A. K. Ramanujan

A. K. Ramanujan (1929–1993) was born Attipat Krishnaswami Ramanujan in Mysore, India, the second of six children. A Tamil Brahmin of the Sri Vaishnava caste, Ramanujan grew up speaking Tamil, English, Sanskrit, and Kannada. He was educated at Mysore University and the Deccan College in India and at Indiana University, where he received a Ph.D. in linguistics, his thesis later published as a monograph titled A Generative Grammar of Kannada. A poet in English and Kannada, a translator from Kannada and Tamil, as well as a scholar, folklorist, philologist, playwright, and essayist, Ramanujan, as Wendy Doniger once wrote, “blazed a great path through the center of Indological studies. He gave us so many new paradigms that no Indologist can now think about India without thinking through his thoughts.” Ramanujan served on the University of Chicago faculty for thirty-two years and was a professor in the Department of Linguistics and of South Asian Languages and Civilizations. His accidental discovery of an anthology of classical Tamil poems in the uncatalogued basement stacks of the university’s Harper Library led to The Interior Landscape. In 1976 the Government of India bestowed the title of Padma Shri, one of its most prestigious civilian awards, upon Ramanujan for his contributions to Indian literature and linguistics, and in 1983 he received a MacArthur Fellowship. A.K. Ramnujan’s many publications include The Collected Poems of A.K. Ramanujan, The Collected Essays of A.K. Ramanujan, Folktales from India, Speaking of Siva, and Nammalvar: Hymns for the Drowning.