Konkani Inscription - 981 AD

Among the inscriptions at the foot of the colossal statue of Bahubali at Sravanabelagola in Karnataka are two lines reading thus:  (i) Sri Chamundaraje Karaviyale and (ii) Sri Ganga raje sutthale karaviyale. The first line was inscribed circa 981 AD and the second line in 116-17 AD. The language of these lines is Konkani according to Dr. S.B. Kulkarni (former head of Department of Marathi, Nagpur University) and Dr. Jose Pereira (former professor, Fordham University, USA). Considering these arguments, these inscriptions at Sravanabelegola may be considered the earliest Konkani inscriptions in Devanagari script.

It is commonly believed that the Konkani literature flourished in Goa before the arrival of the Portuguese arrival on the scene and that the literature was destroyed by a ruling of 30th June, 1541 and which continued for nearly two centuries.   Scholars are divided on this issue and very little trace of pre Portuguese Konkani is available to us.   Fortunately,  what little has survived  (See Konkani Mandakini by Dr. Jose Pereira, published by Goa Konkani Akademi, Goa, 1996 and Konkani Manasagangotri by Dr. Olivinho Gomes, published by Konkani Sorospot Prakashan, Chandor, Goa, 2000) provides a sample of the pre-Portuguese Konkani literature.  The  Godde Ramayan (edited by Prof. R.K. Rao, Kochi, 1989)  and  Solavya Shatakaantlem Konknni Mhabharat (edited by Pratap Nayak, S.J, Panaji, Goa, 1990) also give an insight of the pre Portuguese Konkani writing.  The stories are attributed to Krishnadas Shama, a Goan.

Though the Konkani books and literature were destroyed as believed by some, the missionaries created history by setting up the printing press in Goa in 1556. Some of the earliest books printed there were in Konkani. Thus, Konkani had the privilege of having the first texts printed in an Indian language.

In the last couple of decades in the 17th century, history was also being created by the Konkanis in Kochi. Three Konkani physicians viz.. Appu Bhat, Ranga Bhat and Vinayak Pandit who were approached by Henrique Van Rheede, the Dutch Commodore to compile the botanical book Hortus Indicus Malabaricus. The 12 volumes of the book were published during the period 1678 to 1693.  The book contains the names of the plants in Konkani. Besides, the testimonial given by the threesome is also in  Konkani. During the 17th and 18th centuries, several monumental works in Konkani were churned out by the missionaries.