Two renowned philosophers who lived during the Hoysala period of Kannada literature - Ramanujacharya and Madhvacharya, had immensely moulded and charmed the culture of the region. The conversion of the Hoysala King Vishnuvardhana in early 12th century from Jainism into Vaishnavism, was to later testify as a retrograde reversal to Jain literature. In the decades that succeeded, Jain writers had to come face-to-face with tremendous rivalry from the Veerashaivas, to which they responded with complete refutations, and from the 15th century, from the writers of the Vaishnava unit. These events forever altered the literary backdrop of the Kannada-speaking region, creating a lasting impression upon the literary circles.
One of the earliest Veerashaiva writers in Kannada literature from the Hoysala period, who did not contribute to the Vachana literary tradition, poet Harihara (also acknowledged as Harisvara) came from a family of karnikas (accountants), and performed under the patronage of King Narasimha I. Harihara had penned Girijakalyana in ten sections, wholly espousing the Kalidasa tradition, utilising the old Jain champu style (poems in verses of various metres intermingled with paragraphs of prose, also acknowledged as champu-kavya), with the story heading towards the wedlock of Shiva and Parvati. In a significant departure from the model, Harihara had deliberately avoided extolling saintly mortals. He is accredited with more than 100 poems in ragale metre, referred to as the Nambiyanana ragale (or Shivaganada ragale, 1160) eulogising the saint Nambiyana and Virupaksha (a manifestation of Hindu god Shiva). For his poetic talent, Harihara has accomplished the honorific utsava kavi ("poet of exuberance").
Harihara's nephew, Raghavanka, was the foremost literary persona to bring in the shatpadi metre into Kannada literature in the Hoysala period, in his epic Harishchandra Kavya (1200), deemed a classic, regardless of sporadically breaching stern rules of Kannada grammar. Tremendously harnessing on his dexterity as a dramatist, Raghavanka's chronicle of King Harishchandra brilliantly draws the friction of personalities between sage Vishwamitra and sage Vashisht and between Harishchandra and Vishwamitra. It is also conceived that this explanation and analysis of the story of Harishchandra is utterly unique to Indian literature. The writing is an ultimate instance of originality and does not comply by any long-conventionalised epic traditions. In addition to Hoysala patronage, Raghavanka was also honoured by the Kakatiya king Prataparudra I. Rudrabhatta, a Smartha Brahmin (a faithful of monistic philosophy), was the earliest distinguished and illustrious Brahminical writer, serving under the patronage of Chandramouli, a minister of King Veera Ballala II. Based upon the earlier work of Vishnu Purana, Rudrabhatta had authored Jagannatha Vijaya (1180) in the champu fashion, accounting the life of Lord Krishna, leading up to his legendary crusade with the demon Banasura.
In 1209, the Jain scholar and army commander Janna had penned Yashodhara Charite, an inimitable set of stories handling the sensitive topic of 'perversion'. In one of the stories, a king is portrayed with the sinister objective to perform a ritualistic sacrifice of two young boys to Mariamma, a local deity. However, after the king becomes enlightened with the boys' tale, he is moved beyond measure, deciding to set them free and forever relinquish with the practice of human sacrificing. In honour of this work in Kannda literature in the Hoysala period, Janna was fêted with the title Kavichakravarthi ("Emperor among poets") by King Veera Ballala II. His other classic, Anathanatha Purana (1230), deals with the life of the 14th Tirthankara, Ananthanatha.
The other notable works in Kannada literature in Hoysala period comprised: Nemichandra's Lilavati-prabandham and Neminathacharita; Rudra Bhatta's Jagannatha-vijaya; Mallikarjuna's Sukti-sudharnava, Kesiraja's Sabdamani-darpana, Kumudendu's Kumudendu Ramayana, Ratta Kavi's Rattamata (or Ratta Sutra), Nagaraja's Punyasrava and Madhura's Dharmanatha Purana. The most classical instance of a wholesome Kannada work, without employing any Sanskrit words, is Kabbigarakava of Andayya.
(Last Updated on : 24-02-2009)
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