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

About 25,000 inscriptions found in Karnataka and nearby states[1] belong to historic Kannada rulers, including the Kadambas, the Western Ganga Dynasty, the Rashtrakuta, the Chalukya, the Hoysala and the Vijayanagara Empire. Many inscriptions related to Jainism have been unearthed. The inscriptions found are generally on stone (Shilashasana) or copper plates (Tamarashasana). These Kannada inscriptions (Old Kannada, Kadamba script) are found on historical hero stones, coins, temple walls, pillars, tablets and rock edicts. They have contributed towards Kannada literature and helped to classify the eras of Proto Kannada, Pre Old Kannada, Old Kannada, Middle Kannada and New Kannada. Inscriptionsdepict the culture, tradition and prosperity of their era. The literatureof Ramayana and Mahabharata are transferred through the generations by these inscriptions. Hazara Rama Temple and Aranmula Parthasarathy Temple are the best examples of temples associated with Kannada inscriptions.

Earliest Kannada inscriptions

Halmidi inscription of 450 AD
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 dating back to around 250 BC, Tagarthi inscription dates back to 350 AD.[2][3] The stone inscription (dated 370 CE) found at Talagunda near Shiralakoppa in the taluk during excavation by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) in 2013-14 is now said to be the earliest Kannada inscription.[4] Nishadi Inscription of 400 AD of Chandragiri hill (Shravanabelagola), Halmidi inscription of 5th century AD[5][6] and Aihole inscriptions are very important in the history of Kannada and Karnataka. 5th century Tamatekallu inscription of Chitradurga and 500 CE Chikkamagaluru inscription. The earliest known Kannada inscription in Bengaluru region traced to the reign of Sripurusha was discovered in 2018 in Hebbal.[7] There are few Kannada words found in the edicts and inscriptions those are prior to the Christian era in places as far as Egypt.[8]

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).[9]

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.[10]

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).[11]

Halmidi inscription

The 5th century AD[5][6] 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.[12]

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.[13]

Karnataka inscriptions of Kannada dynasties

Main articles: Kannada literature, Chalukya dynasty § Literature, Western Chalukya literature in Kannada, Rashtrakuta literature, Hoysala literature, Medieval Kannada literature, Vijayanagara literature in Kannada, and Mysore literature in Kannada

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

The Karnataka inscriptions are categorized as follows:

Kadambas inscriptions
Western Ganga Dynasty inscriptions
Old Kannada inscription at Vindyagiri Shravanabelagola
Chalukya inscriptions
Rashtrakuta inscriptions
Hoysala inscriptions
Vijayanagara Empire inscriptions
Vengi Chalukya inscriptions
Yadava inscriptions
Kalachuri Inscriptions

Kannada copper plates and manuscripts

Main articles: Indian copper plate inscriptions and Palm-leaf manuscript

Coins bearing Kannada inscription

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

Kannada inscriptions found outside Karnataka

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

Main articles: Carnatic expansion, Eastern Chalukyas, Shilahara, and Kalachuris

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

Kannada inscriptions found in Andhra Pradesh

Andhra Pradesh has numerous Kannada inscriptions.[18]

Kannada inscriptions found in Maharashtra

Kannada inscriptions found in Tamil Nadu

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.[20] 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.[23] 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.

Other parts of the world

Research institute of Kannada manuscripts

People associated with Kannada inscriptions and manuscripts

See also


  1. ^ "'Take up study on unearthed inscriptions'". Retrieved 19 July 2013.
  2. ^ "Historians study pushes earliest record of Kannada writing back by a century". Retrieved 19 July 2013.
  3. ^ B., Dr. Suresha (October 2018). "A study on Ashoka's Inscriptions with special reference to Karnataka" (PDF). JETIR.
  4. ^ "Historians study pushes earliest record of Kannada writing back by a century". Deccan Herald. Retrieved 12 January 2017.
  5. ^ a b Sircar 1996, p. 48
  6. ^ a b Ramesh 1984b, p. 58
  7. ^ Varma, Nikhil (7 August 2018). "Tryst with stone". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 27 August 2018.
  8. ^ "Kannada in Alexandria". Deccan Herald. 30 October 2020.
  9. ^ "Confer classical language status on Kannada: Ananth Kumar". The Hindu. 23 December 2005. Archived from the original on 5 August 2013. Retrieved 5 August 2013.
  10. ^ "Historian's study pushes earliest record of Kannada writing back by a century". Retrieved 5 August 2013.
  11. ^ "Mysore scholar deciphers Chandragiri inscription". The Hindu. 20 September 2008. Archived from the original on 22 September 2008. Retrieved 2 August 2013.
  12. ^ "Halmidi village finally on the road to recognition". The Hindu. 3 November 2003. Archived from the original on 24 November 2003. Retrieved 2 August 2013.
  13. ^ "Inscriptions kept in an open field". The Hindu. 5 December 2007. Archived from the original on 8 December 2007. Retrieved 2 August 2013.
  14. ^ Ranganna, Akhila. "A hunt for Bengaluru's forgotten inscription stones is tracing the history of Kannada and the city". Scroll.in. Retrieved 27 August 2018.
  15. ^ a b Shekhar, Divya (23 June 2018). "Inscription stone discovered in Hebbal could be Bengaluru's oldest". The Economic Times. Retrieved 27 August 2018.
  16. ^ "Rashtrakuta stone inscription found". Retrieved 22 July 2013.
  17. ^ "5th Century copper coin found at Banavasi". The Hindu. 6 February 2006. Archived from the original on 26 May 2007. Retrieved 22 July 2013.
  18. ^ "Jainism in Andhra Pradesh - Rashtrakuta and Chalukya inscriptions". Retrieved 1 August 2013.
  19. ^ "Vijayanagara empire rock inscription found". The Hindu. 27 October 2004. Archived from the original on 31 October 2004. Retrieved 1 August 2013.
  20. ^ a b "Tamil, Kannada inscriptions found in Vellore village". Retrieved 22 July 2013.
  21. ^ "A NOTE ON INSCRIPTIONS IN BOMBAY". Retrieved 22 July 2013.
  22. ^ "Mahalaxmi Temple Kolhapur". Retrieved 22 July 2013.
  23. ^ "Kannada script (10600)". Archived from the original on 1 March 2017. Retrieved 31 July 2013.

Works cited