(16th Century / Abalur,Hirekerur Taluq,Haveri District / India)

Biography of Sarvajna

Sarvajna poet

Sarvajña (Sanskrit for "all-knowing", Kannada: ಸರ್ವಜ್ಞ) was a Kannada poet, Pragmatist and Philosopher. He is famous for his pithy three-lined poems which are called tripadis, "with three padas, three-liners", a form of Vachanas. He is also referred as Sarvagna in modern translation.

Early Life

The period of Sarvajña's life has not been determined accurately, and very little is known about his personal life. Based on studies of his literary style and the references of later writers, historians estimate that he may have lived during the first half of the 16th century. Some references in his works indicate that his real name was Pushpadatta - Sarvajña appears to have been his pseudonym. His father was a Shaivaite Brahmin and his mother was a Shudra widow named Mali. His father met his mother at a place in present day Dharwar district in Karnataka on his way to Benares on a pilgrimage.He always upheld the wisdom of pastoral life in rural areas and tried to persuade villagers to give up superstition, meaningless customs and traditions.


Sarvagna grew up as a wandering monk creating the Tripadis,the famous threeliners.In all, about 2000 three-liners are attributed to Sarvajna. Popular because of their alliterative structure and simplicity, they deal mainly with social, ethical and religious issues. A number of riddles are also attributed to Sarvajna.

Channappa Uttangi was awarded the Kannada Sahitya Sammelana prize in 1949 for his groundbreaking work on Sarvajna.

Some Examples

Being a monk, he says how he became an "all-knower" in one of his tripadi.

Sarvajna-nembuvanu garvadind-adanvane
Sarvarolagondu nudi-galitu vidyeya-
parvatave aad noda Sarvajna

"All-knower has not become All-knower merely out of vanity
he learnt one bit of information from everyone
and became a veritable mountain of knowledge"

chittavillade guDiya suttidare falavEnu? : ಚಿತ್ತವಿಲ್ಲದೆ ಗುಡಿಯ ಸುತ್ತಿದರೆ ಫಲವೇನು?
ettu gANavanu hottu tA nityadali : ಎತ್ತು ಗಾಣವ ಹೊತ್ತು ನಿತ್ಯದಲಿ
sutti baNdaNte sarvajna : ಸುತ್ತಿ ಬಂದಂತೆ ಸರ್ವಜ್ಞ

Meaning : Circling around the temple without devotion without dedication is as useless as an ox circling around a mill.

Elu kotiye koti, Elu lakshave laksha ಏಳು ಕೋಟಿಯೆ ಕೋಟಿ, ಏಳು ಲಕ್ಷವೆe ಲಕ್ಷ
Elu savirada Eppattu vachanagala ಏಳು ಸಾವಿರದ ಎಪ್ಪತ್ತು ವಚನಗಳ
Helidanu kela Sarvajna ಹೇಳಿದನು ಕೇಳ ಸರ್ವಜ್ಞ

" Over all meaning is Saravajna has said 70707070 vachanas (Tripadi)"

Majjige illada oota : ಮಜ್ಜಿಗೆ ಇಲ್ಲದ ಊಟ
Majjanava kaanada lajjegetta : ಮಜ್ಜನವ ಕಾಣದಾ ಲಜ್ಜೆಗೆಟ್ಟ
hennanthe Sarvajna : ಹೆಣ್ಣಂತೆ ಸರ್ವಜ್ಞ

" Dinner without butter milk is like a woman without finesse".

saalavanu koMbaaga haalOgaruM UnDante, - ಸಾಲವನು ಕೊಂಬಾಗ ಹಾಲೋಗರುಂಡಂತೆ
saaliganu baMdu keLuvaaga - ಸಾಲಿಗನು ಬಂದು ಎಳೆವಾಗ
kibbadiya keelu muridante sarvgjna - ಕಿಬ್ಬದಿಯ ಕೀಲು ಮುರಿದಂತೆ ಸರ್ವಜ್ಞ

"Sweet as milk and nectar it is to get a loan
..but when the creditor comes after you,
..its painful as a broken ribcage"
"A drunkard is like a pig.
The poor pig, however, is helpful.
The drunk is worse and useless."
"Wearing marks of ash,
if one goes to heaven,
a donkey (that rolls in ash) sure goes." Updates

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