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Kannada Literature under the Rashtrakutas

by Dr. Jyotsna Kamat

First Online: May 01, 2005
Page Last Updated: May 09, 2017

Rashtrakuta times witnessed unprecedented growth of Sanskrit in different fields, which has all – India relevance. Previous centuries are known as age of classical Sanskrit. Great writers, like Kalidas, Bhavabhuti, Bana and Dandin were products of that age. The tempo continued during 8th to 10th centuries which witnessed Rashtrakuta reign. Liberal patronage to poets and scholars helped multifaceted growth. 

Important works on grammar, prosody lexicon and logic appeared. Ganita Saara Sangraha by Mahaveeracharya deals with geometric works. All the writers were Jaina scholars and they were from Karnataka.

The great Shankaracharya made appearance during these times. Though he propounded advaitism or non-duality, he is credited with reformation of Hinduism or Vedantism, which included absorption of all existing cults and worship of deities known in the four corners of Indian subcontinent. He wrote several commentaries on all sacred texts including Bhagavadgita. His disciples Sureshwara, Padmapada and Vishwarupa continued their master's work.

Trivikrama Bhatta was a protégé of Rashtrakuta king Indra ш. He composed Begumra Plates (915 A.D.) which records the king's achievements. He is credited with the first epic composed in champu style. Champu is an admixture of prose and verse in an epic. This style became popular in Karnataka both in Sanskrit and Kannada. Damayanti Katha or Nalachampu of Trivikrama, throws light on social milieu of the times.

Somodeva Suri's Yasastilaka Champu is another literary masterpiece. Though written by a Jaina scholar to uphold Jaina tenets, universality of his approach to human weaknesses and atonement made him quite popular. A socio-religious romance it throws light on contemporary court life, rituals, sports, pastimes, festivals etc.

The author had encyclopedic knowledge of Vedas, agamas, all cults and several branches of learning then in vogue. His other work Nitivakyamrita, deals with political science and state craft. A handbook for kings and princes wherein component of state, judiciary, strategies of war and peace, espionage, taxation, resource management etc are laid down in aphoristic form.

The monumental commentaries on Jaina cannon like Dhavala and Jayadhavala run into one hundred thousand slokas. It is a joint venture of Veerasena and Jinasena. Jinasena's other work Adipurana provided inspiration to Kannada poet Pampa whose classic has the same name.

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