Karnataka Janapada Tradition

Jaanapada is a word made by two words Jana - People or tribe, Pada - a kind of short verse joined together as a Sandhi- a grammatical term. The folk culture and colloquial tongue of Kannadigas.

Janapada Tradition has generally described as the expressions of the illiterate. it represents the uninhibited response of the uneducated and unsophisticated sections of the Karnataka to life experiences in a variety of forms. Janapada tradition represents Kannadiga desire to communicate his/her experiences of joy and sorrow and share it with others. This motivation as such is the same as that of proper Kannada Literature. Karnataka Janapada tradition finds expression not in the form of writing but in the form of the spoken word or song(Janapada Geethe) which is transmitted and perpetuated by oral tradition. Another distinguishing characteristic Karnataka Janapada tradition is that whatever the themes or the experience, it expression is simple, direct and vivid, unembellished by artifice or ornament, and if occasionally figures of speech make their appearances, they appear as sparkle and freshness of live speech that directly but picturesquely express whatever is felt or thought. Janapada Literature reflects the life of kannadigas as it is lived from day to day.

Karnataka Janapada Folk Tradition even though includes every aspect of Kannadiga life can be broadly classified into three main heads.
1.Folk Literature
2.Janapadageethe, songs expressive of the common joys and sorrows of the common people. All can be subdivided according to subject matters of the occasion or purpose the different forms intended to serve.
3.Folk Theater, Poetry intended to celebrate the greatness of chosen deities and ballads dramatizing the heroism or sacrifice of chosen heroes, historical or legendary

1.Folk Literature
Kannada Stories, short and long , in diverse forms and dealing with diverse themes has been found and collected . Though the purpose of the narrative is both entertainment and enlightenment, the former usually gains emphasis. Karnataka Janapada Folk Tradition, questions of probability or realism do not arise at all. The natural and the supernatural easily coalesce, and traffic between earth, heaven and hell is easy and common. When human being marries a celestial maid or a celestial damsel is enamored of a mortal, all kinds of difficulties arise, jealousies are roused, impediments are created by men and demons alike and the hero and the heroine after perilious fights and strange escapades get finally united and everything ends happily. Karnataka Janapada Folk Tradition do not have unhappy endings always. Like the supernatural , the magical element too marks frequent appearance in Kannada folk tales. The story of the gem in the serpent's hood or that of the young acrobat appears with slight variations all over Karnataka and have drawn attention of scholars and researches as being typical. These and similar stories could be described as complex narratives but there are a large number that are straightforward in their manner and intent. There are the stories of clever and stupid, stories of birds and animals, all of which reveal a moralist bias but narration is always vivid and attractive. In the former category, the clever and the stupid find themselves in the opposite roles in peculiar circumstances of the story. Such situations make for humor as in those stories which are intended to be humorous, like the stories of wandering ministerial who in the course of the single night cheated four women or the story of the night blind son in law who makes fool of himself when he went to his wife’s parents house. Animal stories are pretty common and intentions are moral. What provides interest is the free intercourse between animal and human world and even the occasional metamorphosis into all kinds of beings, common, strange or celestial. The Story of the crow and the sparrow is well known. Almost of all the animals of the forest figure in one character or the other. Equally common are the stories of cruel kings and childless queens and the strange happenings inside royal places. Nothing limits the folk imagination in the invention of stories and teller always displays his art in making his narrative absorbing and in the end instructive. Who among us has not heard the story of a rich boy or girl falling in love with a poor girl or boy and marrying her or him eventually after many hardships including fierce opposition from would-be parents-in-law? Karnataka folk literature abounds in such stories such as our films do. Or, consider the story of a vagrant husband whose exploits are finally discovered by the wife but pardoned immediately, true to spirit of ideal house wife. This as you may have thought is not a film story either. This is the story of our Lord Srikanteswara, of Nanjangud, who in spite of being wedded to the beautiful Deveri, had an affair going, with Chamundi, of the Chamundi hills. Or, take the story of Lord Ranganatha, of the Biligiri hills, who fell in love with a poor Soliga tribal girl - and married her. So much credence is given to this story by the local people, the Soligas, that they even to this day address Lord Ranganatha as ‘Bhava’, that is brother-in-law. These are stories which could make wonderful film material, and it is no exaggeration if we say that the genesis of majority of Kannada film stories is the folk literature.



Folk tradition in Karnataka, began orally. The systematic study of folk literature was initiated by European scholars. Anyone who glances at the Kittel dictionary is sure to be amazed by the abundant collection of proverbs, most of which are of folk origin. Kittel was helped in this by his immediate superior at the Basel Mission Church, Mangalore, Rev, Moegling. Abbe Dubois’ work ‘Hindu Customs, Manners and Ceremonies’ contain a number of folk tales. May Frere’s ‘Old Deccan Day’ is an independent collection of folk tale. Among Kannadigas, Nadakeriyanda Chinnappa, a scholar from Kodagu, published in 1924, a book in Kodava language called ‘Pattole Palame’, which was a collection of regional folklore with Kannada commentary. This was followed by Halasangi brothers of North Karnataka who published three volumes of folksongs and Ballads, titled ‘Garathiya Haadu,’ ‘Mallige Dande’ and ‘Jeevana Sangeetha’. Archaka B. Rangaswamy Bhatta of Mandya District brought out a book ‘Huttida Halli Halliya Haadu’ which depicts the rural traditions of an entire village. During pre-independence period B.S. Gaddagimath was perhaps the first scholar in Kannada to secure a doctorate for his thesis on folklore. This was followed by Jee. Sham. Paramashivayya’s series of articles in Kannada Journals on folklore. Haa. Maa. Naik, a scholar in linguistics, published many papers on the study of folk culture.

Mathigghatta Krishnamurthy has brought out a series of voluminous books like ‘Grihini Geethegalu’, a collection of folk songs. S.K. Karim Khan has travelled the length and breadth of Karnataka giving lectures on folk literature. Popular playwright - novelist Chandrasekhara Kambara has to his credit many popular adaptations of folk stories like Siri Sampige, Singaravva Matthu Aramane, Kadu-Kudure and Sangya-Balya. Girish Karnad won international acclaim for his play ‘Nagamandala’ based on folk story. And so did A.K. Ramanujan for his collection of folk stories. B.V. Karanth and C. Aswath are pioneers in scoring folk music to films. They made their debut as music directors in ‘Vamsha Vriksha’ and ‘Kakana Kote’ respectively. H.L. Nagegowda, B.B. Handi and H.K. Rajegowda have done remarkable work in this field. ‘Janapada Loka’ of Janapada Parishat, at Ramanagar which has taken a good shape by H.L. Nagegowda, has a rare collection of folk materials. ‘Arambhadettu Inooru’, ‘Aane Banthondane’, ‘Nannuru’, ‘Veriyar Elvinnana Girijana Prapancha’, are some of his important collections. H.K. Rajegowda’s ‘Kempanna Gowdana Yakshagana Kavyagalu’, ‘Vokkaliga Janangada Sampradaya’, ‘Itihasa Janapada’ are notable works. K.R. Krishnaswamy (Karakru) Hi.Chi. Boralingaiah and Mudenur Sanganna’s works are also noteworthy.

Certain folk tales are common to all regions of Karnataka. One such is about a Harijan youth masquerading as Brahmin and marrying a girl from that community. The girl when discovers the deceit, throws herself into pyre and becomes a goddess. Another narrative - ‘Kerege Hara’ is woven round a chaste woman who sacrifices herself for the successful completion of village tank. And then we have many number of animal tales in which the fox is the trickster.

Gaadegalu (Kannada Proverbs)
Proverbial Gaade which has a famous saying in Kannada as Veda sulladaru Gaade sullagadu -meaning even if Vedas are proved wrong practically , Gaade(Proverb) can never go wrong.

Panchatantra and Jataka Stories
There is hardly any other secular work in the World which has penetrated so deeply in many cultures encompassing practically every continent of the World. During the last 1500 years there are at least 200 translations of Panchatantra in about 60 languages of the World. Aesop fables (2), Arabian Nights(3), Sindbad(4) and more than 30 to 50% of Western nursery rhymes and Ballads have their origin in Panchatantra and Jataka stories. Dated to around 3rd century BC. The Panchatantra stories migrated out of India in 6th century AD during Kadamba rule. Panchatantra migrated to Iran in the 6th century CE . The story is well known. Burzoe, a physicianat the court of Sassanian king Anushirvan (531-571 c.CA), was sent to India in search of Sanjivani herb. In search of this medicine he traveled a lot in India and brought Panchatantra to Iran, which he translated into Pahlavi, titled Kalilah wa Dimnah, with the help of some Pundits. Available version is the Syrian version of Karataka and Damanaka. The Panchatantra stories developed and collected around the Karnataka/ Maharashtra region. It shows the antiquity of Janapada tradition to unknown eras. Panchatantra stories have become the part of glorious Karnataka temple architecture along with Ramayana and Mahabharata stories. The Navalinga temple of Kakanur, someshwara temple in Somashila, Abalur, Isvara temple in Hiresinganagutti, Kolaramma temple in kolar, Pillar Stones at Yasale, Isvara and Kadambeshwara temple at Sirival and Sculptures at Galaganatha ,Virupaksha, and Mallikarjuna temples in Pattadakal, Aihole, Mudhol, Tripurantakeshwara Balligave, Kalleswara temple in Bagali, pillar in Kadur etc carry the legacy. Durgasimha(Lived during Jagadakamalla of Chalukya dynasty) author says that the panchatantra was collected in the court of Salivahana of Banavasi by Court Poet Gunadaya. Panchatantra is Jain origin and jain essence is retained by Durgasimha eventhough he was a Brahmin, we have to note Gunadaya was Buddhist scholar. Vasubhaga Bhatta version is now used everywhere in south India as well as South east Asia and Far east, while Vishnu Sharma is north Indian version dominates other parts of the globe. You will find Vasubhaga version is followed in South Karnataka and Vishnu sharma version in North Karnataka. Both Vasubhaga and Vishnu Sharma are from Karnataka. Vishnu sharma belonging to Aihole, under king called Amarshakti who ruled with capital Mahilaropya (Mailara in Bellary district). Mailara today is on the banks of the Tungabhadra River in Hadagali taluk, Bellary district. This is a well known piligrimage center famous for the Shivamallari temple.

2. Janapadageethe (Poems)
Janapadageethe are lengthy poetical compositions, religious or semi-religious in character and related either to local deities or legendary characters that had achieved miracles or had rendered one or another kind of service to the community. Janapadageethe are similar to but distinct from ballads which celebrate the heroism or sacrifice or similar action of historical and legendary heroes. Janapadageethe relating to deities are attached to particular temples or religious institutions like mutts and the compositions are sung by particular classes of professional minstrels to accompaniment of musical instruments. These compositions are extensive that it takes several nights to sing them. Usually selected portions dealing with episodes favorite with listeners are sung on particular occasions. Such , for example , are the songs pertaining to Maleya madeswara or yellamma, the female deity of saundatti. The worship of zunjappa, the deity of golla community has its own song sequence which is built-up within the framework of the Krishna story.


The Gorava community has its own sacred places like Mylara whose legends provide the theme celebrating the importance of the place. All over Karnataka, tradition of such folk poetry abound are numerous. Diverse in theme and treatment are the Janapadageethe which form the most voluminous and popular body of folk literature. Janapadageethe's chief characteristics are that they are invariable anonymous compositions handed down by oral tradition. Janapadageethe have their own kind of musical style recitation. Janapadageethe prosodic forms and variety can be the subject of a detailed study. Invariable Janapadageethe deal with some kind of activity or another at home or in the fields. Janapadageethe pertain to all aspects and contexts of life and are, therefore, too numerous to classify under particular headings. Janapadageethe are sung either to relieve the tedium and monotony of work or purely for entertainment. there are separate Janapadageethe for men and women differing again in age groups of the singers and their audiences. Parents love for their children, the mother in law harassment. the sorrows of childless woman., the ever strong attraction of parental home for the young bride, pure lover songs and songs of separation the variety of Janapadageethe is endless.

When we come to the realm of songs we find songs for every rural activity, be it grinding, pounding, christening the baby, lullaby, marriage, nuptials, or even tattooing. The last named is the forte of a distinct community called the ‘Koravanjis’. Kolata or stick dance is unique to Karnataka.

JaanpadaGeethe can be classified for our convenience as
(I).Small songs which are sung on every occasion like marriage, festival, travel and most importantly on every work done mostly from harvest to cooking. The art of composing verses was natural when Kannadigas were deeply involved in their works commonly related to agriculture , pottery , harvest, flouring grains.

(II). Ballad or narrative folk song is another distinct form. ‘Jeeshampa’ has classified them to twelve groups or traditions as 1. Devara Guddas, 2. Neelagaras,3. Ganeplayers, 4. Gorvas, 5. Choudikeyavaru, 6. Aradigalu 7. Karapaladavaru,8. Tamburiyavaru, 9. Kinnara Jogigalu, 10. Dombidasaru, 11. Helavaru and 12. Jangamaru.

(III). Religious pada like those of Dasa Saahitya and Vachana Saahitya and probably even the literature of Guru shishya tradition which is known to only be passed through ears and not on papers can be put into this broad term. Shishunala Shareefa ,Purandara Dasa , Kanaka Dasa , Sarvajna stand at top as wandering saints. There were also compositions on rituals which were laid on common man when caste system was on peak to oppose the atrocities and understand the traditions. Normally the Jangama or wandering monks or the Dasa or wandering devotee who used to hold a tamboori - a famous instrument to add muse the verses , use to travel places spreading the knowledge they had acquired and used to receive alms from people known as Bhavathi Bhiksha Dehi which does not find a right word in contemporary English.

(IV). Songs sung by Mothers to their Babies and children.

(V). Apart from these the folk dance arts added color to expressions rather than words and were popular at mass gatherings.

3.Folk Theater
Ballads as such form a separate category. They are actually narrative poems, but all narrative poems are not ballads. The principle characteristics of ballads are that they tell the story of some hero and heroine in verse forms that keep pace with quick tempo of action. They celebrate the heroism or sacrifice or some other breath taking adventure or action. Such for example are the ballads of Sangoli Rayanna or Kittur Chennamma or Hyder Ali or the adventure during battle of Periyapatna. Karnataka Folk literature is thus purely social product rooted in the life of the community and expressive of its likes and dislikes, its deepest faith and loyalties expressive of everything that determines the quality and content of its daily living.

Folk theater has a rich tradition in Karnataka. Who, for instance, has not heard of ‘Yakshagana’ , Doddata, Bayalata etc., Puppet theater is another folk form, classified into two categories as Thogalugombe and Keelugombe. The former is shadow play with the help of leather cut into human or animal or super-human forms and the latter are performed with the help of dolls with movable limbs controlled by strings by the operators. What Interests as literature is the narrative technique which would be quite engrossing.

4. Janapada Medicine
And then there are a host of books on folk medicine such as ‘Padartha Sara’, ‘Vaidyaratnakara’ etc. Many of these were brought out by, or with the help of the Royal family of Mysore.

5. Janapada Dance
As dance is a visual art, the visual impression of this dynamic art is lost on the sands of time. The tradition of dances currently at vague in Karnataka can be broadly divided as Janapada and Shista, the former being localized in certain areas only, whereas the latter has spread to other parts outside the state. Closely connected with folk literature are folk arts Kamsaalay, Chaudike, Ekatari etc., and dances like Lambani dance, Patada Kunita, Nandikolu Kunita, Veeragase, Dollu Kunita, Gorawara Kunita, Gondala, etc. These are all connected with religious rituals, tagged with some deity, and Yakshagana and puppet show are also of similar origin.

6. Janapada Jaatre
A Jaatre or gathering festival arranged by government of Karnataka showcasing Jaanapada art.

Janapada Trust and Academy
Two other main centres for the study of folk literature are the Karnataka Janapada Trust and the Karnataka Janapada and Yakshagana Academy. The former has a collection of more than 1,000 folk songs recorded from all over the state. The latter brings out an annual collection of folklore of about 100 pages at a low cost.

Govinda Pai Research Centre. Udupi (M.G.M. College) has been doing unique documentation work, and has collaborated with a Spannish University. In order to promote folk literature and folk arts, the Karnataka Jaanapada and Yakshagana Academy honours the outstanding folklore scholars and the artists every year by granting Jaanapada Tagna Award and Annual Awards.
D. Javaregowda, as Vice-Chancellor of Mysore University, established a Folklore Research Centre at Mysore. The Universities of Bangalore; Dharwad and Gulbarga, also offer Doctoral Degrees in the study of folk culture. Of late Hampi Kannada University and Shimoga University have also been in the forefront.


Jaanapada Tagna Award Winners
1986 : Simpi Linganna; 1988 : Mathighatta Krishnamurthy and D. Javeregowda; 1989: H.L. Nagegowda; 1990 : H.M. Nayak and B.B. Hendi; 1991 : Ku.Shi. Haridasa Bhat and K.R. Lingappa; 1992 : Chandrashekhara Kambara and Mudenuru Sanganna; 1993: M. Chidananda Murthy, P.R. Thippeswamy and N.R. Nayak; 1994 : G. Narayana, Goru Channabasappa, Devendra Kumar Hakari, M.G. Biradara, Amrita Someshwara and C.P. Krishnakumar; 1995: Ham.Pa Nagarajaiah, Ramegowda (Ragau), Somashekhara Imrapura and R.C. Hirematha; 1996 : B.A. Vivek Rai, Basavaraja Malashetty and P.K. Rajashekhar; 1997 : M.M. Kalburgi, M.B. Neginahala, T.N. Shankaranarayana, O.K. Rajendra and P.K. Khandoba; 1998: Kyatanahally Ramanna, Shanthi Nayak and A.V. Naavada; 1999 : Nam Tapasvikumar, M.N. Vali and H.J. Lakkappa Gowda; 2000 : Taltaje Keshava Bhatta, C.H. Mahadeva Nayak, M.T. Dhoopada, T.S. Rajappa and M.A. Jayachandra, 2001: Siddalingaiah, William Madtha, Shrirama Ittannavar, 2002: Channanna Valikara, B.S.Swamy, Nallur Prasad, 2003: M.G.Eswarappa, Shreekanta Kodige, Prabhakara Joshi, Since 2004, the Jaanapada Tagna Award being stopped and awards established in the name of B.S. Gaddagi Math and Jishampa are given to folklore scholars. Gaddagi math award: Keremane Mahabala Hegade (2004), Veeranna Dande (2005), Ha.Ka. Rajegowda (2006), D.B. Naik (2007), C.K. Navalagi (2008) Jishampa award: He. She. Ramachandra gowda (2004), M.K. Raghava Nambiyar (2005), Basavaraja Nellisara (2006), G.S. Bhat (2007), Y.C. Bhanumathi (2008).

Jaanapada and Yakshagana Acadamy Award Winners
The Academy honors the folklore scholars, artists, authors, collectors/ editors/critics/ publishers, institutions, groups, art promoters etc., every year by granting annual awards. So far (2008) 703 eminent persons have won Annual Awards. For Yakshagana separate accadamy is founded in 2008-09. Under the chairmanship of Kumble Sundararao.

Source
A Handbook of Karnataka
The Encyclopaedia Of Indian Literature Volume 2, By Amaresh Datta

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