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Kannada’s oral epics must be brought to mainstream classical literature, says former VC

By March 19, 2019No Comments

Source : Times of India

Mysuru: Former vice-chancellor of Mangalore University Prof BA Viveka Rai on Monday made a strong case for the inclusion of Kannada oral epics within the ambit of the language’s Classical Literature. Rai, who inaugurated the five-day conference on ‘Comparison between written and oral traditions in Kannada epics’ organised by the centre of excellence in studies for Classical Kannada of the Central Institute of Indian Languages (CIIL), highlighted the many unique aspects of the oral epics in Kannada.



“The tradition of oral epics is present in all languages, but Male Mahadeshwara Kavya, Manteswamy and Junjappa poems find no parallel in other languages. Karnataka is home to many an oral tradition, which one finds in both the southern and northern parts of the state. Unfortunately, this robust tradition has largely been unacknowledged in our country,” Rai added.

The universal acclaim, and recognition that the oral epics of Finland and Kyrgyz Republic had managed to garner set the obscurity that was the lot of the Kannada texts in stark relief, the former Mangalore University VC said. “Finland, in fact, celebrated the 150th anniversary of an oral epic that is a part of its folklore across the world, including an event in New Delhi. On the other hand, our epics such as Manteswamy are unknown in other Indian states. It is high time the government recognised the value of these traditions,” said Rai, adding that the distinct cultural identities of Indian oral epics, best captured by the existence of multiple renditions of Ramayana and Mahabharatha across the state, is what set it apart from the aural traditions of Europe. “A thorough analysis of poems passed down orally is what will help us identify the difference between them, and the written words,” Rai said.

CIIL deputy director Prof PDR Fernandes and programme director Prof KR Durgadas attended the inaugural ceremony of the conference.

‘Youngsters not concerned about classical languages’

Central Institute of Indian Languages director Prof DG Rao expressed concern over the lack of interest among youngsters about classical languages. “Many writers and artists have struggled in order to get the classical language status for Tamil and Kannada. For the first time, the central government is giving awards for research in classical languages. But CIIL has received very few applications, and none from young researchers. In fact, we have received no applications for research into some languages,” said Prof Rao.

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