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`Declare Kannada a classical language'

Staff Reporter

Scholars' panel says language meets all four basic criteria set by the Union Government


  • The first record on Kannada language traced to 230 B.C.
  • Kannada words found in Greek comedies
  • Vachana Sahitya of the 12th century native and unique in world literature
  • Kanakadasa's `Ramadhanya Charite' a rare work on `class struggle'



    IN SUPPORT OF A DEMAND: M. Chidananda Murthy (left) and L.S. Seshagiri Rao (right) submitting the report on seeking classical language status to Kannada to the Union Minister of State for Planning, M.V. Rajashekharan, in Bangalore on Thursday. — ; Photo: K. Gopinathan

    BANGALORE: Kannada meets all the four basic criteria set by the Union Government for recognising any scheduled language as a classical language, according to the consultative committee of scholars constituted by the State Government.

    The committee was constituted to strengthen the Government's demand to the Centre to accord classical status on Kannada soon after it submitted a memorandum to the Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, in that regard on February 11 last.

    It consists of L.S. Seshagiri Rao, M. Chidananda Murthy, B. Rajapurohit and N.S. Taranath. The committee today released a comprehensive report on the cultural and historical status of Kannada. It presented the report to the Union Minister of State for Planning, M.V. Rajashekharan. A copy of it was also sent to the Union Government.

    Speaking to presspersons, Prof. Seshagiri Rao and Dr. Chidananda Murthy explained the four basic criteria set by the Union Government and the merits of Kannada in fulfilling them.

    The four criteria are: High antiquity of a language's early texts- recorded history of over a thousand years; a body of ancient literature, which is considered a valuable heritage by generation of speakers; The literary tradition has to be original and not borrowed from another speech community and the language could be distinct from its "later and current" forms or it could be continuous.

    The first record on Kannada language is traced to Emperor Ashoka's Brahmagiri edict dated 230 B.C.

    Kannada words are found in Greek comedies of first and second century A.D.

    The first full- length Kannada edict is "Hanmidi" (also known as Halmidi) dated AD 450. The first-ever available literary work is "Kaviraja Maaraga" (AD 850), a text of literary criticism. There are references to many poets and writers such as Sri Vijaya, Kaveeshwara and Durvineeta in the text, which traces the history of Kannada literature even then for over 1,200 years.

    The "vachana sahitya" tradition of the 12th century is purely native and unique in world literature. It is the sum of contributions by all sections of society.

    The 15th century saw the advent of Haridasa Saahitya, which made rich contributions to Bhakti literature and Carnatic music.

    The 16th century composer Kanakadasa's "Ramadhanya Charite" is a rare work on "class struggle" that marked the uninterrupted tradition of the language and its literature, Dr. Murthy explained.

    He said Kannada has been developing both as a language and a literature for over 2,000 years and eminently merits recognition as a classical language. Once so recognised, the Union Government is obliged to institute two international awards for Kannada, establish Kannada study centres in the country and abroad, and extend an annual grant of Rs. 20 crores for its development, he added.

    Mr. Rajashekharan is hopeful that the Centre will consider the State Government's request to accord classical status to Kannada at the earliest.

    He was speaking to presspersons after receiving a copy of the committee's report here on Thurdsay.

    Referring to the laborious process involved in according classical status to any language, he said: "Kannada-speaking people are known for their decency and patience."

    Those concerned should make concerted efforts to prevent any delay in getting Kannada recognised as a classical language, he added.

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