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India is a nation of many regional languages. The advent of the Europeans brought in a necessity to understand the regional languages through a foreign language. The Europeans felt it necessary to learn and understand our languages so that their religion and religious teachings would reach the indigenous people better. In the process, many Christian missionaries who came to India learnt different dialects of the regional languages along with Sanskrit and made way for translation works. Reverend Ferdinand Kittle who came to India as a missionary and Indologist, worked on similar lines and gave the monumental work; the kannada-English Dictionary. Even to this day this dictionary is considered as the authentic document of reference. This work helped many European readers to easily understand Kannada and hence connect themselves to the Kannada literary culture. In the long run numerous Kannada literary works of different genres were translated into English, giving it wider and broader readership. Here is a humble effort to peep into the translations of different genres of Kannada literature that have gained universal fame and applaud. Girish Karnad’s Hayavadana, The Vachanas of Basavanna, Parva by S. L Bhyrappa, and few poems of K S Narasimha Swamy are a few works that are considered here.
The vachanas by Basavanna initiated a new genre of writing in Kannada literature called the ‘Vachana Sahitya’ which is a form of rhythmic writing. The play Hayavadana by Girish Karnad gives expression to Indian imagination. This play unfolds the new directions in the history of Indian drama, combining the western techniques with Indian folk psyche, socio-cultural and political reality. The novel Parva is a feast to its readers as it unfurls the myth of Mahabharatha as a retelling by a few principal characters and also brings into light several other practices that are still prevalent in the Himalayan regions of India. Several poems of the Romantic poet K S Narasimhaswamy have been translated to English and one of his best poetic creation has been chosen as a reference here.