The renowned Kannada Poet, Adikavi Pampa
Born902 CE
Annigeri, Rashtrakuta Empire (present-day Annigeri, Karnataka, India)
Died955 CE
Bodhan, Rashtrakuta Empire (present-day Bodhan, Telangana, India)
OccupationJain Poet
Vikramārjuna Vijaya also known as Pampa Bhārata

Pampa (c. 10th century), called by the honorific Ādikavi ("First Poet") was a Kannada-language Jain poet whose works reflected his philosophical beliefs.[1] He was a court poet of Vemulavada Chalukya king Arikesari II, who was a feudatory of the Rashtrakuta Emperor Krishna III. Pampa is best known for his epics Vikramārjuna Vijaya or Pampa Bharata, and the Ādi purāṇa, both written in the champu style around c. 939. These works served as the model for all future champu works in Kannada.

The works of Jain writers Pampa, Sri Ponna and Ranna, collectively called the "Three gems of Kannada literature", heralded the 10th century era of medieval Kannada literature.[2]

Early life

There are varying opinions about the early life and native language of Pampa. While it is commonly believed Pampa belonged to a Brahmin family that took to Jainism, their actual place of origin and native is debated. According to the trilingual inscription (in Sanskrit, Kannada and Telugu) installed by Pampa's younger brother Jinavallabha at Bommalamma Gutta in Kurikiyala village, Gangadharam mandal (in modern-day Telangana), his father was Abhimanadevaraya (also known as Bhimappayya) and mother was Abbanabbe. It also indicated that his grandfather was Abhimanachandra who belonged to the Brahmin varna and hailed from Vangiparru in Kammanadu in present-day Guntur district, Andhra Pradesh.[3][4][5][6] In the eastern Deccan ruled by Chalukyas of Vengi and Vemulavada was considered as Kannada speaking territory under the rule of Chalukyas and Rashtrakutas, renowned Kannada poets like Pampa and Ponna hailed from Vengi. Kannada dynasties like Chalukyas and Rashtrakutas had dominated the whole of Deccan and the influence of the Kannada language was felt from the Kaveri and Godavari and even beyond.[7] Hence there were many Kannada families residing in modern Telangana and Andhra Pradesh and Pampa was one of them. According to the modern Jain scholar Hampa Nagarajaiah ("Hampana"), Pampa was born in Annigeri, spent his early childhood on the banks of the nearby Varada river and his mother Abbanabbe was the granddaughter of Joyisa Singha of Annigeri in the modern Dharwad district of Karnataka state. Frequent descriptions of the beauty of the Banavasi region (in the modern Uttara Kannada district) and even the sprinkling (abhisheka) of water from the Varada river on Arjuna's head during his coronation in Pampa's epic Vikramarjuna Vijaya testifies to the poet's attachment to the Banavasi region.[8] Through the lines aarankusamittodam nenevudenna manam banvaasi deshamam and puttidirdode maridumbiyaagi men kogileyaagi nandanavanadol banavaasi deshadol he has expressed his deep attachment towards Banavasi.[9]

Kannada poets and writers in the Rashtrakuta Empire
(753–973 CE)
Amoghavarsha 850
Srivijaya 850
Asaga 850
Shivakotiacharya 900
Ravinagabhatta 930
Adikavi Pampa 941
Jainachandra 950
Sri Ponna 950
Rudrabhatta 9th-10th c.
Kavi Rajaraja 9th-10th c.
Gajanakusha 10th century
Earlier Kannada poets and writers praised in Kavirajamarga
Durvinita 6th century
Vimala Pre-850
Nagarjuna Pre-850
Jayabodhi Pre-850
Udaya Pre-850
Kavisvara Pre-850
Pandita Chandra Pre-850
Lokapala Pre-850

Poetic life

A well-travelled man, he settled down as the court poet of King Arikesari II. Flattered by his knowledge and poetic abilities, Arikesari (who possessed the title Gunarnava) conferred on him the title Kavita Gunarnava. At the age of 39 he wrote his first masterpiece, Ādi purāṇa, in 941, and a little later he completed Vikramarjuna Vijaya popularly known as Pampa Bharata. These two works have remained unparalleled works of classic Kannada composition.[10]


The Ādi purāṇa, written in the champu style, a mixed form of prose and verse, is a Kannada version of the Sanskrit work by Jinasena and details in sixteen cantos the life of the first Tirthankara of Jainism, Rishabha. The work focuses in his own unique style the pilgrimage of a soul to perfection and attainment of moksha. In the work, Pampa describes the struggle for power and control over the entire world of two brothers Bharata and Bahubali, sons of Rishabha. While Bahubali wins, he renounces the worldly pursuits in favor of his brother. Many Jain puranas of Middle Ages found a role model in this work.[citation needed]

Further reading


  1. ^ Merriam-Webster's encyclopedia of literature. Merriam-Webster. 1995. p. 853. ISBN 0-87779-042-6.
  2. ^ Students' Britannica India, Volumes 1-5. Popular Prakashan. 2000. p. 78. ISBN 0-85229-760-2.
  3. ^ "Bommalagutta cries for attention". Deccan Chronicle. 26 September 2014. Retrieved 28 October 2016.
  4. ^ Kevala Bodhi: Buddhist and Jaina History of the Deccan, Vol. 2, Bharatiya Kala Prakashan, 2004; p. 292
  5. ^ Epigraphia Andhrica, Vol. 2, p. 27; Government of Andhra Pradesh, Hyderabad, 1969
  6. ^ Samskrti sandhana, Rāshṭrīya Mānava Saṃskr̥ti Śodha Saṃsthāna, 2000; Vol. 13, p. 152
  7. ^ Kamat 2002, p. 6.
  8. ^ Hampana in K. E. Radhakrishna, p.21 (2010), KANNADA : PAMPADYAYANA, Chapter: "Pampa: Apogee of Kannada literature", ISBN 978-81-280-1192-4
  9. ^ "Karnataka's oldest town: Banavasi Desham".
  10. ^ Upinder Singh 2016, p. 29.