- Ratnakaravarni (ರತ್ನಾಕರವರ್ಣಿ)
- 16th Century
- Mudabidri (mUDabidri), Coastal Karnataka.
- Jaina (There are disputed claims about his conversion to Veerashaiva religion and a re conversion to Jainism. Kshatriya.)
- Patron: Immadi
Bhairarasa Odeya a Taulava king.
- Ratnakara Siddha
- Ratnakaravarni is a very important poet in Kannada whose works
have not received sufficient critical analysis. His place in the history
of Jaina literature is crucial because he made a
genuine attempt to reach the common people of his time with various
poetical devices. This was important because his religion was then facing
a stiff competition from Veerashaiva and Brahminical religions and it was of paramount
importance to to bring in elements of entertainment
and communication in to religious literature. He could not be too sure
about his readership like earlier Champu poets
such as Pampa and Ranna with regard
to communication even though Jainism had strong roots in coastal
Karnataka. He should also get the credit for introducing an element of
melody in to Kannada poetry by making use of ‘SAngatya’
meter. He calls his magnum opus ‘Bharatesha Vaibhava’ a ‘hADugabba’.
(Poetry that needs to be sung) This movement between melody and an absence
of it has been one of the major tensions of Kannada poetry all through its
history. Ratnakaravarni was in favour of the ‘VarNaka’ mode
of poetry as well. (Poetry that gives great importance to a description of
the world around as much as the storyline. There are
many stories relating to this which could be products of a fertile
imagination leading to a combination of fact and fiction. Thus it is
appropriate to confine ourselves to his literary production. ‘Ratnakaradheeshvara Shataka’
does not contain one hundred poems as the name implies. Actually it is a
collection 228 poems. These are essentially philosophical poems veering
towards a renunciation of worldly pleasures. It’s as though the poet is
making amends for his earlier indulgences both as a poet and an
individual. The poems are lyrical because they contain more of personal
agony than theological musings. The protagonist is aware of the difficulty
in reining in one’s senses and a sense of melancholy prevails all through.
Aparajita Shataka is a
collection of 128 poems and it is complementary to the other shataka. These two shatakas
delineate the growth of a soul towards mellowness by an act of intense
introspection. They transcend the boundaries of religion and document
‘Triloka Shataka’ is rather
insipid, when compared to its companions. It contains 129 ‘kanda padyas’ which
delineate the salient features of the external world according to the Jaina world view. Ratnakara is deemed to have written almost two
thousand songs as documented by Devachandra in
his ‘Rajavali Kathe’.
However, all of them are not found. Some of them are even adapted to the
ragas of classical music. These songs are significant more for their
spiritual content than literary merit.
‘Bharatesha Vaibhava’ is Ratnakaravarni’s
best work and is one of the classics of Kannada literature. It is
translated to Hindi, Gujarathi, Marathi and
English. It is to be noted for its points of departure from Pampa’s ‘Adipuranam’,
its competent use of the ‘Sangatya’
meter, its close attention to quotidian details of every day life, his
attempted synthesis of “Yoga and Bhoga’ and his
world view. (For a more detailed analysis of ‘Bharatesha
Vaibhava’ please see the relevant entry.) Ratnakaravarni has thus earned a unique place for
himself in the firmament of Kannada writers. Probably he is second only to
Pampa among the Jaina
writers of Kannada.
- 1. Bharatesha Vaibhava
2. Aparajiteshvara Shataka
3. Ratnakaradheeshvara Shataka
4. Triloka Shataka 5. Adhyatma Geethegalu.
- References: 1. Ratnakaravarni, Ed. V.Seetharamaiah Kannada Kavi
Kavya Parampare, 1984,
I.B.H.Prakashana, Bangalore 2. Ratnakara Mahakavi, G.Brahmappa, Prasaranga, Mysore University, Mysore 3. Vishvakavi Ratnakarana Kavikavya Vimarshe by G.Brahmappa, C.R.kamalamma and Hampanaa.
- Links and Translations
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