The poet was born Feb. 5 during the 1930s on the northern outskirts of Devanahalli, according to the Times, and he went on to become a geologist by trade. However, he earned world renown as a poet.
Political leaders from all parties, including the Karnataka Chief Minister B. S. Yediyurappa, former Prime Minister H. D. Deve Gowda and former Chief Minister H. D. Kumaraswamy, have made public comments mourning his death. Many others have taken to social media to celebrate his life and poetry.
He Was A Geologist by Trade
After earning a post-graduate degree in geology, Ahmed worked for the state government in the 1950s and ’60s in the Mysore Mines (also called the Kolar Gold Fields) and the geology department in Gulbarga.
He moved from Gulbarga to Bengaluru and became a geology professor at the state-run college, as reported by a local Karnataka news site. During the 1970s, he traveled to cities in the Malnad region, where he taught in Chitradurga and at the Sahyadri First Grade College in Shimoga, the Deccan Herald reported.
During that time, he also wrote many of India’s most beloved poems, plays, short stories and novels in Kannada, a Dravidian language common in Southwest India.
He Produced Many Famous Works
One of his most famous works was Nithyotsava, a poem about Jog Falls, a waterfall on the Shravathi river located in Karnataka.
It was picked up by singers of Sugama Sangeeta, a form of light music, and quickly became popular, leading Ahmed to be affectionately called, “Nityotsava Kavi” or The Nityotsava Poet.
Ahmed also contributed to important literary movements in India. He popularized the country’s Navya literary movement, an introspective and modernist way of viewing life, though he eventually moved away from it.
Some of his most famous poems, the Times of India reported, include Nimmodaniddu Nimmantaagade, a poem describing the challenges of personal religion and Kurigalu Saar Kurigalu, a poem he wrote during the Sino-Indian war mocking people’s herd-like, follow-the-leader instincts.
Ahmed also translated some of William Shakespeare’s works, such as Othello and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, into Kannada.
He Won Several Awards
Ahmed was awarded the Rajyotsava Award in 1981 and the Karnataka Sahitya Akademi Award in 1982 for his anthology of short poems, Anaamika Anglaru, the Deccan Herald reported. In 2007, he chaired the annual Sahitya Sammelana, a gathering of writers and poets who celebrate the Kannada language, and he inaugurated the Dasara celebrations in 2007.
Ahmed went on to receive the Padma Sri Award in 2008. Nine years later, he was granted the highest literary award in the state, the Pampa Award, for his contributions to Kannada literature, The Hindu reported; he was also granted an honorary doctorate by Kuvempu University in 2010.
The Times of India reported that Kannada Book Authority President M. N. Nandish Hanche described Ahmed’s works as eternal and said he was one of the century’s best poets.
He Outlived His Wife and Son
Ahemd’s wife, Shahnawaz Begum, died at the age of 77 last year, the Star of Mysore reported. She had worked as a teacher in a private school and the couple had two daughters and two sons together.
One of his sons, Naveed, had told the newspaper that his father had traveled to the U.S. for treatment in January of this year.
“My father’s condition is bad. Currently, he has gone to the U.S. for further treatment. My sisters are in the U.S. Once he is back, his treatment will continue in Bengaluru. I have been diagnosed with mouth cancer and I am scheduled to get operated (on) next Friday at Apollo Hospital on Bannerghatta Road.”
Ahmed was so beloved that the Bangalore government passed a resolution giving him the equivalent of more than $26,000 for him and his son’s cancer treatments, The Times of India reported. “Nisar Ahmed has made an invaluable contribution to Kannada literature,” they said in the resolution.
Naveed then died from cancer, leaving Ahmed “shattered,” according to reports from the Deccan Herald.
The poet drew his last breath at his home in Padmanabha Nagar less than six months later.