Monday, November 29, 2010

Evolution of Telugu Language and Literature




Language is part and parcel of culture. It is an important element which influences culture.  Language, literature and culture are interwoven intimately.  
  Language evolves along with culture.  It imbibes the elements of culture in the form of literature and hands over  to future generations.  There is no language devoid of culture. Similarly no culture can hand over its characteristics to future generations sans language. The fundamental shape of language is literature. Evolution of literature is an important transit point in the long strides of language. It is the richness of literature that defines the greatness of a language, not its acoustics. If communication is the elementary purpose of language, the ultimate destination is the creation of rich body of literature. Language and literature, in addition to handing over culture as heritage to future generations, it also preserves culture alive. This topic is related to the culture of Andhra Pradesh specially designed for Group - 11 examinations. It consists of the gradual evolution of language  and literature among other topics.
  The words language and literature may sound the same for an average reader. But, readers who read this material with a specific aim are expected to discern the difference between the two. 
  Language is more expansive when compared to literature. What we use for communication in our day to day life is language while, what we adopt to compose a poem, or write a story or  play or any other literary form is literature. Aesthetic expression is the chief motif of literature. Though language is the base for literature, it is the literature that stands out as the ultimate realisation for language.  
  Language is older than literature. Telugu language existed atleast thousand years prior to the age of Nannaya, the first (known) poet   in Telugu language. Language takes time to flower into an instrument, fit for the creation of literature. Again it traverses along with literature and evolves continuously into an ever finer element. This way the changes a language undergoes are part and parcel in the gruadual evolution of language.
  The first known Telugu word is NAGABU as found in an inscription at Amaravati. This gradual evolution of Telugu language can be divided into certain parts for the convenience of learning.
  1. The Telugu, which existed prior to the age of Nannaya, called Pre Nannayan Period.
  2. The structure of language used in literary forms.
  3. The structure of modern Telugu language
     a. Classical and coloquial forms
     b. Dialects 
     c.  Role of Telugu as the official language
  If all these parts are read religiously, the student will, no doubt cover all the aspects of the evolution of Telugu language.
  And now the evolution of Telugu literature. The changes that had taken places in the literature from Nannayan period to modern times are dealt with, in this booklet . The student is advised to study  various  poets, writers and playwrights and understand the influence of their writings on the literature. Even when this topic was not covered under Group -11 syllabus, related questions were asked in General Studies. Now they are covered under Group - 11, there is every chance that related questions of the topic may be asked in the exam.
   We have provided practice material about the great poets who tower the sky of literature and the various periods in the evolution of the language. We have prepared the study material in such a way that those students, who are quite unfamiliar with Telugu literature, can grasp the content easily.
1. Nannaya
  Nannaya belonged to 1100 A.D. He was the court poet of King Raja Raja Narendra. He was awarded the titles of First poet and Vaganusasana (one who commanded word). He was called the First poet as he brought out the first manumental Telugu poetical work The Mahabharata. Ramaraja Bhushana, the court poet of Sri Krishnadevaraya, eulogised Nannaya as Vaganusasana while another poet of repute Marana praised him as the Father of Telugu Literature.
  The special qualities of Nannaya
   There was no manumental Telugu poetical work worth its name before Nannaya. It was Nannaya who refined the crude form of the Telugu language and moulded it into a fine instrument into which Mahabharata, the Panchama Veda was later to be translated by him from Sanskrit. Nannaya   begins his Himalayan work with the Sanksrit sloka Sri Vani Girijaschirayadadhato. He freely adopted Sankrit words, along with chaste Telugu words in his translation. It was not just a literal translation but more or less an adaptation  of Sage Vyasa's great thought throughout. It was a translation yet it was as original as Sage Vyasa's great work, reflecting his poetic talent. Nannaya goes down in the history of prosody as he was also the first poet to adopt the less known Sanskrit metres Utpalamala, Champakamala, Matthebha and Sardula, called Vruttas in Telugu. This way he breathed life into Telugu metre.
  The Nannayan and Pre Nannayan period witnessed translations of Sanskrit Mahabharata into Kannada. They generally reflected Jain thought as Jainism was patronised by the contemporary kings. Hence it can safely be concluded that again it was Nannaya who first  mirrored the Vedic thought in its entirety in his work. He wrote preface to his work in the third person which reflects his character and the help of Narayana Bhat whose cooperation he sought in preparing his work. This preface also tells us something about King Raja Raja Narendra who  inspired Nannaya to translate the epic into Telugu.
Nannaya's Works
  Nannaya in his Andhra Mahabharata translated Adi and Sabha cantos (parvas) and 142 poems in the Aranya (Pandavas exile into forest) Parva from the Sanskrit Mahabharata. The episodes Udankopakhyana, Sakunthalopakhyana, Nalopakhyana, Saugandhikapaharanam and the grand romantic story of Rura and Pramadwara were covered in the two cantos. He was also credited with the works - Chamundica Vilasam, Indra Vijayam (3 cantos - 120 poems) and Andhra Sabda Chintamani, an elaborate treatise in Sanskrit on Telugu grammar. But scholars' opinion is divided about the authoship of these three works.
The principal poetic qualities of Nannaya
  1. Readability: Nannaya's Mahabharata is noted for its easy readability. Not only a scholar, but a man in the street also can easily understand and appreciate the poetic beauty of Nannya. It is one of the reasons for the smooth flow of language in the Telugu translation of the Sanskrit Mahabharata.
  2. Musical quality: Nannaya writes music to words. Hence his words attain a peculiar beauty and musical quality. This quality brings sweetness to the words he writes.
  3. Variety: Nannaya is noted for his varied qualities in narration. If a person narrates an incident as it is, he is called a commentator. But when he tells about an incident in an interesting and beautiful way, he is regarded a great poet. 
   Nannaya's rendering of Bharata - some special qualities
   * Raja Raja Narendra belonged to Chandra (Moon) dynasty. Incidentally  Pandavas and Kauravas also belonged to Chandra dynasty only. Moveover the poets of Jainism translated the Sanskrit Mahabharata into Kannada according to Jain thought, which Nannaya described as hotch potch. King Raja Raja wanted the Maha Bharata to be rendered into Telugu  according to Vedic thought.
  * Nannaya was the first poet of Telugu literature and translation literature as well.
  * Nannaya told about himself in the third person in his preface (Avatarica or peethika) to his manumental work as Nannaya rendered the Mahabharata in Telugu for the welfare of the world.
  * As Krishna helped Arjuna during the Mahabharata war, Narayana Bhat helped Nannaya in the rendering of Bharata.
Tikkana
  Tikkana was the court poet of King Manumasiddhi who ruled over Nellore region in the 13th century. He assumed the titles of Kavibrahma and Ubhaya kavimitra. He translated the 15 cantos  of the Mahabharata (left by Nannaya) into Telugu from Sanskrit in an inimitable style. He assumed the title Kavi Brahma as he rendered the work acceptable to both Saivas and Vaishnavas as Hari Hara tatva; and the title Ubhaya Kavimitra as he was a great poet in both Telugu and Sanskrit.
  Tikkana's first poetical work was Nirvachanotthara Ramayana (poetry without a single sentence in  prose). It was also the first poetical work without prose. He dedicated this work to King Manumasiddhi and his 
Mahabharata to God Hari Hara as He inspired him to translate the epic.
  Salient qualities of Tikkana's poetry
  Nannaya accorded top priority to Sanskrit words and filled them with music. But Tikkana elevated chaste Telugu words to a great, new literary height.  No Poet thought of completing the Telugu rendering of the Bharata even after two hundred years of Nannaya's death. It was a critical time during which Telugu literature suffered between the idealogical clash of Saivism and Vaishnavism. Tikkana appeared on the horizon of Telugu literary sky and undertook the stupendous task of completing the rendering of the Bharata and propounded the Oneness of Lord Siva and Vishnu (Hari Haradwaita tatva). He also handed down to the future generations of Telugus a chaste Telugu tongue, they could  be proud about. His characterisation and dramatisation were to be emulated by the poets later.
  His works
  It was baffling that Tikkana had not touched the remaining part of the Aranya parva (the canto of Pandavas' exile into the forest). In fact, for Tikkna, who could complete the rendering of the 15 cantos with great ease, it was a child's play to finish the Aranya parva. Yet he left it untouched. May be, it was destined to be completed by Errana later and the grand epic to be acclaimed a great work by the trio.
 Some points to ponder over
  * Tikkana belonged to Kotturuvu dynasty. His gotra (clan) was Gowthama.
  * Ketana was influenced by Tikkana and wrote Dasakumara charita.
  * Manchana, Marana and Bayyana were also influenced by Tikkana. Manchana wrote Viddha Salabhanjika and Marana Markandeya Purana. Bayyana pleased Tikkana with his poetic talent and was awarded the title Bhavya Bharati by the latter.
  * Tikkana came to be known as Somayaji as he performed a sacrifice (yajna).
  Errana
  Errana lived at Gudluru around 1280AD-1364 AD. He was the court poet of Prolaya Vema Reddy. He was a great devotee of Lord Siva and was known as Sambhudas or Sivadas. He was rewarded with the title of Prabandha Parameswara in recognition of his poetic capabilities in rendering the remaining canto of Mahabharata (Aranya parva).
  His poetic capabilities
  Among the trio of Nannaya, Tikkana and Errana, Nannaya adopted narrative style and Tikkana dramatic style while Errana followed descriptive style. 
That is why Errana was acclaimed Prabandha Parameswara. Again Nannaya's style was Sanskritic and Tikkana's  was chaste Telugu. While rendering the left over part of Aranya parva of the Bharata, Errana began with the style of Nannaya and ended with that of Tikkana. This way he bridged the gulf between Nannaya and Tikkana which was indeed a great poetic engineering.
  Errana wrote Harivamsa, Nrusimha Purana and Ramayana also. But Ramayana was not found till date. He dedicated his Harivamsa to king Prolaya Vema Reddy, the founder of Reddy kingdom. He dedicated his Nrusimha Purana, also known as Lakshmi Narasimhavatara, to the God Ahobila Nrusimha Swamy.  The theme was adopted from Brahmanda Purana. This was the first account of a pilgrim centre in Telugu literature.Though this work exclusively deals about Ahobila, where the lion incarnation of Vishnu (Narasimha Swamy) dwells, it has all the literary merits which a great poetical work should have. It is also one of the reasons why Errana is regarded Prabandha Parameswara.  
Nannechoda
  Nannechoda appeared like a meteor in the sky of Telugu literature for a brief period. Though poems from his poetical work Kumara Sambhava appeared in anthologies during the middle ages, his entire work came to light only in 1910. Sri Manavalli Ramakrishna Kavi published the first seven cantos of the work in 1910 and the rest of the five cantos in 1911. Manavalli tried to establish that Nannechoda lived around 940 AD, which means that he was born prior to Nannaya and hence the first poet in Telugu. But Manavalli's claim was called into question. Ramayya Pantulu and Veturi Prabhakara Sastri proved that Nannechoda lived around 1120 AD. They based their argument on the stone inscription of Pedacherukuru (1250AD). Thus the controversy was set at rest.
  Nannechoda belonged to Kandukuri Chola dynasty who ruled over Pakanadu as vassal to the western Chalukyas. His father was Chodaballi and mother Srisati. He claimed that he had the title Tenkanaditya . His guru was Jangama Mallikarjuna of Sri Sailam by whose benediction he was endowed with the talent of composing poems. So he dedicated his work to his guru.
  Nannechoda further improved the art of translation, began by Nannaya. But the welcome difference is - while Nannaya's approach was Sanskritic, Nannechoda's was chaste Telugu. He called his approach Janu Telugu for the first time. Not only that, he was very critical about Nannaya's Sanskritic (Marga) poetics.
 Another major difference between the two was - while Nannaya chose a single work (Vyasa's Mahabharata) to be translated, Nannechoda chose his theme from many works and moulded into a single whole in Telugu. He eulogised Valmiki and Bharavi (who wrote Kiratarjuniya) as his guiding spirits. It was Nannechoda who first introduced uniformity like a string in a garland in narration throughout the work. This quality later provided the lifeline to prabandhas.
Palkuruki Somana
  Palkuriki Somana introduced himself in his Anubhavasara. He belonged to Bhrungiriti gotra (clan). He composed poetry in Kannada and Sankskrit also. He studied Tamil literature also.
  Somana was instrumental in introducing Veera Saivism into Telugu literature. Jainism was the prevalent religion in Andhra and Karnataka during his time. Basava in Karnataka opposed the Jain religion and propagated Veer Saivism which profoundly influenced the Andhra region also. Hence Somana was called the first poet of Veer Saivism in Andhra, as Basava was in Karnataka.
  Somana had four preceptors. They were Guru Lingacharya, Kattakuri Poti Devara, a cion of Belidevi Vemanaradhya and Karasthali Viswanadhayya. The first three gurus moulded him into a greate and understanding Veer Saivist while the fourth one shaped his poetic talents.
   While Nannechoda introduced desi kavita trend in Telugu, Somana developed it to a great extent.
  Somana's works
  Pidaparthi Somanatha mentioned in his Basava Purana that Palkuriki Somana wrote 21 poetical works; in fact he wrote more.
   His important works 
 *Anubhavasara: This is his first work and it contains 245 poems. This does not contain any story element. It only deals with the chief tenets of Veer Saivism. He used a rare and beautiful metre called Tribhangi in this work.
 * Basava Purana: The tales about Basaveswara and the devotees of Lord Siva form the theme of this work. Also this is the first independent Veer Saiva purana in Telugu. This work influenced many similar works. Pidaparthi Somanadha wrote Basava Purana (poetry without prose) and dedicated it to Palkuriki Somanatha. Thummalapalli Nagabhushana wrote Basava Vijaya as prabandha.
  Bheema kavi also translated Basava Purana into Kannada in the metre Bhamini Shatpadi. Two other poets also rendered the same into Kannada. Singaraju translated it as Maha Basavaraja Charitra and Shadakshara Kavi as Vrushabhendra Vijaya. Another poet Sankaracharya kavi also rendered the same into Sanskrit under the title Basavesa Vijayam.
  *Vrushadhipa Satakam: In this Sataka 108 poems were written in praise of Basaveswara as an embodiment of Lord Siva. It was the first sataka in Telugu in which all the para metres of a sataka were met.
  * Chaturveda Saram: There are 357 poems in Seesa metre with the refrain of Basavalinga.
  * Panditaradhya Charitramu: This is the last poetical work of Somanatha. It contains the story of Mallikarjuna Panditaradhyula. This is a huge volume with 12 thousand couplets. Somanatha's great scholarship is revealed in this work. This work has also been acclaimed to be the first encyclopaedia of the Telugu people.
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The trio of Panditas
   As the Telugu Mahabharatha was rendered by the trio Nannaya, Tikkana and Errapragadda, important Saivaite works also were rendered by the famous trio Nannechoda, Mallikarjuna Panditaradhya and Palkuriki Somana. This trio spread the Saivaite Telugu literature and religion in the period between Nannaya and Tikkana. Other Saivaite poets who deserve mention are Sripati Pandita, Sivalenka Manchana, Yathavakkula Annamayya. Among these poets Sripati Pandita, Mallikarjuna Pandita and Sivalenka Manchana were also called the trio of Panditas in Saivaite Telugu literature.
________________________________________________________     The same  was  written by Srinadha in the form of poetry.  Gururajakavi rendered the same into Sanskrit. Basing the Parvata (Mountain) chapter in this work, Nagaluri Sesharadhya  wrote Parvata Purana.
 Marana
  Manchana's father and teacher bear the same name. His father was Tikkanamatya and  his preceptor was none but  Tikkana Somayaji, the second in the trio of the Telugu Mahabharatha. 
  Marana said in his Markandeya Purana that he was endowed with the faculty of  composing poems with the blessing of Tikkana Somayaji. He dedicated his work to Nagaya Ganna, the commander of Praparudra-11 of the Kakatiya dynasty. As Prataparudra lived between 1295AD-1323AD, it is presumed that Marana also lived in the same period.
  His poetic qualities
  Errana, the last of the trio who rendered the Mahabharata into Telugu, also wrote Harivamsa as a continuation work to Bharata. Marana still improved it by perfecting the ambiguous stories, called Markandeya Purana. Incidentally this purana is the seventh in the Ashtadasa (18) puranas. With Marana's Markandeya purana, Telugu Mahabharata attained fullness and completion. This purana was told by Sage Markandeya to saint Kroshnuki; in turn it was narrated to Jaimini by the birds of dharma.

Mulaghatika Ketana
  While some write poetical works, some others show keen interest in writing about poetics and again few of them write about jurisprudence. But it was Ketana who not only wrote these three but also excelled in them. He wrote the first story work, first book on Grammar and first legal code in Telugu.
  Ketana lived in 1200AD - 1280AD. He was a disciple and  con  temporary of
 Tikkana. He belonged to the village Ventirala (Verrirala) in the Vengi kingdom. 
  As Tikkana was his Guru, he came all the way from Vengi region to Nellore and dedicated his Dasakumara Charitra to him. In his turn, Tikkana suitably awarded him the title of Abhinavadandi.
  Ketana wrote Dasakumara Charitra, Andhra Bhasha Bhushanam and Vijnaneswariyam.
  * Dasakumara Charitra: Ketana translated this from the Sanskrit prose work  by Dandi, which bears the same title. Ketana went on record as this is the first rendering of a story work in Telugu. The romantic escapades and adventures of ten princes (dasakumara) form the theme of the work.
  * Andhra Bhasha Bhushanam: Though Nannaya wrote the first Telugu grammar titled Andhra Sabda Chintamani, it was written in Sanskrit. Hence, Ketana should be credited with writing the first Telugu grammar in Telugu. It was written in 196 poems, in which Ketana used the words Telugu and Tenugu.
  Ketana appears to have been inspired by Nagavarma, a Kannada poet who lived around 1042AD, in christening his work. Varma titled his Kannada grammar work as Karnata Bhasha Bhushanam. Ketana must have adopted this in naming his work as Andhra Bhasha Bhushanam.
  * Vijnaneswariyam: Again it was Ketana's record to write the first  jurisprudence in Telugu. He wrote this in 433 poems. Sage Yajnavalkya wrote Dharma Sastras in three cantos. Vijnaneswara, a legal expert wrote a commentary on the Dharma Sastras with the title Mitakshara which is still in vogue in the courts of Bengal, when woman's property (Stree Dhana) and succession  issues are to be interpreted.
Manchana   
    Manchana rendered the Viddhasalabhanjika, a Sanskrit romantic play in four acts by Rajasekhara. As Manchana had not revealed anything about himself either in the prologue or in the epilogue of his work, his personal details are not known. As he dedicated his work to Nanduri Gundana Mantri who lived around 1300AD, it can be concluded that he belonged to the same period.
  Manchana in his Telugu rendering included stories from Panchatantra hitopadesa and moral stories popular among the people. Keyurabahu and Mrugankavali are the hero and heroine of the work in four cantos.
Nachana Somana
  Nachana Somana was a contemporary of Errana and was a court poet of Bukkaraya, king of Vijayanagar (1356AD-1377AD). Penchukala Dinne inscription ((1344AD) reveals that the king donated him an agrahara (an hamlet inhabited by brahmins) by the same name. He was eulogised as a deep erudite of Agama sastras and 18 puranas and a scholar of eight languages, in the inscription.
  Somana was credited with the authorship of 
Vasanta Vilasam and Hara Vilasam, which were not found till date. He is ranked a great poet with his Uttara Harivamsa, a beautiful poetical work in six cantos.
Gonabuddha Reddy
    Ranganadha Ramayana is most famous among many versions of the epic in Telugu. It was also the first version of the epic in the language. Earlier many were led to think that a poet called Ranganatha was the author of this work. Contrary to the popular opinion, the rendering of the grand epic was begun by Gona Buddha Bhupati (Buddha Reddy) under his father's name Vittalanatha. He was the vassal of Kakatiya emperors and ruled over Raichur area. Noted Telugu scholar Acharya Pingali Lakshmi Kantham proved that Gonabuddha Reddy was born around 1210 AD and rendered the Ramayana around 1240 AD. He based his argument on the Budavuru inscription.
  Ranganatha Ramayana was greatly influenced by the Saivaite poets. That is why this Vaishnavaite epic was rendered in couplets. As Saivaite literature gave importance to things in vogue in the folklore, Ranganatha Ramayana also accorded importance to many things, not found in the Valmiki Ramayana. The author followed the Saivaite poets even in metre and indegenous trends in rendering the epic. This work towers over many other Saivaite works as it did not indulge in hatred campaign as the Saivaite poets did.
   It was not right to assume that Gona Buddha Reddy rendered this manumental epic single handed. His sons Kaacha Vibha, Vittalanatha assisted their father and rendered the Uttara Ramayana (From Sita's exile into the forest   to Rama's ascension to  Vaikunta). The sons emulated their father's style in the rendering of the epic.
Hulakki Bhaskara
  Bhaskara Ramayana was the first poetry-prose work (champu) in Telugu. It was also rendered by more than one poet as were the Mahabharata and Ranganatha Ramayana. Controversies raged as to who was or were the authors of this work. At last it was unanimously accepted by the scholars that Hulakki Bhaskara, Mallikarjunabhat, Kumara Rudradeva and Ayyalarya rendered this work. But the work was named after Hullaki Bhaskara as he was the main pillar of  the work. This work was dedicated to Sahini Marana, a contemporary of Kakati Prataparudra-11. It was believed that the poets in question lived around 12th or 13th century AD.
 A brief account of the poets
  Hulakki Bhaskara: He is the main architect of the work. He wrote the Arayankanda (the canto that describes Rama, Lakshmana and Sita's exile into the forest) and half of Yuddhakanda (the canto that deals with the battle between Rama and Ravana). He was adept in using native Telugu proverbs according to context. He portrayed Rama in the most dignified way.
  Mallikarjuna Bhat: He is Hulakki Bhaskara's son, who rendered most of the Ramayana. He wrote Balakanda, Sundarakanda and Kishkindha kanda. He was a great grammarian and also an expert in vivid description.
  Kumara Rudra Deva: He was Hulakki Bhaskara's disciple. He rendered Ayodhyakanda.
  Ayyalarya: He is Hulakki Bhaskara's friend and completed the Yuddhakanda left unfinished by Bhaskara. He followed Bhaskara's style in his rendering.
Molla
  Kummari Molla rendered Ramayana in a most beautiful way. She was born into a potter's family and her father was Athukuru Ketana Setti. Though she said that God Srikanta Malleswara endowed her with poetic faculties, she dedicated her Ramayana to Sri Rama only. Like Potana's Bhagavata, Molla's Ramayana overflows with devotion.
  Though she modelled her work after Valmiki Ramayana, she briefed it. She incorporated certain incidents into her work from other versions of the Ramayana. For instance, she adopted an incident from Adhyatma Ramayana, in which the boatman Guha washes Rama's feet. Molla used simple and chaste Telugu throughout her work.
  Though controversy still rages whether  she was the first woman poet or not, undoubtedly she was one of the best poetesses who wrote in high flown but simple and idiomatic Telugu.
  Kankanti Paparaju
  He lived in the Pralaya Kaveri town in Nellore region between 1750AD-1800AD. He was a diwan and a great poet also. He wrote Uttara Ramayana. While Tikkana condensed Valmiki Ramayana in his Nirvachanottara (poetry without prose) Ramayana, Kankanti Paparaju tried to elaborate the same as far as possible. It seems he got the help of Pushpagiri Timmana in writing this work.   He also wrote an yakshagana titled Vishnumaya Vilasam and dedicated both his works to God Madana Gopala Swamy.
  Koravi Goparaju
  He belonged to Bhimgal in Nizamabad district. His paternal uncles Bachana and Singana were ministers in the court of Recherla Kumara Singama Nayaka, King of Rachakonda. As this king ascended the throne in 1387 AD, Koravi Goparaju is believed to have lived around that age.
  He was credited with a story work titled Simhasana Dwaatrinsika in 12 cantos. It is an account of king Bhojaraja who tries to climb the throne of Emperor Vikramaditya. In that process, the 32 figurines on either side of the steps that lead to the throne, narrate a story each, for 32 days, about the glory of Vikramaditya. He dedicated his work to Hari Haranatha.
  Ananthamatya
  He belonged to Krishna region. He has been credited with the works Rasabharanam, Chandodarpanam, Bhojarajiyam. As he said that he completed the work on poetics Rasabharanam in 1434 AD, he is believed to have been a contemporary of Srinatha. His mother was Mallikamba and father Tikkanamatya. His ancestor Bayyana mantri pleased Tikkana, the second of the trio who rendered Mahabharata, and was rewarded with the title of Bhavyabharati. 
  Anantamatya dedicated his three works to God, not to any patron king. He dedicated his Bhojarajiyam to Ahobila Narasimha Swamy.
 His works
  Bhojarajiyam: It is a work in 2092 poems. Many sub stories in this work revolve around three core stories. The work begins with god Dattatreya narrating to Maha, king of Lata kingdom about pilgrim centres like Prayaga. It ends with the  birth of Abhinava Bhoja, son of Bhoja.
  Moral stories like the benefit of offering food to the needy dominate the work and the story of Bhojaraja becomes secondary.
  Most of the story works in Telugu were the renderings from Sanskrit. This is said to be the first story work in Telugu.
  Chhandodarpana: This is a great work on prosody in four cantos in which various metres were discussed in detail. Grammar was also dealt with, in this work.
  Rasabharanam:  It is a work on poetics in four cantos. It is also called Rasalamkaram.
  Pothana: His full name is Bammera Pothana. His father is Kesana and mother Lakkasanamma. He is believed to have lived between 1420AD-1480AD. Opinion was divided between scholars for a long time as to his place of birth. Vavikolanu Subba Rao argued that Pothana was born at Omtimitta in Rayalaseema. Later on poets Seshadri and Ramana proved beyond a shadow of doubt that Pothana was born at Ekasilanagar (Warrangal today). His argument was accepted by Kandukuri Veeresalingam pantulu and Komarraju Lakshmana Rao Pantulu as well.
  Though Pothana was a contemporary of poet Srinatha, certain arguments  that he was a brother-in-law of Srinatha and gave his son in marriage to  Srinatha's daughter do not hold water. 
  Alhough Pothana kept himself away from Royal courts and was against dedicating poetical works to Kings and nobles, there was evidence that he visited Rachakonda Sarvagna Singama Nayaka.  Pothana was a Saivaite but he said that he undertook the rendering of Maha Bhagavatha as ordained by Lord Sri Rama.
  Although Maha Bhagavatha was Pothana's  magnum opus, he also wrote Veerabhadra Vijayam, Narayana Satakam and Bhogini Dandakam etc.,
  Veerabhadra Vijayamu: It is a work modelled on Vayu purana in four cantos. The influence of Nannechoda and Panditaradhya were seen in this work.
  Bhogini Dandakam: Bhogini was a courtsan in the court of Sarvajna Singa Bhupala who loved Pothana and got him write a dandakam in praise of her. Though Nannaya, Errana and Srinatha composed dandakas, they were part and parcel of their poetical works. Hence Pothana's was the first independent Telugu dandakam.
  Narayana Satakam: As there was no name of Pothana in this Satakam, scholars doubt whether Pothana actually authored it. But the scholar Vaguri Subba Rao proved on the strength of the preface of the work, that it was authored by Pothana only. There are 97 poems in this Sataka and the last poem ends with the incantation Dharmapuri Lakshminatha Narayana.
  Maha Bhagavatham: It is not an exaggeration to say that no literate Telugu household exists that is not familiar with atleast a single poem of the Bhagavatham.
  Bhagavatha Purana is one of the Ashtadasa (18) puranas written by Sage Vyasa. This purana was told to King Parikshit by Sage Suka. It is also called the Science of Salvation (Moksha Sastra). The cantos of Bhagavatha are called Skandhas. It is important to know that the entire Bhagavatha was not penned by Pothana alone. In the 12 skandas of Bhagavatha, only 1,23,4,7,8,9 and 10 were written by him. The 5th skanda was rendered by Ganganna,  the 6th by Erchuri Singaya and 11th and 12th by Veligandala Naraya. The divine pranks of Balakrishna were the central theme of the work. As Sundara kanda to Ramayana, Dasama skanda was to Bhagavatha. This work also contains the stories of devotees like Bhakta Prahlada, Dhruva and Ambarisha. Gajendrak Moksham in which Lord Vishnu gives salvation to an elephant, Rukmini Kalyanam, in which Rukmini, an incarnation of Lakshmi wed Lord Sri Krishna are the household stories of the Telugus till date.
  Other poets who helped complete the Bhagavatha
  Erchuri Singaya: He wrote the 6th skandha of the work. He said that Goddess Jaganmatha appeared in his dream and ordained him to contribute his share to the work. Though it is said that three others helped him in writing the 6th skandha, only the work of Haribhat is available. Among the co-poets of Bhagavatha,  he only deserves mention after Pothana, the main architect.
  Veligandala Naraya: He rendered the 11th and 12th skandhas of Bhagavatha and said that he was Pothana's favourate disciple. He was the only poet who had direct association with Pothana.
 Bopparaju Gangana: He completed the 5th Skandha of the Bhagavatha.
Srinatha: He was a saivaite and believed to have lived between 1360AD and 1445 AD. He lived in splendor in the courts of Reddy kings. He proved himself a great poet whom none excelled during his lifetime. He summed up his poetic talent thus; it is as fiery and high flown as Vemulavada Bheema kavi's, is equally great in both Telugu and Sanskrit as Nannaya and is as high as Tikkana in being vivid. Srungara Naishadham was his magnum opus, acclaimed to be the elixir of scholars. His other great poetical works were kasikhandam, Haravilasam, Palnati Veera Charitra and Sri Maruttaratcharitra. His father was Maraya and mother Bheemamba. Kamalanabhamatya who rendered geat puranas like Padma Purana, was his grand father, which means he hails from a family of great scholars. Daggupalli Duggana who wrote Nachikethopakhyanam was his brother-in-law.
  He was also noted for his extempore poems. Here are a few examples which show his wit and humour. 1. A richman (Lord Krishna) can can afford sixteen thousand wives, but why two wives for a mendicant (Siva)?  Leave Ganga. Parvati is enough for you (Srinatha addresses Lord Siva this way when his throat is parched for water).
  A connaiseur of arts will not go to Palnadu area (Guntur). Even the divine damsel Rambha has to weave cotton for her livelihood. Even Manmatha, the god of love has to eat only jowar. 
  The title All knower is fit for only Singama Bhupala. To address somebody else by that title is like calling a dog an elephant.
Pillalamarri Pinavirabhadra: He was a contemporary of Srinatha. He wrote Sringara Sakuntalam. His speciality was that he did not take his theme from any single poetical work. He adapted his theme from many works. This way he introduced the trend of adapting compound story elements in penning a poetical work. This trend became a model for later prabandha poets. Though he imitated the style of Srinatha to a large extent and that of Nannaya to a small extent, his originality was seen throughout the work. He also wrote Jaimini Bharatam. He was believed to have written Avatara Darpana and Naradiya Grantha but were not found till date.
  Scholars think that based on his surname Pillalamarri, he was a native of the village Pillalamarri in Nalgonda district. He first migrated to Nellore and then to Vijayanagar. The king of Vijayanagar Salva Narasimharaya was also his contemporary.
Nandi Mallaya and Ghanta Singana: In ancient and medieval Telugu literature, poet duos were very rare. The above menioned was such a duo, perhaps the first in Telugu. They rendered Prabodha Chandrodayam, Varahapuranam and Kavula Sashtakam. The last one was found in the 6th Skanda of the Bhagavatha. It is also known as Sringara Sashtaka. But it is not found yet. The theme of Probodha Chandrodayam was spiritual and vedantic. The poet duo was noted for its philosophical bent of mind while the prevailing trend was kavya literature.
  They were believed to have lived around 1456AD-1520AD. They were also known as Rachamallu Poets. Ghanta Singana had the title of Malaya Maruta Kavi (A poet whose poetry is as soft as breeze. He was also maternal uncle to Mukku Timmana one among the eight court poets of Sri Krishnadevaraya. The duo were contemporaries of Tuluva Narasa Nayaka, king of Vijayanagar, who praised the duo as one is the body and other is the life of it.
  Vinukonda Vallabharaya: Vinukonda Vallabharaya or Vallabhamatya was the author of the street play Kridabhiramam.  Some scholars think that the play was written by Srinatha as the style was largely similar to that of the latter. This controversy earned him a place in the history of Telugu literature.
  Annamacharya: He was a devotional poet who popularised the form of Pada kavita. 
  He was born into a family of great scholars at Tallapaka in Kadapa district. Folklore has it that he was a contemporary of  Salwa Narasingaraya (1485AD-1492AD). He began writing poetry at a tender age. He married Timmakka and Akkalamba.
  Though he was said to have penned thirty two thousand sankirtanas in praise of Lord Venkeswara, very few of them exist today. It is said that Lord Vishnu's sword Nandaka entered the womb of his mother and the result was the birth of Annamayya.                            The core of Annamacharya's sankirtanas was the union of the individual soul with the universal soul. If two cousins tease each other in a romantic padam, the girl was the individual soul and the boy was the universal soul - Lord Venkateswara. When a mother sings lullaby to her infant, the child was none but the God himself. He also wrote Venkatachala Mahatmyam, Sankirtana Lakshanam and Valmiki Ramayana, but the last two are not found. He also wrote two satakas, but only one of the two - Venkateswara sataka was found.
  Other poets related to Annamayya
  Tallapaka Timmakka: She was Annamacharya's first wife. She wrote Subhadra Kalyanam in Manjari couplet. Opinion was divided as to who was the first woman poet in Telugu. While some scholars argue that Kummari Molla was the first woman poet, someothers credit Timmakka with that honour.
  Tallapaka Peda Tirumalacharya (1493AD-1551AD): He is the son of Annamayya's second wife Akkalamba. He had titles of Sri Madveda Marga Pratishtapanacharya, Sri Ramanuja Siddhanta Sthapanacharya, Vedantacharya,  Kavitarkika Kesari and Saranagatha Vajra Panjara. As his father Annamayya, he also wrote romantic and vedantic sankirtanas in praise of Lord Venkateswara. He wrote Vairagya Vanamalika lyrics, Sataka in Seesa metre, Venkateswarodaharanam and commentary on Bhagavadgita. His  other two works Harivamsa in couplets and Sankirtana Lakshana Vyakhya are not found.
  Tallapaka China Tirumalayya (1493AD-1551AD): He is the son of Tallapaka Peda Tirumalacharya. He also wrote Sringara Sankirtanas on Lord Venkateswara, Sankirtana Lakshana and Ashtabhasha Dandaka.
  Tallapaka Tiruvengalanatha (1498AD-1553AD): He was the son of Tallapaka Peda Tirumalacharya. He was also known as Chinnanna. He wrote all his works in couplets only. He penned Ashtamahishi Kalyanam, Parama Yogi Vilasam, Usha kalyanam and Annamacharya Charitra. He has an enviable place in the evolution of the couplet form of prosody.
  Allasani Peddana
  Allasani Peddana towers over all other prabandha poets in the royal court of Sri Krishnadevaraya.  Though Manucharitra was his Magnum Opus, he wrote Harikathasara also, which is not yet found. He dedicated this work to his preceptor Satagopayati. Some poems from this minor poetical work were cited in Ananda Rangaratchandam by  Kasturi Ranga Kavi.
   Manucharitra was the greatest poetical work produced during the prabandha age. The story element for this work was found in the Markandeya purana in Sanskrit. Peddana drew some material from Marana's Markandeya Purana also. This work has three titles - Manucharitra, Swarochisha Manucharitramu and Swarochisha Manusambhavam. But Manucharitra is the most popular of the titles.
    Some scholars think that Peddana hailed from Doralaya or Dorala in Ballary district. But someother scholars are of the opinion that his birth place was village Kokata in Kadapa district or Pedapadu, a nearby village. His father was Chokkanamatya.
  Nandi Timmana: He was said to have been one of the eight court poets of Sri Krishnadevaraya, emperor of Vijayanagar kingdom. He was known for his famous poetical work Parijapaharana. Lord Sri Krishna pleasing his loving consort Satyabhama by bringing the celestial plant Parijatha Vriksha from Indraloka after defeating Indra forms the story of this poetical work. Timmana's greatness lies in his portraying of the character of Satyabhama in flesh and blood as if she were a coquettish  wife of a Telugu household.  This work is also famous for its dramatic qualities. Timmana proved how best a poet could dramatise a work through dialogues in the form of poetry. Critics acclaim that his work is as fragrant as the Parijata flower of the celestial plant by the same name.
  His parents were Nandi Singanna and Timmamba. It was believed that he accompanied Sri Krishnadevaraya's wife Tirumaladevi when she married the king and settled there as a court poet.
  Sri Krishnadevaraya: A great warrior, even greater strategist, Sri Krishnaderaya was also a good poet and musician at heart. He was an adept in playing veena. In splendour and in the enrichment of literature and language, his golden rule was rightly compared with that of Elizabethan and Augustus. He patronised a number of poets of many languages though he had a special liking for Telugu and praised that Telugu is the best of all the Indian languages (desa bhashalandu Telugu lessa). He penned Amuktamalyada, Madalasa Charitra, Sakala Kathasara Sangraham, Jnana Chintamani, Rasamanjari, Jambavati Parinayam. Amuktamalyada stands out as the best among his works. Except Amuktamalyada, no other work is available. Recently Jambavati Parinayam, a Sanskrit play has come to light,  the authorship of which has been cridited with Sri Krishnadevaraya
    Dhurjati: He was a Saivaite poet and the intensity of his Saivaite devotional feelings were reflected in his two works - Sri Kalahastiswara Mahatmyam and Sri Kalahastiswara Satakam. He dedicated both his works to Lord Siva.  Sri Kalahastiswara Mahatmyam deals with the pilgrim centre of Sri Kalahasti. Sri Kalahastiswara Satakam is poet's deep urge for the union of his individual soul with that of the universal soul - Lord Siva.
  His mother was Singamma and father Jakkaya Narayana. His grandson or great grandson Venkatacharya who had the title of Kumara Dhurjati mentioned in his Krishnaraya Vijayam that Dhurjati was one of the eight court poets (Ashta Diggaja) of Sri Krishnadevaraya. Venkatacharya's son Lingaraja Kavi also mentions the same in his Peda Kalahasti Mahatmyam.
  Madayagari Mallana: He said he belonged to Ayyankipuram agraharam, which is in the Krishna district of Andhra Pradesh. But it was said that he was a disciple of Aghora Sivacharya, native of Pushpagiri, Kadapa district. Hence some scholars believe that he was a native of that region. He wrote Rajasekhara Charitra and dedicated it to Nadendla Appana Mantri, nephew of Timmarusu, the legendary minister of Sri Krishnaderaya.
  Puttheti Ramabhadra:  He is one of the eight court poets in the court of Sri Krishnadevaraya. Earlier many scholars were led to think erraneously that Puttheti Ramabhadra was Ayyalaraju Ramabhadra, who wrote Ramabhyudaya. But the noted historian Nidadavolu Venkata Rao proved that the two were different from each other. He wrote Sakala Kathasara Sangraham at the behest of Sri Krishnadevaraya but dedicated it to Lord Krishna.
   Kandukuri Rudrakavi: One among the eight court poets (Ashta diggajas) of Sri Krishnadevaraya, he wrote Sugriva Vijayam, Nirankusopakhyanam and Janardhanashtakam. This is the most ancient of the yakshaganas available till date. Lord Rama's slaying of Vali and the coronation of Sugriva form the story of this yakshagana. He dedicated it to Lord (Kandukuri) Janardhana.
   Nirankusopakhyanam: The theme of the work is that Nirankusa, a gambler and brahmin by birth defeats Lord Siva in gambling and is blessed by the union with Rambha, the celestial damsel. He pleases Rambha also by his romantic advances. This work elicits any mention because it is the first social prabandha. It lacks the ethics necessary for a good prabandha.
  Janardhanashtakam: Ashtaka means eight in Sanskrit. This is the first work of eight slokas in Telugu. Though Palkuriki Somana wrote Basavashtakam, Vrushabhashtakam and Trividha Lingashtakam, they were Sanskrit Ashtakas only. Mallikarjuna Pandita also wrote Amareswarashtakam in high flown Sanskrit. Hence Rudrakavi was the first poet to have written an ashtaka in Telugu.
Chintalapudi Ellana: Allasani Peddana, one the eitht great poets in Sri Krishnadevaraya's court, tested Ellana's poetic talents and facilitated his entry into the kings court as a poet. He was a great scholar and devotee of Lord Madana Gopala. He belonged to Chintalapudi village and bears the same surname. He wrote Radhamadhavam, Vishnumaya Natakam and Tarakabrahma    
Rajiyam.
   Radhamadhavam was the first poetical work which united Lord Krishna and Radha in the wedlock. This romantic work was written in five cantos.
  Vishnumaya Natakam: Though the title of the work is play (Natakamu), it is in fact a prabandha in five cantos and not a play. The poet describes Lord Vishnu's maya (illusion) which he sometimes manifests to test his devotees, in this work.
   Tarakabrahma Rajiyam: This is the Telugu rendering of   Tarakabrahma Rajiyam by Narayana Misra, an yatindra, lived in Prayaga. This work reveals the efficacy of chanting the name of Rama.
  Tenali Ramakrishna: He was a legendary in Sri Krishnadevaraya's court and one among the eight great poets in the court. He was the wittiest of the poets in the court and was known to have saved the king's life by his sagacity. His pranks were very popular as his poetical works. Panduranga Mahatmyam was his greatest work. He penned Ghatikachala Mahatmyam, Udhbhataradhya Charitra. He was said to have authored Lingapuranam, Hari Lila Vilasam, Kandarpakethu Vilasam and Panduranga Vijayam but were not found till date.
  Scholars believe that he was a Saivaite first and later converted to Vaishnavism. His Saivaite guru was Palagummi Eleswara and Vaishnavaite preceptor was Bhattaru Chikkacharya. Pandits also think that he was Tenali Ramalinga when he was a Saivaite and Tenali Ramakrishna after being converted to Vaishnavism. 
   Ramarajabhushana: His surname was Prabandhakam. Perhaps he derived that surname as his ancestors used to sing prabandhas as ballads.  It was their chosen profession and for this, they were donated an agraharam (brahmin hamlet). He was the court poet of Aliya Ramarayalu, son-in-law of Sri Krishnadevaraya. He was known as Bhattumurthi also.
  He wrote Kavyalankara Sangraha or Narasa Bhupaliyam (work on poetics), Harischandra Nalopakhyanam (a work in double meaning - dwardhi) and Vasucharitra, a grand, full fledged prabandha.
  Kavyalankara Sangraha or Narasa Bhupaliyam was dedicated to Obaya Narasaraja, administrator of Toraganti fort and nephew of Aliya Ramaraja. The origin for this work was Vidyanatha's  Prataparudra Yasobhushanam in Sanskrit. It was his first work.
  The theme of Vasucharitra was infinitesimal, found in Nannaya's Mahabharata. Grand descriptions outweigh the story element of this work.
  Pingali Surana: Folklore has it that he was one of the eight great poets in Sri Krishnadevaraya's court. But scholars are unanimous in their opinion that he must have been a child during Sri Krishnadevaraya's closing years.  He wrote Kalapurnodayam, Prabhavati Pradyumnam,  Raghava Pandaviyam, Girija Kalyanam and  Garuda Puranam. But Garuda Puranam and Girija Kalyanam  have not been found till date. Kalapurnodayam and Raghava Pandaviyam have been ranked great among the poeticcal works of the prabandha age.


 
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)
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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 India has ever produced. He was born in 1767AD in Tiruvayur in Tanjore district. His father's name was Ramabrahmam and Sonthi Venkatara Ramanayya was his guru. Ramakrishnananda Yogi was his preceptor. He rejected an enviable place in the royal court, saying that riches were temporary. He lived as a mendicant, seeking alms through his music. He preached that spledour will vanish sooner or later but the presence of Lord Rama was everlasting. All his kritis  reflect his yearning to be established in the Consciousness of the God - Lord Sri Rama. His compositions Nidhi chaala sukhamaa Ramuni sannidhi seva sukhamaa (Treasures or the presence of Lord Rama? which of the two bring more happiness?), Endaro Mahanubhavulu, Andariki vandanamulu ( I salute sages as Narada, Thumbura etc, established in the Concious of the Lord) and Bantu reethi koluvu eeyavayya Rama (O Lord Rama, bless me with the job of an attendant in your court) and Ksheerasagara Sayanaa (the Lord who reclines on the ocean of milk) will reveal his heart that was always in communion with the God.
 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 Madurai and Abul Hasan Tanisha, the ruler of Golkonda and played the part of a samaritan in enthroaning Raghunatha Naika's son as the father was killed in a  bittterly fought battle with Tirumala Naika of Madurai. 
  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.

1 comment:

  1. we need history of vemulawada bheemakavi, if you have please send to kacharagadla@gmail.com

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