The Ashtadiggajas: Pillars of Telugu Poetry
Before embarking on the journey through time, it is essential to highlight the significance of the title "Ashtadiggajas," which translates to "eight elephants." The Ashtadiggajas were a group of eight esteemed poets in the court of the famous Vijayanagara king, Krishnadevaraya, who reigned during the 16th century. These poets were renowned for their literary prowess and contributed significantly to Telugu literature. The Ashtadiggajas include Allasani Peddana, Nandi Thimmana, Dhurjati, Ayyala Raju Rama Bhadrudu, Pingali Surana, Madayyagari Mallana, Ramaraja Bhushana, and Tenali Rama Krishna.
Hailing from the 15th century, Allasani Peddana holds a revered position among Telugu poets. He is best known for his magnum opus, "Manu Charitra," a seminal work that narrates the story of Manu, the progenitor of mankind, in a captivating manner. The epic poem delves into the complexities of human nature, the trials and tribulations faced by Manu, and the wisdom he imparts to his children. Peddana's command over the Telugu language and his poetic prowess earned him admiration during his time and secured his legacy in the annals of Telugu literature.
Nandi Thimmana, a 17th-century poet, was a master of romantic poetry. His most celebrated work, "Parijatapaharanamu," is a lyrical masterpiece that revolves around the love story of Lord Krishna and Princess Satyabhama. Thimmana's verses evoke deep emotions of love and devotion, creating an everlasting impact on the readers. His contribution to Telugu literature, particularly in the realm of romantic poetry, remains unparalleled.
Dhurjati, a prominent poet in the 16th century, showcased his versatility through a wide range of literary styles. He was an expert in composing "kavyas" (classical epics), "prabandhas" (narrative poems), and "sutras" (aphorisms). His masterpiece, "Sri Kalahasti Mahatyam," is a classic prabandha that narrates the legend of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati at the holy town of Kalahasti. Dhurjati's skillful use of language and vivid imagery made him a celebrated figure in Telugu literary circles.
Ayyala Raju Rama Bhadrudu
Ayyala Raju Rama Bhadrudu was a remarkable poet from the 17th century, renowned for his expertise in expressing emotions through his poetry. He was often referred to as the "Bhava Kavi," emphasizing his ability to infuse his verses with profound sentiments. His work, "Raghava Pandaveeyam," is a masterpiece that depicts the story of the Pandavas from the Mahabharata in an emotionally charged manner. Rama Bhadrudu's unique approach to storytelling made him a revered figure in Telugu literature.
Pingali Surana, a prominent poet from the 16th century, was bestowed with the title "Kalaaprapurna" by King Krishnadevaraya himself. Surana's exceptional literary skills were acknowledged by the Ashtadiggajas. His celebrated work, "Raghava Yatriswaramu," is a poetic drama that revolves around the journey of Lord Rama. Pingali Surana's contributions to classical Telugu literature earned him the prestigious title of "Mahakavi" (great poet) and solidified his place among the Ashtadiggajas.
Madayyagari Mallana, a gifted poet from the 16th century, was closely associated with the royal courts. His poetic prowess and elegant verses earned him admiration among the aristocracy of his time. His famous work, "Veerabhadra Vijayamu," narrates the mythological tale of Lord Veerabhadra, an incarnation of Lord Shiva. Mallana's rich language and depiction of mythological narratives established him as a significant figure in Telugu poetry.
Ramaraja Bhushana, a distinguished poet from the 17th century, hailed from the illustrious city of Tanjore. He was known for his proficiency in "desi" (folk) style of poetry and was admired for his ability to bring forth the essence of colloquial language in his verses. His work, "Rama Raja Bhushana Satakamu," is a collection of a hundred verses dedicated to Lord Rama. Ramaraja Bhushana's unique style and lyrical finesse set him apart as a revered poet of his time.
Tenali Rama Krishna
Tenali Rama Krishna, popularly known as Tenali Raman, was not just a poet but also a famed court jester and a scholar of wit and wisdom. He was a literary genius whose humorous and insightful poetry entertained both the royals and the commoners alike. His verses, filled with wit and satire, continue to be popular and have been passed down through generations. Tenali Rama Krishna's exceptional literary talents, humor, and sharp intellect have made him an enduring figure in Telugu folklore.
Jayaprabha is identified as a pioneer of the feminist movement in Telugu literary criticism and poetry. She has brought to light women's issues and their problems and strengths and targets established gender norms. Her first collection of poems called Yuddhonmukhamga (Towards War) was published in the year 1984. In the year 1988, Jayaprabha's second book of poems Vaamanudi Moodo Paadam (Third foot of Vamana) was published. Her other collections of poems are Bhavo Kavitvamlo Stri, Ikkad Kursini Varsham, Ekkadi Maghanidi? and Unforeseen Affection and Other Poems.
Muddupalani was associated with the court of Pratap Singh (1739-63), the Maratha king of Tanjore. She is known as a Telugu speaking poet, scholar and devadasi. An erotic narrative poem called Radhika-Santvanam is considered to be her best-known work. Other works of Muddupalani are Ashtapadi, a Telugu translation of Jayadeva's eponymous work. She is also known to translate the Thiruppavai by Andal.
Duvvuru Ramireddy was an eminent Telugu poet. He embarked on a literary career in 1918 with a poetry called Vanakumari. Some of his other works are translation of a romantic poetry from Sanskrit and Arabic, Krishivaludu, Paanasala and Phalitakesamu.
Gona Vema Buddha Reddy
Gona Vema Buddha Reddy, popularly known as Yogi Vemana was a great Telugu philosopher, poet and achala yogi. Two noteworthy features of his poems written in Telugu are simple language and native idioms. Many lines of yogi Vemana's poems are now colloquial phrases of the Telugu language. His poems have surfaced the subjects of yoga, wisdom and morality and are social, moral, satirical and mystic in nature.
Vajjala Shiva Kumar
Vajjala Shiva Kumar is regarded as a free verse Telugu poet. A noteworthy aspect of his poetry is the emphasis on revolution. His contributions are Gogupuvvu, Palakankula Kala and Daakhala.
N. Gopi is a Telugu poet. Some of his poetic collections are Tangedu Poolu, Vanthena, Naaneelu, Vana Kadigina Cheekati, Rathi Keratalu, Aksharallo Dhagdhamai and Enda Poda. There are travelogues, literary criticism, research works and translations to his credit. Gopi has also explored himself as an editor.
Other Telugu Poets
As Telugu literature progressed into the modern era, a new generation of poets emerged, leaving their mark on the literary landscape. The modern era saw the rise of poets like Sri Sri, Viswanatha Satyanarayana, and C. Narayana Reddy, who brought a fresh perspective to Telugu poetry. Sri Sri, an influential poet and freedom fighter, captured the spirit of social and political upheaval in his iconic work "Maha Prasthanam." Viswanatha Satyanarayana, a literary giant, was honored with India's highest literary award, the Jnanpith Award, for his exemplary contributions to Telugu literature. His poetic masterpieces, such as "Ramayana Kalpavrukshamu" and "Kinnersani Patalu," continue to be celebrated for their literary brilliance. C. Narayana Reddy, another Jnanpith laureate, mesmerized audiences with his soul-stirring poetry, often highlighting the beauty of human relationships and emotions. Some of the other Telugu Poets are Potana, Kapilavai Lingamurthy and Mohammad Ismail. These modern Telugu poets not only upheld the rich heritage of the language but also paved the way for future generations to continue the enduring legacy of Telugu poetry.