Five Gems in Telugu literature
There are certain clear cut para meters in Sanskrit to judge the five gems or pancha kavyas. The following table will give a list of such pancha kavyas in Telugu.
1. Sringara Naishadham Srinatha
2. Manu Charitra Allasani Peddana
3. Amuktamalyada Sri Krishnadevaraya
4. Vasucharitra Ramarajabhushana
5. Panduranga Mahatmyam Tenali Ramakrishna
(Noted writer and historian of Telugu language and literature Arudra incorporated Pingali Surana's Raghava Pandaviyam in place of Panduranga Mahatmyam, as one of the Telugu Pancha Kavyas)
Raghuntha Naika: He carves a special and enviable place for himself among the rulers of Tanjore. He himself was a great poet, scholar and musician. He patronised many poets and scholars and earned the title of Abhinava Bhoja (as great as king Bhoja who patronised Kalidasa). His age was like that of the Elizabethan which patronised Shakespeare.
He was a prolific writer and authored eleven works. He wrote Bharata Kathasangraha, Ramayana Kathasaram and Sangita Sudha in Sanskrit. He authored Parijatapaharanam, Ramayanam and Valmiki Charitra (prabandhas) in Telugu. He penned three other Telugu works also in couplets - Achyutabhyudayam,
Gajendra Mokshma and Nalacharitra. His two yakshaganas were Janaki Parinayam and Rukmini Krishna Vilasam.
Thyagaraja: Saint composer Thyagaraja was one of the greatest composers
Though he wrote many pancharatna kirtanas on many presiding deities as Ammaravaru (the mother Goddess) Lord Subrahmanya (the elder son of Siva), his Ghanaraga Pancharatna kirtanas won critical acclaim. They satisfy all the parameters of a grand composition.
It was said that when Thyagaraja's flow of language and emotion touched its lowest ebb and he was unable to compose any symphony, Sage Narada appeared before him in disguise and presented him with Swarnarnawa, a grand treatise on music.
He also wrote three yakshaganas Nauka Charitamu or Naukavijayamu, Prahlada Bhakti Vijayamu and Sitarama Vijayamu. But only Nauka Charitamu is available among the three. This yakshagana is noted for its profound inner vedantic meaning.
Kshetrayya: Kshetrayya, a great composer of padams lived between 1600AD - 1680AD. The art of his padams are they are perfectly suited to the abhinaya part of dance especially Kuchipudi. He penned about 400 padams. He was said to have visited king Raghunatha Naika's court. He made friends with Tirumala Naika, the king of
Folklore has it that the anklet of Lord Krishna fell from heaven and took the birth of Kshetrayya.
Chemakura Venkata Kavi: Poetry was such an intoxicating tonic during 17th century that even scholars, who generally confine themselves to comment on poetical works, were tempted to write poetry. But the great works of such poets were lost in the passage of time. Yet the one that survived was Vijaya Vilasamu by Chemakura Venkata Kavi. He was such a great poet that won the critical acclaim of the fastidious literary critic king Raghunatha Nayaka. The writer and critic Tapi Dharma Rao wrote a standard commentary on this work. Chemakura Venkata kavi wrote Sarangadhara charitra also. It was the first poetical work on the story of Sarangadhara.
Ramabhadramba: She wrote Raghunathabhyudayam in Sanskrit which run into 12 sargas (cantos). She was the disciple of Chengalva Kala Kavi and a scholar of eight languages. She was also endowded with the gift of saying poems extempore.
Madhuravani: Her former name was Sukavani. She rendered Ramayana upto 12 sargas (cantos) titled Ramayana Sara Kavya Tilaka. She could complete the work upto Sundara kanda only. King Raghunatha Naika was so pleased with her work that he personally showered gold coins on her in a felicitation - Swarnabhishekam. She was instrumental in the establishment of the great library in Tanjore - Saraswati Mahal.
Rangajamma: She was also known as Rangaji. She wrote Mannarudasa Vilasa Prabandham, Mannarudasa Vilasa Natakam, Usha Parinayam, a prabandha and short poetical works Ramayana and Bharata. She told about herself that she was an astute politician also.
Krishnaji: She was Rangajamma's elder sister and a disciple of Chengalva Kala Kavi. It was unfortunate that none of her poetical works have been found so far.
Chandrarekha: She was a court poet of King Vijayaraghava Naika of Tanjore. She was also gifted with the faculty of saying poems extempore. Chengalva kala Kavi praised her in his Rajagopala Vilasam.
Saundari: She wrote Allada Vijaya Simha Bhupati Simha Vilasamu. She adopted Rangajamma's Mannarudasa Vilasamu in theme and style.