The Pre-Nannayya Period
Kavi Trayam – the Trinity of Poets
Sumati Shatakam by Baddena Bhupaludu
The Age of Srinatha and the Prabandhas
Krishnadevaraya and the Astadiggajulus
Musical Literatur – Annamaya
The Modern Period
Forms of Telugu Literature
Subject Matter in Telugu Literature
The Telugu Author’s Craft
Pancha Kavyas – the five best works in Telugu Literature
Other well known Telugu Authors and their works
Nannaya, Tikanna and Yerrapragada (or Errana) are known as the Kavi Trayam, the trinity of poets or the three great poets. This Trinity translated the Mahabharata from Sanskrit into Telugu over the period of 11-14th century AD, and became the idols for all following poets.
A reading of Nannayas poetry
A brief history of Nannaya
An example of Nannaya’s poetry :
A brief history of Tikkana
Nannaya translated two and a half parvamulu (books) of Mahabharatamu. Tikkana translated the remaining books starting from the 4th, leaving the half finished third book, Aranya Parvamu (the Book of Forest), for Yerrapragada. Tikkana did not touch this part because it was considered to be inauspicious to translate this book, which was left half-finished by Nannaya.
A sample of Tikkana’s poetry — a 4-line verse called ‘kanda padyam’, for which Tikkana is famous :
The flavor of Telugu national similes spice up his poetry:
madugu jeerayandu masi daakintlu- as if pure white cheera (sari) is touched by soot, paalalo badina balli vidhambuna- like the lizard in the milk, neyvosina yagni bhangi- like the fire in which neyyi (clarified butter) was poured, mantalo midutalu chochchinatlayina- fate of locusts flew into the fire, kantikin reppayu bole- like the eyelid for the eye, nooti kappa vidhambuna- like a frog in the well, etc.
Yerrapragada (also known as Errana) started the remaining half of the Aranya Parvamu with the style of Nannaya and ended it with the style of Tikkana as a bridge between the parts translated by Nannaya and Tikkana. As they did, he used half Sanskrit and half Telugu in his Telugu translation of Sanskrit Mahabharatamu. He was honored with the title Prabandha Parameshwara (the supreme lord of Prabandha).
read Mahabharata in Telugu Script
SUMATI SHATAKAM BY BADDENA BHUPALUDU
Sumati Satakam Poem – Sri Ramuni Dayachethanu
THE AGE OF SRINATHA AND THE PRABANDHAS (1400 — 1600 AD)
During this period, some Telugu poets translated Sanskrit poems and dramas, while others attempted original narrative poems. The popular Telugu literary form called the Prabandha evolved during this period. Srinatha (1365 — 1441 AD) was the foremost poet, who popularised this style of composition (a story in verse having a tight metrical scheme). Srinatha’s “Sringara Naishadham” is particularly well-known.
Srinatha worked as a minister in the court of Pedakomati Vemareddy of Kondaveedu. He managed to get his king released from captivity of the Lingamaneni rulers of Devarakanda in return for his literary prowess. Srinatha produced and dedicated a host of books to kings and enjoyed a luxurious life. However, he seemed to have suffered from poverty at the end of his life. He was the brother-in-law of another famous Telugu poet Pothana.
Bammera PotanaBammera Potana (Telugu: బమ్మెర పోతన) (1450–1510AD) was an Indian Telugu poet best known for his translation of the Bhagavata Purana from Sanskrit to Telugu. He was a Telugu and Sanskrit Scholar. His work, Andhra Maha Bhaagavathamu, is popularly called as Pothana Bhagavatham in Telugu.
Krishnadevaraya, a poet himself, introduced the Prabandha to Telugu literature. Krishna Deva Raya wrote the book Amuktamalyada in Telugu, which is considered one of the five Pancha Kavyas — the five best books in Telugu Literature. In the book he is describing the pangs of separation suffered by Andal (an incarnation of the goddess Mahalakshmi) and he describes Andal’s physical beauty in thirty verses; using descriptions of the spring and the monsoon as metaphors. As elsewhere in Indian poetry, the sensual pleasure of union extends beyond the physical level and becomes a path to, and a metaphor for, spirituality and ultimate union with the divine.
MUSICAL LITERATUR – ANNAMAYA
Pada-kavita is the first musical literature.
Annamacharya’s wife, Thimmakka (Tallapaka Tirumalamma) is considered the first female poet in Telugu literature. Her main whork is the Subhadra Kalyanam, which consists of 1170 poems.
read more about Annamaya
Kumaragiri Vema Reddy, popularly known as Yogi Vemana, was a Telugu poet. His poems were written in the popular vernacular of Telugu, and are known for their use of simple language and native idioms. His poems discuss the subjects of Yoga, wisdom and morality. There is no consensus among scholars about the period in which Vemana lived.
He is celebrated for his style of Chaatu padyam, a poem with a hidden meaning. Many lines of Vemana’s poems are now colloquial phrases of the Telugu language. They end with the signature line Viswadhaabhi Raama, Vinura Vema, literally Beloved of Vishwadha, listen Vema. There are many interpretations of what the last line signifies.
read more about Yogi Vemana
THE MODERN PERIOD (AFTER 1820 AD)
C.P. Brown (Charles Philip Brown, Telugu: చార్లెస్ ఫిలిప్ బ్రౌన్) (November 10, 1798 – December 12, 1884) was a Telugu writer and an Englishman by descent. He worked as an official in Cuddapah and Rajahmundry during the British rule in India. Native Telugu people call him Brown Dora (Telugu: బ్రౌన్ దొర), which means Lord Brown in English.
Telugu literature was in a dormant phase and declined in 18th century because of various social and political reasons, including lack of creative Telugu poets, prevailing illiteracy and decline of empires, like Vijayanagara Empire, who were patrons of the literature. Brown being an official in the region collected the works, printed them and saved some of the heritage of the Telugu language. In his own words, “Telugu literature was dying out; the flame was flickering in the socket in 1825, I found Telugu literature dead. In 30 years I raised it to life”.
Kandukuri Veeresalingam (Telugu: కందుకూరి వీరేశలింగం) (also known as Kandukuri Veeresalingham Pantulu (Telugu: కందుకూరి వీరేశలింగం పంతులు)), (16 April 1848 – 27 May 1919) was a social reformer of Andhra Pradesh. He was born in an orthodox Andhra Brahmin family and therefore called the father of modern Telugu literatur. He is widely considered as the man who first brought about a renaissance in Telugu people and Telugu literature. He was influenced by the ideals of Brahmo Samaj particularly those of Keshub Chunder Sen. Veeresalingam panthulu is popularly called Gadhya Thikkana. He wrote about 100 books between 1869 and 1919 and introduced the essay, biography, autobiography and the novel into Telugu literature. His Satyavathi Charitam was the first social novel in Telugu. He wrote Rajasekhara Charitamu inspired by Oliver Goldsmith’s The Vicar of Wakefied. To him literature was an instrument to fight social evils.
MANGALAMPALLI BALAMURALI KRISHNA
Mangalampalli Balamurali Krishna (Telugu: మంగళంపల్లి బాలమురళీకృష్ణ)(born July 6, 1930) is a Carnatic vocalist, multi-instrumentalist and a playback singer. He is also acclaimed as a poet, composer and respected for his knowledge of Carnatic Music. Balamuralikrishna was born in Sankaraguptam, East Godavari District, Andhra Pradesh state. Dr Balamuralikrishna has composed over 400 compositions in various languages like Telugu and Sanskrit. His compositions ranges from Devotional to Varnams, Kirthis, Javalis and Thillans. His greatest achievement are the compositions in all the fundamental 72 melakartha ragas.
Aacharya Aatreya (Telugu: ఆచార్య ఆత్రేయ) or Kilambi Venkata Narasimhacharyulu (7 May 1921 – 13 September 1989) was a playwright, lyrics and story writer of the Telugu film industry. He was born as Kilambi Venkata Narasimhacharyulu on 7 May 1921 in the Mangalampadu village of Sullurpeta Mandalam in the Nellore district of Andhra Pradesh. His pen name is based on their family Gothra. Known for his poetry on the human soul and heart, he was given the title ‘Manasu Kavi’(Poet of Heart). His poetry is philosophical and intellectually satisfying.
FORMS OF TELUGU LITERATURE
Prabandham: These are stories in verse form with a tight metrical structure and they have three forms. Astadiggajas have written in all three of the Prabandham genres during the Prabhanda yugam.
Kavyam: Poem which usually begin with a short prayer called a Prarthana, containing initial auspicious letter “Shri” which invokes the blessings of the god. The occasion and circumstances under which the work is undertaken is next stated.
Yakshaganas: Indigenous dramas of song and prose.
SUBJECT MATTER IN TELUGU LITERATURE
From sixteenth century onwards, rarely known episodes from the Puranas are made basis for kavyas. Literary works drawn from episodes of the Puranas under the name Akhyana or Khanda became popular along with fortunes of single hero under the title of Charitra, Vijaya, Vilasa and Abhyudaya became most common subject matter of poetry.
Religious literature consisted of biographies of the founders of religion, their teachings (Sara) and commentaries (bhashya).
Praudha Prabandha or Maha Kavya is considered as highest form of verse. The essentials of such a composition according to the Telugu poetic theory are:
- Saili (Style) — the words chosen neither soft nor very musical but dignified (Gambhira), Sweetness (Madhurya), Grace and Delicacy (Sukumara), Fragrance (Saurabhya) and Symphony. In choice of vocabulary, Vulgar language (Gramya) is avoided.
- Paka (Mould) — refers to the embodiment of ideas in language, and the nature and texture of the language employed. There are three types of pakas namely
- Draksha (wine or grape) — Draksha is a crystal clear style where everything is seen through a transparent medium. Mostly Nannaya uses this mould.
- Kadali (Plantain) — Kadali is complex paka because the soft skin has to peeled in order to reach the core of the subject. Mostly Tikkana uses this mould.
- Narikela (coconut) — Narikela is the most difficult mould to employ because one has to break the rind to understand the idea. Vishnu Chittiyam or Krishnadevaraya are cast in this paka.
- Rasa (Sentiment) — Rasa is the heart and soul of any Telugu poetry which follows rule (Sutra), Vakyam Rasathmakam Kavyam. There are nine Rasas, known as the Nava Rasas. A perfect kavya uses all nine of these, namely: śṛṅgāra (love), Hāsya (Comic), Karuṇā (Sympathy), Raudram (Horror), Bhayānaka (Fear), Bībhatsa (Disgust), Vīra (Heroic), Adbhuta (wonder), Shantam (Peace),
- Alamkara (Ornamentation) — There are Sabdhalamkaras (ornaments of sound) and Arthalamkaras (ornaments of thoughts). Slsha (double entendre) and Yamaka (alliteration) are Sabdhalamkaras. Upamana (smile) Utpreksha (hyperbole) are Arthalamkaras. We find usage of Alamkaras in description of events, places and proceedings etc.
PANCHA KAVYAS — THE FIVE BEST WORKS IN TELUGU LITERATURE