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Submerge in the rich history of Kannada literature while you scroll through authored texts of the region

Kannada literature is a compilation of Kannada literary works.  Literature of this region has been attested for over a millennium and a half, with some particular works of literature enduring historical manuscript traditions dating from the 9th century to today's day and age. This region’s literature is categorized into three linguistic periods: Old, Middle, and Modern. These periods were further divided based on the language’s distinctive properties, these categories were Jain, Lingayatism, and Vaishnava, emphasizing the importance of these 3 religious denominations in shaping and fostering classical interpretation of the language until the rise of the modern era.

Classical Period

This time period was largely dictated by the Jains and the Lingayats. The very first patrons of Kannada literature were the Jains. However, this era also displays records of some literary works by Lingayats from that time that have survived. Jain authors spoke about the Tirthankaras and other religious topics. The Veerashaiva authors told stories of Shiva, his 25 forms, and Shaivism discourses. From the 12th century, Lingayat poets of the Vachana Sahitya tradition developed Basava philosophy. These included the writers of the Rashtrakuta and Chalukya courts. 

Middle Period

  • Hoysala Period: The later part of the 12th century, witnessed the rule of The Hoysalas, a powerful indigenous group from the Malnad area. They cleverly used political tensions in the Deccan as an opportunity to seize control of the region south of the Krishna River in southern India. A new historical time was established, colonial titles contended, and Kannada literature prospered, with notable intellectuals such as Janna, Harihara, Rudrabhatta, Raghavanka, and Keshiraja among others. The formation of local meters in literary works was a major accomplishment during this time period (the ragale, the tripadi, the sangatya, and the shatpadi)

  • Vijayanagara Literature: With Muslim dynasties infiltrating the region, the 14th century saw significant political unrest in Southern India. The Vijayanagara Empire acted as a barrier against these intrusions and fostered the advancement of the fine arts. Competitive rivalry between Vaishnava and Veerashaiva writers was intense during this age, commonly revered as the Golden age of Kannada literature. Severe rivalry resulted in "coordinated marches" in honor of classics written by poets from opposing sects. 

  • Mystic Literature: The Kalachuris skillfully revolted against their rulers, the Western Chalukyas, and conquered the capital Kalyani in the late 12th century. During this tumultuous time, a new religious faith known as Veerashaivism (or Lingayatism) emerged as a reaction to Hindu society's old paradigm. Some believers of this faith wrote literature known as Vachana Sahitya or Sharana Sahitya, which included a distinctive, local poetry form that used free verse known as 'Vachana'. Devotees would assemble in Kalyani's Anubhava Mantapa religious discussion center to share their transcendental experiences. They demonstrated their devotion to this place by way of simple Vachana poems. These poems were impromptu rhythmic expressions.

Modern Period

Modern Kannada literature finds its roots in the Early nineteenth century when Maharaja Krishnaraja Wodeyar III and his court poets abandoned the old Champu type of prose in favor of prose recreations of Sanskrit epics and playwrights. Mudramanjusha by Kempu Narayana is the first contemporary book published in Kannada. Furthermore, colonialism in India had a lasting impact on Modern Kannada literature. Translations of Kannada literature and glossaries into European languages as well as other Indian dialects, as well as the establishment of European-style Kannada newspapers and journals were rampant during this time Moreover, interaction with European technology, such as advanced printing technologies, aided in the development of Modern Kannada literature in the nineteenth century.


Q1. Who is known as the father of contemporary Kannada literature? 

B. M. Srikantaiah ('B. M. Sri'), is revered by some as the "Father of modern Kannada literature," as he was the first to advocate original writing in modern Kannada, estranging the language from old courtly greats and emphasizing the importance of English literature's impact.

Q2. What are the three gems of literature in Kannada? 

The ‘three gems of Kannada literature’ are the collection of literary works authored by the Jain writers Adikavi Pampa, Sri Ponna, and Ranna. They have been credited with establishing the 10th century as the "Golden Age of Classical Kannada."