Nannaya, Tikkana & Errana (11th - 14th
century): Known as the Kavya Traya or the 'Trinity of Telugu
Literature' these three poets are the composers of the Andhra Mahabharata,
a replica of the Sanskrit Mahabharata. Nannaya is acclaimed as the
Adi Kavi or the first poet of Telugu literature. Most of Telugu
literature begins with this massive epic transcreated by these three great
Gonabudda Reddy (13th century): Gonabudda
Reddy is known for his Ranganatha Ramayanam which is a pioneering
work on the theme of Ramayana in Telugu. The whole work comprises seven
khandas (parts). The work has become a part of the Andhra cultural
life and is also used by puppeteers for their shows
Srinathudu (14th century): A poet of immense
calabre Srinathudu lived in the 14th century. His poetic works include
Marutarat-charitra (Tale of King Marutta),Saalivahana Sapta Sati
(100 tales of Saalivahana), Palanaati Veera Charitra (Tale
of Heroes of Palnatu), Kasi Khandam (Legends of Kasi), Bheema
Khandam and Hara Vilasam (The Glory of Lord Shiva) which is
considered to be an outstanding piece of literature.
Bammera Potana (15th century): Potana,
who lived in the later part of the 15th century is believed to be the author
of Narayana Satakamu (The Hundred Verses of Narayana), Veerabhadra
Vijayamu (Tale of Victoroius Veerabhadra), Bhogini Dandakamu (The
Poem of Bhogini) and also the great classic Andhra Mahabhagavathamu
(The Mahabhagvatam of Andhra). It is a Telugu rendering of the Srimad
Bhagvatam of Ved Vyasa. This book of Potana is known for its excellent
narrative style and the art of versification.
Sri Krishnadevaraya (16th century):
A renowned emperor of the famous Vijaynagar kingdom, Sri Krishnadevaraya
is also known for his great epic Amukta Malyada (A Garland Dedicated
to the Lord). The whole work of Amukta Malyada has a grand poetic
style and the work blends the eternal and the temporal in a masterly fashion
even as it unfolds an interesting tale.
Pingaliu Soorana (16th century): Soorana
was a pioneering figure in the field of Telugu classical poetry of the
medieaval age. He has to his credit mainly three works Raghavapandaviyam
a dyvarthi-kavya, Kalapurnodayam (Full Blooming of Art) and
Prabhavati Pradyumnam. Kalapurnodayam has been hailed as
the first original poetic novel in Telugu literature.
Paravastu Chinnayya Soori
(1807-1861) Who does
not know Sri Chinnayasoori among us? He was one of the most famous pandits of
the 19th century. He was born in 1807 in Perambur of Chengalpattu distt. and
died in 1861. He was a Saivaite. Sri Cninnayasoori was a Telugu pandit in the
Govt. college of Madras. He dedicated his entire life to the progress and
promotion of Telugu language and literature.
Sri Chinnayasoori wrote the baala vyaakaranamu in a new style after doing
extensive research on "Andhra Grammar" which is the greatest gift to all of us.
One can not come across any one who has not studied his grammar on the entire
Andhra soil. Other well-known writings by Chinnayasoori are: (1) Neetichandrika
(2) Sootandhra Vyaakaranamu (3) Andhra Dhatumoola and (4) Neeti Sangrahamu.
Chinnayasoori translated Mitra labham and Mitra Bedham from the sanskrit "panchatantram"
as "neeti chandrika". Moonlight of Morals is the English meaning of the Telugu
word Neeti Chandrika. Later, Veeresa lingam translated Sandhi and Vigraham . No
one translated the fifth tantram, viz., kakolukeyam.
Chinnayasoori's writing style is the most classical one. Several writers
tried to follow his style of writing Telugu but failed desperately. The
stylistic elegance in his prose is unparallel to any other known, even today.
Sri Kandukuri Viresalingam and Sri Kokkonda Venkataratnam followed
Chinnayasoori's style of prose writing and wrote Vigrahamu and Sandhi in a
different pattern. But, they were unable to provide the depth of style of
Chinnayasoori's prose writing to the readers.
Many of us might have read the Neetichandrika as the text book at the high
school level. Those who do not have good command over the Telugu language will
also be enthusiastic to read the Neetichandrika. Chinnayasoori's intention in
writing the Neetichandrika was not only to translate the honey of morals into
telugu but to enlighten the readers with the cool rays of Telugu language which
is ever glowing. Sri T. Balanagayyasetti was fortunate to publish this famous
classic, the Neetichandrika, and above all we are more fortunate to read it. (based on Vidwan Dandipalli
Venkatasubbasastri's preface from Neetichandrika in Telugu. Posted in
Soc.culture.indian.telugu by PALANA.)
Gurajada Venkata Appa Rao (1862-1915): Hailed
as the father of Modern Telugu literature, G.V.Appa Rao blazed a new ttail
in play-writing as also in poetry and short story Kanyasulkam (Bride-Price)
is one of his outstanding plays. It was the harbringer of modernism of
Sri Gurajada Apparao was a social reformer, poet, writer, philosopher, and a
friend. He was born in 1863 in Rayavaram of Visakhapatnam distt.. He graduated
from the Maharaja's College (MR COLLEGE) of Vizianagaram, the so called
VIDYANAGARAM of ANDHRA where he synthesized de novo the greatest of his writings
which are superb, unforgettable, and immortal. "dESamanTE maTTika'dOy -
dESamanTE manushulOy" has had been shacking the hearts of every Telugu soul,
whether literate or illiterate.
The style of Gurajada's poetry, neither pedantic nor enigmatic, but was the
purest, crystal clear, lucid, and vivaceous. His poems awaken the weeklings even
and energize them. Gurajada's intellectual creativity gave us a keepsake,
historical landmark, and a precious literary diamond - "KANYASULKAM" play.
It is one and the only book in Telugu in which dedication and preface were
written in English (there may be others in existence, but they mushroomed
afterwards). On the 13th of August, 1992, "Kanyasulkam" celebrated its 100th
birthday, eversince it was staged for the first time.
"Kanyasulkam" centenary celebrations were held at Gurajada's residence in
Vizianagaram. Poets and writers from various places in Andhra held literary
discourses on Gurajada's works. On the 76th death anniversary of Sri Gurajada,
Sri Jonnalagadda Somayajulu and his party performed the "Kanyasulkam" play. Sri
Jonnalagadda Ramanamurty, well known for his Girisam role in the play, was
Sri Gurajada wrote the "Kanyasulkam" in 1869 for an excellent cause - social
reformism. Girls at ten years of age were married to men of 65 years of age or
older in return the girls' parents used to receive a sum of Rs 1000/- or more.
This unfortunate act of selling young girls who did not either attain mental
maturity or puberty to men (ready to be buried under 6 feet of mud) performed by
their ignorant parents can be envisioned in this play, even now. No where in
this entire world, a play like this or similar to this, was ever written.
One will be surprised to know that the era of Modern Telugu Literature was
born from Gurajada's pen and his "Kanyasulkam". "Kanyasulkam" was performed for
the first time by the "Jagannadha Vilasini Sabha" of Vizianagaram in 1892.
(Contributed by Palana)
Unnava Lakshminarayana (1877-1959): Known
for his famous novel Mala Palli (The Harijan Colony), Lakshminarayana
was also an ardent freedom fighter who launched a crusade against untouchability.
The novel combines within itself both social realism and spiritual idealism,
a rare combination to be found in a single novel.
Rayaprolu Subba Rao (1892-1984): Rayaprolu
is hailed as one of the pioneers of modern Telugu literature.Lalitha,
Andhravali, Truna Kankanam (Grass Bracelet), Kashta Kamala (Kamala
in Distress), Ramyalokam (Aesthetic Perception) and Jadakutchulu
(Braid Ornaments) are some of his principal works. Andhravali si
considered as the watershad in Telugu literature for its modernity of themes
such as naturalism, rural life, platonic love, a sense of history and fierce
Viswanatha Satyanarayan (1895-1976): Won
the Jnanpith award for his Ramayana Kalpa Vriksham and is the author
of more than a 100 works. He won the Sahitya Academy Award for his Madhyakkaras
and also was conferred the title of Padma Bushan..His Veyi Padagalu
(A Thousand Hoods) is the most outstanding of his novels.
Nori Narasimha Sastry (1900-1980): N.N
Sastry was a poet, novelist, dramatist, essayist, critic and translator.
A versatile and prolific writer, he laid his hands on all the literary
genres, but it was the novel and particularly the historical novel which
brought him fame and popularity. Narayanabattu, Rudramadevi and
Mallareddiare are the major novels penned by him. The uniqueness
of his novels is that each novel has a great poet as its central character.
Kodavatiganti Kutumba Rao (1909): A
prolific story writer, Rao produced 400 stories..His principal works are
Chadvvu, Braduku Bhayam, Kalalushastriya Vijnanam, Kalabhairavudu
Tripuraneni Gopichand (1910-1962):
Telugu novelist, short story writer, editor, essayist, playwright and film
director, Gopichand's writings are ramarkable for an interplay of values,
ideas and 'isms' -- materialism, rationalism, existentialism, realism and
humanism. He is celebrated for his second novel Asamardhuni Javayatra
(The Incompetent's Life Journey).This is the first psychological novel
in Telugu literature.
Srirangam Srinivasarao (1910-1983): Known
for the landmark anthology Mahaprasthanam (The Great March), Srinivasarao
was a pioneer of the progressive poetry in Telugu. His poetry took an amazing
leap and astounding depth when he wrote the Desa Charitralu (History
of Nations). He was acknowkedged as Mahakavi of the New Proletarian Age.
Puttaparthi Narayanacharya (1914-1990):
Narayanacharya was a front-ranking classical poet, literary critic,
composer, musicologist, translator and polyglot. He has about 50 works
of poetry to his credit.. Considered an authority on the history and literature
of the Vijaynagar period, he has written in Telugu extensively on Sanskrit,
Prakrit, Tamil, Kannada and Malayalam literatures..He has about 3000 musical
compositions in Telugu and Sanskrit to his credit and 200 of them have
been notated by himself. He had the unique and ironic experience of having
written a poetic work called Penugonda Lakshmi at the age of 14,
prescribed as a text when he took the Vidwan examination in his thirtees.
Shivathandavam (The Cosmic Dance of Shiva) is the most representative
of his genius.
Baliwada Kantharao (1927): Kantharao is
the author of many works including Vamsadhara and Daga Padina
Tammudu (The betrayed Younger Brother) and also hundreds of stories.
Vasireddy Seethadevi (1933): Seetahdevi
is an acclaimed writer in Telugu. She has published around 40 novels and
10 short story collections. Mattimanishi (Son of Mother Earth) is
one of her best novels. The novel is a landmark in modern Telugu fiction.
Of Vemana's history,
little is known. He was not a Brahmin but a capoo, or a farmer; a native of
Cuddapah district and born, I believe, in the neighborhood of Gandicotta. He
lived in the beginning of the eighteenth century. It is said that in a verse he
has fixed the date of birth which is believed to have been his own. This date
coincides with A.D. 1652. The date is given in the cycle of sixty years; but
which cycle is intended is unknown. Many verses, however, prove satisfactorily
that he wrote in the latter part of the 17th century when the Mohamedans were
governors of that part of India. His family was powerful, but that he renounced
the world and became a sanyasee or ascetic. He calls himself a yogee.
The verses communicate hardly any idea of his history or connections, and
like all solitary ascetics (sanyasees or yogees) he has dropped his family name
- calling himself simply "Vemana" or "Vema" at pleasure. This solitary life has
led him to address all the verses to himself, which, if this be not recollected,
certainly looks like the grossest egotism. This practice is far indeed from
being peculiar to Vemana.
The names Vema and Vemana do not appear to be used by the Telugus of the
present day. Vema or Vemana in Sanskrit signify a loom. I believe these names to
have been practical titles alone, without a definite meaning. Thus it is well
known that the titles or names of Dante and Hafiz were not original names of
those poets; the first of whom was named Durante or Durando and the second
These poems have attained very great popularity and parts are found
translated into Tamil, Malayalam, and Kannada. Their terse closeness of
expression sometimes renders them difficult to translate with elegance, but such
passages exemplify the manly force of a language that in the common dialect is
often weak and verbose.
Of his aphorisms many have become common proverbs. Parts of them are
evidently close translations from Sanskrit works, particularly the Hitopadesa
and Bhagavat Gita. In a few of thes every word is pure Sanskrit.
Vemana was evidently, in philosophy, of the Vedanta school, a disciple of
VYASA, whom Sir William Jones has (in the Asiatic Researches, Vol. I) entitled
the Plato of India. With the mystic tents of Plato, those of Vemana closely
correspond while his moral doctrines as closely answer to those of DEMOCRITUS.
------C.P. Brown, 1824 manuscript
Source : vEmana padyaalu Editor: bamgOre , TTD Press, 1985
Excerpts from manuscript of C.P. Brown, 1824 (contd.)
These verses are chiefly of 3 classes: moral, satirical, and mystic. In the
morals, many verses occur, breathing a spirit of devotion truly extraordinary in
a Hindu. The satirical part is chiefly directed against the national religion
and customs, particularly against Bramins. None of it is personal. The mystic
portion is chiefly of use as exemplifying the powers of the language. The
reveries contained in this chapter are of a strangely abstruse nature and
furnish a remarkable instance of a powerful mind searching for the light of
truth which is lost in the darkness of heathen ignorance. The style of this and
some other parts renders it easier to translate the verses into Latin than into
English. I have, however, left none in Latin that appeared to deserve an English
one. To the more difficult verses I have subjoined a Telugu interpretation. For
some parts of this comment written in Telugu, I am indebted to 2 very learned
Bramins who taught me the language, its grammar and prosody. They are
Tippabhotla Venkata Siva Sastri of Masulipatnam and Advyta Brahmia, the pandit
belonging to the court in which I have the honor of being Assistant Judge.
To the mystic portion I have appended such notes as appeared requisite.
Further elucidations of the most ample nature will be found in the Bhagvat Gita
with Dr. Wilkins's commentary and in Sir William Jones's essay on the mystical
poetry. Poetry of the East appears in the third volume of the Asiatic
Most of the verses in Vemana are written in Ataveladi metre which consists of
4 lines, but the 4th line, with some exceptions, is a mere refrain or chorus in
these words - viSvadaaBiraama vinura vEma.
It is perhaps impossible to meet with a complete copy of this poet in a
manuscript of any antiquity. The principal sources from which this edition i
compiled are nine. These were collected from Bellary, Cuddapah, Madras,
Vijagpatnam and the city in which I wrote. Few of these copies contain above 500
verses, none came up to 700. The number, however, that I have succeeded in
collecting is 2100.
Of the state of the manuscripts, it is not easy to give a correct idea.
Errors of the grossest nature in orthography, metre and rhyme deface every line,
and erroneous words are substituted to elicit a sense that the transcribers
thought proper to prefer. Thus they have eluded many of the difficulties in
thought or expression and the corruption is indescribable in verse.
Vemana having written the Tadbhava word guramu (for gruhamu) a house, the
copyists in defiance of metre and meaning have gurramu, a horse.
To remedy such errors I prepared a general index to my manuscripts, showing
the place each verse occupies in each copy, for the verses in no two copies had
the same arrangement. By this aid, the true reading has, I hope, seldom been
lost, the correct metre I trust never - the most frequent corruptions were
substitutions of Sanscrit terms in defiance of measure, for pure Telugu
To the remarks on mystic philosophy, I have subjoined a short explanation of
Telugu prosody. The statements are taken from the Bheemana Chandassu but the
arrangement and mode of explanation are my own. Sir William Jones has remarked
(on Panini) that "since grammar is only an instrument, and not the end of true
knowledge, there can be little occassion to travel so rough and gloomy a path."
To teach myself the science, I was obliged to reduce the rules given by Bheemana
in a very fantastic form to their real import, and a mode then occurred to me
through which by degrees I learnt the whole with care. The original is so
mysteriously complex that the failure of most aspirants even among Bramins to a
knowledge of prosody is not surprising.
1824 (from vEmana padyaalu : Editor bamgOre
TTD Devasthanam, 1985.) (Contributed by Palana)
The following is a review on the 1993 Sahitya Akademi Award Winning Book, "Madhurantakam
Rajaram Kathalu". Translated into English by J. Bhagyalakshmi Posted to SCIT by
Madhurantakam Rajaram has been contributing to Telugu literature for more
than four decades. He left no genre of literature untouched. He writes novels,
plays, essays and lyrics besides short stories. Yet he is more well known as a
short story writer. The author himself once said, "I am a short story writer ...
it is in the short story that I could find out my medium of expression. It
overwhelmed me by completely occupying my consciousness. It made me laugh. It
haunted me and taunted me. It also made me shed tears ... I was in ecstasy when
I realised that a writer could successfully communicate his impression as
intensely as he experienced to the reader."
Madhurantakam Rajaram is adept at realistic portrayal of life. He comes from
Rayalaseema in Andhra Pradesh which has its own identity. There the life style
is different, especially of the village folk, who are naive, down to earth,
loving, caring yet bearing the burden of poverty as stoically as they can. Their
hard life with its day to day problems has not hardened their attitudes and
perceptions. All these aspects and many other nuances get reflected in
Madhurantakam Rajaram Kathalu which won the Sahitya Akademi Award for 1993.
The book contains 40 short stories written over a period of four decades.
They truly represent the range of Rajaram's canvas. Here every story has its
place, its identity, its message and adds color to the kaleidoscopic view of
life that emerges out of the volume. The characters we come across in his
stories are ordinary people we see in our everyday life. They are convincing and
realistic and help us have an insight into human nature because of the magic
touch of the author. Madhurantakam Rajaram's stories are purposeful and they
have subtle message which only the discerning readers can discover; their author
is never blatantly didactic. As a writer he firmly believes that literature
should denounce the bad and uphold the good. He says, "Literature may not be
strong enough to transform the society. But it can infuse the spirit needed into
the public which can provoke a marvelous revolution of ideas. It can also
describe an Utopia which is the goal for the humanity."
The author confines his stories to middle class or lower middle class. He
depicts life as he sees it in its various hues and dimensions. He prefers first
person narration in many of the stories perhaps to bring the story near to the
reader. In certain cases he uses Rayalaseema dialect just to give the story its
Madhurantakam Rajaram as a writer comments on people's weaknesses, strengths,
noble and mean qualities. He gives an overview of life without any pretension of
self-righteousness. In its citation, Sahitya Akademi says that "Madhurantakam
Rajaram Kathalu" is recognized as a masterpiece of Indian short fiction in
Telugu "for its faithful delineation of the outer and inner life of the rustic
folk, its proper employment of dialect, its total comprehension of social and
existential reality and its directness and force of narration."
The language and presentation of Rajaram are so inimitable that they acquire
a character of their own. All pervasive flavor of Rayalaseema and intrinsic
naturalness reminds one of the fragrance of the wet earth, newly-cut grass and
the gurgle of a brook.
Madhurantakam Rajaram Kathalu (Short Stories) are published by Visalandhra
Publishing House, 1991, pp. 460, Rs. 65