ODUGABBA AND HAADUGABBA
This is one of the major tensions that have
been operative right from the beginning of Kannada literature. It has many dimensions
such as the choice between the oral tradition and the written tradition, choice
between the Dravidian and Aryan cultures as also the poetry meant for the layman
and erudite poetry meant for scholars. The pendulum has swung either way during
different intervals of time right up to our days of neo orality.
Of course, more often than not both the trends are in vogue simultaneously catering
to different kinds of receivers. Literally, Odugabba
means, poetry that is meant to be read and hADugabba(ಹಾಡುಗಬ್ಬ)
is poetry that is intended to be recited or
sung. This is not a reference to the distinction between poetry and prose. Nor does
it have any thing to do with metered verse and free verse; we are not talking about
melody that is inherent in all great poetry either.
After this series of negations some thing has to be said about the essential difference between these two categories. Oral tradition lays an emphasis on singing and reciting. Many a time, literature becomes a shared activity by these practices. Languages that do not have a script are more prone to develop such practices and sustain them. As we know, Tamil the premiere Dravidian language did not have an evolved script centuries after the beginnings of literary production and it did rely on oral, musical modes of production. Consequently the Dravidian prosody is more oriented towards musicality. Amsha Gana Chandassu forms the basis of this prosody. As a result of this, any attempt in Kannada to promote musicality and recitation indicates a movement towards its Dravidian base.
Old Kannada poetry was deeply influenced by Sanskrit prosody and we find a preponderance of Akhshara Gana Chandassu and Sanskrit metrical forms such as Vrutta and Kanda. It is true that Pampa the first great poet of Kannada uses a number of Dravidian meters such as piriyakkara, geetike and ragale in his works. But that was not the dominant practice. This situation continued even during the medieval period with the advent of Matra Gana Chandassu. Of course Dravidian prosody was being used in folklore all through these centuries.
But it was Ratnakaravarni who chose Sangatya
meter for a long epic namely Bharatesha
Vaibhava. One need not attribute the invention of this prosodic form
to Ratnakara. But his choice itself is significant.
He wanted his poetry to reach lay men and house wives and his choice was dictated
by this decision. Bharatesha Vaibhava, Hadibadeya Dharma
and Kumararamana Sangatya are hADugabbas
in every sense of the world.
This trend continued
in the musical adaptations of Vachanas and Keerthanas.
Padagalu opened up one more possibility
like that. Even the modern poets of twentieth century have oscillated between these
two possibilities and they have written many poems that could be adapted to music.
The re discovery of folk music and folk epics have contributed further to this theory.
Amidst all this, many poets have continued to be loyal to the written form which
converts the assimilation of poetry to something absolutely private in spite of
Thus, Odugabba and hADugabba constitute
one of the major concepts that have formulated the patterns of Kannada poetry.