Kukkila Krishna Bhat (1911-1988) is one of the major pioneers of Yakshagana research. He laid the foundaries for analysing this art on classical lines, by his writings on the basic aspects of this art on the basis of his wide and deep learning in Shasthras.
Born at Kukkila near Vittla of Bantwal Taluk, Krishan Bhat had his early initiation into Sanskrit and Kannada by his grandfather, whose name he inherited. Later he had advanced learning in Chandas (prosody), Natyashastra (classical dramatology) and literature under great scholars of his time like Kanneppady Parameshwara Shasthry, Darbe Narayana Shasthry, Krishna Udupa and others. He was a close associate and relative of another great scholar Sediyapu Krishna Bhat. He did not learn for degrees. He studied for knowledge.
His articles on Yakshagana established the classical foundation of Yakshagana. He showed that Yakshagana inherits the classical tradition of Sage Bharatha’s Natyashasthra.
His articles on music, chandas and on aspects of Shasthra research established him among the top ranking researchers in Kannada.
He edited poet Parthisubb’s Yakshagana Prasangas (composition) on modern editing lines – a first venture of its kind. His ‘Chandombudhi’ and ‘Bharathiya Sangeetha Shasthra’ are classics in those fields. He made major contributions to the date and authorship of Poet Parthisubba.
Kukkila was a tireless reader and an ardent explorer of Shasthric concepts. His method is logical and analysis brilliant. He knew Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu, Sanskrit and English besides Kannada.
His research articles have been published in 1998 by Karnataka Sangha Puttur under the name ‘Kukkila Samputa’ (Editor : Author of this article). His prose translation of Tamil classic ‘Shilappadikaram’ has been published by the Kannada University of Hampi. He was an agriculturist by profession.
A warm and friendly person, Kukkila was a scholar with ‘real love for learning’.
He will always be remembered in Yakshagana for his scholarly analysis of the art.
Dr M Prabhakara Joshy