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Social Scientist

Coconut and Honey: Sanskrit and Telugu in Medieval Andhra Author(s): Velcheru Narayana Rao Reviewed work(s): Source: Social Scientist, Vol. 23, No. 10/12 (Oct. - Dec., 1995), pp. 24-40 Published by: Social Scientist Stable URL: . Accessed: 07/03/2012 03:00
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Coconutand Honey: Sanskritand Telugu in MedievalAndhra1

the Vijayanagara It was January15, 1517. Krsnadevaraya, king, who was on his way to invadethe Kalingacountry,stoppedat the templeof god Andhramahavisnu in his in grikakulamon the bankof the Krishnariver. Thatnight the god appeared himself in his Amuktamalyada, the god dream.2 As reportedby Krsnadevaraya said: You told the Story of Madalasa, exciting connoisseursof poetry with skillful similes and metaphorsand the tropeof truedescription. a poem resonantwith rich feeling. You sang of Satyabhama, You made a collection of superbstories culled from all ancientbooks. You composed the Gem of Wisdom,an eloquentwork that dispels residuesof darknessin those who hear it. You astoundedus with honeyed poemsin the languageof the gods, The Pleasures of Poetry and otheressays. Is Telugu beyond you? Make a book in Telugu now, for my delight. Why Telugu? You might ask. This is the Telugu land. I am the lord of Telugu. There is nothing sweeter. You speak many languages with kings who come to serve you. Don't you know? Among all the languagesof the land, 1-13, 15) Telugu is best. (Amuktamalyada The final statement-deiabhaal' andutelugulessa, "amongall the languagesof the land, Telugu is best"-has acquirednew meaning in the context of post-

Departmentof South Asian Studies, Universityof Wisconsin-Madison. Social Scientist, Vol. 23 Nos. 10-12, October-December1995



nineteenth-century linguistic nationalism, as a slogan of superiorityfor Telugu It even people. appears on a postal stamp released by the goverment as a of recognition Telugu pride. However, there is no evidence of language serving as symbol of "national" identitybeforethenineteenthcentury.TherewereTelugu-speaking people, Telugu land, and even love of one's own language-but no Telugu people whose identity was formedby the "mother-tongue". Indeed,thereis no such a word as "motherin medieval modem The matrbhasais a loan translationfrom tongue" Telugu.3 Nor there was between oneregionallanguageandtheother; English. anyopposition the distinctiondrawnwas always betweendevabhasa(the language of gods, Sanskrit),anddegabhdsas (the languagesof people). It is necessaryto steerclearof the whichhasfueledamajorpolitical movementin contemporary languagenationalism, Andhraandled to a re-drawingof themapof Indiaalonglinguisticlines in thepostindependence period. Care in distancing premoder language sense from the nationalist formationsis especially necessary because modem twentieth-century intellectuals have read into their literary history a sustaining love of Telugu as a means of establishingnational identity and have at the same time language erased all existing relationshipswith neighboringlanguages. makesthispointclear. The Goingbackto the wordsof the god to Krsnadevaraya had achieved the a status of in Sanskrit king already poet by virtueof his having authoredseveralbooks in that language. Being a masterof the languageof gods, controllinga languageofhumans shouldbe easy forhim. Butthen,while thereexist a numberof humanlanguages, why choose Telugu? Itshouldbe remembered thatKrsnadevaraya wasnotbor in theTeluguarea.He was a Tuluva, from an area of southwestern Kamataka. As the god himself says, he is a Kannadaraya-a Kamatakaking, though a Telugu speakerall the same. he spokemorethanone language,andfoundthatspeakingTelugumade Apparently it easier for him to rule what was largely a Telugu area. The politics of the empire were crucialhere to the choice of language.Sanskrit is the language of pride and power. It is alreadyenshrinedin the hearts of the scholarlyworld as a languageof greatglory. All the greatbooks-vedas, Sastras, itihasas andkivyas-are in thatlanguage.Whatis more,it is the only languagethat can confer on Krsnadevaraya the statusof a ksatriyain the four-varnaideology of the Brahminic/Hindu world. Inhis own locality, Krsnadevaraya was only a peasant and,if legends areto be believed, a low-castepeasantat that. But he was a peasantwarriorwith aspirationsto kingship. Outsidehis languagearea,his statusdid not translateinto anythingintelligible or respectable. One would not know where to of an areaoutside Kamataka.On the place a TuluNayakain the regionalhierarchy other hand, the pan-Indiancategories of status are well-established in the four classes: Brahmana, Ksatriya,Vaisya andSudra. Brahmins,4ve obsessively carried the learningof Sanskrit books overgenerations, createda widerviabilityto Sanskrit andthe Brahminicideology. It wouldthusbe possible for Krsnadevaraya to adopt Ksatriyastatus, which in turncan be conferredupon him by the Brahmins. This dialectic of mutualconstruction-Brahmins conferringthe statusof Ksatriyahood



on kings and the Ksatriyasmaking Brahminspowerful by their patronage-is the story of Brahminideology in premodemIndia.5 predominantly We should pause briefly to observe the natureof this Brahminclass, without which we cannotget an idea of the power of ideology in pre-modem understanding India. Here is a class of people, unlike any otherclass, who areunusuallymobile, in acquiringrootsin any locality, andthereforeno threatto in a sense uninterested What they carried with them is an obsessive or landowner. local any peasant dedication to the vedic chants-which they preserved in oral tradition with to the greatepics phenomenalpatience- to the Sastratexts, especially grammar, of Mahabharataand the Ramayana,and to a host of literarytexts of poets like Kalidasa. The power of Sanskritis partly derived from the wide distributionof Brahminsall over the Indiansubcontinentand the culturalinfluence they wielded in workingwith the local religious andpolitical groups-in some sense "converting" them and theirdeities to what we now call, for lack of a more suitableword, Hinduism. While preservingtheir Sanskritintact,the Brahminswere also proficient in learning the local languages, sometime more than one, and composing poetryin them. Imagesof a culturalmilitia, or of an ideological army,would not be too far-fetchedto applyto the Brahminsof premoder India,when one sees the of theirideologicalmessage. Krsnadev andtheconstancy scaleof theiroperation araya his expertisein Sanskritand thus showed profoundpragmatismin demonstrating his patronageof Brahminsboth as political allies andreligiousleaders. Therewas considerableevidence of history before him to show the wisdom of this move. Nearly every family who have aspiredto royal statuson a scale largerthan their limited native locality-Colas, Calukyas, and Kakatlyas-sought the supportof Brahminsto elevate themselves to the statusof K$atriyas.Elite Sanskrit-chanting maths(monasteries) such as the Srivaisnava andwealthyestablishments patronized and expounded in Sanskrit. Moreover, Brahmins and their Sanskrittexts were in imaginga pan-Indian by fouroceans," empire,anempire"encircled predominant area-an areathatcould be as which includes a wide geographical/mythological large as South Asia. hadacquired wererelated Ina curiousway, thedistanceandtheaurathatS anskrit to its unintelligibility.TheVedas andall theprescriptivetextsof Sanskrit, including its venerated grammar,derived theirpower precisely from theirbeing distanced fromtheordinary person.However,theirideologicalimpactwouldnotbe felt if they were not made somehow accessible. In fact a numberof Sanskrittexts, like the thatis, the Vedas, were consideredtoo pureto be madeaccessibleto the uninitiated, non-Brahmins.Itwas inthiscontextthatthemargapoet-the elevatedSanskritized author-came in. He wroteandcommented,interpreted retellingsof suchtextsthat could be brought closer to the people-without defiling their purity. Massive retellingsof purana texts, among which the Mahabharatawas the first, were undertaken centuries, poets betweenthe eleventh andfourteenth by a host of Brahmin an activitythathas gone on virtuallyunabated rightinto the twentiethcentury.The in templesandotherreligious were notjust translated, they wereperformed puranas forpublichearing,thusbringingthe retoldTelugutextscloserto the establishments



audience for whom they were intended. Thus, the distancebetween the unintelligible Sanskrittexts andthe audiencewas systematicallybridged-without compromising the purestatusof Sanskrittexts. It was an ideal situationwhere you could have yourcake andeat it too. The Sanskrittexts retainedtheirhigh statusandat the same time were made availableto the audiencethroughtheir retellings.6 as is sometimessupposed. To takethe The retellingsarenotjust "translations," or Tikkanna what did in retellingthe Mahabharatain Nannayya Telugu example, a to a regional story of to create domestic was Mahabharata,transformed Telugu medieval south India,that could happenin any south Indiankingdom or, for that the Sanskrittexts and matter,any largejoint family. These retellingsreinterpreted at the same time created an elevated and regional discourse and values. This chose to representhimself a scholar of Sanskritand explains why KrsnadEvaraya also a creatorof an elevated Telugu text. Something more can be leart from own statementsregardinghis choice of Telugu. The following Kr$nadevaraya's in passage Amuktamalyadareflects a complex ambivalence that marked his relationshipwith the landed lords of his kingdom, whose language was Telugu. recommends a course of action for a successful king. He Here Krsnadevaraya trusts Brahmins but is a little wary of non-Brahmin(Telugu-speaking) the clearly lords: The king should never go to battlehimself. He should elevate someone else to the level of a lord, and send him. It has to be someone strong,equippedwith money, land, elephants,and horses. Give him fortifiedlands. But if such a person is a non-Brahmin, he will soon become a rival. Still, you need him too.7 choice of Telugu was a political choice. He wantedto please Krsnadevaraya's the local speakersof Telugu by calling their language "sweet." He needed their support, as well as the supportof Sanskrit. His praise for Telugu is carefully andotherregionallanguages. As nuanced:the comparisonis only between.Telugu for Sanskrit,it is on a differentplane. As thelanguageof gods, it is not in opposition with Telugu or with any other languageof the land.

We have to go backa few centuriesto detectanythinglike a hintof conflict between Telugu and Sanskrit-- indeed, not just centuries, we also have to cross the boundariesof religion, into the militantSaiva religion of Basave.vara of twelfthcentury Kamataka,who advocated a creed without caste barriersand gender followerPalkuriki Somanatha is the firstto discriminations.His thirteenth-century andbookscomposedin Sanskritic findSanskritalienating.He reasonsthatSanskrit meters are not accessible to ordinarypeople. He says in his Basavapurana: Telugu is simple, beautifulto hear. It reachesall. unlike these big words of verse and prose.



I will thereforesing in dvipadacouplets. A good poet makes greatmeaning with small words.8 means the Mahabh9rata By "big words of verse and prose," SOmanatha composed in a genre called campi, a genre of verse interspersedwith rhythmic prose,by Nannayya(eleventhcentury),who latercameto bereveredas thefirstpoet of the Telugu literarycanon. The genreandstyle createdby Nannayyabecamethe standardfor marga poets. Nannayya was a Brahminand a respected Sanskrit who ruled the central scholar of his time in the court of King Rajarajanarendra he was not local to Rajamahendravaramu Andhradeltaic region. In all probability on the east coast of Andhra),but migrated with his (modem day Rajahmundry king of theEasternCalukyadynastyas his familypriest. The king Tamil-speaking himself was not very strongand stablein his empire,andhis rule was rathershortlived. This was the underlyingculturalcontext for Somanatha's thirteenth-century and Brahminsuperiority. rebellion against Sanskritforms of literature SOmanatha composed in meters close to Telugu women's songs, dvipada SOmanatha'smovementhad all thepotentialof blossomingintoconflict "couplets." the fact notjust on linguisticlines, but also on caste andreligiouslines. Considering that Somanathawas leading a militantanti-Brahminic Saiva movement, Sanskrit now could become synonymouswith Brahminsuperiorityand Brahminreligion. The potentialbattle lines are clear: Bhavis (non-gaivas) Marga(Sanskritic) Brahmin vs. vs. vs. Saivas Desi (Indigenous) low-caste

himself did not However,matterswere not thatsimple. For one thing, SOmanatha maintaina consistentlyanti-Sanskrit stance. His positionagainstSanskritic meters and the campu genre is based on a rationaleof easy accessibility. It was in the interestof reachingcommon readers,especially the "left-hand" groupsof artisans andpettytraders, thathe chose theindigenousdvipadacoupletmeter. Further, there is an unmistakablesense of inferiorityhe feels in using Telugu: telugu matalanangavaladu. vedamula koladiyaka jjuduu.... Don't just say these words are only Telugu;look at them as Veda. intendedhis poetryremainedon The communitiesof people for whom Somanatha to the west, the peripheryof the political system in Andhra(althoughin Kamataka, the militant gaiva center at the Moreover, Kalyan). they briefly captured political for the of no of the acquisition political Basavapuranapresented program message power. It offered no role for a king, andno ideology of kingship. In this sense, it makes a striking contrast to the role of Sanskrit and Sanskrit poetry in the land-basedcommunities. constructionof political roles for the "right-hand,"



was writing, Telugu as a languagehad hardly begun its By the time SOmanatha To career. have any statusas a literarylanguage,it needed the supportof literary Sanskrit. If Sanskritis the marga, the "path," Telugu could only hope to be deSi, if it did its job right. Unlike Tamil, which had a secure and "local"or "regional," respectablepast and sat by the side of Sanskritas an equal, Telugu had to claim maturityby incorporatingfrom the language of the gods and, by extension, of Brahmins,the gods on earth. We have on the authorityof Nannecoda (a twelfth-centurypoet) that Telugu of the Calukyas,who ruledcentralAndhra poetrybegan as deii underthe patronage and Butin contrastwithPalkurikiSOmanatha, the tenth eleventh centuries.9 during who developed a more distinctlyindigenousstyle, the courtlypoetry of Nannayya became marga itself. Fromthen on, marga anddeSicome to marka distinctionin Telugu styles, one more Sanskriticandthe othermore indigenous. We can see, in centuriesthatfollow, margapoetryreceivingmore andmorepatronagefromkings andpatronsassumingkingly status-which includeeven deities of temples-while deSipoetry was left more or less as its poor cousin. Thoughcultivatedby poets of who composedRanganathaRamayana high family statuslike Gona Buddhareddi, in dvipada,andKatta in dvipada(more who Varadaraju, composedanotherRamayana aboutthis later), this meterhas an unmistakably low statusin the eyes of scholars. An oft-quotedsegmentof a poem froma forgottensource even condemnsdvipada by groupingit with an old whore, a backyardsewer, and a patronwho does not pay.10 According to legends recorded some three hundred years after Somanatha, dvipadaseems to have faced severe oppositioneven duringthe time of the militant authorof Basavapurana: Some Saiva devotees were readingthe Basavapuranain the Siva temple at who happenedto go Orugallu[Warangal].The KakatiyaKingPrataparudra, to the temple at thattime, inquiredwhatwas going on there. Brahminswho were with the king said thatsome Saiva devotees were listening to a reading of Basavapurana. When the king wanted to know more about it, an evil Brahmintold him thatit was a recentworkcomposedby the sinnerPalkuriki Somanatha,who hadmadeit in extendeddvipadacoupletswith poor caesura anddid not deserve (madhyavallupetipenace dvipada); it was substandard the king's respect. The king left withoutpaying any more attentionto the text.1 Brahminpoet who retoldlarge parts With Tikkanna,anotherthirteenth-century of the Mahabharata,the militantSaiva non-Brahmin protestagainst Sanskrithad a friendof been effectively diffused. Tikkannacalled himself ubhaya-kavi-mitra, both schools of poets-the Saiva-Teluguand the Brahminic-Sanskrit.He used a Telugu style in a text composedin Sanskriticmeters. His influence predominantly on later generationsof poets was enormous. He was not just a poet but also a he negotiatedandgained the military politician:as the ministerof Manumasiddhi,



supportof the mighty Kakatiyaking in behalf of his (Tikkanna's)patron.Legends also tell us that Tikannawas effective in having the Kakatiyaking annihilatethe Jainatemples.12 Meanwhile,as we have seen, Somanatha's dvipadameteritself had lost some of Saivaidentitywhenit was borrowedby authors like Buddhareddi its non-Brahminic for the a non-Brahminic nar(fourteenthcentury) telling Ramayanastory, hardly continuedto thrive,but as a quietcomplementto rative. The deSistyle of literature the dominantmarga style, which flourishedin the courtsof royalpatronsandeven rich temples. So much so thatwhen Annamayya(1408-1503) sang for the god on Tirupatihill in southernAndhra,he had no difficulty in using deSi meters for his Telugu songs while composing songs in Sanskritin the same vein.

thancontestants,as ThusdeSiandmargabecame complementsto each otherrather Somanathamight have intendedthem to be. But the awarenessthat Sanskritand Telugu representtwo distinctly different styles even within the marga category with great expressive power in a long metapoetic persisted.This is demonstrated the whichhighlightsthe attributed to Peddanna, courtpoet of Krsnadevaraya, poem distinct separation of Telugu and Sanskrit styles. According to the legend, to any poet who could offered a golden anklet,gandapenderamu, Kr$nadevaraya excel in composing verses in Sanskrit and Telugu with equal ease. Peddanna acceptedthe challengeandcameupwiththisextemporeversein utpala-malika.The king, stunnedby the extraordinary performance,personallyhonored the poet by himself putting the golden ankleton the poet's feet. Here is the poem: pita merungulunbasarupupabedangulu jupuna.ti'va kaitalujaggu niggu nena gavale gammunagammananvalen ratiriyunbaval marapuranihoyal celi yarajampuniddataritipuloyanagadarasilanvale lo dalancinan baidali kuttukaloni batiga baikonanvalenu pallati kutalananvalensogasu korkuluravale nalakifcinan jetikolandi kaugitanu jercina kanniyacinni ponni mel mutala cannudoyivalemuccatagavale batti cucinan datodan'unnaminnulamitarapumuddulagummakamman'au vatera dondapanduvalevacavigavale banta nidinan gatala dammiculidorakaivasapun javarali sibbepun meteli yabburampu ubbagugabbigubbaponjigi nibbarap' butala nunnakayasaripodimi kinneramelubantisangaula pantuka gatapu sannatantibayakarapukanna.da satata tana tanala pasan divuta.dedu gota m.tu bal haruvumollamugavale naccatengut1 mrotalununbalen pattuna bharativadhirttiga samskrtamb'upacariice.du .itapaniyagarbhanikatlbhavadananaparvasahitlbhautikanatakaprakarabharatabharatasammata



prabhadltanagatmajagiriSasekharasitmayukharekhikapatasudhapraparabahubhangaghumamghumaghhumghumarbhatjatakata.layugmalayasangatic uncuvipanicikamrdangatatatehitattahitahadhitadhimdhanudhanudhimdhimi vratanayanukulapadavarakuhaudvahaharikinkint nutanaghalghalacarananupurajhalajhaflmarandasanghataviyaddhunmcakacakadvikacotpalasarasangrahayatakumaragandhavahaharisugandhavilasayuktamai cetamujallajeyavale jillana jallavalen manohara dyotakagostaniphalamadhudravagoghrutapayasaprasasare sarekun. datirasaprasJraruciraprasarambuga Is poetry a surfacesheen, the green delusion of unfoldedbuds? It must be real inside and out, exploding fragrance, an aching touch your body can't forget by day or night, like of your woman, wheneveryou think aboutit. It should come over you, it should murmur deep in the throat,as your lover in her dove-like moaning, and as you listen, yearningcomes in all its beauty. If you take hold of it, your fingers tingle as if you were tracingthe still-hiddenbreasts of a young girl, wholly embraced. If you sink your teeth into it, it shouldbe succulent as the full lips of a ripe woman from anotherworld, sitting on your knees. It should ring as when godly Sound strokes with her fingernails the stringsof her vina, with its golden bulbs resting on her proud,white, pointedbreasts, so that the raga-notes resound. That is the pure Telugu mode. If you use Sanskrit,then a rushing,gushing overflow of moonlight waves, luminousand cool, from Siva's crest, the mountain-bor goddess beside him, enveloping actorsand their works, the dramas spoken by Speech herself in the presenceof the Golden Seed, poundingout the powerful rhythms,the beat of being, throughdrumsand strings and chiming bells and thousandsof ringinganklets and subtle dancing, drawingout the words, the fragrant winds wafting essence of unfoldinglotus from the Ganges streamingin the sky should



comfort your mind. You should shiver in pleasure again and again, each time you hear it, as rivuletsof honeyed juices andbutter and sweet milk flow together and mix their goodness more and more and more. What we offer here in translation does not reflect the exuberanttextureof the demonstrates the variation in Telugu andSanskritstyles, poem, which dramatically the first with soft, lyrical andintimatelymurmuring syllables and the second with its high-soundingSanskritphrases,infused with the energyof repeatedaspiratesin anincreasinglydense compound.This second style retainsthe attention andmarvel of the listenerseven thoughthey are almost certainlyunableto follow the precise meaningof this intricatelywoven andimmenselylong Sanskritcompound,the like of which one rarelysees even in Sanskrittexts. Both the markedseparationand the close proxirnkyof SanskritandTelugu are well-establishedfeaturesin all Telugu literarytexts of the marga class, right from Tikkannaonwards. Each poet paid respects to the poets before him (purva-kavistuti) in the preface to his work. As a matterof convention, respect was always offeredto the Sanskrit Banaandso onpoets first-Vyasa, Kalidasa,Bhavabhuti, followed by the great poets of Telugu: Nannayya, Tikkanna,Errapragada and others.The choice of poets is fairlyconstantthrough a periodof abouteighthundred years, indicating a firmly established canon, always including an equally wellestablishedrespect for Sanskrit. betweenSanskritandTelugu,therewas Along with this awarenessof separation also a certain sensitivity to the problem of going too far one way or the other. the greatfifteenth-century Srinatha, poet, is fully awareof the problemof being too Sanskriticin his style. Legendhas it thathis translation of grihar$a's Naisadhiyacarita was severely criticizedfor being too Sanskrit. Accordingto a popularjoke, Sanskritscholars approachedSrinathaand said: "Takeyour Telugu case suffixes used long Sanskrit (du, mu, vu andlu) andgive us ourSanskrittext back." Srinatha compoundsas they appearin theoriginalSanskrittext verbatim,withonly a Telugu suffix addedto them. He seems to have anticipatedsuch a criticism: Sriharsa'slearnedpoem is juicy and meaty as a ripe coconut. You have to breakit open to taste it. Lazy readerscan't appreciateit. That's how it is. When a young woman strokesthe cheek of a little boy with her fingernail, does his heartstartpounding with love?13 Srimtha states: Again, in his later work,BhImeSvara-puranamu,



Seeing its erudition,some say it's tough as Sanskrit. Hearingthe idiom, others say it's nothingbut simple Telugu. Let them say whateverthey want. I couldn't care less. My poetry is the truelanguage of this land. The problemof style does not get resolved. Poet afterpoet returnsto this problem andattemptsto resolve it, each in his/herown way. Potanna,of aboutthe same time tries to be gentle and friendlyto both the camps, Sanskritand Telugu: as Srinatha, Some like Telugu, others like Sanskrit and yet others like both languages. I will try to please all of them, with varying styles in differentplaces. And KoraviGOparaju (ca. 16th century)even complains: If I write lucidly in Telugu, they say the poem is not tight, it is too soft, lacks strength. If I use Sanskritwith some force, they complain it is thornyas darbhagrass and don't listen to it. So, I will make a judicious mix of Telugu and Sanskritwords.14 Molla, a poetess who produceda version of the Ramayana, tells us in her introduction: When a drop of honey touches the tongue, your whole mouth is filled with sweetness. The whole sense of a poem should fill you all at once. A poem composed with arcanewords is a dialogue of the deaf and the dumb. Gu.dha-Sabdamulanu gurcina kavyamu,"a poem composed with arcane words," must indicatethat a high proportionof obscureSanskritwords are woven into the Telugu text, as is frequentin Telugu court-poetry. Nearly every majorTelugupoet, especially those who aspiredto recognitionin royal courts,has declaredhis competencein SanskritSistras. Poets like Srinatha professedprofoundknowledge in all branchesof learning as well as their skill in making poetry in both Sanskritand Telugu. By convention, scholarshipmeant scholarshipin Sanskrittexts, andpoetic skills meantcompetencein Telugu poetry. often impliedthatif a poet were This distinctionbetweencreativityandscholarship not also a scholar,he or she was apoorpoet. Suchapoet rarelyentereda king's court where Sanskritscholarshipreigned supreme. Proud challenges were issued by panditsto otherpandit-poets,andtherearereportsof public disputationsand great



royal honors. The famous disputationbetween the Telugu poet Srinathaand the Orissapoet Dindimain the courtof the Vijayanagar is one king Praudhadevaraya such instancecelebratedin Teluguliterarytexts. Dindimahad a bronzedrummade of his undisputed as a demonstration defeated superiority amongscholars. Srinatha Dindima and had his bronze drum broken into pieces. However, excessive superiorityof Sanskritscholarshipwas met with opposition, as is reflected in the following popularlegend: and saw Once, a Sanskritscholarcame to the courtof Krsnadevaraya all the poetry in Telugu being read there. Impatientwith the position Telugu acquiredin the court,the Sanskritpanditblurtedout: kavyamayomayavibhusanam dndhrabhascmayam A poem in Telugu is like an ornamentmade of ironTenali Ramalinga, the scholar-poet and court jester, immediately retorted: samskrtaranyasancdrividvanmattebhaSrnkhalam a perfect chain to restrain panditsprowling like wild elephants throughthe Sanskritjungle trails. Another, again parodic, formulationof this tension comes from Vallabharaya's Kr.dabhiramamu(early fifteenth century). Vallabharayarefers to Sanskrit's alleged statusas themotherof all languages,andto thechoice of Teluguforpractical purposes:. sakalabhasalakunu desabhasal' andu denugulessa janani samskrtambu dalli kae meccut' adubiddamelu gade jagati saubhagya-sampada They say "Sanskritis the motherof all languages, but among the languagesof the land Telugu is best." Of course. Between the aged mother and the ravishingyoung daughter, I'll take the daughterany day!"15 The satiristis apparently quotingpopularstatements, includingone we have already seen in Krsnadevaraya's text sixteenth-century (desa-bhsaal'andudenugu lessa). The identificationof Sanskritas the motherof tongues is also found in Ketana's Andhra-bhasa-bhusanamu (thirteenthcentury).16 In any case, the satire drives home the point thatTeluguis to be preferred-again for entirelymundanereasons! The pcsition of other regional languages in the medieval period is also worth investigating. We know thatpoets knew morethanone regionallanguageandoften wee influencedby poets and texts from variouslanguagesof the region. Srinatha makes a prouddeclarationof his competence in Sanskrit,Prakrit,SauraSeni, and other languages. By otherlanguages,he means the rest of the asta-bhaiiss,eight



languages: Magadhi, Paisaci, Culika, Apabhramsa,and Telugu. Poets prided themselves as being capable of composing in these eight languages: asta-bhasaWe know from Srinatha'sdescriptionsthat the ministers of his time kaviSvara.17 were veritablepolyglots. They knew a numberof languages including Arabic, An interestingtidbitthat andMalayalam.18 PersianandTurkish,Kannada, Gujarati who ridiculed other here is that noted be people languageswere supposedto might be punishedby the king with a fine of one hundred panas, and thatarava is cited as a derogatoryword for Tamil!19

There seems to be a significantshift in the statusof Telugu and Sanskritin works composed during the late-medieval period (especially the seventeenth century). During this time, when Telugu-speakingNayakas ruled a predominantlyTamilspeaking area of South India, Telugu acquireda status almost similar to that of Sanskritin the precedingcenturies. Now Telugu assumes a position in the courtas andbookson poetics were anintellectuallanguage.Puranas andSistras, grammars writtenin Telugu. Sanskritwas still used, butit was not necessarilythe only means of elevating one's status. Telugu was good enough for thatpurpose. The contrast between SanskritandTelugu styles came to occupy less of the poets' attention,as did the contrastbetween marga and deSi. In a way, the distinctionbetween these dsi or de~i-liketexts. styles becameless clear,andthe courtitself beganpatronizing The Nayakakings themselves wroteyaksaganas, a genre of musical play derived from the dei tradition. More importantstill, non-brahman poets became prm,rinent. The court was full of them. While there was no great effort to reduce t, importance of Sanskrit or to oppose it, and no visible attempt to oppose the Brahmins,there was an unmistakableimportancegiven to Telugu poets -nonBrahminsat that. This importantchange expresses the self-confidence acquired by the nonBrahminking and a new class of merchant-warriors who initiated far-reaching changes in the political and social order.We arguedin our Symbolsof Substance: Courtand State in Nayaka-PeriodTamilnadu(NarayanaRao et al. 1992) thatthe new orderreflects a new set of values in poetry,historiography,and political and touches culturalinstitutions.One important changethatthisnew orderrepresented on is the statusof the king in relationto the Brahmin. The king no longer needed the Brahmin to legitimize his status. The king was god himself, and thus the Brahminbecame the god-king's servantratherthanhis superior. This shift, only briefly statedhere, is also reflectedin the relativestatusof SanskritandTelugu. In the new royalcourt,Teluguwas the languageof theking. However,despite the fact thatthe king was equatedwith God, Teluguhadnot been elevatedto the level of the language of gods. At roughlythe same time, but furthernorth,in the village of Kamepalli in the interiorof Guntur District,thereemergeda veryinfluentialscholar-poet,Appakavi. knownasAppakaviyamu, held of metricspopularly His book, a grammarprincipally of until the rise hundred three for about tradition over the years,right literary sway



modem movementsin Telugupoetryin the early decadesof the twentiethcentury. In the introduction to his book, Appakavitells us a powerfultale-narrated to him in a dream-about the allegedly "original"grammarof Telugu, God himself by in Sanskrit composed (by the greatNannayya,the firstpoet himself) andthennearly lost andtotallydestroyed. This story,perhapsmorethanany othertext, reveals the crystallizing structureof the late-medieval traditionat the stage which perhaps marksits intellectualacme. The power of Sanskritin medieval Andhrarestedon the respectit had acquired as the languageof gods, a position sustainedbecauseof the supremeawe in which hadbeenheld.Panini,thegreatgrammarian its grammar ofS anskrit,his commentator of the author and who contributed the varttika Pataiijali, Mahabhasya: Katyayana, in this culture,was not rules- all threewere reveredas divine beings. Grammar, merely a set of rules thatdescribethe language;it was the knowledge given by god to create a sanctifiedlanguage-the very essence of ultimatereality. of thatpower-not untilAppakavi"revealed" Teluguhadnever had a grammar it. Appakavitells us (throughthe mouth of the god in his dream)thatNannayya in Sanskritsutras,which were suppressed composed such a grammar by his jealous rival Bhimakavi,who threwthe only copy into the GodavariRiver. Fortunately, a studentof Nannayya's (Saranrgadhara) had memorizedthe whole text. We know aTelugu Sarangadhara's storyfrom kavyacomposedinseventeenth-centuryTanjavur Nava-nathaCemakira Venkatakavi,as well as fromothersources (Gaurana's by is the object of his caritra, late fifteenth century). In these texts, Sarangadhara stepmother'ssexual advances,whichhe resists; she thenslandershim to his father, the king Rajarajanarendra, who ordershis hands and legs cut off. Sarangadhara survives the unjust punishment and eventually joins the Siddhas, spiritually powerfulhealerswho live forever.Appakavihintsatthis story(withoutmentioning the seduction episode); he identifies Saragadhara as a Siddha,himself magically healed by Matsyendranatha. As a long-lived Siddha, Sarangadhara can thus over the hundreds of that divide preserve Nannayya's grammar years Nannayya fromAppakavi. As Appakavitells the story, Saraigadhara transmits the grammar both to Balasarasvati, a learned Brahmin from Matanga Hill (at Hampi/ who will eventuallycompose a Telugu tikaon it, andto another Vijariayanagara?) text purportsto be a Telugu commentaryon the sutras of Nannayya'slost and restoredgrammar (althoughin factwehave only Appakavi'smetricalanalysisin full). This fascinating and complicated story achieves two things: It produces a grammarof great antiquity,writtenby the very firstpoet of Telugu, one who has been regardedfor centuriesas the creator-deity of Telugupoetry. (vag-anuSasana) And it also gives Appakavigod-given authority to commenton Nannayya'srules. Now, Teluguhas aPanini. Thelanguageis on its way to be as sanctifiedas Sanskrit. Incidentally,the foundationalTelugu grammaris also broughtinto line with the view of all majortexts-beginning with the Veda itself-as havingbeen standard lost or fragmentedand then at least partiallyrestored. It is also strikingthat, accordingto Appakavi,duringthe long centurieswhen



Nannayya's grammarwas lost, poets used only such words as were attestedin Nannayya's survivingworks: Latera mighty poet, Kavi-raksasa,in Dak$avatimade a rule: Telugu poets must never use a single word unless it is attested in the Bharata of Nannayya,the lawmakerof language, since no rules of grammarsurvived. Fromthattime on, the greatpoets of the past, Tikkanaandthe rest, composedtheir works following the words and ways of Nannayya,in his threevolumes. Such is the medieval tradition'sultimateview of itself, its prehistory,and its structuresof authority.It is in this context that we can also observe the mature tradition'svision of the peculiar merits of Telugu. Appakavicites the following to Nannayya: Sanskritsitra attributed santo rasapralubdhadhiyah svasthanavesabhasabhimatah loke bahumanyante vaikrtakavyani canyad apahaya (2) "Leared scholars love the language and dress of their region, and have a weakness for aestheticjoy. Thereforethey respectpoetry in theirlanguage, in preferenceto otherlanguages." Now Appakaviadds,in his commentary the Sanskrits&tra): (firstreformulating Intelligent scholars love the language and dress of their own region, and have a weakness for aestheticjoy. They always take as theirown what belongs to their region andhave no liking for poetryof otherplaces, because it is not immediately forother evocative. Poetryof eachregionis good forthatregion,butnot appropriate in the of the is for all lands. areas,whereaspoetry language gods (amaroktulu) good if all four benefits20 for even their human Sanskritbooks give meaning is beings, not always clear. Althoughthey referto the stories of Vi$nu,the beautifultexts of cannotbringreleaseif you don'texperiencetheirflavor another regionallanguage21 or theirmeaning. Poetryin the languageofyour ownregiongives the samebenefits as Sanskritto its readers. Women and Sudras who know no Sanskritwill need to have texts retold to them in their own language. The language of the barbarians (mlecchabhdsa)is despisedby the Veda, but still shouldnot be rejectedin disgust, because withoutit daily life will be affected (Appakaviyamu 1.60-67). in accordancewith its Here the linguisticmap is fully workedout and arranged new hierarchiesandthe values of the late-medievalsystem. Sanskritgives benefit no matterwhat-whether it is intelligible or not. Tamil poetry for Visnu would perhaps count as useful, if only it could be understood. Telugu-the obvious paradigmfor a regional language-is equal to Sanskrit,autonomous,worthy of complete respect. Poetry in the regional language has its own necessity-it communicatesSanskrittexts to women andnon-Brahmins.Finally, even barbaric tongues such as Arabicand Persianhave a utilitarianvalue and should not be left out. continuerightinto themodem period. Still, complaintsagainstdifficultSanskrit



Let me conclude with a poem parodyingVisvanathaSatyanarayana, who is known for his hard-to-followSanskriticstyle: Tortureus, please, impossible poet, with your exuberanceof stunningwords and delicious feeling slightly mixed with bitterdryness. We need jaws of stone to grindthe elevated phrasesyou utterwith ease as you tease us throughyour labyrinths, books cooked to the textureof rock.22

BIBLIOGRAPHY Book House. Arudra. Samagra AndraSahityam,vol.2. Vijayavada: Prajasakti 1993. "Puranaas Brahminic Ideology."InWendyDoniger,ed.PuranaPerennis: Rao,VelcheruNarayana. in HinduandJaina Texts. Albany, NY: SUNY Press, pp. 85Reciprocityand Transformation 100. and Hank Heifetz, trans. 1987. For the Lord of the Animals: Poemsfrom the Telugu: the KalahastisvaraSatakamuof Dhurjati. Berkeley: U. of Califoria Press. ,trans.,assisted by Gene Roghair. 1990. Siva's of Palkuriki Somanatha. Princeton: PrincetonU. Press. , David Shulman,and SanjaySubrahmanyam.1992. Symbolsof Substance: Courtand Nayaka-PeriodTamilNadu. Delhi: OxfordU. Press. ed. 1982. Simhasanadvatrimiika Ramakrishna, (of KoraviGoparaju).Hyderabad: Sanna, Gadiyaram SahityaAkademi. Andhrapradesh Venkatarayagastri, Vedam, ed. 1964. Amuktamalyada[of Kr$nadevaraya]. Madras: Vedamu Sastri Brothers. (Firstedition, 1924) Venkataraya

NOTES AND REFERENCES 1. 2. 3. have greatlyenriched I am deeplyindebtedto DavidShulman,whose insightsandscholarship this paper.All translationsare done in collaborationwith him. Thedateis suggestedby CagantiSeshayya. See his notein his grandfatherVedam Venkataraya Sastri's edition of Amuktamalyada (1964:21). An undatedmedieval Tamil verse ascribedto the poetess Auvaiyardoes use the Tamil term taymoli,"mothertongue": peyt'amaitta aimporulumnarporulummupporulum tankurukurc ce.tporulait cemporulaiemmaraikkum ceymoliya t'enpar cilariyan ivvulakil taymoliyat'enpen takaintu Five, four, three, and the one, beyond all knowledge, thatflows throughthem allit belongs in a distanttongue

SANSKRITAND TELUGUIN MEDIEVALANDHRA in this temple of Kurukfir, or so they say, but as for me, it's all there in my mothertongue.



5. 6. 7.





12. 13.



[Five elements,fourgoals of humanlife, thethreegreatgods---iva, Visnu, Brahmi-all these of true being (porull identifiedas the god at the temple of TirukkurukUir. are externalizations When the poetess Auvaiy&r arrivedthere, she was drawninto a discussion as to the relative merits of Sanskritand Tamil in the liturgy.This verse is her response.] By Brahmins,I intend the varna category, and not the many endoganous groups generally known by the cover word brahmin. Just as only a few of the many endogamousgroups of peasants acquiredthe varna statusof the Ksatriya,only a small numberof the endogamous groupsof brahminsacquiredthe varna statusof the Brahminin premodem India. See Rao andHeifetz 1987:131-36 for anotherdiscussion of the relationshipbetweenthe king and his courtpoet in medieval Andhra. For the ideological natureof Sanskrit purinas see Rao 1993:85-100. llratak'okkanindagun dharanipud'endunt dagadu tn7janan doran onariiicipampan ari durbalucFjedad'atad' artha-bhllalkakun lJkak5ragad' a(u sJya dvijiynyud' kari-turagarddhi nerav' agun' atadunvalayu nin4inadurga-bahYrvi yr dagun. 4.155. Amuktama7lyada kante urutara-gadya-padygktula sarasamaiparaginajcnudenuadgu agu(a carcimpagJsarva-sc7mc7nyam' gaircedadvipadalug5rki daivtYra.... analpfartharacana alpiYksaramulan kfde kavi vivJkambu kalpi6ic'uaya 1.165-74. PalkurikiS6manitha,BasavapuranVa "Whilemargapoetryflourishedin the worldfromtimes long ago, the Calukyakingandmany others made degi poetry in Telugu stand firm in the Andhra area" (Nannecoda, Kum7rasambhavamu 1.23). yambu mudilafijadi44ikanta iyyanJraniranda nJlg'Jkajffti. to Sara'ngapini attributed Fromaverse in Venugop7la?atakamu century), (earlyeighteenth but probablywrittenby a laterpoet at the Karvetinagaram court,P6lipeddiVefikatar&yakavi. a devoted follower of P&lkuriki S6manitha, recordsthis legend in his PidapartiS6tmanitha, fromthe time current retellingof theBasavapuranain campll,a genrefromthemargatradition discussionof Forfurther butopposedby Pilkuriki SOrnan&tha. of Nannayya'sMahaibhJrata, marga and degi, see Rao and Roghair1990:3-31. of Kase Sarvappa(early seventeenthcentury). See Siddhedvaracaritramu bhattahapanivadi n7nikJla-phala-pakamunanjaviyaina rsuni kavitanugumbhamulu kondar'ayyal'ausamani-pUtulu cekkugYn'ani koniyadanJrar' adi yattidalJ-javarc7lu galaganga nercuneT lina vasa valcu balakududendamunan 1.17. Srin&tha, Srngairanaisadhamu kond4rakudenugugunamagu gunamagurendun gondarikinisamskrtambu gondarikigunamul'agunJ nandarimeppintugrtulan ayyai'yedalan 1.16. Sr!mahatbhagavatamu, pondulddurneitenugunatJtagJ kathalutelpina kavyamu samskrtadabdam' tanapasaca7ladandru iidajepvidadambuga bettaruvinulagavunan rucul pinan avi darbhamundl'anucu


SOCIAL SCIENTIST danara denungudlsiyunu dadbhavamun galayaiga jeppedan. Sihasanadvatrim'ika,1.32. 37. My readingdiffers from the conventionalreadingby Telugu scholars, Kridabhiramamu, who fail to see the parodictone of the verse. 14, cited in Arudra1990, 2:158. Ketana,Andhra-bhlSa-bhu$anamu The regions where the eight languages are spoken are: Sanskritin heaven, Prakritin the Maharashtra region, Sauraseniin the Surasenaregion, Magadhiin Magadha,Paisaci [the demons' language]in thePndya, Kekaya,Salva, Bahlika,Anupa,Gandhara, Nepala,Kuntala, and Apabhramsa in the Abhlraregion, Sudesna, Bhoja and Kannojaareas,PaiSacika-Culika and Telugu in the Andhraarea (Appakaviyamu, 1.81). This is how, for instance, Srinathadescribes the polyglot capabilities of his patron Areti Annaya, a minister of king Allidareddi: arabi bhS7aturufkabhdSagaja karnat'ndhra gandharaghurjara bhafal malaySla bhcaa Sakabhtfa sindhu sauvira barbarabhafal karahatabhfaamariyunbhilaviSeSambul acceruvai vaccun areti yannanikigosthisampray5gambulan. 1.73. BhimeSvarapuranamu "Arabic, Turkish, the languages of Gaja, Kamita, Andhra, and Gandhara,Gujarati, languagesof Sindhuand Sauvira,Konkani,and Malayalam,the gaka language,the barbarian many others-Areti Anna can use them all in royal assemblies." Anotherverse also speaks of his beautifulcalligraphyin Persian(parasi-bhafq)on paper (kakitam). morakulu murikinativaru penaparu l'aravavcru dvijulak'asa pedda anucu deSabhS^alanu kulambunu dittun' atadu danduvaccuSataphanamulu. 2.56 (thirteenth Ketana,VijnfanevarTyamu century),as quotedby Arudra1990, 2:163. 46-47. pTthika, Appakaviyamu All fourbenefits: dharma(religiousmerit),artha (wealth),kama(desire),andmokSa (release). Here Appakavi seems to be referringto the Tamil Vaisnavatexts (the Divyaprabandham). kimcit-tikta-ka$aya-ia.daba-rasa-kSppatir?kativakkavy-udghagandJSmamul samcara-pracayavakdSamulalh sadhinci vWdhincuwn caiical-lllan' udatta-vag-garimato paicariici pravahlika-krta-krtin Rukmininatha This verse was composed by Jalasutram Sastri("Jaruk'Sastri)in ironicpraise of the great VisvanathaSatyanarayana, whom he regardedas his guru. The textureof rock (pasana-paka)is a parodicadditionto the well-knownthreetextures(paka,literally"cooking to a certain consistency"): drak'a-paka, "the grape,"as in a poem savored without effort; kadali-paka,"the banana,"which requirespeeling before tasting; and narikela-paka,"the coconut,"wherethethickfibrousexteriorhasto be removedandthenthe hardnutbrokenopen.

16. 17. 18.



21. 22. 23. 24.