Born on 15 February 1940 in Hostota, Shri Manjunath Bhagwat Hostota is not only a well-known Yakshagana performer, but he has amalgamated a sense of social awareness along with spiritual awakening to the practice of the Yakshagana. Living the life of a sannyasi, he observes silence during the rainy season and composes new Yakshagana plays in verse. He has studied only up to the 4th standard, yet his contribution in adding new scripts to the traditional theatre form of Yakshagana is immense.
Shri Hostota learnt the nuances of Yakshagana from his guru Keremane Shivarama Hegde from 1951 to 1960. A performer proficient in all the wings of Yakshagana, whether it is singing or dancing, playing of drums or make-up, Shri Hostota has composed more than 160 Yakshagana plays in the traditional style, based on the Mahabharata, Ramayana and the Bhagavata such as Sri Ram Niryan, Sri Rama Mahime (collection of 19 plays), Sri Krishna Mahime (collection of 21 plays), Bhasavati, to name a few. The plays Maya Kolahala, Prabulinga Tile, and Sasaweshwara Charite composed by him to highlight the Virashaiva philosophy were broadcast by All India Radio, Dharwad. Among his published books are Yakshagana Talasutra, a free handbook for Yakshagana students; Sri Ramakrishna Charite (biography of Ramakrishna Paramahamsa in couplets); Pavadavalla Vismaya (autobiography), etc. He has directed Yakshagana plays for various troupes. He has attended a number of seminars and workshops and has given lecture-demonstrations in various universities and colleges of Karnataka. His play Akshara Vijaya to highlight the importance of literacy has been performed in more than 50 villages. He has composed Goverdhana Giri Pooje and Nisarga Sandana to create environmental awareness among the public. So far more than 1600 students have received training from him. He has imparted training to the blind children of Shimoga’s Sri Sharada Devi Andhara Vikas Kendra who have performed their show in more than 200 places.
Shri Hostota has been felicitated by a number of institutions for his overall service to Yakshagana of Karnataka such as Rajya Prashasti (State Award) by the Nataka Akademi, Bangalore in 1989; Janapada Vishesha by the Janapada Academy, Bangalore; and the Parti Subba Award by the Yakshagana Academy, Bangalore in 2012, among others.
Shri Manjunath Bhagwat Hostota receives the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award for 2014 for his contribution to Yakshagana.