- Raghavanka (ರಾಘವಾಂಕ)
- 13th Century, 1225 A.D. (Approx.)
- Hampi, Bellary dist., Karnataka. Visited Vaarangallu in
- Veerashaiva (Disciple of Harihara, Shankaraprabhu,
Madiraja and Mahadeva all from Hampi)
- Devaraja the King of Hampi
- Ubhayakavisharabhabherunda, Ubhayakavikamalaravi.
- Raghavanka is an important poet in the context of Kannada poetry
because of issues connected with thematic choices and concerns connected
with literary merit. His literary genius is beyond doubt as manifest by
the enduring popularity of his ‘Harishchandra
Kavya’ which appeals lay men as well as scholars. Raghavanka was
living at a time when Veerashaiva religion set in motion by Basavanna and
his contemporaries was getting a formal shape and an exclusive set of
rituals and theological apparatus. Harihara a mentor of Raghavanka had
actually extended the non-communal basis of Veerashaivism by writing about
the Nayanaras of Chola Kingdom of the yore. Harihara’s work was
complementary to the professed and practiced philosophy of Shivashranas.
But the case of Raghavanka was slightly different. He chooses first to
write about Harishchandra who was essentially a mythological character
dating back to the Vedic period. In this work the commitment of the
protagonist to truth as well as the concept of ‘Kula’ comes to the
foreground and the precepts of Shivasharanas move on to the backburners. The
treatment meted out to the dancers is in direct variance to the teachings
of the new found religion. Even the later works such as ‘Veeresha Charite’
and ‘Somanatha Charitra’ one mythological and another historical the poet
gives importance to the militant aspects of his religion. Adayya and
Veerabhadra represent the attitudes developed by the new religion towards
Jainism and Vaidic religion in its later incarnations. Raghavanka chooses
to write about Siddarama rather than the main protagonists of the movement.
Actually Siddarama’s tryst with the Vachana movement is only
There is a carry over of this attitude in the formal choices made
by this gifted poet. Harihara moves from Old Kannada to medieval Kannada
and makes himself more accessible. As a matter of fact, he is inspired by
the Dravdian culture in more ways than one. Raghavanka is the pioneer in
using the Shatpadi meter and does it
remarkably well. However the style is a combination of scholarly Sanskrit
and chaste Kannada. Of course he is truly capable of using the
conversational Kannada of his times to great effect as shown in all his
works. Still there is a touch of the erudite court poet in his works.
But many of his works transcend all these
personal choices and continue to be of contemporary relevance because of their
complex themes and poetic merit. Problems of Harishchandra, struggles of
Siddarama and the adventures of Adayya appeal to us because they are all too
human and it is easy for us to put ourselves in their shoes. The works of
Raghavanka are much more complex and pluralistic than the poet himself. Raghavanka has created many
characters that linger in the memory of the Kannada community. Nakshatraka,
Veerabahuka, Chandramathi and Rohitashva of Harishchandra Kavya, Billesha
Bommayya and Siddarama of ‘SiddaramaCharitra’ and ‘Padmavati’ and Parisa
Shetty’ of ‘Somanataha Charita’ are a few among them. Ranna and
Raghavanka are two poets who had the ability to suffuse their work with great
dramatic qualities. This quality was a result of their ability to create
powerful dramatic situations and their command over the spoken language. The
manner in which Raghvanka builds up a conversation within the confines of a
single shatpadi is truly inimitable. So much so his works have been a part of
the Kannada psyche for centuries reaching rural interiors of the country. This
ability to communicate is the hall mark of a great poet.
- a. Harishchandra Kavya
e. Sharabhacharitra ------------------------ Not found
f. Harihara Mahatva ------------------------ Not found
References and Criticism: 1. Mahakavi Raghavanka, Kavi Kavya Vimarshe by R.C.
Hiremath, 1966, Sharadamandira, Mysore.
2. Samgra Gadya, Part 1, by G.S.Shivarudrappa, 1993, Bangalore.
Translations and Links:
by Narasimhamurthy K.
(Ancient Indian Literature volume 2, Ed. T.R.S. Sharma, Sahitya Academy, 2000)
-- Britannica Online Encyclopedia
3. Harishchandra Kavya Samskritika Mukhamukhi,
Ed. by Shivananda Viraktamatha, Kannada University, Hampi.
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