List of Yakshagana plays in the Kannada language

From Bharatpedia, an open encyclopedia

Yakshagana (lit. "Songs of the demi-gods") is a composite folk-dance-drama or folk theater of southern India which combines literature, music, dance and painting. The best-known forms of this art, written in the Kannada language, are from the Dakshina Kannada, Udupi district, Uttara Kannada and to some extent from the Shimoga district of modern Karnataka.[1][2][3] According to the Kannada playwright and Yakshagana researcher Shivarama Karanth, there are over one hundred such plays written in Kannada in the past few centuries though not more than fifty have been staged and gained popularity.[4] The metrical forms used to compose these plays are usually native Kannada forms such as dvipadi (couplet, 2-line verse), caupadi (4-line verse), sangatya (also 4-line) and three or four types of shatpadi (6-line verse). Some Sanskritic metrical forms, such as the vrattas (4 line verse) and kandas (chapter) were also used for composition. The composed lines lend themselves to tala (beats) and are hence suitable for dance-dramas.[5]

There are a variety of dance-dramas collectively termed as Yakshagana. The Yakshagana Tenkutittu (lit. "Yakshagana of the southern style") is popular primarily in the Mangalore region and the Yakshagana Badagatittu Bayalaata (lit. "Yakshagana of northern style performed outdoors") is popular in Udupi and surrounding regions.[6] Other art forms also grouped under Yakshagana are the Nagamandalam, a dance meant to appease the deity Naga, and a variety of bhuta (spirit) dances.[2] The "Yakshagana Tenkutittu" is more akin to the classical Kathakali of Kerala.[2] According to Karanth, the region between Udupi and Ikkeri could be where the Yakshagana of the northern style originated.[7] Based on internal evidence, Karanth dates these plays to about a 100 years prior to their earliest available copy.[8] This list is not exhaustive. Many plays never reached the stage and among those that did, several plays may not have gained popularity or may longer be popular. Aliya Lingaraja, a member of the Mysore royal family and a writer in the Mysore court wrote more than forty plays which are not in this list.[9]

From about the 1960s, the Kannada Yakshaganas of the Tenkutittu style (southern style) have been replaced almost entirely by the Tulu language. According to Muthukumaraswamy and Kaushal this appears to be a form of "protest" against playing the traditional themes in Kannada taken from classical sources and a preference for local folk themes in Tulu language.[10]

The list[edit]

Noted Yakshagana plays in the Kannada language
Play Author Location Period Earliest available copy
Sugriva Vijaya[11] Kandukuru Rudrakavi 16th century ~1550
Virata Parva[12] Vishnu Varamballi Brahmavara 16th century 1564
Banasura Kalaga[12] Vishnu Varamballi 1683
Indra Kilaka[12] Vishnu Varamballi 1678
Sambarasura Kalaga[12] Subramanya Nagire Gersoppa 16th century 1623
Ravanodbhava[12] Subramanya Nagire 16th-17th century
Krsna Sandhana[13] Devidasa Barkur or Udupi 16th century 1665
Bhisma Parva[13] Devidasa 1692
Abhimanyu Kalaga[13] Devidasa 1695
Saindhava Vadha[13] Devidasa 16th-17th century
Chitrasena Kalaga[13] Devidasa 1695
Girija Kalyana[13] Devidasa 16th-17th century
Krsnarjuna Putrakamesti[13] Devidasa 1618
Indra Kilaka[13] Devidasa 16th-17th century
Devi Mahatme[13] Devidasa 16th-17th century
Babhruvahana Kalaga[13] Devidasa 1647
Sri Krsna Balalila[13] Devidasa 16th-17th century
Venkatesa Mahatme[13] Devidasa 16th-17th century
Krsnarjuna Kalaga[14] Venkata Pandesvar 16th century 1663
Tamradhavaja Kalaga[15] Rama Sivapura 16th century 1691
Putrakamesti[16] Anonymous 1652
Rukmini Swayamvara[8] Anonymous 1678
Panchavati[8] Anonymous 1657
Pattabhisheka[16] Anonymous 1657
Kumbhakarna Vadha[16] Anonymous 1652
Sabha Lakshana[16] Anonymous 1623
Airavata[16] Anonymous 1646
Kusalava[16] Anonymous 1735
Krsna Balalila[16] Anonymous 1652
Putrakamesti[16] Anonymous 1651
Babhrvahana Kalaga[16] Anonymous 17th century
Chandravali[17] Nagappayya Dvajapura 17th century 1703
Nala Damayanti[17] Nagappayya 17th-18th century
Ghatotkaca[17] Nagappayya 17th-18th century
Gayacharitre[18] Halemakki Rama Halemakki 17th century 1618
Lava Kusa[19] Rama Bhatta Hattiangadi 17th century 17th-18th century
Draupadi Swayamvara[19] Rama Bhatta 17th-18th century
Atikaya[19] Rama Bhatta 17th-18th century
Subhadra Kalyana[19] Rama Bhatta 1716
Druva Charitre[19] Rama Bhatta 17th-18th century
Rati Kalyana[19] Rama Bhatta 17th-18th century
Kamsa Vadha[19] Rama Bhatta 17th-18th century
Billa Habba[19] Rama Bhatta 17th-18th century
Draupadi Vastrapaharana[19] Rama Bhatta 17th-18th century
Rajasuya[19] Rama Bhatta 17th-18th century
Sulochana Charite[19] Rama Bhatta 17th-18th century
Setu Madhava[19] Rama Bhatta 17th-18th century
Sesha Garvapaharana[19] Rama Bhatta 17th-18th century
Girija Vilasa[19] Rama Bhatta 17th-18th century
Indrajitu Kalaga[19] Rama Bhatta 17th-18th century
Kanakangi Kalyana[20] Nityananda Avadhuta Not Known 17th century 1683
Parijata[20] Subba Ajapura Brahmavara 18th century 1698-1715
Rukmini Svayamvara[20] Subba Ajapura 1698-1715
Mairavana Kalaga[21] Venkata Ajapura Brahmavara 18th century 1726
Manasa Charite[21] Venkanna Mulki 18th century 1750
Samudra Mathana[21] Vasudeva Prabhu Mulki 18th century 18th century
Chandrahasa-Billahabba[21] Vasudeva Prabhu 1814
Kamsa Vadhe[21] Vasudeva Prabhu 18th century
Radha Vilasa[21] Vasudeva Prabhu 18th century
Rajasuya[9] Bhima Uttara Kannada 19th century 19th century
Prahalada charite[9] Mayyavati Venkata Mangalore 19th century 19th century
Bhisma Parva[9] Yennemadi Venkataramanayya Shirali 19th century 19th century
Putrakamesti[9] Gersoppe Santappayya Gersoppa 19th century 1850
Karnarjuna Kalaga[9] Gersoppe Santappayya 1850
Ratnavati Kalyana[22] Lakshminaranappa Nandalike 19th century 19th century
Kumara Vijaya[22] Lakshminaranappa 19th century
Bhisma Vijaya[23] Narasimha Sastry Tirthahalli 20th century 20th century
Vidyunmati Kalyana[23] Narasimha Sastry 20th century


  1. Sahitya Akademi (1992), p. 4621
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Ashton (2003), p. 17–18, p. 27
  3. Brandon and Banham (1993), p. 115
  4. Karantha (1997), p.69
  5. Ashton (2003), p. 17
  6. Karantha in Ashton (2003), pp. 21–22
  7. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Karantha (1997), p.151
  8. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 9.5 Karantha (1997), p.173
  9. Muthukumaraswamy, Kaushal (2014), p.174
  10. Ashton (2003), p. 21–22
  11. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 12.4 Karantha (1997), p.162
  12. 13.00 13.01 13.02 13.03 13.04 13.05 13.06 13.07 13.08 13.09 13.10 13.11 Karantha (1997), p.163
  13. Karantha (1997), p.164
  14. Karantha (1997), p.169
  15. 16.0 16.1 16.2 16.3 16.4 16.5 16.6 16.7 16.8 Karantha (1997), p.165
  16. 17.0 17.1 17.2 Karantha (1997), p.167
  17. Karantha (1997), pp.167–168
  18. 19.00 19.01 19.02 19.03 19.04 19.05 19.06 19.07 19.08 19.09 19.10 19.11 19.12 19.13 19.14 Karantha (1997), p.170
  19. 20.0 20.1 20.2 Karantha (1997), p.171
  20. 21.0 21.1 21.2 21.3 21.4 21.5 Karantha (1997), p.172
  21. 22.0 22.1 Karantha (1997), pp.173-174
  22. 23.0 23.1 Karantha (1997), p.174


  • Karantha, K Shivarama (1997) [1997]. Yakṣagāna. New Delhi: Abhinav Publications. ISBN 81-7017-357-4.
  • Ashton, Martha Bush (2003) [2003]. "History of Yakshagana". Yakshagana. Abhinav Publications. ISBN 81-7017-047-8.
  • Muthukumaraswamy, Kaushal, M. D., Molly (2014) [2014]. Folklore, Public Sphere, and Civil Society. New Delhi: Indira Gandhi National Center. ISBN 978-81-901481-4-6.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  • Brandon, James R; Banham, Martin (1993) [1993]. The Cambridge Guide to Asian Theatre. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-58822-7.
  • Various (1992) [1992]. Encyclopaedia of Indian literature. Sahitya Akademi. ISBN 81-260-1221-8.
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