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Kannada Poets Mentioned in Inscriptions

Kannada Poets Mentioned in Inscriptions
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Item Code: NAL225
Author: T. T. Sharman
Publisher: Archaeological Survey of India
Language: Kannada
Edition: 1998
Pages: 40
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details: 11.0 inch X 8.5 inch
weight of the book: 320 gms

Of the cultivated languages o the South, Kannada or Karnataka stands second to none. The Karnataka country and the Karnataka language are of great antiquity. "Karnataka" is mentioned by Panini, Vatsyayana and Varahamihira. The mention of Banavasi, the capital of the Kadambas in Asoka inscriptions, the mention of Erumaiyuran in Tamil Sangam literature, and the discovery of the papyri at Oxyrhynchus in Lower Egypt are too well known to are too well known to require repetition.

Some scholars hold that there must have existed quite a large number of Kannada works during the days of Buddhistic supremecy over the Karnataka, which have been lost to us now. In their opinion Nagarjuna, Vimalodaya, and others mentioned by Nripatunga in his Kavirjamarga are Buddhist authors. But according to some others Buddhism does not seem to have made much headway in the Karnataka, their argument being that not even a single Buddhistic work is available in the whole range of Karnataka literature.

When Jainism took the place of Busshism in the Karnataka, Kannada was highly cultivated under the patronage of the ruling families and even became a vehicle of their Pampa, Ranna, Janna and Honna, rhetoricians like Nripatunga Nagavarma and Udayaditya, and scientists like Rajaditya, Chandraja and Kirtivarma. With the beginning of the rise of Basava in the 12th century Jain authors in Kannada began to disappear, their place being taken by the Virasaivas and the Vaishavas. Virasaism was also a mass-movement and naturally gave a great impetus to the language of the masses. The classis Champu style of the Jains fell into disuse and the popular Shtpadi, Ragale, Sangatya and Vachana took its place.

The beginning of the 16th century sae the Brahmanie counter-revival. The Bhakti cult or Marga, the dominant religious movement of this period, produced Poet-saints like Purandaradasa, Kanakadasa, Jagannathadasa and a host of others. Their shatpadis, songs and narratives form the sweetest of the Kannada literature of this period. "It is not to be under-stood, however, that above periods of Jaina. Virasaiva and Vaishnava literatures are marked off from one another by hard and fast lines, and that during the literary predomi-nance of one sect no works originated with the other."

The advent of the British and introduction of the European system of education have had their own effect on Kannada literature. We have to-day a large number of poets and dramatists, who have composed original works and translated from best western writers; but even the best work of the period cannot stand comparison with a third rate work of any of the former three periods. It is because the age it barren and devoid of imagination.

Systematic enquiry and scientific research in regard to Kannada language and literature largely own their origin to western scholars like the Rav. Kittel and Mr. Rice. It was Rev. Kittle who for the first time collected and published an account of a few Kannada poet in his preface to Nagavarma's Chhandombudhi, in 1875. He was followed by Mr. Rice who published a somewhat fuller account of Kannada poets in his introduction to Bhattakalamka's Sabdanusasana. "These accounts are necessarily brief and incomplete and contain a few statements which recent research has show to be incorrect. Further, being written in English, their accounts though useful to the English-knowing Kannadigas, are not of much use to the bulk of the Kannadigs who are ignorant of English." In 1907 appeared the first volume of the "Lives of Kannasa Poets" (up to the 14th century), the life-long labours of the late S.G. Narasimhacharya, whose sound scholarship and poetical skill commanded admiration from all the Kannadiags, and of Rao Bahadur R. Narasimha-charya, Director of Archaeological Researches in Mysore (since retired). Twelve years passed before the second volume appeared, and we have to-day the Lives of Karnnada poets brought up to the end to the 17th century. The able scholar, Mr. R. Narasimha-charya, promises us third and last volume shortly which is to bring the work up to date.

The object of this memoir is to supplement the two volume of the Lives of Kannada Poet and place before the public a few additional names of Kannasa poets who are mentioned in inscriptions. South-Indian History, it must be understood, is largely dependent upon South-Indian Epigraphy for its material, political, social, religious or literary. As will be seen in the body of the article, much of the matter in the sequel as been taken from the Madras Annual Reports on Epigraphy and from other published Epigraphical literature. Kannada inscriptions in general and those of the Chalukya, Rashtrakuta, Yadava and Hoysala in particular, are in themselves excellent specimens of literary composition. Some of them read little Champu-Kavya (e.g. see Epigraphia India, Volume XIII, page 326), and in some cause the names of the poets who composed these records are given. The authors of the Lives of Kannada Poets have already brought to light nearly seventy poets mentioned in inscriptions. In a few causes only their names are preserved. Still their mention cannot be understand; for it is not unlikely that some day their works be discovered and their importance established.

In the Office of the Assistant Archaeological Superintendent for Epigraphy, Madras, are a number of Kannada inscriptions which are not yet published. Some of these are indeed literary production worth recording as Kavyas. An inscription of the time of the Vijyanagara King Krishnadevaraya mentions a drama Tayikundu-Nataka by name. It also states advanced the cause of literary production. Dandanayaka Damapayya of Uchchangi (Madras Epigraphical collection for 899, No. 135) is called 'sakala-vidvajjanamritarnava-purna-chandra,' ,chatura-chaturmukha' and ;bhasha-chaturbhuja'; Sitadevi wife of Tribhuvaua-malladeva-Chola- Maharja, was a great scholar and a patron of letters, and is referred to in the following terms: 'asritavibudhajana-sudhe', 'kavi-gamaki-vadi-vagmindra-vaitalika-pathakadijana-paritushte (ibid. No. 121); Padmaladevi, wife of Tribhuvanamalla, was called abhinava-Sarasvati' and 'sakal-kaladbari' (ibid. For 1913, No. No. 122); Rebbanabbe, wife of Raviga-Chamupa, seems to have been the greatest poetess of the time and is addressed as 'pratibha-Sarasvati,' 'sakala-kala-pravine' and kavipravaranute' (ibid. No 128). There are a few important records, fully discussed in the sequel, which help us immensely not only in identifying some authors already familiar to Kannada literature, but in revealing to us some valuable details about their lives of which the literary world has been in the dark till now. The following are some of the instances:- (1) Udayadity the author of an Alankara work in Kannada and Udayaditya, the ruler of Pennapari-nadu with its capita at Tadpatri (Madras Epigraphical collection for 1892, No. 338) are possibly not two different persons.

(2) Lakshmidhara, the Minister of Devaraya II and a nephew of Madhavacharya the famous Advaita protagonist, was not only a patron of letters but also a great poet himself (Inscription No. 38 of 1889).

(3) Narayana-Bhatta, the done of the Nadamapundi grant of Raja-Raja-Narendra, was a great poet in Samskrit, Karnataka, Prakrita and Andhra.

(4) I take this opportunity of tendering my sincere thanks to Sir John Marshall, Kt., C.I.E, etc., Director-general of Archaeology in India, for allowing me to publish this note as a Memoir of the Archaeological Survey of India in Kanarese. My special thanks are due to Rao Bahadur H. Krishna Sastri, Government Epigraphist, for his continuous encourage ment and his valuable in the preparation of the present note.

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