2. Dharege Doddavara Kathe, Venkatesha Indvadi, 1996, Vishvalaya, Bangalore. (Singer: Mole Rachaiah = mOLe rAcayya)
3. Manteswami, H.C.Boralingaiah, 1997, Kannada University, Hampi. (Singer: Inkal Mahadevaiah = inkal mahAdEvayya)
17. ‘Manteswamy Kavya’ is one of the most important oral epics of Karnataka. Neelgaras, the professional singers of South Karnataka have kept the epic alive by centuries of performances in the districts of Mandya, Mysore, Ramanagara, Chamarajanagara and Bangalore.(Rural) Manteswamy was a folk hero who lived during the fifteenth century.(approximately) Not much information is found about his life by way of documentary evidence. However, many legends are built around his life and the shrines at Chikkelluru, Boppagoudanapura and Kappadi are related to personalities depicted in the epic. Manteswamy is a living tradition in and around these regions. ‘Manteswamy Kavya’ treats him on par with Allamaprabhu the Veerashiava saint of the twelfth century and does not distinguish between them. However this contention does not find many takers.
The epic begins with the arrival of Manteswamy in Kalyana, who makes a dramatic appearance on a dung heap at the entrance of the city, with the dead body of a calf and a gourd full of ‘kaLLu’. Basavanna’s wife arrives there and takes him to the palace and a confrontation between the sharanas and Manteswamy takes place. His greatness is proved equivocally and that heralds the victory of the lowly over insincere devotees.
After that, Manteswamy embarks upon a journey towards South Karnataka till he finds his permanent abode in Boppagoudanapura. This journey is punctuated by his efforts to acquire disciples. “Throughout the saga of Manteswamy, he picks up infants for his cause. This is symbolic. Each child represents a community that comes into the Manteswamy fold. Rachappaji, Doddamma of the Grove, Channajamma, Madivala Machayya, Phalaradayya and Siddappaji are his chief followers. How he brought them into his fold, through ritual, craft and magic, makes up the saga.”(S.R.ramakrishna) Baachi Basavayya who wants to become his disciple is reborn as Baala Kempanna and later acquires the name Sidapaaji.
The confrontation of Siddappaaji with the Panchalas (Blacksmiths) of Halaguuru is fraught with symbolic qualities. This represents a stage in civilization when technology had to be liberated from its hereditary practitioners. This incident is narrated very dramatically.
Finally Manteswamy acquires many followers in a number of communities and settles down at Boppagoudanapura. His ‘samaadhi’ is found in this place. Two of his important disciples have their shrines at Chikkelluuru and KappaDi.
‘Manteswamy Kavya’ and its cognate epics have many distinctive features. They have selected a language which is a dialect, both geographically and socially. This choice is remarkable in the context of literary texts which were brimful of Sanskrit words. Secondly, the narrative style is a combination of the poetic, the dramatic and a simple narration in prose. This adds to the impact of the epic. Thirdly, it is episodic and each episode may be recited independent of its broader context. This work delineates the life of unlettered communities which were conspicuous by their absence in the entire history of Kannada literature. Most of these epics have a theory regarding the origin of the universe and their community is usually found in the nucleus of the story. This gives a sense of identity and pride to these communities. Actually they depict different stages in the history of civilization. Works such as ‘Manteswamy Kavya’ and ‘Male Madeshvarana Kavya’ should be treated along with the acclaimed classics of main stream literature and many a time they will emerge as better even in terms of literary merit.
18. References: 1. ‘Manteswamy Kavya’-Samskritika mukhamukhi’, Ed. Venkatesh Indvadi, 2004, Kannada University, Hampi.
2. ‘Dakshina Karnatakada Janapada kavyprakaragalu’, Ji.Sham. Paramashivayya,1979, Mysore University, Mysore.
3. ‘Manteswami’, Hi.Chi.Boralingaiah, 1998, Karnataka Sahitya Academy, Bangalore.
4. ‘Allamaprabhu mattu Shaivapratibhe’, D.R.Nagaraj, 1999, Akshara Prakashana, Heggodu.
5. ‘Manteswami Parampare’, Venkatesha Indvadi, 1999, Kannada University Hampi.
6. ‘Manteswamy Movement: Chikkelluru Jatre’, Mahadeva Shankanapura, P.M.S.R. Institutions, Kollegala.
19. Links: 1 srramakrishna - Was Manteswamy a rebel god?
20. Translations: 1. ‘Manteswamy Kathaprasanga’, Kannada Play by H.S.Shivaprakash, Bangalore.