ಜಯತಿ ಶ್ರೀ ಪರಿಷ್ವರ್ಙ್ಗ ಶ್ಯಾರ್ಙ್ಗ [ವ್ಯಾ]ನತಿರ್ ಅಚ್ಯುತಃ ದಾನಕ್ಷೆರ್ ಯುಗಾನ್ತಾಗ್ನಿಃ [ಶಿಷ್ಟಾನಾನ್ತು ಸುದರ್ಶನಃ ನಮಃ ಶ್ರೀಮತ್ ಕದಂಬಪನ್ ತ್ಯಾಗ ಸಂಪನ್ನನ್ ಕಲಭೋg[ನಾ] ಅರಿ ಕಕುಸ್ಥಭಟ್ಟೋರನ್ ಆಳೆ ನರಿದಾವಿ[ಳೆ] ನಾಡುಳ್ ಮೃಗೇಶನಾಗೇನ್ದ್ರಾಭೀಳರ್ ಭ್ಭಟಹರಪ್ಪೋರ್ ಶ್ರೀ ಮೃಗೇಶ ನಾಗಾಹ್ವಯರ್ ಇರ್ವ್ವರಾ ಬಟರಿ ಕುಲಾಮಲ ವ್ಯೋಮತಾರಾಧಿನಾಥನ್ ಅಳಪ ಗಣ ಪಶುಪತಿಯಾ ದಕ್ಷಿಣಾಪಥ ಬಹುಶತಹವನಾಹವದು[ಳ್] ಪಶುಪ್ರದಾನ ಶೌರ್ಯ್ಯೋದ್ಯಮ ಭರಿತೋ[ನ್ದಾನ]ಪಶುಪತಿಯೆನ್ದು ಪೊಗೞೆಪ್ಪೊಟ್ಟಣ ಪಶುಪತಿ ನಾಮಧೇಯನ್ ಆಸರಕ್ಕೆಲ್ಲಭಟರಿಯಾ ಪ್ರೇಮಾಲಯಸುತನ್ಗೆ zಸೇನ್ದ್ರಕ ಬಣೋಭಯ ದೇಶದಾ ವೀರಪುರುಷಸಮಕ್ಷದೆ ಕೇಕಯ ಪಲ್ಲವರಂ ಕಾದೆಱದು ಪೆತ್ತಜಯನಾ ವಿಜ ಅರಸಂಗೆ ಬಾಳ್ಗೞ್ಚು ಪಲ್ಮಡಿಉಂ ಮೂೞುವಳ್ಳಿಉಂ ಕೊಟ್ಟಾರ್ ಬಟಾರಿ ಕುಲದೊನಳ ಕದಂಬನ್ ಕೞ್ದೋನ್ ಮಹಾಪಾತಕನ್ ಸ್ವಸ್ತಿ ಭಟ್ಟರ್ಗ್ಗೀಗೞ್ದೆ ಒಡ್ಡಲಿ ಆ ಪತ್ತೊನ್ದಿ ವಿಟ್ಟಾರಕರ
A first reading of this Kannada will not excite anybody and Kannadigas will instantly know that this is Hale Kannada or old Kannada.
But what many people would not know is that this is the earliest, if not one of the earliest, Kannada inscription and that it dates back to more than a thousand six years ago.
This is the Halmidi inscription and it is so called as it was discovered in front of a small mud fort in the
in Belur taluk of Hassan district. village of Halmidi
The epigraph was first discovered in 1936 by Dr. M.H. Krishna, Director of Archaeology of the erstwhile
state. Epigraphists have dated the inscription to 500 AD. Mysore
Though Dr. Krishna himself dated the inscription to 450 AD, others have put the date as 450 AD, 470 AD, 500 AD and some even 600 AD.The inscription is written in pre-old Kannada (Puruvada-hala Kannada), which later evolved into old or Hale Kannada, middle Kannada and eventually modern Kannada.The inscription is the earliest evidence of usage of Kannada as an administrative language
Though many inscriptions having Kannada words have been discovered in many places in Karnataka, including the Brahmagiri edict of 230 BC, this is the first complete inscription in Kannada.
The Halmidi inscription is in verse and it is important to Kannadigas as it is considered to be the earliest epigraph written in Kannada language.
The inscription documents a gift of two villages- Halmidi and Mulivalli- to Vija Arasa, son of Bhtaari, in the presence of the warriors of from Baana and Sendrika regions. The gift was in recognition of the valor shown by Vija Arasa in a war between Kadambas and Kekaya Pallavas. The concluding part of the inscription mentions a gift of a tenth part the total wet lands in the village to Brahmins. They were exempted from paying land revenue.
The first line, which is in Sanskrit, is an invocation to Vishnu. The style is pedantic and ornate. The rest of the inscription is in Kannada. However they are replete with compounded words from Sanskrit. In all, there are twenty five Kannada words.
The exact meanings of some of the words are still a mater of dispute. However, the inscription tell us of the practice of honouring the victorious by rewarding their achievement.
The inscription has sixteen lines and it is carved on a sandstone pillar with a height of 2.5 feet and width of one feet. It demonstrates that Kannada was used as a language of administration at that time.
The first fifteen lines resemble the cave script found in the caves of the
Western Ghats as also in the inscriptions of Shathavahanas. There is partial resemblance to the Talagunda inscription of Kadamba Kakutsthvarma.
A large number of epigraphs discovered later are recorded in Kannada representing a transitional stage of progress from primitive and old Kannada to the old Kannada of classical age. These inscriptions show us the development of Kannada language and literature through the centuries.
One important development of the discovery of the Halmidi inscription was that it once for all put an end to many controversies surrounding the evolution of Kannada and to the views of some scholars who believed that Kannada was not as old as Tamil.
The villagers of Halmidi had moved the inscription from the fort to the
and protected it. temple of Veerabhadra
Dr. Krishna published the details of his study in the Mysore Archaeological Report and shifted the inscription to the
Archaeological Museum, . Today, the priceless inscription rests in the Mysore Government Museum in on Bangalore Kasturba Road where it has been given pride of place.
The inscription has been a subject of study and noted linguists and writers including Manjeshwara Govinda Pai, T.V. Venkatachala Shastry, M. Chidananda Murthy, R.S. Panchamukhi, D.L. Narasimhachar, Ram. Sri. Mugali, and M.M. Kalburgi have researched it and published papers.
Halmadi today is being developed by the State Government. A mantapa has been built to house a fibre glass replica of the original inscription. The Kannada Sahitya Parishat too has taken an initiative to make the village an important centre of Kannada.
However, a noted epigraphist from Karnataka, Dr S.Settar has opined that another inscription by Kongunivarma of Ganga dynasty is older than the Halmidi inscription
He says there are five or six inscriptions, including the one at Taarthi in Shimoga district, which dates back to 350 AD and are older than the Halmidi stone.
Whatever the debate, one thing is sure. Halmidi silenced, and quite effectively I say, those who tried to put down Kannada and tried to paint it as an offshoot of other languages.
Want to see it. Head to the Government museum. Try to conduct your own research and add to the growing chorus of persuading the Indian Government to recognize Kannada as a classical language.