Make your own free website on










 (Go to Table of Contents)


By Etukoori Balaraama Moorti in Andhra Samkshipta Charitra

English translation : PALANA (


It is impossible to confirm the origin of a culture and the date of its origin. Different tribes, classes, and societies gradually combined over a period of time and a transformed society had evolved. This is the evolution of a society.

Andhra society is one of the ancient societies of India. One can encounter several tales about Andhras in epics like Mahabharatam and Ramayanam, in great puranas, and Budhdhist Jataka Tales. This confirms the ancient nature of Andhra society.

Andhras and Kalingas (ka'Limgulu) supported the Kauravas during the battle between Kauravas and Pandavas (the Bharata yudhdham). Sahadeva defeated the kingdoms of Pandya, Dravida, Odhra, Kerala, Andhra, and Kalinga while performing the Rajasooya yajna. This is depicted in the Mahabharatam. Chanoora (ca'NooruDu) was killed by Srikrishna in Madhura. Harivamsapuranam corroborates the fact that Chanoora was the king of Karoosa Desa (karooSa dESam) (on the North side of Vindhya and on the North banks of Yamuna river) and was an Anhdra (Andhrudu) too.

Ramayanam depicts an interesting tale. Viswamitra condemned the "Naramedha Yagam", freed Sunassepu (SunaSSEpu, the yajna paSuvu), and adopted him as his son. Viswamitra's children diliked this act by thier father and were cursed. Then Viswamitra's children migrated towards east and south. It is understood from this tale that these children of Viswamitra were Andhras (a'mdhrulu).

A tribe called "Andhras" arrived at the banks of Yamuna river during the Mahabharata war (1500 BC). This is clearly described in the epic.

Mahabharata war has a prominent place in the ancient history. Several kings of different tribes fought in this battle. Several thousands of soldiers lost their lives. Kauravas were destroyed. Innumerable number of tiny kingdoms mushroomed. Locust infestation destroyed crops on the banks of Ganges and Yamuna rivers. People inhabiting those regions migrated 300 miles away to south. Chandogyopanishat (Ca'mdOgyOpanishad) confirms this. Iatreya (aitarEya bra'hmaNam) Brahmanam tells us that Andhras lived on the south side of Vindhya along with Pundrapulinda Sabara Mootibas (punDrapulimda Sabara mootibulu). Chandogyopanishad and Itareya Brahmanam were written in 1000 BC.

Andhras were nomads for several centuries. Some tribes (classes) migrated and others did not want to do so and remained in their older settlements. During 700 BC some Andhra tribes inhabited the Salvadesa (sa'lvadESamu) on the banks of Yamuna River. The tale of Apastambarushi (a'pastambaRushi) explains this. Apastamba rules (a'pastamba gruhya sootra'lu) have been widely in practice among Andhra Brahmin families today. A single Rushi was the teacher (a'ca'rya) of each tribe. Apastamba was one such teacher. Apastamba wrote these rules in Salvadesam on the banks of Yamuna river. After Apastamba's death the Andhra tribes crossed the Vindhya mountains, reached the South, and merged with the other Andhra tribes.

Some of those Andhras who came to the south settled on the west side of Vindhya mountains (present Northern regions of Hyderabad). Another tribe crossed the Eastern Ghats over Orissa and reached the Kalinga Desam. "Serivanijo" Jataka tale explains that Andhras built the "ANDHAKAPURAM" on the banks of "Tel" (tEl) river.

Jataka tales were written during 200-250 BC. Tel river is a subriver of Mahanadi in Orissa. This confirms that one of the Andhra tribes migrated this way. The people in this tribe are Kalingas (ka'Limgulu). The books cited above describe the Andhras and Kalingas as two different branches of a single tribe. Sometimes these two words (Andhras and Kalingas) are used as synonyms interchangeably.

Andhra tribes established relationships with Naga, Yaksha, and Dravida tribes of Vindhya mountains who already were living there then. Telugu, Tamil, and Kannada are Dravidian languages. Rayalaseema was the first settlement of Tenugu (identify here! TENUGU is used here) people. Later Telangana was occupied. The name "Tenugu" transformed into "Telugu". From "Telugu" words like "Telagalu", "Telangana", "Telanganyulu" (a subsect of Andhra Brahmins), and "Teligiri" originated. A tribe called "Tailang" (taila'ng) in Burma is proposed to be related to Telugu people.

Tenugu (tenugu) is the meaning for those who travel towards south. In Tamil and Kannada "ten" means south side (dakshina dikku).

taallapaaka annamayya  (Go to Table of Contents)

The tAllapAka family of poets, music composers and scholars in Telugu and Sankrit popularized the Srivaishnava faith in Andhra Pradesh in the 15th and 16th centuries. AnnamAchArya, the greatest of them, it is said, had a vision of Lord Venkateswara when he was 16 and then spent the rest of his life composing kIrtanAs and padams on Him, which totalled 32,000. Of these only 14,000 are available now engraved on copper plates which were hidden for centuries in a niche of Sri Venkateswara temple at Tirumala.

Annamayya was born in 1424 A.D. in TallapAka, a village in Cuddapah district. Born with a gift for poetry and song, the boy Annamayya would improvise songs on Venkateswara and was always preoccupied by Him. He ran away to Tirupati and fell asleep on a rock after and exhausting climb of the first steep hill at Tirumala. He dreamt of alamelumangA and composed a Shataka in her praise. Upon reaching the lord of Seven Hills he burst into a song of ecstatic praise.

He lived in Tirumala for some time and was initiated into Sri Vaishnava faith. Sometime later his people sought him out and took him home where he was married. His marriage did not interfere with his spiritual interests and he became a disciple of the saint Shathakopayati of Ahobalam and studied all the sacred texts. Although he propitiated other deities like RAma, Krishna, NarasimhA and VitthalA, he viewed them as forms of Venkateswara, the Ultimate Reality. He spent the rest of his life in His service and devoting his time between TAllapAka and Tirumala. Annamayya breathed his last in 1503.



Annamayya's songs, which he considered as "flower- offerings" to God are his outstanding achievements. In them he praises Venkateswara, describes his love for Him, argues and quarrels with Him, meditates on His attributes, confesses his failures and apprehensions, and surrenders himself to Him. Traditionally his songs are classified into AdhyAtama and SringAra samkIrtanAs.

AdhyAtma samkIrtanAs affirm the primacy of spiritual values over the purely mundane, and express inevitable tension between these and oneself. They emphasize the need for bhakti and virakti. (eg. "Bhaktikoladi vAde paramAtmudu", in RAmakriyA). Despite such faith Annamayya was troubled by tensions because of opposing pulls in himself. "To live and move aimlessly has been my lot. When do I learn, O Lord, fixity of purpose ? So unsteady am I, while I desire renunciation .." ("KalakAlamunitte kApurapu badukAye", in PAdi). Temple festivities gave Annamayya many occasions for songs in which he sees symbolic enactments of cosmic truths. In the song "Alara Chanchalamaina" (Ahiri) he describes the dola of Venkateswara and His consorts in all its magnificience.

The SringAra samkIrtanAs express love and longing for the Lord and his surrender to Him. Here Annamayya speaks for himself and for others who similarly long for god in terms of rakti rather than virakti. Some songs describe AlamelumangA's love for Him ("Alarulukuriyaga Aadenade" in ShankarAbharanam). In "Palukutenelatalli" (SAlanganAta), he describes how "mother of honey-sweet speech" pleases him and possesses him by surrendering herself to him.

The samkIrtanAs have a common structural pattern. Each song comprises a pallavi, very occasional anupallavi, and usually three metrically and musically identical four-line charanAs. In general, the songs exhibit a high degree of literary craftmanship in which he uses both colloquial and literary Telugu.

ChinnathirumalAcharya, the grandson of Annamayya praises him as PadakavitApitAmahA. Annamayya was not the first to compose or invent padas, which had been evolving over many years and was used by SripAdarAyaswAmi and his predecessors for writing devotionals in Kannada. Annamaya who was probably influenced by these composers seems as yet to be the FIRST writer of Padas in Telugu. The pada is a difficuly form to handle, and being bound by strict rule, meant to serve the purpose of both poetry and song. Annamayya used it with such mastery that it became a habit of his mind.

Unforunately, little is known about Annamayya's music and his musical thought. While his poetry was preserved, his music could not be, for resons not known. Not only is there no written record of his music, there is no living tradition of singing his songs, although several centuries after him, his songs are sung in Tirumala. The copper plates only mention the rAga for the song, but what musical form and tAla did he assign to it is not known. He did not have the advantage of an institution like DAsakUta which has, in a way preserved the tradition of singing DAsarapadagalu. However, since Annamayya's samkIrtanams are very similar in structural patterns to DAsarapadagalu, it is likely that they resemble musically also.

The fact that Annamayya knew all musical modes and forms of his times is obvious from his works. But he conceived his padas primarily as devotional poetry. Music was mainly an aid to render them effectively. The krithIs of ThyAgarAja and others are conceived generally as musical compositions, and their poetry, however impressive, is mainly a verbal scaffold for raising a musical structure. Therefore while singing Annamayya's compositions, importance has to be given to the meaning since sAhityam takes precedence over the music. The rAgas used by Annamayya in his songs are about 100. A good number of them like AbAli, Amarasindhu, Kondamalahari, and SourAshtragujjari, etc. have either become rare or extinct now. Even the commonly used ones today like SankarAbharanam, MukhAri, Kambhoji, DevagAndhAri and Sri have probably undergone subtle changes since his time.


This article is taken from Carnatic Home Page who picked it from a post in The author of the post had abridged it from "TAllapAka AnnamAchArya", by R.A. Jayantha, Lecturer in English, Sri Venkateswara University, Tirupati, AP. (without permission)


Padmavibhushan Dr. M. Balamurli Krishna  (Go to Table of Contents)


This article is an admixture of an article from The Hindu and few articles appeared on


``Music resembles poetry; in each are numerous graces which no methods can teach and which a mastermind alone reach''.

Balamurali Krishna , the celebrated Carnatic musician and vaaggEyakaara of this century is one such musical genius. He has an appeal of his own in the international arena and both the commoner as well as the connoisseur are swayed by the variety of his music and his melodious voice.

Born on July 6, 1930 at Sankaraguptam (a small hamlet in Rajolu Taluk, East Godavari District, Andhra Pradesh) to Mangalampalli Pattabhiramayya and Suryakanthamma, Murali Krishna inherited the musical traits of his parents. Pattabhiramayya was a famous flutist and a music teacher and Suryakanthama a notable veena artiste. Suryakanthamma died when Balamurali was a 15 day old baby. From then on he was brought up by his maternal aunt Subbamma. When he was just two years old, Pattabhiramayya brought him to Vijayawada. At this very young age, he imbibed the nuances of music when his father taught his disciples.

Encouraged by this Pattabhiramayya entrusted him to `Gayaka Sarvabhauma' Parupalli Ramakrishnayya Pantulu under whose competent tuteleage Murali Krishna reached the pinnacle of fame in the field of music. In the order of Guru Parampara, the musician is directly the fifth in the line of disciples of saint Tyagaraja. Parupalli Ramakrishnayya Pantulu, Susarla Dakshinamoorthy Sastry, Akumadugula Manambuchavadi Venkata Subbayya and Saint Tyagaraja.

At the age of eight during the Sadguru Arandhanotsavas (felicitation to Parupalli Ramakrishnayya's guru Susarla Dakshinamoorthy) at Vijayawada, in 1938 where he gave his first full-fledged performance. Balamurali's talent came to the fore. Captivated by his pleasant disposition, it was Musunuri Satyanarayana a distinguished Hari katha performer who gave the prefix ``Bala'' to the young Murali Krishna. Due to his continuous concerts, Pattabhiramayya was persuaded by his friends to let Balamurali dedicate himself completely to music and he stopped attending school when he was in class VI. From then Balamurali Krishna took the world by storm with his mellifluous voice and did not whither away like many other child prodigies. Very soon he proved his versatility by playing kanjira, mridangam, viola and violin and the public flocked to hear his concerts.

Balamurali Krishna wrote a detailed work on the 72 Janakaraga or Melakarta (basic scales of music) scheme at he the tender age of 14. These compositions were accepted by the music circles also because they were more elaborate than that of the earlier writer Venkatamakhin, a versatile genius of the Nayak regime.

Balamurali Krishna served as a music Producer at Vijayawada, Hyderabad and the Madras All India Radio Stations. In this capacity, he pioneered the early hour devotional renderings in India under the title `Bhakthi Ranjani'. He also acted as the first Principal of the Government Music College at Vijayawada. After his transfer to Madras All India Radio he settled in Madras in order to devote his attention to innovation and creative compositions.

Balamurali Krishna has been invited to give concerts by countries U.S., Canada, U.K., Italy, France, Russia, Srilanka, Malaysia, Singapore, the U.K., Middle East etc. He has given more than 18,000 performance throughout the world and has created a world record by 250 audio cassettes brought out by the Sangeetha Recording Company.

Balamurali Krishna has also proved his talent as a playback singer, music director and actor in several languages. He received National Awards as the best playback singer for `Hamsageethe' (Kannada feature film), best music director for `Madhvacharya', and left an indelible imprint in the hearts of the people with his portrayal as a hero in the Malayalam film in ``Sandhya Kendina Sindooram''.

He has bagged many titles and awards ``Gana Sudhakara'', ``Sur Singar'', ``Geeta Kala Bharati'', Sangita Nataka Akademi Award Padmashri and Padma Vibushan are some of them.

He was also conferred the Ph.D., D.Sc and D.Litt by the Andhra University, Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University, Sri Venkateswara University and the University of Hyderabad respectively.

He founded "Academy of Performing Arts and Research" in Switzerland and is also working on music therapy.

Though on one side he was showered with innumerable laurels, on the other he was declared as a stormy petrel of the music world by a few due to his creations of new ragas such as Mahati, Sumukham, Sarvashri, Omkari, Janasamodini, Manorama, Rohini, Vallabhi, Lavangi, Hamsavinodini, Pratimadhyamavathi, Sushama etc.

He is often criticized as idiosyncretic. He is different, who has embarked on a new enterprise - a rediscovery of the classical music of the past and its recreation through the embracing of a neo-classical style. He is not necessarily for or against,contribute or confirm, sustain or destroy a tradition.He seem to be least perturbed with the criticisms. He has a strong conviction, right or wrong, that he is there to replace unending melody with discrete order, syncretic and synthetic forms with self-contained ones and emotional self expression with strictly musical statements. It is paradox packed, self imposed music.

He has said (though not in these words), for me, as a creative musician, composition is a daily function that I feel compelled to discharge. I compose because, I am made for that and cannot do otherwise. I stumble upon something unexpected. This unexpected element strikes me. I make a note of it. At the proper time, I put it to profitable use.

He does not believe in the pristine principles of the past, but has supreme confidence in the practical purview of the present. He is a paradox for the puritan, a bore for the conservative and an avathara for the neoclassicist.



Paravastu Chinnayya Soori  (Go to Table of Contents)


based on Vidwan Dandipalli Venkatasubbasastri's preface from Neetichandrika in Telugu. Posted in Soc.culture.indian.telugu by PALANA.



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.




Dravidian Languages and Telugu  (Go to Table of Contents)


Contributed by Ramana Juvvadi (


According to the Russian linguist M.S. Andronov, Proto-Dravidian gave rise to 21 Dravidian Languages. They can be broadly classified into three groups: Northern group, Central group, and Southern group of Dravidian languages.

The Northern group consists of three languages. The central group consists ten langauages. Out of these ten, only telugu became a civilized language and the rest of the nine languages remained tribal languages. The southern group consists of languages which includes Kannada, Tamil, Malayalam, Tulu and others.

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.

Kannada split from Proto-Dravidian around 0 BC. Note that the current similarity in scripts between Kannada and Telugu has a lot more with Chalukyas rule of Andhra than the similarity between the languages. Admittedly, Kannada is Telugu's closest cousin. In India the history of scripts has been almost independent of the history of languages.

Proto-Dravidian gave rise to totally 21 Dravidian languages. They are


•Northern Group

1.Brahui 2.Malto 3.Kudukh


•Central Group


1.Gondi 2.Konda 3.Kui 4.Manda 5.Parji 6.Gadaba 7.Kolami 8.Pengo 9.Naiki 10.Kuvi 11.Telugu


•Southern Group

1.Tulu 2.Kannada 3.Kodagu 4.Toda 5.Kota 6.Malayalam 7.Tamil


The other languages in the Central group provide invaluble information in deducing the prehistory of Telugu.


Gonds and Koyas(speaking Konda language) are closely related tribes. Gonds have an interesting story about the origin of their tribe. It also matches the story Koyas have to say about their origin. Once upon a time there were 1600 crores of Koyas at Dhavalagiri. They were very dirty and never used to take bath. Mahadeva got disgusted at their dirtiness and jailed them in a cave. However Parvati was very fond of them. She did penance and got a son called Lingo. Linga prayed Mahadeva that Koyas should be released. Shiva would release them on the condition that Lingo performs all the adventures that Shiva asks. Once Lingo performed all of them successfully, Shiva had to release them.

Lingo went away on a journey with all 1600 crores of them. On the way they crossed a river. Lingo gave them rice and "Jonna Pindi". There Koyas stole ghee of Aryan deities. By then there were already four groups among them called Taekam, Maarkam, Poosam, and telingam. Lingo built a town for them and divided them into castes.

There is a possibility that the words 'telingam' and telugu come from the same source.





Contributed by PALANA (

(sources many including the Kanyasulkam)



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 honored.

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.





kaaLeepaTnam raamaaraavu  (Go to Table of Contents)


-- Chowdary Jampala



kaaLeepatnam raamaaraavu, this years' winner of the kEndra saahitya akaaDemee award for Telugu, was born in 1924 in pondooru, SreekaakuLam District. He worked as a teacher in St. Anthony's High School in Vizag and retired in 1979.

kaLeepaTnam raamaaraavu is an outstanding telugu short story writer. Many people consider his long story (novella) yaJnam as a milestone and a masterpiece in Telugu literature. It is said that yaJnam is to Telugu story, what mahaaprasthaanam is to Telugu poetry, kanyaaSulkam is to Telugu drama, and maalapalli is to Telugu novel.

All of his stories reflect the trails, tribulations, and occasionally the triumphs of life among the middle and lower classes of the society. He is especially known for his psychological insights as well as his incisive analytical abilities regarding the social, economical and political influences on daily life.

Besides yaJnam, his other famous stories include, chaavu, bhayam, aarti, teerpu, jeevadhaara, veeraDu-mahaaveeraDu. He is still an active participant in the literary scene encouraging younger writers.

He started writing early and first published a story in 'chitragupta'. Ironically, for a writer that would be renowned later for his long stories, this story was a ministory, written on the back of a post card. He wrote several stories mainly about the relationships in the middle class families. His stories were published in all the leading magazines, including bhaarathi, the then stamp of approval for an upcoming writer. He was not satisfied with his writing and stopped writing about 1955.

Then, after a gap of about 8 years, he wrote 'teerpu' in 1963. He was now more comfortable with what he was writing. Teerpu, the story of a dispute among school-aged brothers about who has the right to take the best among the writing pads that they made together, is short, about 4 or 5 pages, in length, but the resolution is different from everything he has written before and portrayed the kind of writer he was going to be this second time around.

From this point on, he does not just tell a story anymore. The stories take the reader close to the lives of people he may not otherwise notice. These are not just stories about an event or events in their lives. They also seek to establish the reasons for why that particular event has to take place and makes the readers to pause and think. However, the stories are not about two-dimensional cardboard characters. These are real people with flesh and blood. These are real events that occur several times a day all over our motherland.

teerpu was followed two years later by 'yaJnam', about which we already talked about in recent posts.

In the next year came mahadaa_Seervachanam, a poignant story of a struggling family, whose patriarch, after a life- time of government service, is now retired and crippled.

1968 saw veeruDu - mahaaveeruDu, another short story. On the surface it is a story, told with humor, of a street fight in which the feisty ganjipETa rowdy is getting the heck beaten out of him by a much stronger allipuram vastaadu. Then, the kottapETa SanDO, known to be the strongest in the town, happens by and tries to stop the fight. What happens later is surprising initially, but not so when you think more about it. When I read it first, I thought of it is an interesting funny story. Then a friend said it was an allegory about the then raging Vietnam war. I read it again. Yes, it could be.

1968 was also the year during which aadivaaram (Sunday), himsa (violence), and 'No Room' were published. 'No room' is another multilayered long story: the story of a young lower class couple that wanted to have a night of privacy in a hotel room, the story of a poor hotel worker who becomes the object of the fury that can be released from pent-up frustrations. Another indelible story, that seeks to explain and enlighten at the same time.

1969 saw snEham (the friendship), a story about two friends, one rich and the other that came to him for a favor. The same year, 'aarti' (the thirst), a 60 page long story, was published. This story, with a rural back-drop, has as it protagonists, a recently wed couple, whose union is thwarted because of the differences among the families, their customs, and their poverty. Again, another story with multiple layers and textures.

One of kaaraa's stories that haunted me for a long time, was bhayam (the fear), published in 1970. It is the story of satyam, a man who is not only not afraid of snakes, but hates them with a passion. One day, a neighboring woman discovers a cobra in her kitchen and asks Satyam to help kill it. Kaaraa wrote the struggle between satyam and the snake so vividly, it plays like a movie in front of your eyes. To this day, I can still see the small kitchen, the cobra with its hood coiled and hissing at satyam who is trying to get in the right position to strike it, the nervous woman twittering in the background, and the woman's son anxiously hovering around. Can he write! And to know that the story has a lot more to it than just this description!

1971 saw Saanti (the peace) about a 24 hour period before the deadline for a strike in a factory. The District officials are trying to mediate between the labor and the owners, so that there would be no disturbance of peace in the city. The story raises several questions about the labor-employer relations. More importantly it asks several questions about what peace really means.

1971 also the publication of 'chaavu' (the death), a 56 page long story, about the death of an old woman at a migrant labor camp. The last rites need to be finished before they can return to work the next morning. However, the scarce firewood is not available to burn the body. Burying the body without burning is against custom. How to resolve this is the central theme. Like the other stories, there is more to this than meets the eye in first place.

The last real short story by kaaraa was published in 1971. jeevadhaara (the flow of life) deals with the daily struggle of the teeming masses for getting enough water for the daily needs. This story was selected to be the lead story for an anthology of Indian short stories translated into Russian in 1980s. Enough said.

In 1972, virasam published 'kuTra' (the conspiracy) by kaaraa. Anybody interested in understanding why the 'Nehruvian idealism' did not result in prosperity for the country should read this. Though described as a short story, kuTra is really a political pamphlet about how vested interests derailed the planning process in the name of mixed economy.

After kuTra, kaaraa stopped writing. Even in his heyday, he has not written prolifically. He said that in his early days he would write a lot, but would not send them for publication as he wasn't happy with what he wrote. In later days, he wrote about one or two stories a year. As you can see from above, he wrote very actively in late 1960s. That was also the period of great turmoil in AP. If I recall right, kaaraa was a member of the executive committee of the viplava rachayitala sangham.

In the last 15 years, kaaraa was active in publishing short story anthologies of other writers. He was in US in 1993, as a guest of the 9th TANA Conference - World Telugu Convention in New York (Dr. kalaSapooDi Sreenivaasa raavu and yerramilli padmaavathi of the literary committee were instrumental in bringing him here). Last year, kaaraa's 70th birth anniversary was celebrated by his fans around AP. At that time, he hinted that he may start writing again. I am eagerly waiting for his new writings, as are his many fans.



(Read a review on his masterpiece story yaJnam )




Music  (Go to Table of Contents)

Telugu, with its profuse use of vowels brings a melody in the Carnatic musical expression and hence non-telugu musicologists prefer to compose and sing in Telugu.

Gatha Saptha Sati, written in Prakrit around first century A.D., was the earliest reference to music, dance and drama. Sulptures in the places of worship provide visual descriptions of the musical instruments used in those days. The Indian music developed into Hindustani music and Carnatic music, around 13th century, after the advent of Muslims and from the times of Amir Khusru, the famous musician of the North.

Composers: Tallapaka Annamacharya was the first Vaggeyakara (singer-poet) in Telugu. "Chandamama rave - Jabilli raave", the most sung song and with which every telugu child is initiated into music was composed by him. He is credited to have composed 32000 Sankirtanas in praise of Lord Venkateswara. And during the 15th century, his son - Peda Tirumalacharya ,grandson - Chinna Tirumalacharya and great grandson Tiruvengadappa, composed music. They were followed by Rudra Kavi, Proluganti Chenasuri, Sivanarayana Thirthulu, Siddendra Yogi, Kancherla Gopanna, also known as Bhadrachalam Ramadas, and Kshetrrayya of Movva.

A revolution was brought about in 17th century by the trinity Tyagaraja, Shyama Sastry and Muthuswami Dikshitar. Famous musicains of later years include Dwaram Venkataswami Naidu, Mangalampalli Balamuralikrishna, Nookala Chinna Satyanarayana, Sheik Chinna Moula Sahed, Marella Keshava Rao, Sripada Pinakapani, Nedunuri Krishnamurthy, Voleti Venkateswarlu, Emani Sankara Sastry, Smt. Srirangam Gopalaratnam, Manchala Jagannadha Rao, Chittibabu, and Ramavarapu Subba Rao.

Of late, film music is having immense influence on public. Some of the playback singers are the late Ghantasala, and currently S.P. Balasubrahmanyam, Sushila and Janaki are versatile singers.

A very interesting and informative Carnatic Music Home Page maintained by Mr.Mohan Ayyar in Australia. Here is a link to Ravi Malhaar's home page on Classical Music of India.




Telugu script: Onamaalu  (Go to Table of Contents)


From (Sitaramayya Ari)

Organization Oakland University, Rochester, Michigan, U.S.A.

Date 26 Feb 1996 17:00:32 -0500

Newsgroups soc.culture.indian.telugu

Message-ID <4gtai0$>



The Telugu alphabet is called Onamaalu. There is a good reason and a little bit of history for this.

Just as Buddhism was widely practised in the ancient Telugu country, Jainism flourished in the Kannade country. The writers of the earliest Kannada literature were Jains. They were the religious leaders and educators of that day. Common folks sent their children to Jain gurus for education. The gurus initiated the Aksharabhyasam of the children with a prayer to the Thirthankaras and Siddhas. That prayer started with "Siddham Namaha."

The close ties with the Kannada country helped spread the Jain traditions in the Telugu country. There is even a school of thought that the Jain and Buddhist literature that existed before Nannaya was destroyed by scholars and kings who embraced Hinduism. Even if the literature was destroyed, the traditions survived and Aksharabhyasam continued to be initiated with the prayer - Siddham Namaha.

In later years, between 10th and 14th centuries, Saivism became wide spread in the Telugu country (Paa So wrote Basava Puranam during this time). Now the religious leaders and teachers were the Saivites and they initiated Aksharabhyasam with a prayer that started with "Onnamassivaaya." But the Jain tradition did not die away. The initiation prayer generally took the form of "Onnamassivaya Siddham Namaha." Over the years it became O-Na-Ma-See-Vaa-Yaa-See-Dham-Namaha and the alphabet that was learnt with this prayer came to be called "O-na-ma-lu."

Source: Mana lipi puttupoorvotharaalu by Thirumala Raamachandra.


Madhurantakam Rajaram  (Go to Table of Contents)


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 Lakshmanna Vishnubhotla


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 marvellous 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 right flavour.

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 flavour 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


Telugu script: cha, tcha, chha; ja, tja, jha.  (Go to Table of Contents)


From (Sitaramayya Ari)

Organization Oakland University, Rochester, Michigan, U.S.A.

Date 2 Mar 1996 22:28:37 -0500

Newsgroups soc.culture.indian.telugu

Message-ID <4hb3l5$>


In Telugu we have three distinct pronunciations for "cha" and "ja". While the soft sounds of "cha" and "ja" and the harsh sounds of "chha" and "jha" are not uncommon, found in many if not all Indian languages, the "tcha" and "tja" of Telugu are rather unique and have interesting history both in terms of their pronunciation and the way they are written. As you know, "tcha" and "tja" are written as "cha" and "ja" but with the Telugu numeral 2 written on top of the letter.

"Tcha" and "tja" are found in Marathi also. But unlike Telugu, Marathi was derived from Sanskrit and Prakrit, neither of which have "tcha" or "tja." Hindi, which also derived from Sanskrit and Prakrit, does not have these sounds. So, how did Marathi get them? It is believed that the sounds were adapted from Telugu. Some scholars believe that Telugu and Bengali in turn acquired them from Pali.

Kakanuri Appakavi, a grammarian from the 17th century, wrote that a dot placed on "cha" indicates the pronunciation of "tcha" and similarly a dot on "ja" indicates "tja". That tradition, if it was ever practised, has long since disappeared.

Who started the current tradition of writing the Telugu numeral 2 on top of "cha" and "ja" to note their pronunciation as "tcha" and "tja" respectively? Looks like the credit for that goes to Charles Philip Brown (popularly known as CP Brown). His reason for this notation is simple: a Telugu person knows the difference between the pronunciation of cha in Chandrudu and Chali (cold) but how will a foreigner reading a Telugu text know the difference? To make it convenient for non-Telugus to learn proper pronunciation, Brown placed Telugu numeral 1 on top of "cha" and "ja" for standard pronunciation and Telugu numeral 2 on top of "cha" and "ja" when they are to be pronounced as "tcha" and "tja" respectively. This notation became popular and was recognized in 1836 in the Telugu grammar written by Ravipati Gurumurthy Sastry. With the passage of time the printing presses dropped placing 1 on "cha" and "ja" but continued to place 2 on the letters to indicate "tcha" and "tja."

Source: Mana lipi puttu purvotharaalu by Thirumala Ramachandra.



Telugu -- the most musical and sweetest of all Dravidian languages....

 (Go to Table of Contents)

The word 'Andhra' -- as a people, as a region and as a language is very ancient. The first context of Andhra people and the word 'Andhra' was recorded in the 'Aitareeya Brahmana' of the 'Rugveda', prior to 600 B.C. Vidyanathudu, the poet who belonged to the King Pratapa Rudra's court, wrote in his 'Pratapa Rudra Yashobhushanam' that the word 'Trilinga Desam' originated because of the presence of the three Saivaite temples at Srisailam, Kaleswaram and Draksharamam within this region. And, so it was believed that the word Telugu was derived from 'Trilinga'.

The tribes of Andhra mingled with Naga, Yaksha, and Dravida tribes of Vindhya mountains who were already living there then,and hence Telugu, Tamil and Kannada became the Dravidian languages. Rayalaseema was the first settlement of 'Tenugu' people and the word 'Tenugu' was later transformed into 'Telugu'. From 'Telugu' words like "Telagalu", "Telangana", "Telanganyulu" (a subset of Andhra Brahmins) , and "Teligiri" originated. 'Tenugu' is the meaning for those who travel towards south. In Tamil and Kannada "ten" means south side.

Though the inscriptions of the 7th century AD are in Telugu, it was Nannayya around 1030 AD, who brought about a revolution in Telugu by translating two and a half cantos of Mahabaharata. In translating the Sanskritic element, he showed a unique gift in synthesising the Sanskritic art with telugu and also in raising the dignity and beauty of the language. And from here Telugu leaped into the Pre-Prabanda age, the Prabandha age and then into the modern period of Telugu literature.

The script of Telugu is by itself beautiful and artistic. Telugu, with its profuse use of vowels and fine words ending with Na and La is an apt medium for the conveyance of Carnatic musical expression and melody. Hence, non-Telugu musicologists prefer to compose and sing in Telugu.

In its long journey, Telugu, the second most spoken language in India, has assimilated many foreign words and gained its distinct identity in the fields of teaching, science, medicine and engineering to name a few.


Etymology of the word Telugu  (Go to Table of Contents)

Contributed by Ramana Juvvadi (


The most popular explanation that is given to the word telugu is that it comes from the word trilinga, i.e. from the three temples at Srisailam, Drakasharamam, and Kaleshwaram. However, not many scholars accept this view. Let us examine some of them here.

Khandavalli Lakshmi Ranjanam

It probably comes from the word talaing . Since tala refers to head, talaings refers to leaders. Probably, talaings were civilized people and conquered the tribals in the area of current Andhra pradesh. Hence the name talaings. Later this must have given rise to the words telungu and trilinga .


Godavarti Ramadasu

Some say that the word telugu comes from the Sanskrit forms trilinga or trikalinga: Actually, the word kalinga itself is a Dravidian word. In Kui language, rice is called Kulinga. Since Kuis were mainly rice eaters, Aryans might have called them kulingas or kalingas.


Marepalli Ramachandra Shastri

In Gondi languahge, unga is form for plural. telu means white. Hence, telunga probably refers to people who are white in complexion.


Ganti Jogi Somayaji

ten refers to south in Proto-Dravidian. Hence tenungu refers to Southerners.

Which of the two words is older? telugu or tenugu ? Some say that tenugu is older than telugu because Nannaya used the word tenugu and Ketana who is younger than Nannaya used the word telugu in his Andhra Bhaashaa Bhushanam. Malliya Raechana wrote a grammar book (Lakshana Granthamu) called Kavi Janaashrayamu. But he didn't use this word in the place of 'praasa' anywhere, so we are not sure what he really used.

The popular notion is that the first person to use the word trilinga is Vidyanaatha in Kakatiya era. Actually, the first person to use the word trilinga is Rajashekhara in Vidhdhasaala Bhanjika. He is the first person to use trilinga with a ra vattu . Markandeya and Vayu Puranas mention only tilinga. One of the oldest works in Tamil called Agattiyam says Konganam Kannadam Kollam telungam . On the whole, it is more probable that the word telugu is older than the word tenugu.

TELUGU - A COSMOPOLITAN CULTURE  (Go to Table of Contents)

Posted in soc.culture.indian.telugu by Tadepalli Hari Krishna

My brother and I were often interested in tracing the origins of Telugu culture - not to prove its supremacy over other cultures, but simply to understand what made the Andhras a large cultural group different from the other major Indian cultures. So the first question is : When did the Telugu people become a separate linguistic cultural group & when could they be seen distinct from the other cultural groups ? History as observed from stone inscriptions dates this to around 500 BC. So it must be the case that Telugu usage without being grossly incomprehensible to a Telugu speaking person of today must have existed atleast by 1000 BC. Who were all the people speaking Telugu around 1000 BC ? Can we say that all the region marked as 'Andhra Pradesh' today was speaking Telugu ? The answer is not so easy to be stated. We were more than fascinated when we set out to understand the origins of the Telugu culture.

An eminent 20 th century linguist called Ganti Somayaji Jogi had written a voluminous treatise tracing the origins of several telugu words in Tamil. My brother, however, notes that there is a larger body of Telugu usage that does not intersect with any of the other major languages of India. The infusion of large volume of Sanskrit into Telugu is relatively a more modern event in the history of the Telugu language. Also, telugu has distinct linguistic patterns that definitely do not belong to Tamil, in addition to a large body of diction which is specific to Telugu. He observed that somewhat more primary 'document' of the usage of ancient Telugu are in the family names of Telugu people and in the names of the villages and towns of Andhra. These are mostly specific to telugu people and also a large source for making convincing etymological constructions for telugu diction.

More reflection on the origins of Telugu led us to believe that Telugu is not the language of any one specific dominant people of the Eastern India, but the confluence of the individual languages of a dozen-to-twenty big tribal groups living in Eastern India. It is difficult of date this process (which must have continued for a period of 1-2 millennia) - safe it put it somewhere before 3000BC. Thus a major language group such as the Telugu could not begun from a single monolithic group. I can compare it only with the formation of a river. A large river as we see it in the plains has a very cognizable course, identity and shape. But its origin is too complex to be traced. Drops of rain water that precipitate in higher up rocks and mountains flow through the crevices of rocks and mountains and join together to form minor streams. These streams slowly merge at the foothills to form smaller rivers, which merge into the larger river in the plateaus and finally become the immense river in the plains. The river has no simple identity or nomenclature at the point(??) of its formation. So can not one localize in time and space the development of a major culture such as of the Telugu people.

I invite comments and criticism from the knowledgeable on the history of Telugu culture.

Tadepalli Hari Krishna



By Etukoori Balaraama Moorti in Andhra Samkshipta Charitra

English translation : PALANA


Andhra was originally the name of a tribe. This tribe was a nomadic one and the hills and rivers adjacent to the habitat of this tribe were named after the tribe - Andhra. Gradually the area where this tribe settled was called "Andhra". There is a valley near Bombay called the "Andhra Valley". There is a small river in Maharashtra called "Andri" (anDri). A subriver of Tungabhadra is also called "Handri" (handri). During 220 AD the word "Andhrapathamu" was used in the inscriptions in Ballari district. This is the evolutionary sequence of the word "Andhra". The language spoken by Andhras was given the name "Andhra Bhasha" finally.

Different tribes used to speak different languages (dialects). The tribes of Andhra such as Dravida, Yaksha, and Naga spoke "Telugu" or "Tenugu". Andhras from North India used to speak another language called "Desi".

Telugu belongs to the family of Dravidian languages. Telugu has resemblances (close) with Tamil, Kannada, and Tulu. Basic vocabulary, verbs, sentence synthesis, and grammar dictate the architecture of the language (any language). Even till today, the basic vocabulary in Telugu language is intact. "amma", "akka", "ceTTu", "puTTa", "niiru", "pa'mu", "tElu", "ga'li" - these were the words the ancient Telugu man used while started saying for the first time. "tinu", "koTTu", "tiTTu", "naDu", "koorcO", "veLLu", "ra'" - these are the most ancient verbs. These ancient words share resemblances with some words in Tamil and Kannada.



tala talai tale

nela nila nila'

puli puli puli, huli

Uru Ur Ur

magava'Du magas magan

uppu uppu uppu

pappu parupu papu

paTTi paRRu paDe

ekku ERu ERu


The nominative case (karta), object of a verb (karma) and the verb are some what in a sequence in Telugu sentence construction. The same trend (pattern) is seen in other Dravidian languages. Sanskrit does not follow this rule. "Vibhakti" (case of a noun) and "pratyayamulu" (an affix to roots and words forming derivs. and inflections) depict the ancient nature and progression of the language. The "Vibhaktis" of Telugu language "Du, mu, vu, lu" etc are different from those in Sanskrit and have been in the usage for a long time. Based on these above features, linguists unanimously classify Telugu language as a member of the Dravidian languages.

Satavahana kings' official language was "Prakrut". Prakrut was also the language used by kings those days - Royal Language. For the first time Telugu words can be observed in the Ikshavakula inscriptions after Satavahana's rule. The Nagarjuna Hill inscriptions of 250 AD contain Telugu words like "na'gamna", "viiramna", and "maha'talavara". "talavara" is a Telugu word in "maha'talavara". "tala'ri" or "talavara" means "gra'ma'dhika'ri" (head of the village or town). In Tamil, "talaiva'r" means "pedda adhipati" (big boss). This Telugu word was combined with a Sanskrit word "maha'". Telugu language spoken by people contains some original words and some sanskritized words (as in inscriptions). People those days used to speak Telugu and rulers spoke Prakrut. The following is from the inscriptions of Pallava King, Sivaskandavarma:

"ka'nciipuratO yuvamaha ra'jO Ba'rada'yasa gotto palava'nam navaKandavammO dharmaKDe va'ptam a'napayati. andhapatiiyaga'mO..... viriparam amhEhi Udaka'dim sampadato Etasa ga'mana virivarasa nava bamhadEya pariha'lO vitarama."

The meaning of the above inscription: The Viripara (Epparru) village of Andhra is being donated by Sivaskandavarma.

The inscription of Chalkya Jayasimha Vallabha (in Telugu) is the following:

"jayasimhavallaBa maha'ra'ju la'kun pravardhama'na vijayara'jya samvatsarambuLa - eNumbOdi anmENNa ammin pooNNamana'NNum mla'vinDi ra'jula muTlu kalimuDira'jul mla'vinDi samudrarakai na'ku baNisEsina kalci viiRuruRla maddi kadu mooTiki vitaRti Uttarambuna pulOmbuna CeRuvu paDuma'Ri kOTan eRRumBOdi puTlu aRla paTTu sEnuta'Rii tOmTa la'yu paDuva'rambu icciri."

The above two inscriptions depict the differences between Telugu and Prakrut languages.

The ancient inscriptions contain the names of villages ending in a word "Uru" e.g. "kooDoorE", "ELoorE". The word "Uru" is close to the word "Ur" in the Southern languages. "Elooru" is the other name for "ELoorE". "kODooru" in Krishna District is the other name for "kooDoorE". These village names confirm the relationship of the Telugu with the Dravidian languages.

Telugu language spoken by the Dravidians, Yakshas, and the Nagas was influenced by Desi, Sanskrit, and Prakrut. Sanskrit and Prakrut belong to the same group. Literary language is Sanskrit and spoken one is Prakrut. There is no difference in basic vocabulary or style of sentence construction among Sanskrit and Prakrut. The preachers of Buddhism wrote their books in Prakrut for easy understanding. The language of Andhra was not Prakrut. While writing Bruhatkadha, Gunadya said the following:

"samskruta, pra'kruta, dESi Ba'sha lanu parityajimci nEnu paiSaci Ba'shalO bruhatkadhanu vra'stunna'nu."

Till today, languages called "bra'huyi" in Beloochisthan and "ka'nDu" "ma'rTu", "Oreya'n" in Vindhya exist. These languages belong to family of Dravidian languages. Dravidians inhabited North India prior to Aryan aggression. On the banks of river Sindhu, Aryans created the Harappa and Mahenjadaro cultures. Eventhough Dravidians came and settled in South India, their relatives (some tribes) still remained in the North India. Their languages belong to the family of Dravidian languages. "Papai" in Afganisthan, "shiina" in Kashmir, and "bra'huyi" in Beloocisthan share similarities (resemblances) with Dravidian languages. All these languages are classified in "Dardik Class" of languages by linguistics experts.


"dESi" of Andhras belongs to this class of languages (Dardik). Before settlement in South India, Andhras lived in the Vindhya for some time. Hill tribes of Vindhyas still speak Dravidian languages like "ka'nDu", "ma'rTu", and "oriya'n". Before arriving at the banks of Ganges and Jamuna, Andhras might have visited Beloochisthan, Afganisthan, and Kashmir. This is what historians propose.

Paisachi is an offshoot of Desi. What was the nationality of Gunadya? Was he a Kashmiri or Nepali or an Andhra? This is a debate among historians and linguistics experts. Desi was the ancient language of Kashmiris and Nepalis.

Andhras' Desi Tenugu and Telugu of Nagas and Yakshas combined together into one language. Both belong to the Dardik class of Dravidian languages. That is the reason why this alliance between these two languages was possible.

Linguistics experts showed that languages belonging to the same class can combine into one and languages belonging to different classes eventhough can survive in hormony, the strongest language survives and the weaker one dies. Languages belonging to two different classes can not combine.



The history of Telugu language offers a nice example for the above statement. For about 500-600 years during the Satavahana's rule, Prakrut was used as the royal language in Andhra. Tadbhavas from Prakrut infiltrated the Telugu language. But Telugu did not die. Telugu incorporated the required words from Prakrut and discarded the rest. Guptas of North India and Pallavas of South India fought battles in 400-500 AD. These battles killed the royal language, Prakrut. Finally, Prakrut rested in the Buddhism books in Tibet. Following, Sanskrit influenced Telugu of Andhras for about 500 years. During 1000-1100 AD, Nannaya's Telugu in Bharatam, Telugu in several inscriptions, Telugu in poetry reestablished its roots and dominated over the royal language, Sanskrit. Telugu absorbed the Tatsamas from Sanskrit only. The marriage between "Desi" and "Telugu" was possible.

Words like "Telugu", "Tenugu", and "Andhramu" were used in several instances in the "Tenugu Bharatam" written in 1050 AD. The name for a tribe is "Andhra" which is also used to call the language that had evolved over 1000 years. "Andhrulu", "Andhradesam", "Teluguvaru", "Telugudesam", "Tenugudesam", and "Tenugu Bhasha" are used as synonyms.


SAINT TYAGARAJA  (Go to Table of Contents)

On whose art no human hand can improve


This article is taken from Introduction to Indian Music by B. Chaitanya Deva, pp. 114 - 118.


The life and work of Tyagaraja, the bard of Tiruvayyaru, is a miracle of miracles. For no musician, with exception of Purandaradasa, revolutionized and gave direction to Indian music as he did. So creative a musician and saint was he that he has come to be known as Sri Tyaga Brahmam, which is a reference not only to his creativity but carries with it a part of his father's name, Ramabrahmam.

The bulwark of a great culture, the Vijayanagara Empire, with all its glory, fell at the end of the 16th century. The invasion from the North brought in its wake new, though not always commendable, trends in living. Quite a few Hindu families had to flee to Southern areas which were still peaceful. Many found shelter under the benign rule of the Nayakas and the Maratha kings of Tamilnadu. Particularly, a number of Telugu families went South and formed nuclei of art and culture and Tyagaraja's ancestors belonged to one such stock, as he describes himself as descending from the Kakarla family (Kakarla is a village in the Kurnool District of Andhra).

Tiruvarur in the Tanjavur district of South India is a small hamlet; it is small in size, but has great sanctity hallowed by the memory of the three composers, the Trimoorty, of Karnatak music. In this village lived one Girija Kavi, a poet-composer attached to the Court of Tanjavur. His daughter and wife of Kakarla Ramabrahmam, Seetamma (Santamma?), gave birth to a son on Sarvajit, Chaitra, 27th Soma, Sukla saptami, Pushya (4th May, 1767). According to another tradition the year of his birth was 1759. The boy was named Tyagaraja, after Lord Tyagaraja, the presiding deity of Tiruvarur. In one of his songs, Tyagaraja sings, "Seetamma mayamma, Sri Ramudu ma tandri" - Seeta is my mother and Sri Rama my father - perhaps with a double meaning.

Ramabrahmam shifted to Tiruvayyaru, leaving Tiruvarur. The king of Tanjavur had gifted a house to him in this village and here Tyagaraja not only spent the major part of his life but also attained samadhi. Tiruvayyaru, on the bank of the Kaveri and known as Panchanada kshetra, was the abode of saints, poets and musicians; and of this place Tyagayya sings, "...the Panchanada kshetra in the beautiful Chola country, nestling on the banks of the Kaveri over which blows the gentle zephyr where holy brahmins chant the vedas...a town to be coveted even by Lord Siva".

Tyagabrahmam married, at the age of eighteen, a girl called Parvati who died without leaving any children. He then married her sister, Kanakamba. A dau- ghter, Seetalakshmi, was born to them and she was given in marriage to Kuppuswami. They begot a boy who was named Tyagaraja (Panchapakesa?) who died issueless; thus came to an end the direct lineage of the composer.

Born and bred in a highly cultured family, Tyagaraja was a profound scholar and poet. He studied Sanskrit, astrology and was, of course, well versed in his mother tongue, Telugu. Besides, he was a highly trained musician, having been the disciple of Sonthi Venkataramanayya, one of the foremost singers of the day. His genius is evident in every song of his; but his immortal Pancha ratna kritis (the five gems) reveal the mastery he had over musical technique. Apart from thousands of songs of kriti type, he composed utsava sampradaya keertanas and divya nama sankeertanas which are sung in devotional congregations He has also created two operas: Prahlada Bhakti Vijayam and Nauka charitram. While there are a number of songs in Sanskrit, the majority of them, including the operas, are in Telugu.

One can speak of Tyagabrahmam's music only in superlatives and even these adjectives are pitifully inadequate to convey the exquisite beauty of his art. There is no hitch, there is no unwanted phrase, there is no laboured juxtaposition of word, music and feeling. To him music was so creative that he could not be bound in mere traditional grammar. He saw the potentiality in new melodies and from them gave forms to ragas like Kharaharapriya, Harikambhoji and Deyagandhari; at least he must have breathed life into such simple tunes to make them into ragas, if not produced them de novo. The rhythms used by him are also simple and are generally confined to talas such as Adi, Triputa, and Roopaka. Complex temporal and melodic patterns would not have expressed the lyricism of his mystic adoration. A beautiful elaboration introduced by him was the sangati as a built-in part of his kriti. These melodic variations convey so many shades of the main mood that all the finer nuances of text and music find expanded expression. It need not be offered as an excuse, but it is a fact that he was also as much capable of technical musicality as any learned grammarian. Tyagaraja's "five gems" in ragas Nata, Gaula, Arabhi, Varali and Sri, his songs in slower tempos and his famous kriti, Mariyada kadayya in Bhairavam wherein he, effortlessly, brings in a shade of Yaman Kalyan - all these and many more show a mastery of design and structure very much beyond the ordinary.

Tyagaraja's literary genius was as great as his musical genius. His command over Telugu and Sanskrit lent not only an erudite dignity to his songs but gave a rare felicity and homeliness to his diction. He drives home great truths with unerring aim but with extreme simplicity of simile. "What does it matter whether the fool, who does not, gain punya (religious merit) when opportunity presents itself, lives or is dead?...Of what avail is it whether blind eyes, however large, are open or closed?". Again, "The fault or goodness is not yours, Lord! It is mine. (Why blame Thee?). If one's daughter is unable to bear the labour-pains, why blame the son-in-law?".

Spiritually he was one of the rare souls who gave up everything except bhakti and cared for nothing else beyond the Grace of God. The early influences on his life make this trend more pronounced. The Bhagavata of Bammera Potana, the mystic poet of Andhra, was for him a book of daily parayana (recitation). Indeed there is a close parallel between the thoughts and lives of these two. The devaranamas of Purandaradasa were fed to him as if they were his mother's milk. Such early environments led to a positive direction by initiation into yoga. It is supposed that he was given the Rama Taraka Mantra by one sanyasi, Sri Ramakrishnananda. Tyagaraja's father's fellow scholar and a yogi, Sri Upanishad Brahmendra of Kanchipuram, also exerted a great influence on him. So also the works and per- sonality of Narayana Teertha, the author of Krishnaleela Tarangini, had considerable effect on the musician.

The only things that mattered to Tyagayya were music and bhakti - they were synonymous. "Is there a sacred path than music and bhakti?". "O Mind, salute the gods of the seven notes". "The knowledge of music, O Mind, leads to bliss of Union with the Lord". Music was to him the meditation on the Primordial Sound: "I bow to Sankara, the embodiment of Nada, with my body and mind. To Him, the essence of blissful Samaveda, the best of the vedas, I bow. To Him who delights in the seven swaras born of His five faces I bow".

Tyagaraja was a great bhakta; the only meaningful act for him was complete surrender to Him whom he called Rama. In the song Ika gavalasina, he sings, "What more do you want, O Mind ! Why are you not happy? When the Lord of the Universe has rested in your heart - what more do you want, O Mind?"

There was not a moment of his life which was not filled with Rama. His songs sing of Him who was a friend, a master, a father,- anything he could conceive of. Hearing of Rama's name was to Tyagaraja like "obtaining a large kingdom". And how could he desist from singing His praises - "Is there any bliss greater than this: to dance, to sing and to pray for His presence." "Did not the Lord incarnate wish to wear the garland of ragas woven by Tyagaraja?"

The worship of His feet (padasevana) was a privilege; but to worship his sandals, (padua) was indeed a fortune. "Rama, clear my doubt. Are Your holy feet worshipped by Narada, great or Your sandals? The sages who worshipped Your feet became equal to You; but Bharata worshipped Your sandals and got Your very self". Day in and day out His worship became a matter of daily living to Tyagaraja. He sang songs to wake the Lord, to bathe Him, to feed Him, to please Him and to put Him to bed - "You are tired after wandering in the forest and conquering Ravana; rest in the lotus of Tyagaraja's heart". Of course, being close to Rama he could chide Him. "If you present Yourself before me, what wealth will You lose? Why this intractability?"

The word Rama (RA-MA) was to him a Numen that transcended all names. It would be more than absurd to attribute any sectarian leanings to Tyagaraja. He sings, "As what did they define You? How did they worship You? - as Siva, as Madhava, as Brahma born of Lotus or as Parabrahma, the Trans-Godhead? I prostrate myself before those who know the secret of MA as the life of Siva-mantra and RA as the life of Narayana-mantra".

This complete surrender naturally made him live a life of detachment, though he was a house holder. The first and foremost result was that he refused to earn a livelihood. He had a house to live in and that was enough shelter. For food, every morning he would go round the village asking for alms - unchavritti, as it is called; and he would not gather even alms more than his daily need.

A life which steadfastly was uncompromising was not at all to the liking of his elder brother, Japesa, to put it mildly. Japesa fondly hoped that the great art and learning of his younger brother could be put to pecuniary uses, which the saint would not agree to. In desperation, the brother not only partitioned the ancestral house but went to the extent of throwing the Rama idol which Tyagayya worshipped into the river. The sorrow of the devotee cannot even be imagined. Many a song he sang begging the Lord to come back to him. In a dream he is told where to find the idol and his life becomes full.

Honours and wealth could have been his, if only he had asked for them; but he would not ask. He spurned an invitation of the King and sang, "Is wealth (nidhi) the source of happiness or is the proximity (sannidhi) of Rama?"

Tyagabrahma undertook an extensive pilgrimage of the sacred places of South India. Wherever he went he sang of the deity of the place. There is the famous incident of his visit to the Venkateswara temple at Tirupati. He goes into the temple to have darsan (vision) of the Lord; but the entrance of the sanctum sanctorum is covered with a curtain which prevents him from seeing the idol. The priests refuse to part the curtain. In great sorrow he sings, "Will you not remove the curtain?" ...and characteristically adds, "the curtain of vanity and jealousy in my mind". The curtain miraculously slides aside by itself and he is face to face with Him.

So much sincerity and surrender drew the ire of people around him and he could not stand their hypocrisy either. He speaks out bluntly about their pretences. "One who does not think of devotion to God, however learned, will be a slave of the senses and not be free from coveting others' women and wealth". There is a vast difference between seeing the Lord and going to the temple. "O Siva, is it possible for me to have your darsan? I have seen the spires, the pillars, the idols, the temple dancers, the rows of lights and made the due circumambulations. My mind has turned towards things external. But it is no child's play to instal Your glorious Form in the lotus of my heart!" Again, "Of what use is the possession of scholarship, in purana, agama, shastra, veda and the doing of japa to a deceitful mind? It is like dressing a corpse with a lace turban and precious jewels. Oh, give me the alms of highest (satvika) devotion".

Tyagabrahmam took sanyasa towards the end of his life and attained samadhi on Pusya Bahula Panchami in Prabhava (6th January, 1847). There is a poignancy about his absorption into the Godhead. He says in one of the most moving songs, "Unerringly I saw Sri Rama installed on the hill...Thrilled with ecstasy, with tears of joy, I tried to speak. He promised to bless me in five days." And so it happened.


Yogi Vemana -- Excerpts from C.P. Brown's manuscripts  (Go to Table of Contents)


Contributed by PALANA (


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 neighbourhood 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 Muhammed Shemsuddin.

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 honour 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 Researches.......

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 expressions.

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.

-----C.P. Brown


(from vEmana padyaalu : Editor bamgOre

TTD Devasthanam, 1985.)



Viswanatha Satyanarayana  (Go to Table of Contents)


Posted in soc.culture.indian.telugu by Ramakrishna Pillalamarri (


Viswanatha was born on the 10th of September, 1895, and passed away on the 18th of October, 1976. In the intervening eighty plus years, there was no literary arena that he has not entered and asserted his total control over it. To be sure, there are unabashed admirers (adiyan included) and fierce detractors of his works. But none that stay on the sidelines and ignore him.


Below are the English translation of Viswanatha satyanaaranaya's answers to the criticism on his works.


"To understand vEyi paDagalu completely, one should carefully read the English writers, Hardy and Lawrence. It is not just saying that there are no benefits from the Western Industrial Civilization. It is to say that the unintended (bad) side-effects are these: you can't stop them, but at least be aware of them. It provides this kind of alarm signal."

"There is nothing like "old" views are less valuable than 'contemporary' views. You have to examine the logic, and the truth in those views. Again, a work doesn't become great because of the views pre se, as much by the literary style there in. (I may not like buddhist philosophy yet) nAgAnandam is a good work, by its literary excellence.

"I know of several people who were fascinated by my novel, 'Ekaveera'. Its greatness is in the way it is written. All stories go in more or less the same direction. There is an interesting or exciting incident. The managing of it is in the competency of the writer. The story flows in a certain way. Something comes in its way to impede it. The impediment is overcome. This is the nature of a story. How these are presented, is in the cleverness of the writer. This is in EkavIra, abundantly.

"tikkana mentions in his 'nirvacana-uttara-rAmAyaNamu' about words that are 'archaic'. How does that happen? How many words that tikkana used in bhAratam are archaic now? Sometimes words change and acquire new meanings. When such a word is used in its prior meaning, it looks odd. ...They say it as a compliment about Shakespeare that he uses a large vocabulary, just as about tikkana. Such a writer is cognizant of the vast body of the language.

"To use the particular language's idiom. the ways of its people, these are figures of merit in a work. Just because there are a large number of Sanskrit words, one cannot say that there is no 'telugu' in it. nannayya used a lot of telugu idiom. People think that he has not used much telugu. Using 'telugu' is not necessarily in using a large number of telugu words, but it is in the capturing of the telugu usage, idiom,...


Here is a summary of Sri Viswanatha Satyanarayana's works:


kAvyamulu: 25 - ranging from Andhra pourushamu in '17 to the 6th volume of SrImadrAmAyaNa kalpa vRkshamu, yuddha kAnDa which was completed in '62.

nATakAlu: 15 - from dhanya kailAsamu ('18) to satyAgrahamu ('64), including AkASa rAju ('51) which apparently was made into a movie in '52.

Novels: 57 - from antarAtma ('18) to pAtipeTTina nANemulu and bhramara vAsini ('66). These include three sets titled "purANa vaira grandhamAla", "kASmIra cAritraka navalalu", and "nEpALa cAritraka navalalu".

vimarSanamulu: 9 - from "nannayya gAri prasanna kathA kalitArtha yukti" ('48) to "kAvyAnandamu" ('70)

Edited books: 3 Andhra kriyA sarwaswa maNi dIpika, '62, AP Sahitya Academy, 924p telugu sAmetalu, '65 (2nd printing), AP Sahitya Academy, 478p gadya candrika, '66, AP Sahitya Academy, 403p

Poetry: numerous, from ataDu (about aDavi bApirAju) in kulapati, ASIssulu (yArlagaDDa venkanna chowdary shashTipUrti issue) '71, indra dhanussu, '63, ushassu-sandhya, '32, EruvAka (in bhrashTa yOgi), okaTA? '40, to shaTcakramu (nIlamrAju venkaTaSEshayya sanmAna sancika) '60, soumya ugAdi '69, hushA '38, etc... Of course, not all of his written poetry is published, not all the published works are available.

nATikalu: duryOdhanuDu, '23 in SArada, kirITamaNi, '40, nAgamaNi

short stories: (numerous) from allah kE phakIr, doragAru-diwAnjI, maklI durgamlO kukka, to viyOgini, ...

essays: (numerous) lyrical poetry anTE EmiTi? '39, nAcana sOmuDu '54, grAmyamA? vADuka bhAshA? '27, Adhunika chandassula valla pramAdam '66.


Among these, the most popular books are :


a aa i I nEpALa rAjya kathalu

Andhra praSasti nivEdita

Atma katha pAmu pATa

baddanna sEnAni puli muggu

bANavati pAtipeTTina nANemulu

bhramara vAsini punarjanma

candavOlu rANi purANa vaira grandhamAla

candraguptuni swapnamu sAhitya surabhi

celiyali kaTTa SAkya muni

damayantI swayamvaramu samudrapu dibba

dinDu kinda pOkacekka SivArpaNamu

EkavIra snEhaphalamu

gangUlI prEmakatha soudAmini

hA hA hU hU SrimadrAmAyaNa kalpavRkshamu

kuNAluni SApamu swargAniki niccenalu

kaDimi ceTTu teraci rAju

kinnerasAni pATalu vEdavati

lalitA paTTamahishi vEyi paDagalu

mA bAbu vishNu Sarma yinglIshu caduvu

mihira kuluDu viSwanAdha madhyAkkaralu

nA madilO taLukkuna veligE viSwanAdhuni ghanTapuTATa

nandigAma rAjyamu yaShOvati

nartana SAla

Go back to TCAH Home Page