Staff Reporter

The language is over 2,000 years old: scholar

Bangalore: Kannada and Tamil are just as old as each other, a fact several scholars and researchers have vouched for, said M. Chidananda Murthy, litterateur.

Delivering the R.H. Deshpande Memorial Endowment Lecture on "Need to accord classical language status for Kannada" here on Sunday, Dr. Chidananda Murthy said that the third report on the history of Kannada was complete and would be sent to the Union Government soon.

"The report has substantial evidence on the history of Kannada. It also contains extracts from records of yesteryear. The views of scholars and researchers of various universities have also been incorporated in the 280-page report," he said.

Dr. Chidananda Murthy said that during October 2004, the Union Government accorded classical language status to Tamil.

History

It also said that a language should be at least 1,000 years old to be eligible for the status, needed to have its own traditions and be unique.

However, in January 2005, the Government said that to get the classical language status, a language should be 1,500 years old. "Sanskrit was then given the classical language tag," he said.

The Government had so far submitted two appeals, urging the Centre to accord classical language status to Kannada. D.L. Narasimhachar found the word "Isila" in Ashoka's Brahmagiri inscription that is dated 300 BC, he said. The word "Karnataka" is found in the Sanskrit Mahabharata, he claimed.

According to the Tamil scholar Iravata Mahadevan, influence of Kannada can be found in the Tamil inscriptions of 200 BC to 100 BC.

The words "Ghata sapta shahi" were found in a Greek drama written in 200 AD. A full-bodied Kannada text is found in the Halmidi Inscription of 450 AD. Over 30,000 Kannada inscriptions found were dated after that period.

"Though `Kavirajamarga', dated 900 AD, was the first book, several samples of Kannada prose and poetry that were older were available. Pampa, the great poet, began a new literary tradition by writing his works in `Champu' style," he said.

Influence

Dr. Chidananda Murthy said that there was no sign of influence of any other language in the Vachana Sahitya, either in terms of the language, the meter or the theme. The same was the case with Haridasa Sahitya.

"Though there is difference between Hale Kannada and the language of today, it has been proven that Kannada is over 2,000 years old," he said.

He said that if the Union Government gave Kannada the classical language status, two Kannada scholars would be eligible for international awards.

A centre for excellence and departments in various universities would be set up for research.

"There has been an effort to set up a department for Tamil in the University of Mysore, after the language was accorded classical language status," Dr. Chidananda Murthy said.

Dr. Chidananda Murthy said the State Government had to urge the Union Government to accord classical language status to Kannada without delay.

Suryanath Kamat, president of Karnataka Itihasa Academy, and K.S. Deshpande, grandson of R.H. Deshpande, spoke.

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