Copyright
B. Lewis (Benjamin Lewis) Rice.

Mysore: a gazetteer compiled for government (Volume 1) online

. (page 59 of 98)
Online LibraryB. Lewis (Benjamin Lewis) RiceMysore: a gazetteer compiled for government (Volume 1) → online text (page 59 of 98)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


the Aryan languages the modifications of words, comprised under declension
and conjugation, were likewise originally expressed by agglutination. But
the component parts began soon to coalesce, so as to form one integral
word, liable in its turn to phonetic corruption to such an extent that it
became impossible after a time to decide which was the root and wliich the
modificatory element. The difference between an Aryan and a Turanian
language is somewhat the same as between good and bad mosaic. The
Aryan words seem made of one piece, the Turanian words clearly show the
sutures and fissures where the small stones are cemented together."

Professor Whitney has the following remarks on the subject : —

"The Dravidian tongues have some peculiar phonetic elements, are
richly polysyllabic, of general agglutinative structure, with prefixes only, and
very soft and harmonious in their utterance ; they are of a very high type of
agglutination, like the Finnish and Hungarian .... Excepting that they
show no trace of the harmonic sequence of vowels, these languages are not
in their structure so different from the Scythian that they might not belong
to one family with them, if only sufficient correspondences of material were
found between the two groups. And some have been ready, though on
grounds not to be accepted as sufficient, to declare them related."

The native grammarians, as is well known, deduce all the Intlian
languages from Sanskrit, through one or other of the Prakrits. Naga-



494 LANGUAGE

varma, the earliest Kannada grammarian whose works have been dis-
covered, assumes the existence in India of three and a-half mother
languages — Samskrita, Prakrita, Apabhrams'a and Paisdchika'^ — and of
fifty-six daughter languages sprung from them — Dravida, A'ndhra,
Karnataka, &c. But Kannada, in common with the cognate languages
of the south, recognizes four classes of words as in current use for
hterary purposes — ta/scDiia, pure Sanskrit words ; tadbhava, Sanskrit
words changed to suit the language ; dcs'ya, indigenous words ; and
gnimya, provincialisms. To these a later classification adds a/yvz^tVjv?,
foreign words. Now the dis'ya class alone can be taken to represent
the pure language of the country, the real Kannada as distinguished
from what has been imported from Sanskrit or other sources. And
this view is borne out by the fact that the dcs'ya words not only include
all the terms expressive of primitive ideas and common names of things
connected with the earlier stages of society, but that they form the bulk
of the language, and furnish the model on which terms introduced
from other languages are framed. Imported expressions, therefore,
though largely used — especially by Brahmans, who venerate Sanskrit,
and who are now the principal literary class — for the purpose of
imparting a scholarly elegance to their composition, are not essential
to the culture of the language.

The first cultivators of the Kannada language for literary purposes
were the Jains, and down to the twelfth century we have none but Jaina
authors. For about two centuries after, though an occasional Brahman
writer appears, they were succeeded principally by Lingayit and S'aiva
authors, and from about the sixteenth century date numerous Brahmanical
and Vaishnava works. There were during these later periods some
compositions by Jains, but most of the literature of later times
originated with the other sects. The leading characteristic of the
Jaina earlier works is that they are champu kdtyas, or poems in a
variety of composite metres, interspersed with paragraphs in prose.
The Lingayits principally made use of the raga/e and shatpadi metres
of the more modern works, while the most recent compositions are
in yaksha gdna metre, and some in prose only.

The Ancient Kannada, as Mr. Kittel says,'- is quite uniform, and shows
an extraordinary amount of polish and refinement. Its principal character-
istics are the elaborate and highly artificial champu composition, — strict
adherence to the use of now more or less disused case- and tense-signs
(that towards the end of the period were fixed in grammatical treatises) and
to the rules of syntax,— perspicuity resulting therefrom— the use of classical

' Perhaps called half a language because spoken only by barbarous tribes.
- Preface to Kannada- English Dictionary.



DIALECTS 495

Sanskrit also specifically Jaina) words in their unaltered form whenever
desirable or necessary as an aid in composition, and that of a conventionally
received number of Azrt'M^ZT/rtj (Sanskrit words changed to suit the tongue
of the Kannada people), — the proper distinction between the letters /, r, /,
/ and r, — alliteration carefully based also on this distinction, — and lastly
pleasing euphonic junction of letters. Mediaval KiDinadah^'g-xn to appear
as contained in the poetry of S'aiva and Lingdyit authors. It is, as a rule,
written in any one of the Shatpada metres, is somewhat negligent as to the
use of suffixes and the rules of syntax, and therefore occasionally ambiguous,
uses a few new suffixes, contains a number of tadbhavas not sanctioned by
previous authors, has entirely lost the letter / (using r or / in its stead), and
frequently changes the letter/ of the present or future verbal suffix and an
initial p into h. The transition to Modern Kannada, or the language of the
present day, is seen especially in the poetry of the Vaishnavas. Several
ancient verbs and nouns fell into disuse, the letter r began to be discarded,
at least so far as regards its proper position in alliteration, words borrowed
from Mahratti and Hindustani came into use, more frequent omission of
suffixes took place, etc. The Modern dialect comprises the present
Kannada of prose writings and of common conversation. Of these, the
first have two branches, one being tales, school-books and letters, and the
other, business proceedings (especially those of courts of justice). The
first branch differs from the second chiefly in so far as it is more exact in
the use of inflexional terminations and less abounding in Hindustani and
Mahratti. The language of ordinary conversation (excepting that of the
educated classes) may be called a union of the two branches that is less
particular in the choice of words, arbitrary about the use of suffixes, and at
the same time full of vulgarisms. Many words of the modern dialect also
are Sanskrit, especially such as are abstract, religious, or scientific terms.
The ancient form of the present tense has been changed, most verbal
suffixes have been somewhat altered, a few of the suffixes of nouns and pro-
nouns have ceased to be used, many verbs, nouns and particles have become
obsolete, and other verbs and nouns (based on existing roots) have been
formed. But in spite of this, of the introduction of much Hindustani and
Mahratti, of the lack of refinement, etc., the Modern dialect is essentially
one with the Ancient and the Mediicval. It is, however, not uniform, but
more or less varies according to localities.

On the history and extent of Kannada literature an immense
amount of light has been thrown in recent years. My researches had
brought into my hands a number of ancient manuscript works
previously unknown, an examination of the references in which,
combined with dates in some, enabled the preparation of a provisional
chronological table of authors. The results were communicated by me
to the Royal Asiatic Society in London in 1882, 1883 and 1890. loiter
and fuller information was separately published by me in this last year.'

' In my IiUruduclion lo tlic Karnalaka-S' abdiinusWsanaiii. These researches



496 LITER A TURK

The oldest work of which manuscripts have actually been oV)tained
is the Kavirdjamdrga of Nripatiinga, whiclt was composed in the ninth
century. But we have references which enable us to place the rise of
Kannada literature much farther back than this. In fact, there seems
reason to believe that Kannada was the earliest to be cultivated of all
the South Indian languages. Ancient inscriptions give us the initial
information on the subject.

The first notice we have of authorship is in connection with the
Ganga kings. Simhanandi, who helped to establish this dynasty,
perhaps in the second century, is classed as a great poet ; Madhava, the
second king, ruling in about the third century, is stated to have written
a commentary on the law of adoption : and Durvinita, the eighth
king, about the fifth century, is said to have had the celebrated Jaina
grammarian Piijyapada for his preceptor, and to have written a
commentary on a portion of Bharavi's poem, the Kiratarjuniya. Of
course it does not follow that any of these wrote in Kannada. But
it becomes not improbable from the fact that Nripatunga, in naming
Kannada authors who had preceded him, expressly mentions Uurvinita,
and as this is an uncommon name, most unlikely to be borne by other
persons, it may be concluded that he means the Ganga king.

Again, all the principal poets, in the introductory part of their works,
refer to Samantabhadra, Kaviparimeshthi and Pdjyapada, invariably in
this order, as forming the earliest and most distinguished trio among
the authors who preceded them. The first may, according to
tradition, be placed in about the second century. The second, whose
real name must have been Brahma, and who is probably the one
called Kavis'vara among the early Kannada poets named by Nripatunga,
must naturally be placed some time between the other two. Pujyapada
we have already seen belongs to about the fifth century.

We next have a very remarkable combination of statements.
Bhattakalanka, in his great grammar of the language, mentions the
Chiidamani, a work of no less than 96,000 verses, in terms of the
highest praise, as if it were the most important production in early
Kannada literature. Inscriptions^ further inform us that its author was
S'rivarddha, also called the Tumbulur-acharya, and that it displayed all
the graces of composition. Unfortunately no trace of the work has as yet
been discovered. The most interesting statement of all, however, is

have been followed up with real interest by Mr. R. Narasimhachari, M.A., now
Kannada Translator to the Education Department, and he has placed at my disposal
some notes prepared by him on the subject. I am glad, therefore, to be able to
incorporate the additional information thus supplied.
' Sravan Belgola, No. 54 ; Mysore District, T.N. 105.



EARL V A UTHORS 497

that S'rivarddha's eloquence was praised in a couplet by the celebrated
Sanskrit author Dandi, who is assigned by the principal Orientalists to
the sixth century. Hence S'rivarddha must have lived at or before that
time. Moreover, a work of such extent as his could neither have been
produced nor required unless there had pre-existed a considerable
literature in Kannada and a wide-spread culture of the language.
These considerations dispose of any objections that might be raised
against the dates previously given as being too early.

We next have mention of a Ravikirti in 634, whose fame equalled
that of Kdliddsa and Bharavi. Nripatunga also names as his
predecessors in Kannada composition, besides those given above,
Vimala, Udaya, Nagarjuna, Jayabandhu, S'rivijaya, Chandra, and
L6kapala. Of these, Vimala was probably Vimalachandra, whose
disciple Vadiraja was guru to the Ganga king Rachamalla. S'rivijaya
was praised by Vadiraja, and therefore came before him. Chandra
may be the Chandrabhatta mentioned by some later authors.

We now come to Nripatunga, and a more certain period, amply
illustrated by works that are extant. Nripatunga, or Amoghavarsha,
was a Rashtrakiita king, who, after an unusually long reign, from 814 to
877, voluntarily abdicated the throne. He evidently took a great
interest in the Kannada country, people and language. In his work
called Kavirajamdrga,' the subject of which is alankara (rhetoric or
elegant composition), he makes some interesting statements. "The
region which extends from the Kaveri as far as the G6davari," he says,
" is the country in which Kannada is spoken, the most beautiful land
in the circle of the earth. In the central parts thereof, situated
between Kisuvolal, the famous great city of Kopana, Puligere, and the
justly celebrated Onkunda, is found the pith {tiru/) of high Kannada."
Of these places, the first is the modern Pattadakal in Kaladgi district,
Kopana is probably Kopal in the south-west of the Nizam's Dominions,
Puligere is Lakshmes'vara in the Miraj State, and Onkunda, perhaps
Vakkunda, in Belgaum district. The region indicated, owing to the
numerous vicissitudes through which it has passed, is far from being
regarded at the present day as the seat of the purest Kannada, which
is more probably to be found in Mysore. Nripatunga also praises the
Kannada people as having by nature an ear for poetry, and as speaking
in a rhythmical manner, though quite unstudied. He states Kannada,
moreover, to be a much more difficult language in which to compose
poetry than either Sakkada (San.skrit) or Pagada (Prakrit).

Gunabhadra, preceptor of Nripatunga's son Krishna while yet yuva-

• Now going through the press, under my



Online LibraryB. Lewis (Benjamin Lewis) RiceMysore: a gazetteer compiled for government (Volume 1) → online text (page 59 of 98)