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Poetry, Literature
Woven into the warp and woof of Kannada literature are the Jain puranas and incomparable stately works of the three great gems ( as they are called) Pampa, Ranna, Janna. Ratnakara is a great poet who in lucid sangatya produced his magnum-opus, so simple and flowing yet so engrossing and evocative. The great poet Sarvajna with his 3-lined Tripadi has the last word on all matters and his aphorisms are delivered in hammerlike strokes. He is the poet of the people and the most quoted

The great poets of Kannada are too numerous for mention. A few have produced epic verse comparable to Valmiki or Homer. The torrential and magnificent flow of Kumara Visa, the lyrical graces of Lakshimisha, the embellished passage of Shadakshari, the regale of Harihara, the rich and dramatic Harischandra Kavya of Raghavanka and the vast sweep of Ratnakaravarni match the best in world's literature.

New Trends
With the advent of English education, the influence of western literature and thought ushered in a new renaissance. The novel, short story, lyric, new drama and personal essay portray a new secular outlook. At the risk of invidiousness, we name a few of the leading figures of this movement- B.M. Sree, D.V.G, Masti, Kuvempu, Bendre, Karanth followed by Kailasam, Sriranga, Anakru, Gokak and Adiga.
B.M.Sree, called the high priest of new Kannada was a scholar in many languages. His influence was far reaching and was noted for its extraordinary creativeness and elevation of spirit. D.V. Gundappa, a man of enormous wisdom and clarity of thought wrote expansively illuminating many facets of life and thought. Masti Venkatesh Iyengar, not only wrote fine lyrical poetry, and drama but has also given us excellent stories and novels. Kuvempu, known for torrential sweep of poetic creativity, besides his many other great works gave us "Ramayana Darshana", imbibed with Miltonic grandeur. Karanth on the other hand has written novels which smell of the earth and have provided commentary pregnant with meaning on the complex social relationships of our times.He also produced massive scientific literature
for the young and treatises performing arts. He is responsible for reformation of the age-old Yakshagana. The rich music and mystic eloquence that enveloped the poetic utterances of Bendre have yet a spontaneity and vigour of folk utterances. His poetry belongs to the realm of music as also word-magic. In Kailasam, the habinger of the social drama, we find comedy entering the theater in an arresting way. His genius has been compared to that of Wilde and Shaw and his influence in changing the "puranic stage" by inducting into its structure social problems of the day is comparable to that of Ibsen. Gokak and Adiga are the exponents of new wave poetry and their influence on the language is enormous. Also it is to be noted that four of them are Jnanapith awardees and one recently has won the Kabir award. yaks.JPG (11997 bytes)

Philosophers & Saints

To the philosopher, it is the land where the Vedantic trio spread their message of highest philosophical truths to all mankind. Adi Shankara, Madhwa and Ramanuja operated here to spread Upanishidic truths to mankind. Earlier, Basaveswara, Akkamahadevi and host of Shivasharanas sang vachanas in lucid Kannada and preached bhakti and righteous conduct to one and all. To read their evocative vachanas, meant for the highest as well as the lowest, irrespective of caste and creed, is to glimpse the very heaven itself (steal not, kill not, never tell a lie, get not angry, feel not contempt for others. This is internal purity, this is external purity). Can there be anything more simple and more profound?

Then came the Haridasas, inspired saint singers with their padas interspersed with infinite piety and devotion. The central core of their teaching was 'Hari bhakti' which enables one to attain proximity to God. Purandara Dasa, rightly called the forefather of Karnatak music has left thousands of padas. He was one of the greatest saints with an extraordinary range of vision. He had a rare sense of humor. His songs which preached surrender to Vittala have an elusive fragrance, poetic fervour, extraordinary logic and cutting satire. Kannada language itself passed from the ponderous Halegannada to easy flowing Hosagannada and the message went home to one and all. The endless number of songs of Sripadaraya, Kanakadasa, Vadiraya, Vijaya Dasa, & others. Haridas brought upanishidic truths to people in melodious music which echo throught on Karnataka even today.


Karnataka has the second largest numbers of inscriptions in the whole of India. Beginning from the Asokan edicts(B.C.300) to the inscriptions of the Rajas of Vijayanagar, they are legion. "Hero-stones" and sculptured panels proliferate throughout the land. Karnataka is popularly , perhaps rightly, known as the birth place of Indian music. The most unique feature of Karnataka is that this is the only province where both the main styles of Indian Music (Karnatak and Hindustani) prevail side by side. While in the north of Tungabhadra, is wedded to the Karnatak system. The term Karnatak music does not mean music of this state, but denoted a broad tradition with distinctive features of articulation and grammar which regin supreme in all the four southern states- Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala.

Karnataka has also played a very significant part in the development of lakshana(theory). It may appear paradoxical that some of the great stalwarts of the Hinidustani tradition today are from north Karnataka. Mansoor, Bhimsen, Joshi, Rajguru, Hangal, to name a few, are top notch artisits in the Hindustani style. As for Karnataka music, even in the post-Tyagaraja period, under the patronage of the Wodeyars. Sadashiva Rao, Muthiah Bhagavatar and the incomparable Vasudevacharya composed hundreds of Keertanas of exquisite beauty.

Old Mysore is know, as the beehive of Vynikas. The legendary Veene Sheshanna who was one of the greatest Vynikas played on half a dozen other instruments too. It is said of him that if you gave him a log of wood and a thick rope he would produce melodies out of them. He was also a great composer (Vaggeyakara)as he produced more than 50 incomparable compositions of his own (swara Jathis, Varnas, Keerthanas and bejwelled, ornagte, lilt-laden Tillanas of titillating quality), Bidaram Krishnappa was a musician par-excellence. His disciple T.Chowdaiah, the famed 7-stringed violinist was considered a genius of the music world. To sing at Mysore was a stamp of respectability and even famed northern musicians Nattan Khan, Fiaz Khan, Abbas Khan, Barakatula Khan, Gohar Jan and Indubala were eager to perform at Mysore durbart. Ustad Vilayat Hussian Khan stayed for a decade in Mysore as a guest of the durbar. They were all Asthan-Vidwans.

As regards Musicology(lakshana) the greatest number of texts were contributed by Kannadigas whose domain extended even to Akbar's durbar. Someswara, Sarangadeva, Kallinatha, Ramamatya, Adilshah (Emperor of Bijapur) Pundarika Vitala( in Akbar's durbar) and even Govinda Dikshita and Venkatamakhi (though they were in Tanjore durbar) to mention a few outstanding musiclogists who were of Karnataka origin. Many of their texts are basic to both systems of music. Their roots lay here in Karnataka.

Dance and Drama
Bharatanatyam has grown strong roots in Karnataka and the Hoysala queen, Shantaladevi, herself was believed to be a great exponent of this art. All the temple towns had a coterie of

dancers, (the Devadasi system). Later the Mysore kings patronized this art and there were great performing artists attached to the palace. The names of Jatti Tayamma, Jejamma and Venkatalakshamma (who is still with us) stand out as famous dancers of the Mysore school. This school particularly is noted for its accent on Abhinaya and lasya. Once a preserve of a professional sect, it has been taken up by girls from decent families. A number of teaching institutes have sprung up. We have a number of dancers giving performance in and out of season.

The vigorous revival of interest in this great art doubtless augurs well for the future. There is again a lot of enthusiasm generated in the theatre movement. Amateur troupes have taken over the role of professional companies. Theatre lovers are growing in number and there is a lot of experimentation. Kailasam and Sriranga are the pioneers of the changing theatre scene. Nowdays various plays belonging to different genre are being put on stage and the movement steadily gathering strength.Karnad, Karanth and Kambara have turned out exquisite plays and the theatre today is always ever full.


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