Champu or Champu-Kavya (Devanagari: चम्पु-काव्य) is a genre in Indian Literature originated from Sanskrit. It consists of a mixture of prose (Gadya-Kavya) and poetry passages (Padya-Kavya), with verses interspersed among prose sections.
Traditionally Telugu poets have used the champu way of rendering poetry. Krishnamaacharya carried this tradition of Champu Marga step further by putting his writings mainly in devotional prose called Vachana.
Adikavi Pampa, the Adikavi, one of the greatest Kannada poets of all time, pioneered this style when he wrote his classical works, Vikramarjuna Vijaya (Pampa Bharata) and Adipurana in it, around 940 CE, and which served as the model for all future works in the Kannada.
Works in Champu style
In Odia literature too, there are numerous works in this genre. There is an added feature though- a Champu in Odia usually has 34 songs, one for each consonant of the alphabet. This rule, though absent in Sanskrit definitions is followed in most of the creations of the Champu genre in Odia. All lines of a song start with its assigned letter. The most famous work is 18th century poet Kabisurjya Baladev Rath's Kishorachandrananda Champu, often shortened to simply Kishori Champu. It narrates the tale of Radha and Krishna's romance in 34 songs.
In Telugu literature, the most acclaimed Champu work is Nannaya Bhattarakudu's Andhra Mahabharatam, produced around the 11th century, which is rendered in the Champu style, is so chaste and polished and of such a high literary merit.
In Kannada literature, this Sanskrit metre was popularised by the Chalukya court poets, like Adikavi Pampa (902 CE -975 CE), who wrote Adipurana in Champu style popularizing it. Also known as champu-kavya) was the most popular written form from the 9th century onwards, although it started to fall into disuse in the 12th century. When people moved towards other Sanskritic metres like tripadi (three line verse), the saptapadi (seven line verse), the ashtaka (eight line verse), the shataka (hundred-line verse), hadugabba (song-poem) and free verse metres.
Other works in Hoysala literature period were also in this style.
Sri Gopala Champu of Jiva Gosvami is in champu style.
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