Halmidi Inscription(ಹಲ್ಮಿಡಿ ಶಾಸನ) is considered to be the most ancient in Kannada. It was first published in 1936. The text and a detailed analysis were later published by Dr M.H.Krishna a well known historian.
This inscription was found at HalmiDi a village near Belur in Hassan district. The original inscription is kept in the Office of the Director of Archaeology and Museums, Govt. of Karnataka, Mysore, and a fibre glass replica has been installed in Halmidi.
The inscription stone is four feet tall, one foot wide and three quarters of an inch thick. It contains sixteen lines. The first line is carved in the shape of a horse shoe at the top. Next fourteen lines are inscribed on the body of the inscription. The last line is engraved at the right side of the inscription vertically from the bottom. It is relatively well maintained even though it is difficult to dicipher the letters properly in about twenty places.
The first fifteen lines resemble the cave
script found in the caves of the
Halmidi inscription documents a gift of two villages named Halmidi and Mulivalli, made to Vija Arasa, son of BhTaari, in the presence of the warriors of from BaaNa and Sendrika regions. The gift was in recognition of the valor shown by Vija Arasa in a war between Kadambas and Kekaya Pallavas. The concluding part of the inscription mentions a gift of a tenth part the total wet lands in the village to Brahmans. They were exempted from paying land revenue.
The first line which is in Sanskrit is an invocation made to Lord Vishnu. The style is pedantic and ornate. Rest of the inscription is in Kannada. However they are replete with compounded words from Sanskrit. In total there are about twenty five Kannda words. Here the language is ancient old Kannada, (Purvada haLagannaDa) deemed to be first stage in the evolution of Kannada. The lengthening of the nominative case suffix and the usage of ‘uL’ as the locative suffix are some of the unique grammatical features of this inscription. The influence of Sanskrit as early as 450 A.D. may be discerned by the use of the passive voice.
The exact meanings of some of the words are disputed. However the inscription is a clear indicator of the practice of honouring the victorious and valorous heroes by suitable rewards. Quite often the surviving family members of the departed heroes were given some land as a means of livlihood.
Thus Halmidi inscription provides invaluable information about the history and culture of Karnataka. P.S.: Dr S.Settar has opined recently that another inscription by Kongunivarma of Ganga dynasty is older than the Halmidi inscrption.
References: 1. Atyanta Pracheena Kannada Shasana 1936 / M. H. Krishna. Shathamanada Samshodhane, Ed. Dr
N.S.Taranatha, Pub. By
THE TEXT OF THE INSCRIPTION IN KANNADA
ಜಯತಿ ಶ್ರೀ ಪರಿಷ್ವರ್ಙ್ಗ ಶ್ಯಾರ್ಙ್ಗ [ವ್ಯಾ]ನತಿರ್ ಅಚ್ಯುತಃ ದಾನಕ್ಷೆರ್ ಯುಗಾನ್ತಾಗ್ನಿಃ [ಶಿಷ್ಟಾನಾನ್ತು ಸುದರ್ಶನಃ ನಮಃ ಶ್ರೀಮತ್ ಕದಂಬಪನ್ ತ್ಯಾಗ ಸಂಪನ್ನನ್ ಕಲಭೋg[ನಾ] ಅರಿ ಕಕುಸ್ಥಭಟ್ಟೋರನ್ ಆಳೆ ನರಿದಾವಿ[ಳೆ] ನಾಡುಳ್ ಮೃಗೇಶನಾಗೇನ್ದ್ರಾಭೀಳರ್ ಭ್ಭಟಹರಪ್ಪೋರ್ ಶ್ರೀ ಮೃಗೇಶ ನಾಗಾಹ್ವಯರ್ ಇರ್ವ್ವರಾ ಬಟರಿ ಕುಲಾಮಲ ವ್ಯೋಮತಾರಾಧಿನಾಥನ್ ಅಳಪ ಗಣ ಪಶುಪತಿಯಾ ದಕ್ಷಿಣಾಪಥ ಬಹುಶತಹವನಾಹವದು[ಳ್] ಪಶುಪ್ರದಾನ ಶೌರ್ಯ್ಯೋದ್ಯಮ ಭರಿತೋ[ನ್ದಾನ]ಪಶುಪತಿಯೆನ್ದು ಪೊಗೞೆಪ್ಪೊಟ್ಟಣ ಪಶುಪತಿ ನಾಮಧೇಯನ್ ಆಸರಕ್ಕೆಲ್ಲಭಟರಿಯಾ ಪ್ರೇಮಾಲಯಸುತನ್ಗೆ zಸೇನ್ದ್ರಕ ಬಣೋಭಯ ದೇಶದಾ ವೀರಪುರುಷಸಮಕ್ಷದೆ ಕೇಕಯ ಪಲ್ಲವರಂ ಕಾದೆಱದು ಪೆತ್ತಜಯನಾ ವಿಜ ಅರಸಂಗೆ ಬಾಳ್ಗೞ್ಚು ಪಲ್ಮಡಿಉಂ ಮೂೞುವಳ್ಳಿಉಂ ಕೊಟ್ಟಾರ್ ಬಟಾರಿ ಕುಲದೊನಳ ಕದಂಬನ್ ಕೞ್ದೋನ್ ಮಹಾಪಾತಕನ್ ಸ್ವಸ್ತಿ ಭಟ್ಟರ್ಗ್ಗೀಗೞ್ದೆ ಒಡ್ಡಲಿ ಆ ಪತ್ತೊನ್ದಿ ವಿಟ್ಟಾರಕರ
1. vyānatir-acytāḥ dānav-akṣṇōr-yugānt-āgniḥ śiṣṭānān=tu sudarśanaḥ
2. namaḥ śrīmat=kadaṁbapan=tyāga-saṁpannan kalabhōranā ari ka-
3. kustha-bhaṭṭōran=āḷe naridāviḷe-nāḍuḷ mṛgēśa-nā-
4. gēndr-ābhiḷar=bhbhaṭahar=appor śrī mṛgēśa-nāgāhvaya-
5. r=irrvar=ā baṭari-kul-āmala-vyōma-tārādhi-nāthann=aḷapa-
6. gaṇa-paśupatiy=ā dakṣiṇāpatha-bahu-śata-havan=ā-
7. havuduḷ paśupradāna-śauryyōdyama-bharitōn=dāna pa-
8. śupatiyendu pogaḷeppoṭṭaṇa paśupati-
9. nāmadhēyan=āsarakk=ella-bhaṭariyā prēmālaya-
10. sutange sēndraka-bāṇ=ōbhayadēśad=ā vīra-puruṣa-samakṣa-
11. de kēkaya-pallavaraṁ kād=eṟidu pettajayan=ā vija
12. arasange bāḷgaḻcu palmaḍiuṁ mūḷivaḷuṁ ko-
13. ṭṭār baṭāri-kuladōn=āḷa-kadamban kaḷadōn mahāpātakan
14. irvvaruṁ saḻbaṅgadar vijārasaruṁ palmaḍige kuṟu-
15. mbiḍi viṭṭār adān aḻivornge mahāpatakam svasti
The following line is carved on the pillar's left face:
16. bhaṭṭarg=ī gaḻde oḍḍali ā pattondi viṭṭārakara