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Tenali Ramakrishna, who was known as Vikatakavi (jester poet),[1] was a Telugu poet who

hailed from the present-day Andhra Pradesh region, generally known for his wit and humour.
He was one of the Ashtadiggajas or the eight poets at the court of Krishnadevaraya,
the Vijayanagara emperor (reign: 15091529).
Tenali Ramakrishna composed works on Hinduism.[2] Ramalinga, as he was originally called, is
said to have been Shaivite by birth but he eventually converted to Vaishnavism and changed his
name to Ramakrishna.


1Early life

2Literary works

3In popular culture

4See also


6External links

Early life[edit]
Tenali Ramalingacharyulu was born in a Telugu Vishwabrahmin family[3] as Garlapati
Ramakrishna, in a village called Thumuluru during the early part of the sixteenth century while it
is widely believed that he was born in Tenali. His father was Garlapati Ramayya, who served as a
priest in the Ramalingesvara swami temple in Tenali.[citation needed]
Ramayya died when Ramakrishna was very young. His mother Lakshmamma returned to her
native place Tenali to live with her brother. Ramakrishna grew up in his uncles town and so
came to be known as Tenali Ramakrishna.[4] He was also known as Tenali Ramalinga,
a Shaiva (Shiva-worshipping sect) name. It is believed that he later converted to Vaishnavism.
Tenali Ramakrishna did not receive any formal education during his childhood, but became a
great scholar, due to his thirst for knowledge. As per a well-known tale, the Vaishnava (devotees
of Vishnu) scholars rejected to accept him as a disciple, as he was a Shaiva. Later while roaming
aimlessly, he met a sage, who advised him to worship the goddess Kali. He worshipped and
appeased the goddess with his devotion. Kali appeared before him and admired his sense of
humour and blessed him that one day, he would be acclaimed as a great comic-poet in the court
of King Krishnadevaraya of Vijayanagara. Later, he joined the famous troupe of 'Bhagavatha
Mela'. When the troupe came to Vijayanagara to perform in front of the king, Ramakrishna's
performance caught the eye of the King and other people. He shared his life story with
Krishnadevaraya, who granted him the post of the comic poet in the court, completing
the Ashtadiggajas (The eight scholars) group. Ramakrishna attained fame as a great jester poet.
The records also state that Ramalinga was instrumental in protecting the King Rayalu many
times, coming to his rescue in critical situations. A popular story narrates how Ramalinga
protected Vijayanagara from the Delhi Sultanate by his timely wit and strategy.

Literary works[edit]
Tenali Rama was noted for his brilliance and wit.[6] Tenali Ramakrishna's great work Panduranga
Mahatmyam is a Kvya of high merit, remarkable for its sonorous dignity of phrasing, and is
counted as one of the Pacha Mah Kviyas (the Five Great Kavyas) of Telugu literature.[citation
It contains a legendary account of a shrine of Vishnu as Panduranga,
at Pandharpur consecrated by the ministration of Saint Pandarika. A brahmin named Nigama
Sharma, who wasted his life in dissipation and debauchery, breathed his last in Pandharpur. A
controversy ensures between servants of Yama and servants of Vishnu. The former were anxious
to carry him to hell as he lived a wicked life and the latter claimed him for heaven, as he died in
that sacred place. Indeed, the verdict is in favour of the servants of Vishnu.[citation needed] Tenali took the
theme for Panduranga Mahatmyam from the Skanda Purana and enhanced it with many stories
about the devotees of Panduranga. An imaginary character named 'Nigama Sarma akka' was
created by Tenali Ramakrishna and he built a story around her without giving her a name. He
also composed many extempore poems called 'Chatuvu'.[7]
Tenali Ramakrishna attained the status of a folk hero when he was the court poet of
Krishnadevaraya, but at the same time he composed serious works on religion. Three of his
narrative poems are available today. His first poem, Udbhataradhya Charitamu about
the Shaiva teacher Udbhata which is based on Palakuriki Somanatha's Basava
Puranam. Udbhataradhya Charitamu also deals with the sanctity of Varanasi. Because of Tenali
Ramakrishna's affinity towards Shaivite religion, he was also known as Tenali Ramalinga Kavi.[2]
However, he had great devotion for Vaishnavism as well which is reflected in his
work Panduranga Mahatyam .
Tenali was called a vikata kavi [9] (a palindrome in Telugu script) means clown-jester-poet. He
was also entitled by "Kumara Bharathi", for his works. The famous Mahishasura Mardini
Stotram, the Sanskrit poem of Adoration of the Mother Goddess is attributed to Ramakrishna
Kavi, which was a name of Tenali Rama.

In popular culture[edit]
The most popular stories about the lifestyle, combination, and co-ordination of Rayalu
and Ramalinga spread the message of intellect, time tuning, and strategic stroking besides
lively wit and humour.

Tenali Ramakrishna is a 1956 Telugu film directed by B. S. Ranga. This film was also
made in Tamil and is named as Tenali Raman. N. T. Rama Rao appeared as Shrikrishna
Devaraya in both films where Tenali Ramakrishna is played by A. Nageswara Rao in Telugu
and Tenali Raman is played by Sivaji Ganesan in Tamil.

Hasyaratna Ramakrishna is a 1982 Kannada film directed by B. S. Ranga. The film stars
Anant Nag and Aarathi in the lead roles. In the film, Anant Nag plays the role of a poet,
Tenali Rama, a 1990 Hindi TV series aired in Doordarshan made by T.S. Nagabharana in
which Vijay Kashyap played the lead role.[10] It was based on short-stories by Kamala

The Adventures of Tenali Raman, an animated series by Cartoon Network (India) in 2003.

Tenaliraman is 2014 Tamil film featuring Vadivelu as Tenali Raman as well as Krishna
Devaraya.The film was based on the comic reliefs of Tenali Raman.

See also[edit]

1. Jump up^ vikatakavi tenali rama.

2. ^ Jump up to:a b c Hinduism: An Alphabetical Guide.

3. Jump up^


4. Jump up^ Tenali Ramakrishna.

5. Jump up^

6. Jump up^ Jyotsna Atre. Tales of Tenali Rama. Unicorn Books. ISBN 8178060671.

7. Jump up^ Jyotsna Atre. Tales of Tenali Rama. Unicorn Books.

8. Jump up^ Nrla Vekatvararvu.

Studies in the history of Telugu journalism. Andhra Pradesh Book
Distributors, Secunderabad, 1968.

9. Jump up^

10. Jump up^ "Tenali Rama (TV Series) (1990) - Hindi Serial".

11. Jump up^ The Hindu Online | Adventures of Tenali Rama Article dated June 20, 2003 by Savitha
Gautam, accessed on October 20, 2008

External links[edit]

Andhra Pradesh portal