Kannada Literature – an Unbroken Literary History of Thousand Years

Kannada is one of the oldest surviving languages in the world. It is the official and administrative language of Karnataka. This is the language primarily spoken in the state of Karnataka; its native speakers are called Kannadigas. The total speakers worldwide amounts to about 50 million in numbers, making it one among the top thirty most spoken languages in the world. It is one of the scheduled languages of India and one of the four officially recognized classical languages of India.

While studying the history of literary Kannada we don’t come across sudden bright flashes here and there and a period of lull in between. The literary history of Kannada is continuous and has maintained its steady flow through the ages. Early Kannada while maintaining its Dravidian spirit has exchanged many ideas with Tamil and also has imbibed itself with the richness of Sanskrit as a language under its heavy influence.

The recognized epigraphy of Kannada dates back to the 3rd century BC and that of literary history to the early 6th century AD during the rule of Gangas. A rock edict of Emperor Ashoka at Brahmagiri has many Kannada words inscribed on it. Halmidi inscription of 450 AD clearly manifests the strength Kannada has acquired as an established language. Bruhathkathe is the literary work by Durvineetha, a poet in the Ganga court in about 600 AD; unfortunately the work is not available now. Literary works such as Kavirajamarga has laid the foundation for the forthcoming literary works as early as 850 AD. Vaddaradhane by Shivakotyacharya in about 900 AD, excellent works by the three jewels of early Kannada literature Pampa, Ponna and Ranna such as Adipurana, Pampa Bharatha, Shanthipurana, Ramakathe, Gadhayuddha, and Parashurama Charita and Karnatabhashabhushana, a treatise on Kannada grammar by Nagavarma 2nd , Shabdamanidarpana yet another work on Kannada grammar by Keshiraja are spanned in between 950 AD and 1250 AD. Harihara and RaghavankaRead more here