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|Number of Pages||340 Pages|
The Gadāyuddham (The Duel of the Maces) is a kāvya composed in classical Kannada literary style at the turn of the eleventh century CE. It is written in campū, a genre that developed in the tenth century as a mixture of poetry and prose. Ranna’s poem is remarkably dramatic in nature and is a meditation on the cost of war. Crisp dialogue, body gestures and imagery fill the poem. It is as if the poet were giving us directions for a play.
Ranna employs ‘flashbacks’, a technique called simhāvalōkana, that is, a lion turning casually to glance behind him. Ranna builds up to the duel through characters recalling episodes of injury or through lamentation. The duel occupies only a short space in the eighth canto, but Ranna takes this time to fill in past episodes and reflect on the impact of war. This thousand-year-old poem will interest scholars as well as lay readers.
Purushothama Bilimale is Professor, Kannada Language Chair, Centre of Indian Languages, SLL&CS, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.