First Kannada classic in English to be out soon

The classic Kavirajamargam translated into English. Special Arrangement   | Photo Credit: Handout E Mail

Kavirajamargam, the earliest available work in Kannada dating back to the 9th century, will now be available in English. It has been translated by R.V.S. Sundaram and Deven M. Patel and published by the Kannada Chair of the Jawaharlal Nehru University and Manohar Publishers of New Delhi.

Kavirajamargam (The Way of the King of Poets), authored by Srivijaya, will be available on e-commerce platforms next week, according to chairman Kannada Chair, JNU, Purushottam Bilimale. Ram Karan Sharma, Fellow Royal Asiatic Society, London, will officially release it on September 3 in New Delhi.

Important influence

Kannada Chair of JNU is bringing out Kavirajamargam (about 850 CE) at a time when there has been debate on the classical legacy of Kannada. Kavirajamargam is recognised as an important influence in shaping the literary tradition of Kannada scholars such as Sheldon Pollock, K.V. Subbanna, K.D. Kurtakoti, D.R. Nagaraj, Sha. Shettar and K.V. Narayana.

Prof. Sundaram and Prof. Patel, referred to as many as six versions of Kannada texts before taking up the translation.

Admitting that it was really challenging to translate the classic, which is more than a work of poetics and touches upon issues relating to grammar, prosody, history and geography, Prof. Sundaram noted that author Srivijaya dealt with the nativity of “the region’s aesthetic dispositions in this unique work”.

Kavirajamargam uses traditional Kannada metrical compositions such as Kanda, Gitike, and Akkara and also several metres borrowed from Sanskrit, which makes translation a challenge.

“To bring forth a comprehensible translation of the Kavirajamargam has truly required a collaborative effort. Guidance and cooperation of a Sanskrit scholar was very necessary. This requirement is fulfilled by having a Sanskrit scholar like Deven Patel to collaborate in the translation,” Prof. Sundaram said.

‘Vaddaradhane’ next

“We are planning to take up Vaddaradhane (890 CE) by Shivakotiacharya. It is also the earliest extant prose work in Kannada and a collection of 19 stories written in old Kannada, replete with Prakrit words,” said Prof. Bilimale.

Vaddaradhane throws light on the contemporary lifestyles as well as the nature of Kannada during the period of its composition, besides being an important source of historical details, he said. It will be translated by Mr. Sundaram and H.S. Komalesha, Associate Professor at IIT Kharagpur, said Prof. Bilimale.

Saahasabhimavijaya or Gadhayuddha by Ranna, a 10th century Kannada poet, is another important Kannada classic JNU Kannada Chair is planning to translate into English.

Its literary importance

Kavirajamargam is an extant work of early Kannada. It is regarded by scholars as one of the early works to address literary culture from a regional perspective.

In the elaborate introduction of the book, translators R.V.S. Sundaram and Deven M. Patel point out that Kaviarajamargam is intimately related to Sanskrit works Kavyadarsa by early 8th century poet and scholar Dandin, and Kavyalankara by Bhamaha of 7th century.

Though the work is sometimes attributed to Rashtrakuta King Nrupatunga Amoghavarsha, it is argued that it is the work of poet Srivijaya who was in his court.

The translators write, “It not only maps a location where Kannada literature is produced and enjoyed, but also offers a paean to the literary abilities of the people of this region. The boundaries of Kannada country are delineated to extend from the river Kaveri to the Godavari river.”

The translators recognise Kavirajamargam in its “mediation of a classical Sanskrit past with a not-yet-realised Kannada future, as a monument to the massive literary and cultural transformations in the regions of South Asia during the middle centuries of the second millennium.”

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Printable version | Nov 20, 2021 9:33:37 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/first-kannada-classic-in-english-to-be-out-soon/article19388095.ece

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