Ancient Tulu Language
1. Devi Mahatme :
Devi Mahatme, which is the Tulu translation of the Sanskrit holy verse ‘Saptashati’, is the oldest Tulu work available till now. The palm leaves’ manuscripts of this work were discovered by Dr Venkataraja Puninchitthaaya at the house of Sri Thenkillaaya in puttur. The period of this work can be traced back to 1200 A.D. The use of the ‘sd’ sound, the use of ‘Rala’ letters and the use of many cases are some of the specialties of the tulu used here. The use of the passive voice, which cannot be found in the present day tulu is another uniqueness of this verse.
2. Mahabharatho :
A poet called Arunabda, who lived at Kodavoor in Udupi, somewhere around 1383 A.D. is the composer of this work. Dr. Venkataraja Punchitthaya discovered its palm leaves’ manuscript at Sri Laxminarayana Kekunnaaya’s house at Mundya in mudnoor village of Puttur Tq. D.K. Among the 1757 stanzas of this verse, 883 stanzas have been in octaves. Many traditional vrutta like ‘Thotaka’ Thotaka Dheerga’ ‘mallika male’ etc have been used in this verse. The story of Adiparva of Mahabharatha is its subject. The mention of 26 sound instruments of the tulu region,various children’s games, magical dolls of the marriage altar, flexible umbrellas, supply of cool water, the offering dates as ‘naivedyam’ to God and Bhoota worship are some of the special features of this work.
3. Sri Bhagavatho :
Shri Vishnu Thunga is the author of this work. On the basis of his horoscopic verse, his period can be traced back to around 1737. The recent studies have fixed his period around 1370.This palm leaf manuscript too was discovered by Dr Venkataraja Punchitthaya at the house of Sri Narayana Saralaya in Madhoooru.
Dr Kabbinale Vasanta Bharadvaj opines that ‘Sri Bhagavatgho’ must be the title of this book, as it is often used in the title verses. According to him, the author of this work lived at Heroor near Udupi. The 1988 stanzas of this long verse are divided into 49 chapters, which are grouped into 3 skandas. Compared to the Kannada and Sanskrit versions of Bhagavatha, this work is very short. The absence of ‘Phalashruthi’ at the end indicates that this work has not been available in full.
4. Kaveri :
Only a part of this work has been found in the manuscripts collection of Calicut University. The period of this work is considered to be the end of the 14th century. The author of this work remains unknown. The greatness of Kaveri which is incorporated within Skanda Purana is its subject. The work is socially remarkable from the point of view of metre, language use, and the use of figures of speech. One of the poet’s statements about the people, who criticize poetry, reflects the literary atmosphere of those days. Also the poet’s statement that his poetry is like the sugar cane, which gets sweeter, the longer you munch it, becomes paradoxical as the later parts of the work have not been available. The palm leaves’ manuscripts of this verse were found at Vitla palace of Vitla seeme, in Bantwala taluk. Presently it is preserved at Sri Dharmasthala Manjunatheshwara cultural research centre. At the cover leaf, the title is written as ‘Tulu Baraha – Tulu Bhashe Ramayana’. The work is edited by Dr. S.R.Vighnaraja. The work has fifteen chapters, which narrate the history of Ikshvaku family. The 10th, 11th and 12th chapters narrate the story of Ramayana in brief. Dr. Kabbinale Vasantha Bharadvaj opines that this work is a part of’Sri Bhagavatho’, authored by Vishnu Thunga.
6. Tulu Karna Parva : –
The author of this work is Immadi Harihara, the king of Vijaya Nagara. He is also called Hariyappa. This shows that the rulers of Vijaya Nagara, not only belonged to the ‘Tuluva’ family, but they also had Tulu as their language. The defeat of Karna by Arjuna is the subject of this verse. On the basis of one of the opening verses of this work, its period can be traced back to around 1385. The verse is written in partial sestets. It makes use of other vrutta as well. It is very special that invoking Ganapathi, the author offers to him Bananas, leaf Appas, sugarcane, ‘Undaliges’ and jack fruit too as Naivedyam. The remembrance of his predecessors by the poet also suggests the existence of the tulu poetic tradition prior to the poet.
– Dr. Kabbinale Vasantha Bharadwaj