Kannada, Kannadiga, Kannadigaru, Karnataka,

Kannadigarella ondaagi Kannadavannu ulisona, kalisona and belesona



Kannada (р▓.р▓ир│Нр▓ир▓б Kannaс╕Нa) is one of the major Dravidian languages of India, spoken predominantly in the southern state of Karnataka. It is the 27th most spoken language in the world, with native speakers called Kannadigas (р▓.р▓ир│Нр▓ир▓бр▓┐р▓Чр▓░р│Б Kannadigaru) numbering roughly around 35 million.[1] It is one of the Official languages of India and the official and administrative language of the state of Karnataka.[3]

Kannada is attested to by one of the earliest epigraphies in India. The first written record in the Kannada language is traced to Emperor Ashoka‘s Brahmagiri edict dated 230 BC. At present, a committee of scholars is seeking a classical language tag for Kannada based on its antiquity.[4]

The Kannada language is written using the Kannada script. The other native languages of Karnataka, Tulu, Kodava Takk and Konkani are also written using the Kannada script. Contemporary Kannada literature is the most successful in India, with India’s highest literary honor, the Jnanpith awards, having been conferred seven times upon Kannada writers, which is the highest for any language in India.[5]


History and development

The Halmidi inscription at Halmidi village dated 450 CE. (Kadamba Dynasty)

The Halmidi inscription at Halmidi village dated 450 CE. (Kadamba Dynasty)

Kannada is one of the oldest Dravidian languages with an antiquity of at least 2000 years.[6][7][8][9][10] The spoken language is said to have separated from its proto-Dravidian source earlier than Tamil and about the same time as Tulu.[11] However, the archaeological evidence would indicate a written tradition for this language of around 1600 years. The initial development of the Kannada language is similar to that of other Dravidian languages and independent of Sanskrit.[12] During later centuries, Kannada, along with other Dravidian languages like Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam, etc., has been greatly influenced by Sanskrit in terms of vocabulary, grammar and literary styles.[13][14][15]

Stone inscriptions

Bilingual Kannada-Devanagari inscription of Badami Chalukyas at Badami cave temple (6th. c.CE.)

Bilingual Kannada-Devanagari inscription of Badami Chalukyas at Badami cave temple (6th. c.CE.)

The first written record in the Kannada language is traced to Emperor Ashoka‘s Brahmagiri edict dated 230 BC.[16][4] The first example of a full-length Kannada language stone inscription (shilashaasana) containing Brahmi characters with charateristics resembling those of Tamil in Hale Kannada (Old Kannada) script can be found in the Halmidi inscription, dated c. 450 CE, indicating that Kannada had become an administrative language by this time.[17][18][19][20] Over 30,000 inscriptions written in the Kannada language have been discovered so far.[21] The Chikkamagaluru inscription of 500 CE is another example.[22][23] Prior to the Halmidi inscription, there is an abundance of inscriptions containing Kannada words, phrases and sentences, proving its antiquity. The 543 CE Badami cliff inscription of Pulakesi I is an example of a Sanskrit inscription in Hale Kannada script.[24][25]

Copper plates and Manuscripts

Examples of early Sanskrit-Kannada bilingual copper plate inscriptions (tamarashaasana) are the Tumbula inscriptions of the Western Ganga Dynasty dated 444 CE.[26][27] The earliest full-length Kannada copper plates in Old Kannada script (early eighth century CE) belongs to the Alupa King Aluvarasa II from Belmannu, South Kanara district and displays the double crested fish, his royal emblem.[28] The oldest well-preserved palm leaf manuscript is in Old Kannada and is that of Dhavala, dated to around the ninth century, preserved in the Jain Bhandar, Mudbidri, Dakshina Kannada district.[29] The manuscript contains 1478 leaves written using ink.[29]

Influence on other cultures and languages

7th century Old Kannada inscription on Chandragiri hill, Shravanabelagola

7th century Old Kannada inscription on Chandragiri hill, Shravanabelagola

Badami Chalukya inscription in Old Kannada, Virupaksha Temple, 745 CE Pattadakal

Badami Chalukya inscription in Old Kannada, Virupaksha Temple, 745 CE Pattadakal

The influence of Old Kannada on the language of the TamilBrahmi inscriptions from the second century BCE to the sixth century CE has been brought to light through observations made using grammatical and lexical analysis.[10][9][30] The 9th century writing Kavirajamarga refers to the entire area between the Kaveri River and the Godavari River as Kannada country, implying that the language was popular farther north in present-day Maharashtra.[31][32][33] Owing to its popularity in modern Maharashtra during medieval times, Kannada has had an influence on the neighbouring Gujarati language as well.[34] The Charition mime, a Greek drama discovered at Oxyrhynchus and dated to the second century CE or earlier, contains scenes where Indian characters in the skit speak dialogue which appears to be in Kannada.[35][36] Prior to and during the early Christian era, the Kannada-speaking cultural area seems to have had close trade ties with the Greek and Roman empires of the West. Greek dramatists of the fourth century BCE, particularly Euripides and Aristophanes, appear to have been familiar with the Kannada language. This is evident in their usage of Kannada words and phrases in their dramas and skits.[8]

Kannada inscriptions were not only discovered in Karnataka but also quite commonly in Andhra Pradesh,[37] Maharashtra[38][39] and Tamil Nadu.[40][41] Some inscriptions were also found in Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat.[42] As an example, the inscription at Jura 964 CE (Jabalpur), belonging to the reign of Rashtrakuta Krishna III, is regarded as an epigraphical landmark of classical Kannada literary composition, with charming poetic diction in polished Kannada metre.[43] This indicates the spread of the influence of the language over the ages, especially during the rule of large Kannada empires. Because of coexistance with Kannada, Tulu, Kodava, Sankethi, and Konkani have also borrowed many words from Kannada.


Some early Kadamba Dynasty coins bearing the Kannada inscription Vira and Skandha were found in Satara collectorate.[44] A gold coin bearning three inscriptions of Sri and an abbreviated inscription of king Bhagiratha’s name called bhagi (390-420 CE) in old Kannada exists.[45] Recent discovery of a copper coin dated to the fifth century CE in Banavasi, Uttara Kannada district with the inscription Srimanaragi in Kannada script proves that Kannada had become an official language by the time of the Kadambas of Banavasi.[46] Coins with Kannada legends have been discovered spanning the rule of the Western Ganga Dynasty, the Badami Chalukyas, the Alupas, the Western Chalukyas, the Rashtrakutas, the Hoysalas, the Vijayanagar Empire, the Kadamba Dynasty of Banavasi, the Keladi Nayakas and the Mysore Kingdom, the Badami Chalukya coins being a recent discovery.[47][48][49] The coins of the Kadambas of Goa are unique in that they have alternate inscription of the king’s name in Kannada and Devanagari in triplicate,[50] a few coins of the Kadambas of Hangal are also available.[51]

Phases of evolution

9th century old Kannada inscription of Rashtrakutas at Navalinga temple in Kuknur, Karnataka

9th century old Kannada inscription of Rashtrakutas at Navalinga temple in Kuknur, Karnataka

The written Kannada language has come under various religious and social influences in its 1600 years of known existence. Linguists generally divide the written form into four broad phases.

Poorvada Halegannada or Pre-ancient Kananda

This is the language of Halmidi scripture known to be from the fifth century CE. From available epigraphical evidence it can be concluded that the spoken Kannada language evolved much earlier than that of the Halmidi inscription. The language of the Halmidi inscription is said to be highly Sanskritized.[52]

Halegannada or Ancient Kannada

From the ninth to fourteenth centuries CE, Kannada works were classified under Old Kannada. In this period Kannada showed a high level of maturity as a language of original literature.[53] Mostly Jain and Saivite poets produced works in this period. This period saw the growth of Jain puranas and Virashaiva Vachana Sahitya or simply vachana, a unique and native form of literature which was the summary of contributions from all sections of society.[54][55] Early Brahminical works also emerged from the eleventh century.[56] By the tenth century Kannada had seen its greatest poets, such as Pampa, Sri Ponna and Ranna, and its great prose writings such as the Vaddaradhane of Shivakotiacharya, indicating that a considerable volume of classical prose and poetry in Kannada had come into existence a few centuries before Kavirajamarga.[57] Among existing landmarks in Kannada grammar, Nagavarma II‘s Karnataka-bhashabhushana (1145) and Kesiraja’s Sabdamanidarpana (1260) are the oldest.[58][59]

Nadugannada or Middle Kannada

In the period between the fourteenth and eighteenth centuries CE, Brahmanical Hinduism had a great influence on Kannada language and literature. Non-brahmin Hindu saints like Kanakadasa and Brahminical saints of the Vaishnava sect such as Purandaradasa, Naraharitirtha, Vyasatirtha, Sripadaraya, Vadirajatirtha, Vijaya Dasa, Jagannathadasa, etc., produced devotional poems in this period.[60] Kanakadasa’s Ramadhanya Charite is a rare work, concerning itself with the issue of class struggle.[61] This period saw the advent of Haridasa Sahitya which made rich contributions to bhakti literature and sowed the seeds of Carnatic music.

Hosagannada or Modern Kannada

The Kannada works produced by the end of the nineteenth century and later are classified as Hosagannada or Modern Kannada. However, till the beginning of the twentieth century there were Kannada literary works that could still be classified under the heading of Middle Kannada. Most notable among them are the poet Muddana’s works. His works may be described as the “Dawn of Modern Kannada”. Generally, linguists treat Indira Bai or Saddharma Vijayavu by Gulvadi Venkata Raya as the first literary works in Modern Kannada.

Literature and poetry

  • Kannadiga
  • Kannada American
  • Languages of India
  • List of national languages of India
  • List of Indian languages by total speakers
  • Bangalore kannada
  • Karnataka
  • Kannada literature
  • Karnataka literature – A list of famous Kannada scholars and their works.
  • Kannada language Wikipedia
  • Notes

    1. ^ a b c Languages Spoken by More Than 10 Million People. Encarta.
    2. ^ Top 30 languages of the world. Vistawide.
    3. ^ The Karnataka Official Language Act. Official website of Department of Parliamentary Affairs and Legislation. Government of Karnataka. Retrieved on 200706-29.
    4. ^ a b c Declare Kannada a classical language. Online webpage of The Hindu. The Hindu. Retrieved on 200706-29.
    5. ^ Awardees detail for the Jnanpith Award. Official website of Bharatiya Jnanpith. Bharatiya Jnanpith. Retrieved on 200706-29.
    6. ^ Kamath (2001), pp5-6
    7. ^ Purava HaleGannada or Pre-old Kannada was the language of Banavasi in the early Christian era, the Satavahana and Kadamba eras (Wilks in Rice, B.L. (1897), p490)
    8. ^ a b c Sri K. Appadurai. The place of Kannada and Tamil in Indias national culture. Copyright INTAMM. 1997. Retrieved on 200611-25.
    9. ^ a b Indira Parathasarathy. Records and revelations. Early Tamil Epigraphy: From the Earliest Times to the Sixth Century A.D., Iravatham Mahadevan. The Hindu, Sunday, August 3, 2003. Retrieved on 200611-25.
    10. ^ a b Iravatham Mahadevan. Early Tamil Epigraphy from the Earliest Times to the Sixth Century AD. Harvard University Press. Retrieved on 200704-12.
    11. ^ A family tree of Dravidian languages. Sourced from Encyclopaedia Britannica.
    12. ^ Kittel (1993), p1-2
    13. ^ “Literature in all Dravidian languages owes a great deal to Sanskrit, the magic wand whose touch raised each of the languages from a level of patois to that of a literary idiom”. (Sastri 1955, p309)
    14. ^ Takahashi, Takanobu. 1995. Tamil love poetry and poetics. BrillтАЩs Indological library, v. 9. Leiden: E.J. Brill, p16,18
    15. ^ “The author endeavours to demonstrate that the entire Sangam poetic corpus follows the “Kavya” form of Sanskrit poetry”-Tieken, Herman Joseph Hugo. 2001. K─Бvya in South India: old Tamil Caс╣Еkam poetry. Groningen: Egbert Forsten
    16. ^ The word Isila found in the Ashokan inscription (called the Brahmagiri edict from Karnataka) meaning to shoot an arrow is a Kannada word, indicating that Kannada was a spoken language in the third century BCE (Dr. D.L. Narasimhachar in Kamath 2001, p5)
    17. ^ Ramesh (1984), p10
    18. ^ Encyclopaedia of Indian literature vol. 2, Sahitya Akademi (1988), p1717
    19. ^ A report on Halmidi inscription, Muralidhara Khajane. Halmidi village finally on the road to recognition. The Hindu, Monday, November 3, 2003. The Hindu. Retrieved on 200611-25.
    20. ^ Kamath (2001), p10
    21. ^ Staff Reporter. Press demand for according classical status to Kannada. The Hindu, Monday, April 17, 2006. The Hindu. Retrieved on 200706-29.
    22. ^ Narasimhacharya (1988), p6
    23. ^ Rice (1921), p13
    24. ^ Kamath (2001), p58
    25. ^ Azmathulla Shariff. Badami: Chalukyans’ magical transformation. Spectrum, Deccan Herald, Tuesday, July 26, 2005. Deccan Herald. Retrieved on 200611-25.
    26. ^ In bilingual inscriptions the formulaic passages stating origin myths, geneologies, titles of kings and benedictions tended to be in Sanskrit, while the actual terms of the grant such as information on the land or village granted, its boundaries, the participation of local authorities, the rights and obligations of the grantee, taxes and dues and other local concerns were in the local language. The two languages of many such inscriptions were Sanskrit and the regional language such as Tamil or Kannada (Thapar 2003, pp393-394)
    27. ^ N. Havalaiah. Ancient inscriptions unearthed. The Hindu, Saturday, January 24, 2004. The Hindu. Retrieved on 200611-25.
    28. ^ Gururaj Bhat in Kamath (2001), p97
    29. ^ a b Mukerjee, Shruba. Preserving voices from the past. Deccan Herald, Sunday, August 21, 2005. Sunday Herald. Retrieved on 200704-11.
    30. ^ K.N. Venkatasubba Rao. Kannada likely to get classical tag. The Hindu, Wednesday, October 4, 2006. The Hindu. Retrieved on 200611-25.
    31. ^ Sastri (1955), p355
    32. ^ Rice, E.P. (1921), p12
    33. ^ a b Rice, B.L. (1897), p497
    34. ^ Masica (1991), pp45-46
    35. ^ Dr. Hultzsch, E. (1904), “Remarks on a papyrus from Oxyrhynchus”, Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, 1904: 399-405
    36. ^ Shama Sastry, M. Govinda Pai and B.A. Saletore argued that the language was indeed Kannada, whereas Dr. Barnett rejected this idea. (Kamath 2001, p5)
    37. ^ Dr. Shama Shastry, N. Lakshminarayana Rao. Indian Inscriptions, South Indian Inscriptions – vol 9. Archaeological Survey of India. What Is India Publishers (P) Ltd. Retrieved on 200611-25.
    38. ^ Inscriptions, place names and manuscripts prove that regions such as Kolhapur and Sholapur were at one time Kannada-speaking areas, where Marathi is now spoken.Rice E.P.. [1] History of Kannada literature, 2nd edition (revised)]. Google. Google Book Search. Retrieved on 200706-29., p12
    39. ^ Kannada was an administrative language in Devagiri (present day Daulatabad), the Seuna capital, from the tenth to the thirteenth centuries CE. (Srinivas Ritti & O.P. Varma in Kamath 2001, p137)
    40. ^ The famous Kanchi Kailasanatha temple inscriptions of Chalukya Vikramaditya II, inscribed after the capture of Kanchipuram (K.V. Ramesh 1984, pp159-161)
    41. ^ The inscriptions of Rashtrakuta Krishna III on a victory pillar at Rameshvaram describing his victories against the Cholas, Pandyas and Keralas and the tributes he received from the King of Ceylon. (Kamath 2001, p83)
    42. ^ The princes of the Gujarat line hailing from the Rashtrakuta family signed their Sanskrit records in Kannada, examples of which are the Navasari and Baroda plates of Karka I and the Baroda records of Dhruva II (D.R. Bhandarkar in Kamath 2001, p73)
    43. ^ Kamath (2001), p83
    44. ^ The coins are preserved at the Archaaeological Section, Prince of Wales Museum of Western India, Mumbai – Kundangar and Moraes in Moraes (1931), p382
    45. ^ The coin is preserved at the Indian Historical Research Institute, St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai – Kundangar and Moraes in Moraes (1931), p382
    46. ^ Dr Gopal, director, Department of Archaeology and Ancient History. 5th century copper coin discovered at Banavasi. Hindu, Monday, February 6, 2006. The Hindu. Retrieved on 200710-18.
    47. ^ Kamath (2001), p12, p57
    48. ^ Govindaraya Prabhu, S. Indian coins-Dynasties of South. Prabhu’s Web Page On Indian Coinage, November 1, 2001. Retrieved on 200611-27.
    49. ^ Harihariah Oruganti-Vice-President, Madras Coin Society. Vijayanagar Coins-Catalogue. Retrieved on 200611-27.
    50. ^ This shows that the native vernacular of the Goa Kadambas was Kannada – Moraes (1931), p384
    51. ^ Two coins of the Hangal Kadambas are preserved at the Royal Asiatic Society, Mumbai, one with the Kannada inscription Saarvadhari and other with Nakara. Moraes (1931), p385
    52. ^ a b Jyotsna Kamat. History of the Kannada Literature – I. Kamat’s Potpourri, November 4,2006. Kamat’s Potpourri. Retrieved on 200611-25.
    53. ^ The earliest cultivators of Kannada literature were Jain scholars (Narasimhacharya 1988, p17)
    54. ^ More than two hundred contemporary Vachana poets have been recorded (Narasimhacharya 1988, p20)
    55. ^ Sastri (1955), p361
    56. ^ Durgasimha, who wrote the Panchatantra, and Chandraraja, who wrote the Madanakatilaka, were early Brahmin writers in the eleventh century under Western Chalukya King Jayasimha II (Narasimhacharya 1988, p19)
    57. ^ Sastri (1955), p355
    58. ^ Sastri (1955), p359
    59. ^ Narasimhacharya (1988), p19
    60. ^ Sastri (1955), pp364-365
    61. ^ The writing exalts the grain Ragi above all other grains that form the staple foods of much of modern Karnataka (Sastri 1955, p365
    62. ^ Kamath (2001), p67
    63. ^ Sastri (1955), p355
    64. ^ Kamath (2001), p90
    65. ^ Jyotsna Kamat. History of the Kannada Literature-I. Kamat’s Potpourri, November 4, 2006. Kamat’s Potpourri. Retrieved on 200611-25.
    66. ^ Sastri (1955), p355
    67. ^ Sastri (1955), p356
    68. ^ The seventeenth-century Kannada grammarian Bhattakalanka wrote about the Chudamani as a milestone in the literature of the Kannada language (Sastri (1955), p355)
    69. ^ Narasimhacharya (1988), pp 4-5
    70. ^ 6th century Sanskrit poet Dandin praised Srivaradhadeva’s writing as “having produced Saraswati from the tip of his toungue, just as Shiva produced the Ganges from the tip of his top knot (Rice E.P., 1921, p27)
    71. ^ Kamath (2001), p50, p67
    72. ^ The author and his work were praised by the latter-day poet Durgasimha of 1025 CE (Narasimhacharya 1988, p18.)
    73. ^ Sastri (1955), pp361-2
    74. ^ Narasimhacharya (1988), p20
    75. ^ Sastri (1955), p361
    76. ^ Sastri (1955), p364
    77. ^ Moorthy, Vijaya (2001). Romance of the Raga. Abinav publications, p67. . 
    78. ^ Iyer (2006), p93
    79. ^ Sastri (1955), p365
    80. ^ Rice, Edward. P (1921), “A History of Kanarese Literature”, Oxford University Press, 1921: 14-15
    81. ^ See http://baraha.com/
    82. ^ http://quillpad.in/kannada
    83. ^ Manjulakshi & Bhat. Kannada Dialect Dictionaries and Dictionaries in Subregional Languages of Karnataka. Language in India, Volume 5 : 9 September 2005. Central Institute of Indian Languages, University of Mysore. Retrieved on 200704-11.
    84. ^ Ferdinand Kittel. A Grammar of the Kannada Language: Comprising the Three Dialects of the Language. 1993. Asian Educational Services.



    November 10, 2007 - Posted by | Classical status to Kannada

    1 Comment »

    1. I am a kannadiga craving for classical status for Kannada.
      Travelling extensively all over India i have stumbled across a finding which can emphatically underscore the fact that kannada is one of the oldest languages in the world. That is, dating back to the times of Lord Buddha.
      ‘Hotei’ is the friend of Lord Buddha who is now diefied as an image which brings good luck. It is established that he was an ardent friend and accomplice of Buddha and travelled with him to the far east. ‘Hotei’ means belly in Kannada and a look at the representation of the person in Idolry throws the truth mockingly at us. True history of the world can unwind in simple and truthful ways.

      Comment by Srinath Ramaswamy Belvadi | April 29, 2008 | Reply

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