Kannada inscriptions

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578 CE Mangalesha Kannada inscription in Cave temple # 3 at Badami
634CE Aihole inscription of Ravi Kirti

About 25000 inscriptions found in Karnataka[1] belongs to Kannada rulers like Kadambas, Western Ganga Dynasty, Rashtrakuta, Chalukya, Hoysala and Vijayanagara Empire. Many inscriptions related to Buddhism and Jainism are unearthed. The inscriptions generally found are on stone (Shilashasana) or copper plates (Tamarashasana). The Kannada inscriptions (Old Kannada, Kadamba script) found on historical Hero Stone, coin and temple wall, piller, tablet and rock edict. The inscriptions found are in Proto Kannada, Pre Old Kannada, Old Kannada, Middle Kannada and New Kannada.

Earliest Kannada inscriptions[edit]

9th century AD Old Kannada inscription on Hero Stone in Kalleshvara Temple at Aralaguppe

The first written record in Kannada traced to Ashoka's Brahmagiri edict, Tagarthi inscription dates back to 350 BC,[2] Nishadi Inscription of 400 AD of Chandragiri hill (Shravanabelagola), Halmidi inscription of 450 AD and Aihole inscriptions are very important in the history of Kannada and Karnataka. 5th century Tamatekallu inscription of Chitradurga and 500 CE Chikkamagaluru inscription. There are few Kannada words found in the edicts and inscriptions those are prior to the Christian era in places as far as Egypt.

Brahmagiri rock inscription of Ashoka

Ashoka rock edict at Brahmagiri in Chitradurga district is the ancient site of Ishila. An inscription there contains this most ancient Kannada word. The earliest recorded word of Kannada is Isila occurring in the Brahmagiri rock inscription of 252 BC (similar to many other inscriptions with Kannada words).[3]

Tagarthi inscription

A Dr. S. Shettar completed a detailed palaeographic study over 10 years, finding five to six inscriptions that are older than Halmidi inscription (in Poorvada Halegannada dialect). The inscription is a mix of Brahmi, Kannada and Nagari scripts. One of those found at Tagarthi (within the Gangavadi region in Shimoga district) dates to 350 AD, during the Ganga dynasty. This study pushed the date push back by at least a century. The historian Suryanath Kamath also agree with the findings of Dr S. Shettar.[4]

Gunabhushitana Nishadi inscription

M. G. Manjunath an epigraphist Mysore based scholar discovered 400 AD Gunabhushitana Nishadi inscription of Jainism one of the 271 inscriptions on Chandragiri hill of Shravanabelagola found near Parshwanatha Basadi, which is 50 years older than Halmidi inscription. It is mentioned in the Epigraphia Karnataka. There are Prakrit, Sanskrit and Purvada Halegannada (Old Kannada words. The four lined inscription has six words. The inscription is in Shatavahana Brahmi and Aadi Ganga script. M. Chidananda Murthy also agree that Gunabhushitana Nishadi Shasana was a Kannada inscription (in Purvada Halegannada script).[5]

Halmidi inscription

The 450 AD Halmidi inscription 16-line earliest Kannada inscription found at Halmidi in Belur taluk of Hassan district on rectangular sandstone ( 2.5 ft height and 1 ft width) has a Vishnu Chakra on its top. The language of the inscription is in Poorvada Halegannada ( Proto-Kannada). Archaeologist M. H. Krishna found the Brahmi script in the inscription. Shifted the inscription to Archaeological Museum, Mysore and later to Government Museum in Bangalore. Epigraphia Karnataka has dedicated a chapter to study of the inscription. The linguists and writers Govinda Pai, M. Chidananda Murthy, T. V. Venkatachala Sastry, Ram Sri Mugali, R.S. Panchamukhi, D.L. Narasimhachar, and M. M. Kalburgi studied the inscription and published papers. Writers including G. S. Gai, T. A. Gopinatha Rao, T. N. Srikantaiah, Shivarama Aithala, S. Nagaraju, S. Srikanta Sastri, M. Mariyappa Bhatta, M. B. Neginahal, K. V. Ramesh, Devarakondareddy and K. M. Hanumantha Rao have discussed the important issues raised by Halmidi inscription in their books.[6]

Tamatakallu inscriptions

Chitradurga district is home for most ancient inscriptions written in archaic Kannada script. As per epigraphist Dr. B. Rajashekharappa the inscriptions known as Veeragallu at Tamatakal village written in Kannada script belongs mostly to end of Fifth Century or beginning of Sixth Century, describes the nature and achievements of Gunamadhura who ruled Masikapura (ancient name of Tamatakal), he was frivolous, generous and kind person. he was a favourite among women (Despite being of dark complexion), because of his kind nature. In 1903 by the historian late B. L. Rice discovered the inscriptions, Dr. Rajashekharappa found new aspects[7] .

Karnataka inscriptions of Kannada dynasties[edit]

Old Kannada inscription of 983 CE on Tyagada Brahmadeva Pillar at Shravanabelagola

The Karnataka inscriptions are maily categoried as mentioned below

Kadambas inscriptions
Western Ganga Dynasty inscriptions
Old Kannada inscription at Vindyagiri Shravanabelagola
Chalukya inscriptions
Rashtrakuta inscriptions
  • Kavirajamarga
  • Ninth century Kannada stone inscription of Rashtrakuta period unearthed near Tumbi Kere (tank) at Halekumur village in Byadgi takuk. The inscription is about Rashtrakuta rulers donating 200 acres to Siddarevar Singh to construct a tank.[8]
  • Navalinga Temple inscriptions Kuknur.
  • Northernmost Kannada inscription of the Rashtrakutas of 964 AD is the Jura record found near Jabalpur in Madhya Pradesh.
  • Inscriptions related to Dantidurga
Hoysala inscriptions
Vijayanagara Empire inscriptions
Seuna inscriptions
Kalachuri Inscriptions

Kannada copper plates and manuscripts[edit]

Coins bearing Kannada inscription[edit]

Kadamba Coin of Shanthivarma, 5th century Kannada legend Sri Manarashi

Kannada inscriptions found outside Karnataka[edit]

10th century AD Copper plates inscription in Telugu-Kannada script

Many Kannada inscriptions found outside Karnataka mainly Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh.

Andhra Pradesh[10]
  • Kannada inscription of Gooty in Andhra Pradesh.
  • At Tirumala Venkateswara Temple at Tirupati there are about 50 inscriptions available in Telugu and Kannada.
  • Inscription (in Telugu-Kannada script) of Vijayanagara empire found at Kadimetla in Yemmiganur mandal of Kurnool district.[11]
  • The 10th century AD. Copper plates of Amma II of Eastern Chalukya in Telugu-Kannada script available at National Museum New Delhi.
  • The 15th Century Rare inscription traces route to Tirumala written in Kannada found in a mango orchard in Krishnampalle of T. Kammapalle panchayat (in Pullampet mandal) in Kadapa district. The inscription with the portrait of Tallapaka Pedda Tirumalarayudu (eldest son of saint lyricist Tallapaka Annamacharya) and Sankham, Chakram and Namam of Lord Vishnu.
Other parts of the world
  • The stone scripture found in Doleshwor of Nepal written in Kannada.
  • Pyu sites of Myanmar yielded variety of Indian scripts including Kannada inscription.
  • The Deopara inscription describes the Senas as Karnata Kshatriyas and Brahma-Kshatriyas.

Kannada inscriptions found in Maharashtra[edit]

Kannada inscriptions found in Tamil Nadu[edit]

The Kannada inscription of Rashtrakuta king Krishna III period (of Tenth century CE) found at Melpadi village in Vellore district of Tamil Nadu. It is mentioned as the endowment was made in the presence of Krishna III's feudatories (Rattas and Bitti Raja of Melpadi). Krishna III was praised as Akalavarsha Deva, Prithvi Vallabha, Maha Rajathiraja, Parameshvara, Parama Bhattaraka and Chaleka Nallathan and it indicats that he was about to accomplish his conquests of Kancheepuram and Thanjavur.[15] The Kannada inscriptions found at Kanchipuram, Dharmapuri region, Vazhaithottam in Nilgiri District, Jain Palli at Alathur in Avinasi taluk, Coimbatore District and Karamadai copper plate inscription.[16] Avinashi Temple inscription in Coimbatore, Kanchi inscription of Vikramaditya, Sittannavasal inscription, Melpadi inscription of Rastrakuta Krishna III, Madras Kannada Herostone inscription, Kodumbalur inscription of Irukkuvelir Chiefs and Hero-stone inscriptions in Kondaharahalli are the inscriptions in Kannada.

Research institute of Kannada manuscripts[edit]

People associated with Kannada inscriptions and manuscripts[edit]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


Media related to Kannada inscriptions in Karnataka at Wikimedia Commons

Media related to Kannada inscriptions at Wikimedia Commons