The leader of the Dravidian languages as far as
number of speakers go, and the biggest linguistic group in India
¤ The Origin of The Language
Teluguis a richly developed language and the biggest linguistic unit
in India, second only to Hindi. Linguistically, the language has
deviated a good deal from its southern sisters Kannada, Tamil
and Malayalam. Its an old one too, with origins as early as the
1st century AD, or perhaps even before as one of the later
Vedas (700BC) mention the Andhras, another name for the people of
Early inscriptions of the language date from around the 6th
century, but a proper literary career starts five centuries
later. The script, almost similar to that of Kannada, took shape in
1000AD from the Pahlava script of 7AD.
¤ TeluguTranslated From Sanskrit
Most literatures began with translations from Sanskrit. So did Telugu
with Nannayabhatta (1020AD), the adikavi or first poet of
Telugutranslating the Mahabharata.
It was a unusual translation, with lots of clever innovations but no
deviations from the story. But Nannayabhatta couldnt complete
the job. Tikanna came along sometime in the 13th century
and furthered it.
However, it was Yerrapragada (14th century) was finally
able to clinch it. Nannaya, Tikanna and Yerrapragada are known as the
kavitraya or the three great poets of Telugufor this
mammoth effort. Other such translations followed, like Maranas
Markandeya Purana, Ketanas Dasakumara Charita, Yerranas
Harivamsa and others. Shaivite (in praise of Shiva) works like
Sivatattwa Sara, Basavapurana and Panditaradhya Charitra were a part
of this initial stash too.
¤ The Great Work of Telgu Literature
By the time the Telugupoets wrote down some original stuff along with
translations, it was almost the end of the 14th century.
Slowly but steadily they picked up, some landmarks being Srinathas
Sringara Naishadha, Potanas Dasamaskandha, Jakkanas
Vikramarka Charitra and Talapaka Himmakkas Subhadra Kalyana.
Literary activities flourished, especially during the mighty
The 16th century was the golden age in the history of
Tamil literature, thanks to the king Krishna Deva Raya.
The raja, a poet himself, introduced the prabandha (a kind of love
poetry) in Teluguliterature in his Amukta Malyada. He had in his court
the Ashtadiggajas (literal: eight elephants) who were the greatest of
poets of the times.
Original verse compositions and stories were written in a new zeal.
of those eight, Allasani Peddana (1510-1575AD) is known as andhra
Kavita Pitamahudu or Grandfather of andhra Poetry.
In the following years, poets still wrote their prabandhas, but kind
of overdid on the love bit which make some critics dismiss it as a
of the dozens of poets of the 18th to mid 19th
century, the only bright spot was Kankanti Paparaju whose Uttara
Ramayana in campu style and the play Vishnumayavilasa were admirable.
But other genres bloomed. Innumerable Yakshagansa or indigenous dramas
of song and prose works were also produced.
Tyagaraya of Tanjore (19th century) composed devotional
songs in Teluguwhich form the repertoire of the classical ragas of
¤ Modern Period In TeluguLiterature
Although the first printed Telugubook was out in 1796, it took some
time before the modern period in literature set in. Young men
acquainted with English literature tried to imitate Shelly, Keats and
Wordsworth, and a new type of romantic poetry called the Bhavakavithwa
was born. Bengali novelists like Rabindranath Tagore, Bankim Chandra
Chatterjee and Ramesh Chandra Dutta were a major influence on modern
Telugufiction. Viresalingam Pantulu (1848-1919) wrote the first novel
in Telugu, Rakashekharacharitramu. Other writers joined forces to
build modern Teluguliterature, like the dramatist Dharmavaram
Krishnamachari, Chilakamarti Lakshminarasimham (also called the blind
poet of andhra Desha) the poets and dramatists Gurujada Apparavu
and D. Krishnamacharlu.
¤ Sahiti Samiti - A Literary Group Was Set Up
The literary group Sahiti Samiti was set up in 1921, and their progressive
and rationalist journal Sahiti was followed by several others.
Even now many writers preferred the old traditional style, like
Tirupati Venkata Kavulu, Sripada Krishnamurthy Shastry and
Vavilakolanu Subbarao. The other school was that of the Neo-classicist
group of Sri Vishwanatha, Katuri, Pingali, Gadiyaram, G. Joshuan and
others. Today the drama, novel, short story, essay and criticism in
Teluguhave reached high standards although they started only a century