The Western Chalukyan epoch was a time of considerable literary activity in Kannada and Sanskrit. The exercise of these local languages like Kannada and Sanskrit were all-pervasive in the Western Chalukya administration. Further inscriptions in Kannada are accredited to Vikramaditya VI than any other king prior to the twelfth century, many of which have been deciphered and translated by historians of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). Inscriptions were commonly embossed on either stone (Shilashasana) or copper plates (Tamarashasana). This phase witnessed the inexhaustible growth of the provincial language into a literary and poetic medium, a tendency encouraged by former empires: the Kadambas, Chalukyas of Badami and Rashtrakutas. Language in western Chalukya dynasty had just begun to spread its wing to fly high into the domain of literary excellence and wonder.
During the most prolific age of Kannada literature, Jain scholars had penned about the life of Tirthankaras and Virashaiva poets, who articulated their intimacy with God through succinct and concise poems called Vachanas. More than two hundred contemporary Vachanakaras (Vachana poets), including thirty women poets have been registered. Language during western Chalukya dynasty with the aid of Kannada writers demonstrated literature at its most sublime, assimilating even epic performances. Early works by Brahmin writers were based upon the epics Ramayana, Mahabharata, Bhagavata, Puranas and Vedas. In the sphere of secular literature, subjects such as romance, erotics, medicine, lexicon, astrology, encyclopedia etc., were being penned for the first time in India. Most noteworthy among Kannada scholars were Ranna, grammarian Nagavarma II and Virashaiva saint Basavanna. Ranna who was patronised by king Tailapa II and Satyasraya from the western Chalukyas, is considered one amongst the "three gems of Kannada literature". He was bequeathed with the title "Emperor among poets" (Kavi Chakravathi) by King Tailapa II and possesses five major works to his acknowledgment. Of these, Saahasabheema Vijayam (or Gada yuddha) of 982 in Champu flair, is a panegyric of his patron King Satyasraya. The king is compared to Bhima in valiancy and achievements, with Ranna narrating the duel between Bhima and Duryodhana utilising clubs on the eighteenth day of the Mahabharata war. Ranna also had scripted Ajitha purana in 993, delineating the life of the second Tirthankara, Ajitanatha.
Language during Western Chalukyan dynasty was incessantly climbing lofty positions with Kannada literature spreading across seven seas. Nagavarma II, poet laureate (Katakacharya) of King Jagadhekamalla II, made contributions to Kannada literature in various subjects during the western Chalukyas. His works in poetry, prosody, grammar and vocabulary are regarded as standard authorities and their magnitude to the study of Kannada language is well acknowledged to this date. Nagavarma II's comprehensive contributions to ancient language include Kavyavalokana in poetics, Karnataka-Bhashabhushana on grammar and Vastukosa a lexicon (with Kannada equivalents for Sanskrit words). A unique and native form of poetic literature in Kannada called Vachanas had developed during the time of the rise of language during Western Chalukyan dynasty. They were amazingly written by mystics, who expressed their reverence to God in uncomplicated poems that could charm the masses. Basavanna, Akka Mahadevi and Allama Prabhu are the best known amongst these mystic writers.
Sanskrit was another language that had highly-developed during Western Chalukya Dynasty, besides the rise of kannada. In Sanskrit, a well known poem called Mahakavya in 18 cantos, also called Vikramankadeva Charita by Kashmiri poet Bilhana, vividly recounts in epic style the life and achievements of his patron king Vikramaditya VI. The work recites the episode of Vikramaditya VI's accession to the Chalukyan throne after overriding his elder brother Somesvara II. Manasollasa or Abhilashitartha Chintamani by king Somesvara III (1129) is a Sanskrit work designated for all classes of society.
The last work mentioned, is an example of an early encyclopaedia in Sanskrit, encompassing various subjects including medicine, magic, veterinary science, valuing of precious stones and pearls, fortifications, painting, music, games, amusements etc. While the book does not recount any of dealt topics, especially hierarchy of importance, it suffices as a landmark in understanding the state of knowledge in those subjects during Chalukyan times.
A Sanskrit scholar, Vijnaneshwara had turned legendary in the field of legal literature for his work Mitakshara in the court of Vikramaditya VI. Language in western Chalukya dynasty was not only centred on everything poetic, but also on things related with the administration of state. Perhaps the most recognised work in that field, Mitakshara is a treatise on law (commentary on Yajnavalkya), based on earlier writings and has found acceptance in most parts of modern-day India. Some significant literary works of the western Chalukyan times related to music and musical instruments were Sangita Chudamani, Sangita Samayasara and Sangita Ratnakara.
At an administrative level, the regional language in western Chalukyan dynasty was used to trace locations and rights associated with land grants. Sanskrit was the common language. Kannada was used in circumstances like: terms of the grants, as well as information on the land, its boundaries and the participation of local authorities, rights and obligations of the grantee, taxes and dues and witnesses. This guaranteed that the content was clearly understood and grasped by the local people without any uncertainty. During the western Chalukyan period, early chronicles called Vamshavalis, which were used to present historical particulars of dynasties, in addition to the inscriptions, came into being.
Language and literature during Western Chalukya dynasty included writings in Sanskrit, which successfully incorporated poetry, grammar, lexicon, manuals, rhetoric and commentaries on older works, prose fiction and drama. In Kannada literature, several primary works on secular subjects such as Chandombudhi in prosody and Karnataka Kadambari in romance by Nagavarma I, Rannakanda in lexicons (993), Karnataka-Kalyanakaraka in medicine, Jatakatilaka in astrology (1049), Madanakatilaka in erotics, and Lokaparaka in encyclopedia (1025) were inscribed.
(Last Updated on : 21-01-2009)
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