Kanda padya (ಕಂದಪದ್ಯ) is a prosodic form which is extremely popular in the ancient and medieval Kannada poetry. It contains four lines of unequal length. The first and the third lines contain equal number of ‘matras’. The remaining two lines are also of equal length. Forms like this are designated as ‘ardha sama vrutta’. ‘Kanda’ is essentially a prosodic form in ‘Matraa Vrutta’. However certain minor conditions are imposed making use of the concepts in the 'akshara gana chandassu' This fact becomes significant if one takes in to consideration that ‘kanda’s are usually prevalent in ‘Champu Kavyas’ that were written during the early phase of Kannada poetry and continued unabatedly for a number of centuries. Kandas are used in champu kavyas in combination with ‘Varna Vruttas’ and many indigenous meters. Very rarely one comes across an entire work composed in Kanda padyas. This meter is used in literary works as well as knowledge based texts. One comes across these even in inscriptions.

The word ‘kanda’ as well as the meter are usually traced to the Sanskrit meter ‘aaryaa’ (ಆರ್ಯಾ) and the Prakrit meter ‘Khandayi (ಖಂದಇ) It does not belong to the indigenous ‘amsha gana chandassu. Scholars have put forward many arguments in favor of their beliefs. The structure of a typical kanda padya is as follows.

4 4 4

4 4 4 4 4

4 4 4

4 4 4 4 4

Here the number four represents a unit containing four ‘maatra’s. Hence a kanda padya contains sixteen units (gaNa) and the total number of maatras is sixty four. (Thirty two in each half) The odd numbered ganas should not be a ‘jagana which means that its pattern should not be ‘u-u’.(Lahgu-Guru-Laghu) However the sixth and the twelfth unit have to be a ‘jagana or they should have the pattern ‘uuuu’ (four laghus). The eighth and the sixteenth units must have a ‘guru’ at the end. There is a pause in the rendering of the poem after the first letter of the sixth and twelfth ganas. (Yati) The seventh and the fourteenth unit should begin with anew word if it contains four laghus in succession. This meter sticks to the rule of initial rhythm (AdiprAsa) very strictly and one find a lot internal rhyming though not according tostipulated rules.Scholars have done some hair splitting and tried to find some variations of this meter but not with much success.

A survey of Kandas right from the beginning to the modern times reveals a gradual tendency of flouting the rules whether they are literary works or inscriptions. Early poets such as Pampa , Ranna, Nagavarma and Janna have followed the rules very scrupulously. However, almost all these rules were breached occasionally in later works.

The earliest occurrence of Kandas in Kannada is traced to two poems that were found in the Jain mutt at Singanagadde village in Narasimharajapura taluk. Only three kandas belong to the pre-Kavirajamarga era. However there is an extensive use of this meter in Champu kavyas. Most of them have ‘Kanda’ as their major component with other vruttas being used sparingly. This is true of Srivijaya of Kavirajamarga fame, Pampa , Ranna, Nagavarma, Nagachandra, Harihara and a host of others. ‘Yashodhara Charite’ by Janna is composed almost exclusively in this meter. (300 kanda padya and 10 Vruttas) There are many works which make use of only ‘Vruttas’ and ‘Kandas’ avoiding prose (Vachana) altogether. Some ‘Shatakas’ are composed exclusively in ‘Kanda’s. (Triloka Shataka by Ratnakara and ‘Shadakshara Kanda’ by Kondaguli Keshiraja)

‘Kanda’ is the favorite prosodic form of writers who have written knowledge based texts in Kannada. ‘Kavvyavalokana’, (Nagavarma-2) ‘Shabdamanidarpana’ by Keshiraja and ‘Ashvashastra’ by Abhinavachandra are a few among them.

This meter owes its popularity to the facility with which one can combine Kannada and Sanskrit words, the flexibility that makes room for experimentation, a scope to introduce lyricism, conversation and description depending on the needs of the situation. Consequently scholars have heaped praise on this meter and its practitioners. Two illustrations of well constructed kandas are given below.



1.       ಕಾವೇ/ರಿಯಿಂದÀ/ಮಾಗೋ/


ಭಾವಿಸಿ/ದ ಜನಪ/ ದಂ ವಸು/

ಧಾವಳ/ಯ ವಿಲೀ/ನ ವಿಶದÀ/ವಿಷಯ ವಿ/ಶೇಷಂ (ಕವಿರಾಜಮಾರ್ಗಂ, 1-36)

2.       ಬಿಡದೆ ಪೊ/ಗೆ ಸುತ್ತೆ /ತೋಳಂ/

ಸಡಿಲಿಸ/ದಾ ಪ್ರಾæ/ಣ ವಲ್ಲ/ಭರ್ ಪ್ರಾ/ಣಮನಂ1


ಳೊಡಸಾ/ಯಲ್ಪಡೆ/ದರಿನ್ನ/ವೇಂ ಸೈ/ಪೊಳವೇ/ 11 (ಆದಿಪುರಾಣಂ, ಪಂಪÀ, 5-24)


References: 1. ‘Praacheena Kannada Sahitya Ruupagalu’ by R.S. Mugali, 1973, Mysore .

2. ‘Kannada Chandah Svaropa’, by T.V.Venkatachalashastri, 1978, Mysore .

3. ‘Kannada Chandassamputa’ edited by L.Basavaraju, 1974, Mysore

4. ‘Kanda-lakshana, ugama, itihasa’ by N.S.Taranatha, Kannada Chandassina Charitre, 1980, Kannada Adhyayanasamsthe, Mysore University , Mysore .


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