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Telugu literature or Telugu Sahityam (Telugu: తెలుగు సాహిత్యం) is the body of works written in the Telugu language. It consists of poems, novels, short stories, dramas and puranas. Telugu literature has a rich and long literary tradition, that can be traced back to the early 11th century period when Mahabharata was first translated to Telugu from Sanskrit by Nannaya. It flourished under the rule of the Vijayanagar empire, where Telugu was one of the languages spoken in the royal courts.
Telugu split from Proto-Dravidian between 1500-1000 BC. So, Telugu became a distinct language by the time any literary activity began to appear in the Tamil land, along with Parji, Kolami, Nayaki and Gadaba languages. Even though it still retains some of the primitive Dravidian characters, it is heavily influenced by Sanskrit and Prakrit.
Apparently Andhras adopted a form of Prakrit which, in course of development, became the immediate ancestor of Telugu literature. Literary texts in Telugu may be lexically Sanskrit or Sanskritized to an enormous extent, perhaps seventy percent or more and every Telugu grammatical rule is laboriously deduced from a Sanskrit canon. Prakrit and Telugu alphabet are similar and exhibit one on one correspondence.
All the Telugu alphabet (known as Akshara mala) written using Telugu script are carved out of a circle. There are 56 Telugu letters that are currently in use. The vowels in Telugu are called Ach/Achchulu or Swaraalu and the consonants in Telugu are called Hal/Hallulu or Vyanjanamulu.
Literary Telugu has complete set of letters which follows scientific system to express sounds. It is highly conducive for Phonetics. It has more letters than any Indian language. Some of them are introduced to express fine shades of difference in sounds.
Avagraha (ఽ) is used for extra length with long vowels.
Telugu has (.C) and (.J) which are found in Kashmiri and Marathi but not represented in Sanskrit.
Telugu script can reproduce the full range of Sanskrit phonetics without losing any of the text's originality. Telugu has made its letters expressive of all the sounds and hence it has to deal with significant borrowings from Sanskrit, and Hindustani.
There are various sources available for information on early Telugu writers. Among these are the prologues to their poems, which followed the Sanskrit model by customarily giving a brief description of the writer, a history of the king to whom the book is dedicated, and a chronological list of the books he published. In addition, historical information is available from inscriptions that can be co-related with the poems; there are several grammars, treatises and anthologies that provide illustrative stanzas; and there is also information available from the lives of the poets and the traditions that they followed.
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Early Telugu literature is predominantly religious in subject matter. Poets and scholars drew most of their material from, and spent most of their time translating epics, such as Ramayana, Mahabharata, Bhagavata and the Puranas, all of which are considered to be storehouses of Indian culture.
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.
In eighteenth century, marriages of heroes under the title Parinaya, Kalyana and Vivāha became popular.
The various forms of literature found in Telugu are:
Telugu literature uses a unique expression in verse called Champu, which mixes prose and poetry. Although it is the dominant literary form, there are exceptions: for example, Tikkana composed Uttara Ramayana entirely in verse.
As Champu Kavyas and Prabandhas were beyond the comprehension of masses, new devices for the dissemination of knowledge among the people were developed in the form of the Dvipada and Shataka styles. Dvipada means two feet (couplet) and Shataka means hundred (a cento of verses). (Popular shatakas: Sarveshvara shataka, Kalahastishvara shataka, Dasarathi Shataka)
Avadhanam is a literary performance popular from the very ancient days in Sanskrit and more so in Telugu and Kannada languages. It requires a good memory and tests a person's capability of performing multiple tasks simultaneously. All the tasks are memory intensive and demand an in-depth knowledge of literature, and prosody. The number of Prucchakas can be 8 (ashtavadhanam) or 100 (shataavadhaanam) or even 1000 (sahasravadhanam). A person who has successfully performed Ashtavadhanam is called as Ashtavadhani, a shatavadhanam is called a Shatavadhani and sahasraavadhaanam is called Sahasravadhani.
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
In the earliest period Telugu literature existed in the form of inscriptions, precisely from 575 AD on-wards. Most of the works were translations from Sanskrit.
This is the period of Kavi Trayam or Trinity of Poets. Nannayya, Tikkana and Yerrapragada (or Errana) are known as the Kavi Trayam. They translated the Mahabharata from Sanskrit into Telugu during the period of 11-14th century AD.
Nannaya Bhattarakudu's (Telugu: నన్నయ) Andhra mahabharatam, who lived around the 11th century, is commonly referred to as the first Telugu literary composition (aadi kaavyam). Although there is evidence of Telugu literature before Nannaya, he is given the epithet Aadi Kavi ("the first poet"). Nannaya was the first to establish a formal grammar of written Telugu. This grammar followed the patterns which existed in grammatical treatises like Aṣṭādhyāyī and Vālmīkivyākaranam but unlike Pāṇini, Nannayya divided his work into five chapters, covering samjnā, sandhi, ajanta, halanta and kriya. Nannaya completed the first two chapters and a part of the third chapter of the Mahabharata epic, which is rendered in the Champu style.
Errapragada, (Telugu: ఎర్రాప్రగడ) who lived in the 14th century, finished the epic by completing the third chapter. He mimics Nannaya's style in the beginning, slowly changes tempo and finishes the chapter in the writing style of Tikkana. These three writers - Nannaya, Tikanna and Yerrapragada - are known as the Kavitraya ("three great poets") of Telugu. Other such translations like Marana’s Markandeya Puranam, Ketana’s Dasakumara Charita, Yerrapragada’s Harivamsam followed. Many scientific[relevant? ] works, like Ganitasarasangrahamu by Pavuluri Mallana and Prakirnaganitamu by Eluganti Peddana, were written in the 12th century.[full citation needed]
Sumati Shatakam, which is a neeti ("moral"), is one of the most famous Telugu Shatakams. Shatakam is composed of more than a 100 padyalu (poems). According to many literary critics[who?] Sumati Shatakam was composed by Baddena Bhupaludu (Telugu: బద్దెన భూపాల) (CE 1220-1280). He was also known as Bhadra Bhupala. He was a Chola prince and a vassal under the Kakatiya empress Rani Rudrama Devi, and a pupil of Tikkana. If we assume that the Sumati Shatakam was indeed written by Baddena, it would rank as one of the earliest Shatakams in Telugu along with the Vrushadhipa Satakam of Palkuriki Somanatha and the Sarveswara Satakam of Yathavakkula Annamayya.[original research?] The Sumatee Shatakam is also one of the earliest Telugu works to be translated into a European language, as C. P. Brown rendered it in English in the 1840s.
Srinatha (Telugu: శ్రీనాథుడు) (1365–1441) popularised the Prabandha style of composition. He was a minister in the court of Pedakomati Vemareddy of Kondaveedu and wrote Salivahana Saptasati, Panditaaradhya Charita, Shivaratri Mahatyam, Harivilasa, Bhimakanda, Kashi khandam, Shringara Naishadham, Palanati Veera charitra, Dhananjaya Vijayam, Sringara Dipika and Kridabhiramam. These works were concerned with history and mythology. Srinatha's Srungara Naishadhamu is a well-known example of the form. Srinatha was widely regarded as the Kavi Sarvabhowma ("the emperor among poets").
Kumaragiri Vema Reddy (Telugu: వేమన), popularly known as Yogi Vemana, was a 14th-century 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. C.P. Brown, known for his research on Vemana, estimates the year of birth to be the year 1352 based on some of his verses. His poems are four lines in length. The fourth line is, in majority of the cases, the chorus Vishwadhabhirama Vinura Vema - he thus conveyed his message with three small lines written in a simple vernacular. He travelled widely across south India, acquiring popularity as a poet and Yogi. So high was the regard for Vemana that a popular Telugu saying goes 'Vemana's word is the word of the Vedas'. 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 Vishwadhaabhi Raama, Vinura Vema, literally Beloved of Vishwadha, listen Vema. There are many interpretations of what the last line signifies.
Bammera Potanaamatya (Telugu: బమ్మెర పోతన) (1450–1510) is best known for his translation of the Bhagavata Purana from Sanskrit to Telugu. His work, Andhra Maha Bhagavatamu. He was born into a Brahmin family and was considered to be a sahaja Kavi ("natural poet") who needed no teacher. He wrote Bhogini Dandakam a poem praising king Singa Bhoopala’s consort danseuse, Bhogini, while young. This is the earliest available Telugu Dandaka (a rhapsody which uses the same gana or foot throughout).[full citation needed] His second work was Virabhadra Vijayamu which describes the adventures of Virabhadra, son of Shiva. As a young man, he was a devotee of Shiva and also Rama and was more interested in salvation, from which came the inspiration to translate the Bhagavata Purana.
Tallapaka Annamacharya (or Annamayya) (Telugu: శ్రీ తాళ్ళపాక అన్నమాచార్య) (9 May 1408 – 23 February 1503) is known as the Pada-kavita Pitaamaha of the Telugu language. He was born to a Vaidiki Brahmin family and his works are considered to have dominated and influenced the structure of Carnatic music compositions. Annamacharya is said to have composed as many as 32,000 sankeertanas (songs) on Bhagwaan Govinda Venkateswara, of which only about 12,000 are available today. His keertana compositions are based on the Vishishtadvaita school of thought. Annamayya was educated in this system of Ramanuja by Sri Satagopa Yateendra of the Ahobila matham.
Tallapaka Tirumalamma (Telugu: తాళ్ళపాక తిరుమలమ్మ) (Annamacharya's wife) wrote Subhadra Kalyanam, and is considered the first female poet in Telugu literature.[by whom?] Her main work, Subhadra Kalyanam, which consists of 1170 poems, is about the marriage of Arjuna and Subhadra, who are characters that appear in the Mahabharata. She presented the Telugu nativity and culture in the story taken from Sanskrit epic.
Allasani Peddana (Telugu: అల్లసాని పెద్దన) (15th and 16th centuries) was ranked as the foremost of the Ashtadiggajalu the title for the group of eight poets in the court of Krishnadevaraya, a ruler of the Vijayanagara Empire. Peddana was a native of Somandepalli near Anantapur. Allasani Peddana wrote the first major Prabandha and for this reason he is revered as Andhra Kavita Pitamaha ("the grand father of Telugu poetry"). It is believed[by whom?] that he was also a minister in the king's court and is hence sometimes referred as Peddanaamaatya (Peddana + Amaatya = Peddana, the minister). He wrote Swaarochisha Manu Sambhavam (also known as Manu Charitra), which is a development of an episode in the Markandeya Purana relating to the birth of Svarochishamanu, who is one of the fourteen Manus. Pravarakhya is a pious Brahmin youth who goes to the Himalayas for Tapasya. In the Himalayas Varudhini, a Gandharva girl, falls in love with him, but Pravarakyudu rejects her love. Knowing this a Gandharva youth who was earlier rejected by Varudhini assumes the form of Pravarakhya and succeeds to win her love. To them is born Svarochisha, the father of Svarochishamanu.[full citation needed] The theme for his Manu Charitra is a short story from Markandeya Purana. It is about second Manu of fourteen manus (fathers of mankind societies according to Hindu mythology), translated into Telugu from Sanskrit by Marana (1291–1323), disciple of Tikkana. The original story was around 150 poems and Peddana extended into six chapters with 600 poems by adding fiction and descriptions.
Dhurjati or Dhoorjati (Telugu: ధూర్జటి) (15th and 16th centuries) was a poet in the court of Krishnadevaraya and was one of the Ashtadiggajalu. He was born to Singamma and Narayana in Sri Kalahasti and was the grandson of Jakkayya. He was a devotee of Shiva, whom his works praise. They include Sri Kalahasteeshwara Mahatyam (The grace/miracles of lord Shiva) and Sri Kalahasteeshwara Shatakam (100+ poems in the praise of lord Shiva). He was known as Pedda Dhurjati ("elder Dhurjati") as there were four other people from the same family line who went by the name of Dhurjati during the same period and after him. His grandson. Venkataraya Dhurjati, wrote Indumati Parinayam ("marriage of Indumati"), a story from Kalidasa's Raghuvamsam. Like other contemporaries of the Prabandha period, he took themes from Puranas and added local stories and myths in his work. Unlike contemporaries such as Peddana and Mallana, who chose the stories of kings, he chose devotion as his theme. Krishnadevaraya praised Dhurjati, saying "Stuti mati yaina Andhrakavi Dhurjati palkulakelagalgeno yetulita madhuri mahima...." (How is Dhurjati's poetry so immeasurably beautiful)
Krishnadevaraya (Telugu: శ్రీ కృష్ణదేవరాయ) was an emperor of Vijayanagara Kingdom. Literary activities flourished during the rule of the Vijayanagara dynasty, and the period of Krishnadevaraya's rule in the sixteenth century is considered[by whom?] to be the golden age of Telugu literature. Krishnadevaraya, a poet himself, introduced the Prabandha to Telugu literature. Amukta Malyada. Krishna Deva Raya wrote the book Amuktamalyada in Telugu, describing the pangs of separation suffered by Andal (an incarnation of the goddess Mahalakshmi. 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. His court had the Ashtadiggajas ("eight elephants"), who were considered to be the greatest of poets of that time. Some critics[who?] dismiss the following period, dominated by prabandhas, as a decadent age. Of the dozens of works of the eighteenth- to mid-nineteenth century, Kankanti Paparaju’s Uttara Ramayana in campu style, and the play Vishnumayavilasa stand out. Other genres bloomed at the same time.[which?] Yakshaganas, indigenous dramas of song and prose, were also produced.
Garlapati Tenali Ramakrishna (Telugu: గరళపాటి తెనాలి రామకృష్ణ), popularly known as Tenali Rama and Vikata Kavi, was another sixteenth century court poet of the Vijayanagara empire and also one of the Ashtadiggajas. His family had originally hailed from Tenali in Guntur District, he was born in a Telugu Niyogi Brahmin family. His famous work Panduranga Mahatyamu is one among the Pancha Kavyas. He dedicated that to Viruri Vedadri. This book is about the Pundarika Kshetram on the banks of river Bhaimi and its legend. He also composed Udbhataradhya Charitram on the story of Udbhata, a monk, as well as Ghatikachala Mahatyam about Ghatikachalam, a place of worship for God Narasimha near Vellore. He followed the Prabandha style. He took the theme for Panduranga Mahatyam from the Skanda Purana and enhanced it with many stories about the devotees of God Vitthala (Panduranga). He is noted for brilliance and wit and for mocking other poets and great personalities. He created a celebrated character called Nigama Sarma akka (sister of Nigama Sarma) and a story about her without giving her a name. He also had written many Chatuvu (extempore poems).
Kshetrayya or Kshetragna (Telugu: క్షేత్రయ్య) (c. 1600–1680 CE) was a prolific poet and composer of Carnatic music. He lived in the area of Andhra Pradesh. He composed a number of padams and keertanas, the prevalent formats of his time. He is credited with more than 4000 compositions, although only a handful have survived. He composed his songs on his favourite deity Krishna (Gopala) in Telugu. He perfected the padam format that is still being used today. His padams are sung in dance (Bharatanatyam and Kuchipudi) and music recitals. A unique feature of his padams is the practice of singing the anupallavi first then the pallavi (second verse followed by first verse). Most of the padams are of the theme of longing for the coming of the lord Krishna. He wrote with Sringara as a main theme in expressing madhurabhakti (devotion to the supreme). Sringara is a motif where the mundane sexual relationship between a Nayaki (woman) and a Nayaka (man) is used as a metaphor, denoting the yearning of jeeva (usually depicted as the Nayaki) to unite with the divine (usually depicted as the man). In most of his compositions, Kshetrayya has used the mudra (signature) "Muvva Gopala" as a reference to himself, which is also a name for the Lord Krishna in Kshetrayya's village Muvva, now called as Movva. Kshetrayya's work has played a major role in influencing poetry, dance, music of the South Indian tradition. Kshetrayya was intimately connected with the devadasi women of the temples of south India, who were the subject of many of his compositions. The devadasis were traditionally in possession of the musical/poetic interpretations of his work for a long period of time till the devadasi system was abolished and the compositions became more accepted in the musical community as valuable works of art. The musical community also owes a lot to Veena Dhanammal and T. Brinda, who popularised Kshetrayya's songs with their beautiful musical interpretation.Kshetrayya's padams now form an integral part of the dance and musical traditions of South India, where his songs are rendered purely as musical works or as accompaniments to dance.
Kancherla Gopanna (Telugu: కంచెర్ల గోపన్న) (c 1620 - 1680 CE), popularly known as Bhadradri Ramadasu or Bhadrachala Ramadasu (Telugu: భద్రాచల రామదాసు), was a 17th-century Indian devotee of Rama and a composer of Carnatic music. He is one among the famous vaggeyakaras (same person being the writer and composer of a song) in the Telugu language. His devotional lyrics to Rama are famous in South Indian classical music as Ramadaasu Keertanalu. Even the doyen of South Indian classical music Saint Thyagaraja learned and later improved the style now considered standard krithi form of music composition. He also written Dasarathi Shatakamu a collection of nearly 100 poems dedicated to the son of Dasaratha (Lord Rama).
Tarikonda Venkamamba (Telugu:తారికొండ వెంకమాంబ ; alternate spelling: Vengamamba, born 1730) was a poet and staunch devotee of Lord Venkateswara in the 18th century. She wrote numerous poems and songs.See http://en.wikipedia.orgTarikonda_Venkamamba
Tyagaraja or Tyagabrahmam (Telugu: కాకర్ల త్యాగబ్రహ్మం) (1767–1847) of Tanjore composed devotional songs in Telugu, which form a big part of the repertoire of Carnatic music. In addition to nearly 600 compositions (kritis), Tyagaraja composed two musical plays in Telugu, the Prahalada Bhakti Vijayam and the Nauka Charitam. Prahlada Bhakti Vijayam is in five acts with 45 kritis set in 28 ragas and 138 verses, in different metres in Telugu. Nauka Charitam is a shorter play in one act with 21 kritis set in 13 ragas and 43 verses. The latter is the most popular of Tyagaraja's operas, and is a creation of the composer's own imagination and has no basis in the Bhagavata Purana. Often overlooked is the fact that Tyagaraja's works are some of the best and most beautiful literary expressions in Telugu language. Valmiki composed the Ramayana, the story of Rama, with 24,000 verses and also composed 24,000 kritis in praise of the lord.
Paravastu Chinnayasuri (Telugu: పరవస్తు చిన్నయ సూరి) (1807–1861) wrote Baala Vyaakaranamu in a new style after doing extensive research on Andhra Grammar[clarification needed] which is his greatest gift[peacock term] to Telugu people. Other notable works of Chinnayasuri include Neeti Chandrika, Sootandhra Vyaakaranamu, Andhra Dhatumoola and Neeti Sangrahamu. Chinnayasuri translated Mitra Labham and Mitra Bhedam from the Sanskrit Panchatantra as Neeti Chandrika. Kandukuri Veeresalingam and Kokkonda Venkataratnam followed his style of prose writing and wrote Vigrahamu and Sandhi in a different pattern.[clarification needed]
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Kandukuri Veereshalingam (Telugu: కందుకూరి వీరేశలింగం) (also known as Kandukuri Veereshalingam 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. 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. Veereshalingam panthulu is popularly called Gadya Tikkana. He wrote about 100 books between 1869 and 1919 and introduced the essay, biography, autobiography and the novel into Telugu literature His Satyavati Charitam was the first social novel in Telugu. He wrote Rajashekhara Charitamu inspired by Oliver Goldsmith’s The Vicar of Wakefied. To him literature was an instrument to fight social evils.
Mangalampalli Balamurali Krishna (Telugu: మంగళంపల్లి బాలమురళీకృష్ణ) pronunciation (help·info) (born 6 July 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 melakarta ragas.
Aacharya Aatreya (Telugu: ఆచార్య ఆత్రేయ) or Kilambi Venkata Narasimhacharyulu pronunciation (help·info) (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 Gotra. Known for his poetry on the human soul and heart, he was given the title 'Manasu Kavi'(Poet of Heart), which can be rewritten as 'Mana Su Kavi'(Our Good Poet). His poetry is philosophical and intellectually satisfying.