Kavirajamarga (Kannada: ಕವಿರಾಜಮಾರ್ಗ) (850
C.E.) is the earliest available work on rhetoric, poetics and
grammar in the
Kannada language. It was inspired by or written
in part by the famous
Rashtrakuta King "Nrupatunga"
and some historians claim it is based partly on an the
Kavyadarsha. Some historians believe
Kavirajamarga may have been
co-authored by a poet in the king's court, the
theorist Sri Vijaya.
The name literally means "Royal Path for Poets" and was written as a
guide book for poets and scholars (Kavishiksha). From references made
in this writing to earlier
Kannada poetry and literature it is clear
that a considerable body of work in prose and poetry must have existed
in the preceding centuries.
1.1 Early writers and literary styles
The pre-coronation name of
Amoghavarsha I was Sharva. He was born in
Sribhavan in 800 to
Govinda III during the king's
return from his successful northern campaigns in Kanauj. This is known
from the Manne records (803), Sirur plates and Sanjan records (871) of
Amoghavarsha I came to the throne in 814 at the
age of 14 and took great interest in the
Kannada language, culture,
country and its people, and his writing
Kavirajamarga goes into these
details as well. The work describes the entire region between the
Godavari river in the north and Kaveri river in the south as "Kannada
country", which includes large territories north of modern Karnataka
Kannada is now not spoken. An English translation of a quote
from the writing goes as follows,
In all the circle of earth
No fairer land you'll find
Than that were rich sweet Kannada
Voices the people's mind
'Twixt sacred river twain it lies-
From famed Godavari
To where the pilgrim rests his eyes
Only holy Kaveri...
The people of that land are skilled
To speak in rhythmic tone,
And quick to grasp a poet's thought,
So kindred to their own
Not students only, but the folk
untutored in the school,
By instinct use and understand
The strict poetic rules.
Early writers and literary styles
Kavirajamarga makes important references not only to earlier Kannada
writers and poets but also to early literary styles that were in vogue
in the various written dialects of
Kannada language. The aim of this
writing was to standardize these written styles. The book dwells on
earlier styles of composition; the Bedande, the Chattana, and the
Gadyakatha, and indicates that these styles were recognised by
puratana kavi (lit, "earlier poets"). The term pruvacharyar (lit,
earlier grammarians or rhetoricians) has also been used.
The book mentions several early
Kannada writers who preceded
Amoghavarsha I: Vimalachandra (777), Udaya, Nagarjuna, Jayabhandu and
6th century King
Durvinita of the
Western Ganga Dynasty
Western Ganga Dynasty as the best
Kannada prose; Srivijaya, Kavisvara, Pandita, Chandra and
Lokapala as the best writers of
Kannada poetry. But the works and
compositions of these early authors are yet to be discovered.
Kavirajamarga was formative in the literary growth of
Kannada and is a
guide book to the
Kannada grammar that existed in that period. It laid
the "royal path" for guiding many aspiring writers.
In his criticism,
Amoghavarsha I writes that old
appropriate in "ancient poems" but is insipid in works of the present
time, like an "association with an old woman". According to him, a
Sanskrit is "harsh to the ear" but a mixture
Kannada and Sama-Samskrita is pleasant to the ear like "music",
while a mixture of
Sanskrit in compounds is disagreeable
"like mixing drops of buttermilk (curdled milk) and boiling milk". He
also condemned the usage of expletives such as ante, matte, and
^ Times of India - 8th-century book delights Sudha Murthy
^ a b Kamath (2001), p 90
^ a b Narasimhacharya (1988), p 2
^ Sastri (1955), pp 355-356
^ a b Sastri (1955), p 355
^ Kamath (2001), p 77
^ Reu (1933), p 67
^ Narasimhacharya (1988), p 17
^ E.P Rice in Das (2005), p 141
^ a b c Narasimhacharya (1988), p 12, p 17
^ a b Mugali R.S. (2006), pp 173-175
^ Sahitya Akademi (1988), pp. 1474–1475
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Kamath, Suryanath U. (2001) . A concise history of
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Jupiter books. LCCN 80905179. OCLC 7796041.
Narasimhacharya, R (1988) . History of
Kannada Literature. New
Delhi, Madras: Asian Educational Services.
Mugaḷi, Raṃ Śrī (2006) . The Heritage of Karnataka: in
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Das, Sisir Kumar (2005) . History of Indian literature,
500-1399: from Courtly to the Popular. New Delhi: Sahitya Akademi.
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2. Sahitya Akademi. ISBN 81-260-1194-7.
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Kamat, Jyotsna. "The Rashtrakutas". Dynasties of the Deccan. Retrieved
Kamat, Jyotsna. "
Kannada Literature under the Rashtrakutas". The
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