Kannada Literature Optional for UPSC

The Optional subject plays a crucial role in the UPSC mains exam. As one can score more than 65 to 70 % of the total marks in optional, and around 30 to 35% of the total marks required for final selection, it becomes imperative to pay attention to the choice of optional subject for IAS mains.

  • A majority of the topics are very interesting. For aspirants with a keen interest in Kannada Literature, this is a very good choice of optional subject.
  • It is a good scoring subject. Many toppers score 270–280 (at least 250+) which is very difficult in many other optionals.
  • Static questions. Many questions will (more than 50%) come from previous year question papers directly or indirectly. Clearly, there is an abundance of static questions.
  • Generally, the syllabus doesn’t need any updation. Once you have prepared for this optional, even after a few years, it remains the same.
  • Most of the questions will be analytical which makes the subject very interesting.
  • In 2016, out of the top 3 rank holders, two of them had literature optional. The 2016 UPSC topper K R Nandini had Kannada Literature as her optional subject.

UPSC Kannada Literature Syllabus

Kannada literature consists of two papers i.e. Paper 1 and Paper 2. Paper 1 deals with History of Kannada Language, History of Kannada Literature and Modern Kannada Literature (including General characteristics, Antiquity and dialects of Kannada language and about Ancient and Modern Kannada literature).  Along with this, it also deals with poetics and literary criticism and the Cultural History of Karnataka. Good quality notes are enough to prepare for paper 1 in Kannada Literature optional.

Paper 2 consist of Old and Modern Kannada Literature. The Old Kannada literature consists of works from Pampa to Ratnakara Varni which are to be read as mentioned in the UPSC syllabus. The Modern Kannada Literature consists of Poetry, Novel, Short stories, Drama and Folk literature. Paper 2 can be read with the help of books mentioned in the syllabus combined with adequate notes.

Limitations of Kannada Literature optional for IAS

It provides least support to any other GS papers. There are no current affairs related topics in this subject. This limitation can, however, be overcome by scoring high in the optional.

Fear factor

There is a popular myth that the Syllabus of Kannada literature for UPSC is very huge and it requires 40 to 50 books to cover, whereas in fact, good notes along with a few selected books are enough for scoring good marks in this subject.

There is also a misconception that it is very difficult to write very fast in Kannada. But, good writing practice of the Kannada language for 2 to 3 months will help you to write fast.

Kannada Literature Books for UPSC Optional


  • Linguistics, history of Kannada Language-M.H. Krishnaiah
  • Kannada Bhasha Shastra- R.Y. Dharwadkar
  • Kannada Sahitya Charitre- R.S. Mugali


  • Bettada Jeeva-Shivarama Karanta
  • Madhavi-Arupama Niranjana
  • Odalaala-Devanuru Mahadeva
  • Devaru- A.N. Moorty Rao
  • Janapada Swaroopa-Dr. H.M. Nayak.
  • Janapriya Kanakasamputa, Ed. D. Javare Gowda
  • Kannada Janapada Kathegalu-Ed. J.S. Paramashivaiah
  • Kannada Sanna Kathegalu- Ed. G.H. Nayak
  • Kumaravyasa Bharata
  • Nambiyannana Raagale- Ed., T.N. Sreekantaiah
  • Pampana Samasta Bharata Kathamrita—L. Basavaraju
  • Shudra Tapaswi-Kuvempu
  • Tughlaq-Girish Karnad.
  • Vachana Kammata, Ed: K. Marulasiddappa K.R. Nagaraj
  • Vikramarjuna Vijaya of Pampa


Also See:

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *