Classical Telugu Poetry: An Anthology

By Velcheru Narayana Rao; David Shulman | Go to book overview

EIGHT
Śrīātha
Late fourteenth to early fifteenth centuries

Kavi-sārva-bhauma, “universal sovereign of poets, ” is the title the literary tradition has given to Śrīnātha, whose amazing versatility and originality produced a revolution in literary style and taste. (The title is taken from Śrīnātha's own introduction to his Kāśī-khaṇḍamu[1.14] where he inserts it into the mouth of Allāḍa Vemārĕḍḍi, older brother of the king, Vīrabhadrārĕḍḍi; this older brother heard that Śrīnātha was composing the book about Kāśī and asked the poet, whom he praises in this way, to dedicate it to the king.) Like a conquering emperor, Śrīnātha traveled throughout the entire Andhra region and beyond, establishing the image of a cultural community bound together by its language and poetry. Patronized by many great lords, he transcended all his patrons, in a sense creating for them the stature and power to which they pretended. Śrīnātha wrote these patrons into existence; he created gods and kings.

He mentions his mother, Bhīmâmba, and his father, Mārayâmātya; with even more signal respect he refers to his grandfather, Kamalanābhâmātya, from an unidentified town named Kālpaṭṭaṇam, somewhere on the Andhra coast. We know several of his patrons: Māmiḍi Siṅganna, the minister of Pĕda Komaṭi Vemārĕḍḍi of the Kŏṇḍavīḍu Rĕḍḍi kings (Naiṣadhamu); Avaci Tippayya Sĕṭṭi, a wealthy merchant of Nĕllūru (Haravilāsamu); King Vīrabhadrārĕḍḍi of Rajahmundry (Kāśī-khaṇḍamu); Bĕṇḍapūḍi Annayâmātya, a rich relative of the poet's and a minister of the Rĕḍḍi kings (Bhīma-khaṇḍamu); and Mummaḍi-devayya Śāntayya of Śrīśailam (Śiva-rātri-māhātmyamu), although it was the head of the Bhikṣā-vṛtti math at Śrīśailam, Śānta Bhikṣā-vṛtti, who encouraged him to write the latter work (1.18). In addition to these patrons, the cāṭu tradition associates him with Harihara II of Vijayanagara, where he is said to have defeated the rival poetscholar Gauḍa Ḍinḍima Bhaṭṭu.

-118-

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