Amongst the languages of India that are held in high esteem by the people of India, Kannada has a special significance. It has brought about fame and prestige for the whole panorama of Indian language. It has got the ranking of being the twenty seventh most spoken languages in the whole world. Kannada is also one of those that have received the status of being the official language of Indian states. It is also a proud member of the highly acclaimed Dravidian language family, spoken widely in the southern region of Karnataka. Apart from being official language of Karnataka, Kannada is also used here for the administrative purposes.
Kannada language has been evolved in its present form, undergoing several twins and turns. In fact, the Indian linguists have demarcated the whole of this evolutionary process in to four broad phases. Various social and religious influences have shaped this evolution.
Poorvada Halegannada or Pre-ancient Kananda: This is the first phase of Kannada language and marks the very first phase of its development. The famous Halmidi scripture, dated back to the 5th century CE, were written down in Kannada. The Kannada language that was used in these inscriptions had high influences of Sanskrit. However, as per various inscriptions, the Kannada languages existed much before the writings of these Halmidi inscriptions. In fact, the origin of Kannada can be traced to the ancient scriptures in India. The first written record in the Kannada language is found in Emperor Ashoka`s Brahmagiri decree, which dated back to as early as 230 BC, thus proving that Kananda existed for the last sixteen hundred years.
Halegannada or Ancient Kannada:
This marks the second phase, covering a time period of the 9th to 14th centuries CE. It is in this genre that Kannada reached its zenith producing unique literary works. By and large, several Jain and Saivite poets had delivered wonderful works during this phase.
The origin of Jain puranas , also known as Virashaiva Vachana Sahitya or only vachana were produced in this phase of Kannada language development. Primitive Brahminical literary works also proliferated at this phase. By the 10th century, beautiful poems and prose works were written in Kannada, proving that a extensive number of classical prose and poetry works in Kannada had been flourished a few centuries before `Kavirajamarga`. Kannada The grammar of Kananda language too is quite ennobled. Examples are numerous. Amongst them Nagavarma II`s Karnataka-bhashabhushana (1145) and Kesiraja`s Sabdamanidarpana (1260) can be cited as the ancient most works of grammar.
Nadugannada or Middle Kannada
The third phase started from the 14th century and continued till 18th century CE. During this time, Brahmanical Hinduism had an enormous impact on Kannada language and literature. Ethereal poems are the gems of Kannada language and literature and these were composed during this phase by Non-brahmin Hindu saints, namely, Kanakadasa and also Brahminical saints of the Vaishnava sect, better known as Jagannathadasa, Purandaradasa, Naraharitirtha, Vyasatirtha, Sripadaraya, Vadirajatirtha, Vijaya Dasa. Kanakadasa`s Ramadhanya Charite is an outstanding work, dealing with the concern of class struggles. Famous Haridasa Sahitya, which influenced the gestation of Carnatic music, too falls a part of this Kannada language developmental phase.
Hosagannada or Modern Kannada
This is the last phase of Kannada language and literature. The Kannada works that were produced at the end of the 19th century and also much later are categorized as Hosagannada or Modern Kannada. According to many scholars, however, this phase continued till the beginning of the 20th century. Few literary works in Kannada were produced at this time. Most distinguished among them are the works of renowned poet Muddana. His works may be depicted as the "Dawn of Modern Kannada". Broadly speaking, experts discovered that Indira Bai or Saddharma Vijayavu written by Gulvadi Venkata Raya as the primary literary works in Modern Kannada language development.
The Kannada script has been used to write in Kannada language. The other local languages of Karnataka, Tulu, Kodava Takk and Konkani are also highly influenced by Kannada language. The Telugu script has also been adopted from the old Kannada language script. Modern Kannada language and literature is the most flourishing one in India. Even the highest literary award, namely, the Jnanpith awards, has been bestowed upon innumerable times on writers for their masterpieces in Kananda language. In fact this honor is the most prestigious one for any of the language in India.