Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Mysore period in Karnataka

King and poet-Krishnaraja Wodeyar III (1794–1868)
With the decline of the Vijayanagara Empire, the Kingdom of Mysore rose to power in the southern Karnataka region. The Mysore court was adorned by eminent writers, composers and musicians. The kings themselves were accomplished in the fine arts and made important contributions. A unique and native form of poetic literature with dramatic representation called Yakshagana gained popularity in the 18th century.
To king Chikka Devaraja Wodeyar (1673–1704), the earliest composer of the dynasty, who went by the honorific Sahitya Vidyanikasha Prastharam ("Expert in literature") is ascribed the Geetha Gopala, a well-known treatise on music. Although inspired by Jayadeva's Geetha Govinda in Sanskrit, it had an originality of its own and was written in saptapadi metre. This is the first writing to propagate the Vaishnava faith in the Kannada language.
Also dated to this period is Sarvajna (lit. "The all knowing") – a mendicant Veerashaiva poet who left a deep imprint on Kannada literature. His didactic Vachanas, numbering about 2000 penned in the tripadi metre constitute some of Kannada's most celebrated works. Though very little is known about the author himself, the first 14 of a series of poems written by him ("Reminiscences of Birth") offer some clues about his birth, parentage and his reasons for leaving home at an early age. His poems after the 14th focus on his spiritual quest as a drifter. The pithy Vachanas contain his observations on the art of living, the purpose of life and the ways of the world. He was neither patronised by royalty nor did he write for fame; his main aim was to instruct people about morality. All his poems end with "Sarvajna".
A superb story-teller and a dramatist, the Brahmin author Lakshmisa's writing is dated to the mid 16th or late 17th century. The Jaimini Bharata, the poet's Kannada version of the epic Mahabharata written in shatpadi metre, is one of the most popular poems of the late medieval period. A collection of stories, the poem contains the well-known tale of the Sita Parityaga ("Repudiation of Sita"). The author succeeds in converting a religious story into a very human tale, making it popular even in modern times.

King and writer, Jayachamaraja Wodeyar (1940–1947) with Queen Elizabeth II ----->
The period also saw advances in the field of Kannada theatre. Though evidence from inscriptions and epics dating it to the 12th century or earlier are available, modern Kannada theatre is traced to the rise of Yakshagana (a type of field play), which from available manuscripts is dated to the 16th century. It was the rule of King Kanteerava Narasaraja Wodeyar II (1673–1714) that heralded the golden age of Yakshagana compositions. A polyglot, he authored 14 Yakshaganas in various languages, although all are written in the Kannada script. He is credited with the earliest Yakshaganas that included sangeeta (music), nataka (drama) and natya (dance).
King Krishnaraja Wodeyar III (1794–1868) who followed in the same Wodeyar line was another prolific writer, for which he was called Abhinava Bhoja ("Modern Bhoja"). More than 40 writings are attributed to him of which a poetical romance called Saugandika Parinaya written in two versions, a sangatya and a drama, is popular. His reign signalled the shift from classical genres to modern literature which was to be complemented by the efforts of contemporary British evangelists, among others.

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