Tripadi (tripadi) (ತ್ರಿಪದಿ) is one of the most ancient metrical forms of Kannada. It is definitely Dravidian in origin and it is based on ‘amshagaNa Candassu’. Even though tripadi got transformed to ‘mAtrA gaNa Candassu’ as many other indigenous forms, the practice of composing it in amsha gaNa persists. Antiquity of tripadi, based on inscriptional evidence can be traced back to seventh century. ‘Badami Inscription’ is composed in amsha gana tripadis. Tripadi means, literally a stanza containing three lines. (pAda) The characteristic features of this form are provided by Nagavarma in his ‘CandOmbudhi’. The pattern of ganas given by Nagavarma is as follows:
Tripadi is a form consisting of eleven units. (It is also known as ‘tividi’) First two lines consist of four units and the third consists of three units. All the ten of them except the sixth and the tenth units are Vishnuganas. The sixth and tenth units are Brahmaganas. Many a time these Vishnu gaNas are replaced by RudragaNas either at one place or more than one place. There are certain other conditions too. There is pause after the second unit. (yati) There is an internal rhyming in the first and the third units in addition to the initial rhyming.(Adi prAsa). More importantly, after reciting the first three units in the second line, one has to pause and then recite the whole of it again and move on to the fourth unit. This is followed in all recitations, even though Nagavrama has not spelt it out in so many words. Thus in effect, tripadi becomes a poem with four discernible lines during recitation:
This is actually the general mode of recitation whether it is Desi poetry or folk poetry.
The fact that tripadis are found in many inscriptions and folk poems goes to prove that it is one of the earliest poetic forms in Kannada.
However, even tripadi could not survive the on set of ‘mAtrA gaNa Candassu’. Consequently the later tripadis consisted of ten units and all of them were in matrAgaNas. VishNugaNa was replaced by units of five mAtrAs and the sixth and the tenth positiones were occupied by gaNAs consisting four mAtras. Of course these were quite flexible and an elongation of BrahmagaNa was always on cards. Thus a typical mAtrAgaNa tripadi will adopt the pattern that follows:
The sixth and tenth unit may be called BrahmagaNa also because the originals are retained. Sediyapu Krishnabhatta contends that this rule concerning the sixth and tenth units is the most essential feature of a tripadi.
Tripadis are used very sparingly in Champu works. Many inscriptions have made use of this short and pithy meter. Folk poetry is replete with this eminently musical form. There a few literary epics, which are composed entirely in tripadi meter. ‘Anubhavasara’ by Nijaguna Shivayogi, ‘Chandaneya kathe’, ‘Soundarya katharatna’ by Ramendra, ‘Chorakathe’ by Mallikarjunaraya are a few examples. Even in the twentieth century, Jayadevitayi Ligade the poetess from Sollapura has composed her epic ‘Siddaramashvara Purana’ in this meter. However Sarvajna is the most important poet who has immortalized this form by thousands of didactic poems written by him. Modern poets such as Bendre and S.V.Parameshvarabhat have composed a few poems in Tripadi.
Tripadi, which is not suited for continuous long narratives lends itself very well for short lyrical or ethical outbursts. We have provided a few examples of typical tripadis here:
3. Sarvajna, ಸರ್ವಜ್ಞ ಸೊಡರೆಣ್ಣೆ/ತೀರಿದರೆ/ಕೊಡನೆತ್ತಿ/ಸುರಿವರೆ
4. Folk Poetry, ಜಾನಪದ: ನನ್ನಯ್ಯ/ನಂತೋರು/ಹನ್ನೆರಡು/ಮಕ್ಕಳು
It is clear in all these examples, that tripadi gives room for lot of expansion and elision of units during the process of recitation based on the exigencies of the situation.
Some scholars have opined that tripadi is the earliest prosodic form in Kannada. Others are of the opinion that Tripadi itself is derived from ‘ELe’ which is much shorter. Other forms such as Shatpadi and Sangatya are said to be derived by certain modifications in tripadi. All this apart, Tripadi is truly a very important prosodic form in Kannada immortalized by the great bard Sarvajna and innumerable poets and poetesses who have made use of it.
1. ‘Tripadi: adara svaroopa mattu itihaasa’, M.Chidananda Murthy, from ‘Chandotaranga’, 1993, Department of Kannada and Culture, Bangaloe
Kannada Sahityarupagalu’, R.S.Mugali, Usha Sahityamaale,
3. ‘The Shapes of Our Singing: A Guide to the
Metres and Set Forms of Verse from Around the World’ R Skelton -