BEDANDE AND CHATTANA
We find references to quite a few literary genres and prosodic forms that were prevalent in Kannada prior to the ninth century. However the paucity of concrete evidences of usage prevents us from discussing them in detail. These references are of positive help in determining the antiquity of Kannada literature. ‘Bedande’ (bedanDe) (ಬೆದಂಡೆ) and ‘Chattana’ (cattANa) (ಚತ್ತಾಣ) are two genres that may be included in this category. ‘Kavirajamarga’ by Srivijaya, ‘Kavyavalokana’ by Nagavarma-1 and ‘Shbdamanidarpana’ by Keshiraja are the works that refer to these forms.
‘Bedande’ is beyond doubt a genre that should be included in the category of poems that have to be sung. (Hadugabba) Nagavarma opines that both ‘Bedande’ and ‘Melpadu’ (mElpADu) have originated from ‘pADugabba’. Bedande has to be a poem with a story line and characters because it is said to contain ‘Rasa’ and ‘Alankara’. Srivijaya says that ‘Bedande’ contains not only ‘vrutta’s and ‘Kandapadya’ but also metrical forms that are native to Kannada. (jAti) Consequently it may be deduced that ‘Bedande’ is a rare combination of aksharagana, matragana and amshagana. This hints at the possibility of rendering all these varieties in to music. This is quite contrary to the commonly accepted belief that only amshagana forms could be sung.
Even in terms of music ‘Bedande’ is a genre that was sung with a background of indigenous instruments rather than classical ones such as ‘Veena’. ‘Bedande’ literally means with out ‘Dandige’ or veena. (vINA) Even though ‘Bedande’ could be precursor to Champu form, it does not seem to have any place for prose.
‘Chattana’ (cattANa) is apparently a variation of ‘Bedande’ with a lot more space reserved for native prosodic forms such as ‘Tripadi’(three lines in a stanza) and ‘Chaupadi’(four lines) Some have tried to trace the origin of the word ‘Chattana’ to ‘Yakshagana’ which sounds slightly far fetched.
However in the absence of documentary evidence one can only speculate that these forms lean more towards Dravidian prosody rather than Sanskrit.