Kannada vacanas

Robert Zydenbos zydenbos at FLEVOLAND.XS4ALL.NL
Wed May 13 22:41:54 UTC 1998

Replies to msg 12 May 98: indology at listserv.liv.ac.uk (S Krishna)

 mC> Robert writes:
 mC> <<If Kaaginele Kee;sava
 mC> and Vi.t.thala of Pandharpur are to be thought of as
 mC> 'multiple deities' of the Maadhvas, one could argue that the
 mC> same ought to be true of, e.g., Kuu.dalasa:ngamadeeva and
 mC> Guhee;svara among the Virasaivas.>>

 mC> What I had in mind was that the dAsakUTa poets who used a
 mC> "ankita" that they took for THEMSELVES allowed them ( for
 mC> lack of a better expression) to write about dieties as
 mC> *diverse* as ziva,kr*SNa,rAma and gaNapati(purandara dAsa) or
 mC> gaNESa,hanumAn, kr*SNa( viTThala dAsa) while the vIrazaiva
 mC> tendency of not putting in their name "restricted" them( so
 mC> to speak) to only ONE FORM OF A given diety ( mahAdEvi does
 mC> not refer to kUDalasangama dEva nor does allama prabhu refer
 mC> to "cennamallikArjuna")...otherwise I agree with what you
 mC> have to say below

Aha: you mean one and the same author writing about different deities? My impression is that, very much in general, the daasas are more pauraa.nika in their outlook than the ;sara.nas. Scripture, ancient narratives, and the great epics figure more prominently in the compositions of the daasas than in vacanas (N.B.: I am not saying that these things are absent in the vacanas). It would seem that the general tendency in the vacanas is not to think very much about a variety of divinities, or various pauraa.nika manifestations of a divinity; and this has little to do with the a:nkita in itself.

 mC> <<We should perhaps also note that Kannada scholars agree
 mC> that the use of such signatures as a literary device among
 mC> the daasas has been borrowed from the Virasaiva ;sara.nas. If
 mC> the ;sara.nas had never had such a usage, then the daasas
 mC> might never have developed it.>>

 mC> This is interesting...you mean that the 10th century poets
 mC> pampa, ponna and ronna never used an ankita?

We should keep in mind that 10th-century poetry was of a very different character: very lengthy narratives. An exceptionally long vacana may be more than a page or two in length, but the bulk of them are only a few lines. They went from mouth to mouth and were easily copied in numerous manuscripts (due both to their briefness and their popular appeal), whereas copying e.g. a puraa.na by Pampa or Ranna was a big undertaking, and the name of the author was less likely to be lost, or a work less likely to be ascribed to another author. On the other hand, there are cases of vacanas (and pada's of daasas) with variant readings (including variant a:nkitas! obvious corruptions in oral transmission). I think the ;sara.na and daasa authors were aware of this possibility and hence made a point of using their personal a:nkitas.

 mC> ..also thanks for the "kUDalasangamadEva" thing...is there
 mC> any difference between kuDala, and kUDala since both versions
 mC> appear in basava's "vacanas"..Doesn't he also refer to
 mC> "kUDala" by some other variant? What is the significance of
 mC> these variants?

I have never seen a variant "ku.dala": it is always "kuu.dala" (did _I_ write "ku.dala"? Then that was a typo). "Kuu.dala" is from the intransitive verb root "kuu.du-", 'to join, unite'.

Robert Zydenbos
zydenbos at flevoland.xs4all.nl

More information about the INDOLOGY mailing list