Harihara (poet)

From Bharatpedia, an open encyclopedia
Information red.svg
Scan the QR code to donate via UPI
Dear reader, We need your support to keep the flame of knowledge burning bright! Our hosting server bill is due on June 1st, and without your help, Bharatpedia faces the risk of shutdown. We've come a long way together in exploring and celebrating our rich heritage. Now, let's unite to ensure Bharatpedia continues to be a beacon of knowledge for generations to come. Every contribution, big or small, makes a difference. Together, let's preserve and share the essence of Bharat.

Thank you for being part of the Bharatpedia family!
Please scan the QR code on the right to donate.



transparency: ₹0 raised out of ₹100,000 (0 supporter)

Born12th century CE
Died12th or 13th century CE
OccupationPoet, Writer
TitleUtsava Kavi

Harihara (or Harisvara) (Kannada: ಹರಿಹರ) was a noted Kannada poet and writer in the 12th century. A native of Halebidu in modern Hassan district, he came from a family of accountants (Karnikas)[1] and initially served in that capacity in the court of Hoysala King Narasimha I (r.1152–1173 CE).[2] Later, he moved to Hampi and authored many landmark classics. Among his important writings, the Girijakalyana written in champu metre (mixed prose-verse) is considered one of the enduring classics of Kannada language.[3]

Famous writings[edit]

Noted Kannada poets and writers in Hoysala Empire
(1100-1343 CE)
Nagachandra 1105
Kanti 1108
Rajaditya 12th. c
Harihara 1160–1200
Udayaditya 1150
Vritta Vilasa 1160
Kereya Padmarasa 1165
Nemichandra 1170
Sumanobana 1175
Rudrabhatta 1180
Aggala 1189
Palkuriki Somanatha 1195
Sujanottamsa(Boppana) 1180
Kavi Kama 12th c.
Devakavi 1200
Raghavanka 1200–1225
Bhanduvarma 1200
Balachandra Kavi 1204
Parsva Pandita 1205
Maghanandycharya 1209
Janna 1209–1230
Puligere Somanatha 13th c.
Hastimalla 13th c.
Chandrama 13th c.
Somaraja 1222
Gunavarma II 1235
Polalvadandanatha 1224
Andayya 1217–1235
Sisumayana 1232
Mallikarjuna 1245
Naraharitirtha 1281
Kumara Padmarasa 13th c.
Mahabala Kavi 1254
Kesiraja 1260
Kumudendu 1275
Nachiraja 1300
Ratta Kavi 1300
Nagaraja 1331
Noted Kannada poets and writers in the Seuna Yadava Kingdom
Kamalabhava 1180
Achanna 1198
Amugideva 1220
Chaundarasa 1300

Magnum opus[edit]

Harihara, although one of the earliest Veerashaiva writers, was not part of the famous Vachana literary tradition. He wrote under the patronage of King Narasimha I. He wrote his magnum opus, the Girijakalyana ("Marriage of the mountain born Goddess") in the Kalidasa tradition, though employing the old Jain champu style, with the story leading to the marriage of God Shiva and his consort Parvati in ten sections.[1][4] Harihara brings out his ability for narration while describing the lamentation of Rati for Kama, and the intense love and devotion of Parvati for Shiva.[5][6]

Though known for his magnum opus, his poetic talent found complete expression in his lyrical and narrative ragale poems. It was Harihara who popularised the ragale (couplets in blank verse), a metre native to Kannada language.[7] In a deviation from the norm of the day, Harihara avoided glorifying famous mortals and continued the Jain tradition of "glorifying the spirit" and the "conquest of evil within oneself".[8] So against eulogising earthly mortals was Harihara, legend has it that he physically abused his protégé Raghavanka for writing about King Harishchandra in the work Harishchandra Kavya (c. 1200).[9]

Other poetic works[edit]

Shivaganada ragale
Harihara is credited with a collection of more than one hundred poems in the ragale metre called the Nambiyanana ragale (also called Shivaganada ragale or Saranacharitamanasa–"The holy lake of the lives of the devotees", c. 1160) after the saint Nambiyana. In this writing, which is a eulogy of the 63 saints of early Shaivism (devotion to God Shiva), of the later social reformers such as Basavanna, Allama Prabhu and Akka Mahadevi, and of God Virupaksha (a form of Hindu god Shiva), Harihara express emotions as few poets could. Referenced in this writing is the Tamil epic Periyapuranam.[1][10][11]

Basavarajadevara ragale
Another important writing (though partially available), in the ragale metre is the Basavarajadevara ragale. It is on the life of Basavanna emphasizing the protagonist's compassion for devotees of the god Shiva. This work is the earliest biography of Basavanna from which 13 out of 25 sections are available and are considered important because the author was a near contemporary of his protagonist and set the trend for future biographers. Harihara thus became the earliest poetic biographer in the Kannada language.[12] Interesting details of Basavanna's life are narrated by Harihara, some of which contradict commonly held beliefs. The author, who does not appear to be personally acquainted with his protagonist, mixed facts with some mythological details. While popular theory holds that Basavanna left his native place over a difference of opinion with his father regarding the brahminical initiation ritual (the "sacred thread ceremony"), Harihara's account states Basavanna lost his parents early in life and was cared for by his grandmother. Later he discarded his thread and left for Sangama, indicating he was already initiated.[13] Regarding Basavanna's employment under King Bijjala II, while popular theory holds that Basavanna succeeded his deceased maternal uncle (whose daughter he was married to) as the treasurer of the king, according to Harihara, Basavanna's introduction to the king was made by the incumbent treasurer Sidhdandadhisa, whom he later succeeded to the post.[13]

Mudigeya Ashtaka

Mudigeya ashtaka (1200) is an important ashtaka poem (an eight line verse metre) by Harihara. Legend has it that once when Harihara bowed down in prayer to his God (Shiva), the "Rudraksha" flowers in his headgear (a mudige) fell on the floor. Seeing this, the devotees who had gathered there derided Harihara for wearing the headgear. In response, Harihara composed the ashtaka extempore in honor of his deity and included a challenging phrase "I have laid the mudige on the floor, let me see who can pick it up".[14]

Other writings

Harihara's other works include Pushpa ragale, Marichanana ragale and Pampa sataka (written in the shataka metre comprising a string of 100 verses), in praise of the god Virupaksha of Hampi.[1][2][10] For his poetic talent, he has earned the honorific "poet of exuberance" (utsava kavi).[8]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Sastri (1955), pp. 361–362
  2. 2.0 2.1 Kamath (2001), p. 133
  3. Narasimhacharya (1988), p. 20
  4. Narasimhacharya, (1988), p. 20
  5. Shiva Prakash (1997), p. 206
  6. Nagaraj in Pollock (2003), p. 362
  7. Rice E.P. (1921), p. 59
  8. 8.0 8.1 Sahitya Akademi (1988), p. 1181
  9. Nagaraj in Pollock (2003), p. 364
  10. 10.0 10.1 Shiva Prakash (1997), p. 205
  11. Rice E.P. (1921), p. 60
  12. Shiva Prakash (1997), p. 179
  13. 13.0 13.1 Sahitya Akademi (1987), p. 404
  14. Sahitya Akademi (1987), p. 248


  • Kamath, Suryanath U. (2001) [1980]. A concise history of Karnataka : from pre-historic times to the present. Bangalore: Jupiter books. LCCN 80905179.
  • Nagaraj, D.R. (2003) [2003]. "Critical Tensions in the History of Kannada Literary Culture". In Sheldon I. Pollock (ed.). Literary Cultures in History: Reconstructions from South Asia. Berkeley and London: University of California Press. pp. 323–383. ISBN 0-520-22821-9.
  • Narasimhacharya, R (1988) [1934]. History of Kannada Literature. Mysore: Government Press. Reprinted by Asian Educational Services, New Delhi. ISBN 81-206-0303-6.
  • Rice, E.P. (1982) [1921]. A History of Kanarese Literature. New Delhi: Asian Educational Services. ISBN 81-206-0063-0.
  • Sastri, K.A. Nilakanta (2002) [1955]. A history of South India from prehistoric times to the fall of Vijayanagar. New Delhi: Indian Branch, Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-560686-8.
  • Shiva Prakash, H.S. (1997). "Kannada". In Ayyappapanicker (ed.). Medieval Indian Literature:An Anthology. Sahitya Akademi. ISBN 81-260-0365-0.
  • Various (1987) [1987]. Encyclopaedia of Indian literature – vol 1. Sahitya Akademi. ISBN 81-260-1803-8.
  • Various (1988) [1988]. Encyclopaedia of Indian literature – vol 2. Sahitya Akademi. ISBN 81-260-1194-7.
  • Various (1992) [1996]. Encyclopaedia of Indian literature – vol 5. Sahitya Akademi. ISBN 81-260-1221-8.