Growth of Telugu language & Literature
Telugu literature or Telugu Sahityam is the body of works written in the Telugu language. It consists of poems, novels, short stories, dramas and puranas. Telugu literature can be traced back to the early 10th century period (Prabandha Ratnavali (1918) talk about the existence of Jain Telugu literature during 850-1000AD) followed by 11th century period when Mahabharata was first translated to Telugu from Sanskrit by Nannaya. It flourished under the rule of the Vijayanagara Empire, where Telugu was one of the empire's official languages. Telugu split from Proto-Dravidian between 1500-1000 BC. 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.
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 correlated 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.
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 the Ramayana, the Mahabharata, the Bhagavata and the Puranas, all of which are considered to be storehouses of Indian culture.
From the sixteenth century onwards, rarely known episodes from the Puranas would form the basis for the tradition of Telugu-language kavya. Literary works are drawn from episodes of the Puranas under the name Akhyana or Khanda became popular along with depictions of the fortune of a single hero under the title of Charitra, Vijaya, Vilasa and Abhyudaya. Such titles are examples of what would become the most common subject matter of poetry.
The Pre-Nannayya Period (before 1020 AD)
In the earliest period, Telugu literature existed in the form of inscriptions, precisely from 575 AD on-wards. The 6th or 7th century Sanskrit text Jānāśrayī Chandoviciti deals with the metres used in Telugu, including some metres that are not found in Sanskrit prosody. This indicates that Telugu poetry existed during or around the 6th century.
The Jain Literature Phase(850-1000 AD)
Historically, Vemulawada was a Jain knowledge hub and played a significant role in patronizing Jain literature and poets.1980s excavations around Vemulawada revealed and affirmed the existence of Telugu Jain literature between 850-1000 AD.
Malliya Rechana-First Telugu Author (940AD)
Malliya Rechana has composed the first Telugu poetic prosody book Kavijanasrayam( Pre-Nannayya chandassu) around 940 AD. This was a popular one and referred by many poets. There seems to be even an earlier prosody book by Rechana's guru Vaadindra Chudamani which is not available. Veturi Prabhakara Sastry in 1900s mentioned about the existence of Pre-Nannayya Chandassu in Raja Raja Narendra Pattabhisekha Sanchika. Accurate dating of this piece of literature happened after the 1980s discoveries in Karimnagar. Prabandha Ratnavali also talks about a verse from Telugu Jinendra Puranam by Jain Padma Kavi(Pampa), a couple of verses from Telugu Adi Puranam by Sarvadeva and Kavijanasrayam's affiliation to Jainism were discussed.P.V.P Sastry also points out that many Jain works could have been destroyed. Historical rivalry among Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism is well known.
Nannaya Bhattarakudu or Adi Kavi
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.
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 works, like Ganitasarasangrahamu by Pavuluri Mallana and Prakirnaganitamu by Eluganti Peddana, were written in the 12th century.
Baddena Bhupala (1220-1280AD)
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 Sumati Shatakam was composed by Baddena Bhupaludu (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. 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.
Garlapati Tenali Ramakrishna, 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.
Modern telugu litreture
Kandukuri Veeresalingam Kandukuri Veereshalingam 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
Mangalampalli Balamurali Krishna 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 range from Devotional to Varnams, Kirtis, Javalis, and Thillans. His greatest achievement is the compositions in all the fundamental 72 melakarta ragas.
Tripuranēni Rāmasvāmi (1887 – 1943) was a lawyer, famous poet, playwright and reformer active among the Telugu-speaking people. Popularly known as Kaviraju, he is considered the first poet to introduce rationalism and humanism into Telugu poetry and literature. Ramaswamy chose literary writing as the vehicle for expressing his rationalist thoughts. His famous work 'Sutaparanam' in four cantos was a fierce attack on the ancient Puranas, he has attained the state of excellence in poetic&literary criticism. His poetic work "Kuppuswamy Satakam" reveals the theme of social revolution and talks about social evils, blind faith, and indignity to man. He was against Congress and its fight against independence. In his other works such as "Sambhukavadha", "Suthashrama geetaalu', 'Dhoorta maanava', 'Khooni', 'Bhagavadgita', 'Rana Pratap' and 'Kondaveeti patanam', he made a rational analysis of dogmas prescribed by ancient classics and the injustice these dogmas did to people belonging to the lower social orders. Moreover, he attacked discriminatory practices and fought against the idea of untouchability. Sambhuka Vadha created a lot of controversies. Sambhuka was a character who did tapas to go heaven with the live body before death. That was considered as adharma and was killed by Lord Rama. This story was interpreted that Brahmins do not like doing tapas by non-Brahmins, which is why Sabhuka was killed.
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