

Shambu Hegde’s troupe has many remarkable achievements. The troupe stood firm in the policy of adherence to good taste and traditional beauty of the art, in spite of groving commercial tendencies. Hegde struggled against many odds to base the troupe on a definite art policy. He made many imaginitive changes in the organisation like the reform in the stage design, better green room, better seating arrangement etc. His troupe gave some of the finest performances with himself in the lead role.

Krishna Sandhana, Harischandra, Chandrahasa, Pattabhiseka, Karthaveerya, Karnaparva - are some of the major success of this troupe. Shambhu enriched the dance and acting, bringing in new elements of stage craft and interpretation. Hegde is now also running a Yakshagana training centre. He has started the work of conducting Yakshagana Bhavana (Theatre-Auditorium) at Gunavante, Honnavar.

M. Prabhakara Joshy