Yashodharacharite is based on two different sources.
They are ‘Yashastilaka Champu’ by
Somadeva and ‘Yashodharacharite’ by Vadiraja. Apparently these two have borrowed
the story from folk literature and molded it to suit their purposes. Janna composed
this work when Jainism was in a state of flux in Karnataka. It was facing serious
challenges from Veerashavism and Vaishnava religion. The poet wanted to re assert
the tenets of his religion and capture the situation in his geographical region.
However he was an artist of rare caliber and he was besieged with some fundamental
problems related to human existence. The problem of crime and punishment and the
problem of freedom of choice given to human beings were uppermost in his mind. Sexuality
and cruelty two themes that are not really nuclear to his religion are chosen as
the areas of human behavious that he wants to delve in to. Amritamathi with her
independent spirit adds another dimension to the story by asserting her rights.
The feminist critics of modern times have taken up her cause quite appropriately.
This plurality of themes and the ease with which the poet handles them make the
work an absorbing study. The poet has kept the text quite open in spite of his own
These thematic preoccupations should not make us blind to the poetic merits
of ‘Yashodharacharite’. For one thing the descriptions of nature and the material
world are always in tune with the tempo and tenor of the situation. The work does
not restrict itself to the mode of chronological narration. The story begins with
the last incarnation of Yashodhara and his mother and meanders back to past. The
work is full of metaphors and images related to hunting and cruelty to animals and
the atmosphere is virtually suffocating. The language is a nice mixture of medieval
Kannada and Sanskrit. ‘Yashodharacharite’
is a perennial favourite of Kannada readers and critics because of these reasons.
and Criticism: 1. Janna, C.P.Krishnakumar, 1965, Prsaranga, Mysore University, Mysore.
2. Yashastilaka and Indian Culture, K.K.Handiqui, 1949, Jain Samskriti Samrakshak
1. ‘The Glory Bearer’s Tale’, T.R.S. Sharma, Penguin Classics,
2. Janna by T.R.S. Sharma in Ancient Indian Literature volume 2, Ed. T.R.S. Sharma, Sahitya Academy, 2000