Raghavanka


Raghavanka

Raghavanka (Kannada:ರಾಘವಾಂಕ) was a noted Kannada writer and a poet in the Hoysala court which flourished in the late 12th to early 13th century. Raghavanka is credited for popularising the use of the native "shatpadi" metre (hexa metre, 6 line verse) in Kannada literature.Sastri (1955), p. 362] Among his many classics, "Harishchandra Kavya" in "shatpadi" metre, known to have been written with an interpretation unlike any other on the life of King Harishchandra is well known and is considered one of the important classics of Kannada language. He was a nephew and protege of the noted 12th century Kannada poet Harihara.Narasimhacharya (1988), p. 20] Kamath (2001), p. 134] Although the "shatpadi" metre tradition existed in Kannada literature prior to Raghavanka, it was Raghavanka who inspired the usage of the flexible metre for generations of poets, both Shaiva (devotees of God Shiva) and Vaishnava (devotees of God Vishnu) to come.Shiva Prakash in K. Ayyappapanicker (1997), p. 208]

Famous writings

Though "Harishchandra Kavya" (c.1200 or c.1225) is undoubtedly Raghavanka's "magnum opus" which brought him fame, it is this same work that was rejected by his guru, poet Harihara (or Harisvara). In some ways, Raghavanka's writing surpasses his guru's talent, especially in describing characters in his story. Legend has it that his guru was aghast at Raghavanka, a Veerashaiva by faith (devotee of Hindu God Shiva), for writing about ordinary mortals (such as King Harishchandra) instead of writing about Veerashaiva saints. According to the same legend, five of Raghavanka's teeth "fell off instantly" for going against his guru's wishes. In order to expiate his sin, he authored five writings eulogising Veerashaiva saints, one writing for each fallen tooth, and the teeth "returned one by one".Shiva Prakash (1997), p. 206] According to another source, Raghavanka's guru physically abused him, punishing him for wasting his poetic talent in eulogising a mere mortal.Nagaraj in Pollock (2003), p. 364] These five writings are the "Siddharama charitra" (or "Siddharama Purana"), a eulogy of the dynamic and compassionate 12th century Veerashiava saint Siddharama of Sonnalige which brings out a larger then life image of the saint in a simple yet stylistic narrative; the "Somanatha charitra", a propagandist work which describes the life of saint Somayya (or Adaiah) of Puligere, his humiliation after being lured by the charms of a Jain girl, and his achievement of successfully converting a Jain temple into a Shiva temple; the "Viresvara charita", a dramatic story of the blind wrath of a Shaiva warrior Virabhadra; the "Hariharamahatva", a eulogy of Harisvara of Hampi, and "Sarabha charitra", the last two works now considered lost.Sastri (1955), p. 362] Shiva Prakash (1997), p. 207]

Magnum opus

In the "Harishchandra Kavya", Raghavanka, a dramatist writing an epic, brings out the clash of personalities with lively dialogues; between sage Vishvamitra and sage Vashishta, between Harishchandra and Vishvamitra and between Harishchandra and the "unreal" girls (dancing girls). Equally well narrated is Harishchandra's fidelity to truth against all odds and the redemption of Harishchandra after being rescued by an untouchable he had once rejected. It is believed that in no other language has the story of King Harishchandra been dealt with this interpretation. The writing is an original both in tradition and inspiration fully utilizing the potential of the "shatpadi" metre.Sahitya Akademi (1988), pp. 1181] A noteworthy piece of elegiac verse, written in the "mandanila ragele" metre (rhymed couplets) is the mourning of Chandramati over the death of her young son Lohitashva, from snake bite, while gathering firewood for his Brahmin taskmaster.Sahitya Akademi (1988), p. 1149] The poem has remained popular for centuries and is recited by "Gamakis" (musical story tellers).

Notes

References

*cite book |last= Sastri|first= K.A. Nilakanta|title= A history of South India from prehistoric times to the fall of Vijayanagar|origyear=1955|year=2002|publisher= Indian Branch, Oxford University Press|location= New Delhi|isbn= 0-19-560686-8
*cite book |last=Shiva Prakash|first=H.S.|editor=Ayyappapanicker|title=Medieval Indian Literature:An Anthology |year= 1997|publisher=Sahitya Akademi|location=|isbn=8126003650|chapter= Kannada
*cite book |last= Various|first= |title= Encyclopaedia of Indian literature - vol 2|origyear=1988|year=1988|publisher= Sahitya Akademi|location= |isbn=8126011947
*cite book |last=Nagaraj |first=D.R.|editor=Sheldon I. Pollock|title=Literary Cultures in History: Reconstructions from South Asia |origyear=2003|year=2003|publisher=Berkeley and London: University of California Press. Pp. 1066|chapter= [http://books.google.com/books?id=xowUxYhv0QgC&pg=PA323&dq=critical+tensions+in+history+kannada+literary+culture&ei=kHH9R53VNaHayAS1tNHHAg&sig=Nr2RB8sfhAI_ca1NFhEg1nT29BM Critical Tensions in the History of Kannada Literary Culture] , pp. 323–383|isbn=0520228219
*cite book |last= Kamath|first= Suryanath U.|title= A concise history of Karnataka : from pre-historic times to the present|origyear=1980|year= 2001|publisher= Jupiter books|location= Bangalore|oclc= 7796041|id= LCCN|809|0|5179


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