8 Poets of the Vijayanagara Kingdom

The 8 poets of the Vijayanagara Empire during the reign of Krishnadevaraya were called the Ashtadiggajas, which literally means the elephants in eight direction. Allasani Peddana, Nandi Thimmana, Madayyagari Mallana, Dhurjati, Ayyalaraju Ramabhadrudu, Pingali Surana, Ramarajabhushanudu, and Tenali Ramakrishna were the Ashtadiggajas of Vijayanagara. All of them were from Andhra Pradesh, mainly the Rayalaseema region. These great Telugu poets and literary figures helped bring a golden-age for the Telugu language during the Vijayanagara Empire.

Let’s take a deeper dive into these eight poets.


Allasani Peddana

Allasani Peddana is viewed as the foremost poet of the Ashtadiggajas. A native of Anantapur District, Allasani Peddana rose to the highest levels of Vijayanagara society. Allasani Peddana and Krishnadevaraya shared a close relationship. He was honored with the title “ Andhra Kavita Pitamaha”, which means the grandfather of Telugu poetry. He is noted for his work in the Prabandha Style, and his most renowned work is Manucharitra, which is a puranic story built around the refusal of a Brahmana to accept the love of a courtesan named Varuthini. The importance of Manucharitra is best explained by A. Satish Babu:
“The Manucharitram of Peddana inaugurates the romantic movement in Telugu poetry heralding the importance of the native genius of Telugu and exploitation of indigenous Telugu literary resources.”[1]

Not to mention that Manucharitra is considered as one of the Pancha Kavya (5 important works) of Telugu literature.


Nandi Thimmana

Called as Mukku Thimmana, because his nose (Mukku [ముక్కు] in Telugu) was said to be beautiful, Nandi Thimmana was another poet of the Ashtadiggajas from Anantapur District of Andhra Pradesh. Nandi Thimmana is best known for work based on Harivamsam named Parijatha Praharanam, which deals with the pedigree of Krishnadevaraya. Elegance and realism in depicting human psychology are the hallmarks of Timmana’s Style; his poetry is described as ‘Mukku Timmanaryu Muddupaluku’ (Timmanarya’s sweet diction) because of the ‘sweetness’ of his style. [2]


Madayyagari Mallana

Another native of Rayalaseema, Madayyagari Mallana was another Ashtadiggaja. His most known work is the Rajasekharacharitra, which is dedicated it to a governor named Nadindla Appa.[3] Rajasekharacharitra is also important because it gives us an insight to the genealogy of the Nadindla Chiefs and the wealth of the Vysyas during that time period. [4]


Dhurjati

A Telugu from the town of Sri Kalahasti, Dhurjati was a staunch Shaivite poet amongst the Ashtadiggajas. Interestingly, traditional lores say that he was a reformed sinner, and his poetry is noted for introspection.[5] Dhurjati is said to have written two major poetical works “Sri Kalahasti Mahatmyamu” and “Sri Kalahastihwara Satakam, which are works praising Shiva and the former also glorifies the town of Sri Kalahasti (his hometown and the home of the Srikalahasteeswara Temple). Both these work are praised for their melody of expression, loftiness of sentiment and pleasing poetical conceits.[6]

Ayyalaraju Ramabhadrudu

Ramabhadrudu was another Ashtadiggaja from the Kadapa District. Rambhadrudu is best known for his Ramabhyudayamu, which eulogizes the romanticism between Rama and Sita. Interestingly, Ramabhadrudu portrays Rama in a way that resembles Aliya Rama Raya. [7]


Pingali Surana

Pingali Surana was another Telugu Ashtadiggaja, and he lived in the town of Nandyala in Rayalaseema. Surana wrote many literary pieces, including the Garuda PuranamPrabhavati PradyumnamuRaghava Pandaveeyam and Kalapurnodayamu. His work is so well regarded that Columbia University in 2002 translated into English and published Prabhavati Pradyumnamu and Kalapurnodayamu. Surana is noted for his use of more complex literary techniques, such as character transformations and flashbacks.

Ramarajabhushanudu

Born as Bhattu Murthi, Ramarajabhushanudu received his later-name because he was a renowned and honored poet at the Court of Rama Raya, who ruled after Krishnadevaraya. He also served Krishnadevaraya as an Ashtadiggaja and was an accomplished musician. Ramarajabhushanudu wrote Narasabhupaliyam or Kavyalankara Sangraham, a work on rhetorics, Vasu Charitram, a poem and Harischandra Nalopakhyanam, a poem with 2 stories.[8]Vasu Charitra is most noted for the usage of double entendre, also called Slesha.


Tenali Ramakrishna

By far the most well-known Ashtadiggaja due to all the TV shows about him, Tenali Ramakrishna was not only an Ashtadiggaja, but he also served as a advisor for Krishnadevaraya. He was polyglot who knew Telugu, Kannada, Hindi, Malayalam, Marathi and Tamil. While his wit, skill, and intellect are well known, his literary works are less remembered. Tenali Ramakrishna, who was from Coastal Andhra, wrote the Panduranga Mahatmyam, which is considered as the one of the 5 great Kavyas (literary works) of the Telugu language. He also composed many poems.

Image Sources: Google Images

Footnotes

[1] Tourism Development in India

[2] Vignettes of Telugu Literature

[3] Krishnadeva Raya

[4] Socio-cultural History of an Indian Caste

[5] The Andhras through the ages

[6] History of Telugu Literature

[7] Warrior-king, Sʹiva-Bhakta, deity

[8] Landmarks in Telugu Literature

Leave a Reply