Earliest Full Length Kannada Inscription

Although  Kannada words in abundance have been found in edicts and inscriptions prior to the Christian era in places like Ashoka Edicts  and as far as Egypt, The Earliest Known Full length inscription in kannada is said to be Halmidi Inscription. Full length inscription means inscriptions in sentence and paragraphs in Kannada not just few words.  Halmidi inscription is put at around 450 AD. We are now becoming aware of inscriptions which are challenging the earliest known Full length inscription in Kannada Tag. Dr.S Shettar claims that there are five to six inscription in kannada that are older than Halmidi. Let us see them

Halmidi Inscription

The inscription was discovered in 1936 by Dr. M. H. Krishna, the Director of Archaeology in Mysore (Karnataka state of India), in Halmidi, a village in the Hassan taluk. The inscription is written on a stone pillar 4 feet high. The Inscription written in pre-old-Kannada or Purvada Hala Kannada. The content refers to king Kakusthavarma of the Kadamba dynasty. Further it makes a mention of a war between the Kadambas and the Pallavas in which a brave soldier Vijarasa distinguished himself. He was given a grant of two villages Halmidi and Mulavalli as Balgalchu. It is a form of a gift in which the sword used by the hero for killing the enemies is ceremoniously cleaned and worshipped and the grant made thereafter.The Insc Text is given below the post and there is lot of information on the net, so we are not going in details into this inscription.

Tamatekallu inscription

5th century Inscription in Tamatekallu in Chitradurga dist is one more in contention. Govind Pai observed the extensive use of sanskrit words in Kannada Stanza inscribed there and hazards a guess prior to the adoption of Sanskrit words there must have been a fairly long period of literary composition when native kannada in vogue.


Chandragiri Inscription

Dr.M.G.Manjunath, epigraphist, an authority on "Nishadi"(Sallekhana Samadhi or Nishadi Memorials) inscriptions deciphered "Gunabhushitana nishadi Shasana" one of the 271 inscriptions on Chandragiri hill outoff 800 odd inscriptions in sharavanabelagola. He Concluded Nishadi is the oldest known kannada inscription dating to 400AD. After a detailed study and based on palaeographical and linguistic inferences, Dr.Manjunath dated the inscription to first half of 400AD. Dr.Manjunath figured out after in-depth study that the inscription contained Prakrit, Sanskrit and Purvada Halegannda words. There are no prakrit words in Halmidi inscription. The four lined inscription is in satavhana brahmi and Aadi Ganga Script. M.Chidanandamurthy, kannada Scholar agrees with the findings and puts the inscription older than Halmidi inscription by 50 to 100 years.


Tagarthi Inscription

Tagarthi inscription by Gangas in Shimoga District is dated prior to Halmidi by Dr.S.Shettar.  According to Shettar, the Ganga dynasty controlled most of southern India, including current-day Shimoga, by the middle of the third century. “The inscription found at Tagarthi in Shikaripura taluk of Shimoga district dates back to the same period,” Shettar said. “Tagarthi is well within the Gangavadi region.” Targarthi is a mix of three different scripts, Brahmi, Nagari and Kannada scripts.Dr. S Shettar claims that Tagarthi inscription is much older than Halmidi inscription, dating back to 350 AD. Dr.Shettar says that Tagarthi inscription is in kannada form  earlier than purva-hale-Kannada. 


Kadamba Coins

Some early Kadamba Dynasty coins bearing the Kannada inscription Vira and Skandha were found in Satara dist in Maharastra.  A gold coin bearning three inscriptions of Sri and an abbreviated inscription of king Bhagiratha’s name called bhagi (390-420 CE) in old Kannada exists. These coins prove that Kannada was Administrative language in 4th century Itself. We have seen another article on kannada being third Indian admin language after Prakrit and Sanskrit. We have abundant number of Pre-Kadamba coins in Karnataka in Prakrit.

Satavahana Coins

The coin was discovered recently by numismatist Mukunda Prabhu of Mangalore. On one side of the coin, there is an inscription ‘Srimanaragi’ in Kannada script and on the other side, the symbol of Ujjayini is inscribed, says Dr Gopal, director, Department of Archaeology and Ancient History. According to him, the letter ‘Srimanaragi’ is perhaps the name of a king or a title given to somebody. This is one of the oldest copper coins discovered having the inscription in Kannada script, he says. Notably, it is believed that Banavasi had a ‘Tankashale’ which produced coins having Kannada script.

Recent discovery of a copper coin dated in Banavasi, Uttara Kannada district with the Ujjain Symbol one side and inscription Srimanaragi in Kannada script proves that Kannada had become an official language of Chutus, Satavahana times as well. While Chutu dynasty was restricted to South India. Ujjain Symbol shows that the coin can be Satavahana / Satakarni Coins, who controlled much of India. Which could mean Kannada was official language of Whole of India. We need to search for inscriptions in  Kannada by Satakarnis / Satavahanas especially in Maharastra / Goa area.

Indology scholars have been saying Kadambas and Gangas are the first Kannada Dynasties becuase they used Kannada. But here we have proof that Chutus, Satakarni / Satavahanas have used kannada in administration born by proof of this coins.  This also proves that Kannada words in Ashoka Edicts in Karnataka is no fluke, but due to admin language of the area being Kannada. It has to be noted that apart from Prakrit, Greek and Aramic words, only other language word  in Ashoka Edict is Kannada none else not even Sanskrit.

Halmidi Inscription

The pillar on which the inscription was written stands around 4 feet (1.2 m) high. Its top has been carved into an arch, onto which the figure of a wheel has been carved, which is probably intended to represent the Sudarshana Chakra of Vishnu.The following lines are carved on the front of the pillar:

1. jayati śri-pariṣvāṅga-śārṅga vyānatir-acytāḥ dānav-akṣṇōr-yugānt-āgniḥ śiṣṭānān=tu sudarśanaḥ
2. namaḥ śrīmat=kadaṁbapan=tyāga-saṁpannan kalabhōranā ari ka-
3. kustha-bhaṭṭōran=āḷe naridāviḷe-nāḍuḷ mṛgēśa-nā-
4. gēndr-ābhiḷar=bhbhaṭahar=appor śrī mṛgēśa-nāgāhvaya-
5. r=irrvar=ā baṭari-kul-āmala-vyōma-tārādhi-nāthann=aḷapa-
6. gaṇa-paśupatiy=ā dakṣiṇāpatha-bahu-śata-havan=ā-
7. havuduḷ paśupradāna-śauryyōdyama-bharitōn=dāna pa-
8. śupatiyendu pogaḷeppoṭṭaṇa paśupati-
9. nāmadhēyan=āsarakk=ella-bhaṭariyā prēmālaya-
10. sutange sēndraka-bāṇ=ōbhayadēśad=ā vīra-puruṣa-samakṣa-
11. de kēkaya-pallavaraṁ kād=eṟidu pettajayan=ā vija
12. arasange bāḷgaḻcu palmaḍiuṁ mūḷivaḷuṁ ko-
13. ṭṭār baṭāri-kuladōn=āḷa-kadamban kaḷadōn mahāpātakan
14. irvvaruṁ saḻbaṅgadar vijārasaruṁ palmaḍige kuṟu-
15. mbiḍi viṭṭār adān aḻivornge mahāpatakam svasti
The following line is carved on the pillar's left face:
16. bhaṭṭarg=ī gaḻde oḍḍali ā pattondi viṭṭārakara


Govind Pai By M. Thirumaleshwara Bhat, Neerkaje Thirumaleshwara Bhat
Halmidi -The earliest Kannada inscriptionHistorian’s study pushes earliest record of Kannada writing back by a century 
Mysore scholar deciphers Chandragiri inscription
5th Century copper coin found at Banavasi
Coin Network 
Two hero stones of Chitradurga 

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1 comment:

  1. it would be nice if you upload all Epigraphia Carnatica volumes or provide links to all the volumes to enable interested persons to browse thro' the same.


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