Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Tenali Ramakrishna

Tenali Raman, Toonz, English, 2003,

Tenali Rama, Hindi TV serial, DD, 1990

Tenali Ramakrishna, Telugu Film, part 1

part 2

Tenali Ramakrishna, Telugu Cartoon

Garlapati Tenali Ramakrishna (Telugu: తెనాలి రామకృష్ణుడు), popularly known as Tenali Rama and Vikata Kavi, was a court-poet of the Vijayanagara Empire in the 16th century CE. He was one of the Ashtadiggajas who were patrons of Krishnadeva Raya and is also referred to as Tenali Raman in some parts of Southern India.

His family had originally hailed from Tumuluru near Tenali in Guntur District. He was also known as Tenali Ramalinga, a Shaiva name. It is believed that he later converted to Vaishnavism.

Some scholars dispute whether that he was a contemporary of Krishnadeva Raya. Tenali Ramakrishna's most famous work, Panduranga Mahatyamu, is dedicated to god Panduranga (विठोबा in Marathi), a form of Vishnu, whose main temple stands at Pandharpur in Maharashtra. He was known for his wit. He died due to a snake-bite.

His story was made into a cartoon called "The Adventures of Tenali Raman" by the Cartoon Network (India) in 2001.

Scholars treat his famous work Panduranga Mahatyamu as one among the Pancha Kavyas. He has dedicated Panduranga Mahatyam to Viruri Vedadri.This book is about the Pundarika Kshetram on the banks of river Bhaimi and its legend. He also composed Udbhataradhya Charitram on the story of Udbhata, a monk, as well as Ghatikachala Mahatyam about Ghatikachalam, a place of worship for God Narasimha near Vellore, Tamil Nadu, India.

He followed the Prabhanda style. He took the theme for Panduranga Mahatyam from the Skanda Purana and enhanced it with many stories about the devotees of God Vitthala (Panduranga).

He is noted for brilliance and wit and for mocking other poets and great personalities. He created a celebrated character called Nigama Sarma akka(sister of Nigama Sarma) and a story around her without giving her a name. He also had written many Chatuvu(extempore poems).


Krishnadevaraya who ruler the kingdom of Vijayanagara in between 1509-1529 was one of the greatest statesmen which medieval South India had produced. Called variously as ‘Kannadaraya’, ‘Sri Karnata Mahisa’ and ‘Kannada Rajya Ramaramana’, his rule saw all round prosperity of South India, culturally and materialistically. He was the son of Tuluva Narasanayaka and after the death of his brother Vira Narasimha ascended the throne of Vijayanagara in 1509. C.Hayavadana Rao opines that Krishnadevaraya was possibly ruling simultaneously with Vira Narasimha long before his coronation in August 1509.At the time of Krishnadevaraya’s accession to the throne, the condition of the empire was unstable. Not only he had to deal with rebellious subordinates but also the aggression of the Gajapatis of Orissa and the Muslim kingdoms in the north. But he came out successfully against all his adversaries.

His war against the Bahamanis: Though the Bahamani kingdom had split up into five separate states, the sultans of these kingdoms used to organize annual jihad against Vijayanagar. Soon after his accession to the throne, Krishnadevaraya had to face the combined army of the Bahamani Sultan and the Adilshah of Bijapur. Krishnadevaraya defeated them at a place called Doni and pursued them up to Kovilakonda where they were again defeated. The sultan of Bijapur, Yusuf Adil Khan lost his life in the battle. For the first time the Muslim kingdoms realized that they could no longer plunder and ravage Vijayanagar at will. In 1512, Krishnadevaraya re-conquered Raichur, which was in the hands of Bijapur for nearly 20 years. Then he marched towards Gulbarga, the capital of the Bahamini kingdom and freed the Bahamani sultan Mahmud II from his minister, Kasim Barid, reinstated him back to the throne and took the title ‘Establisher of the Yavana (Muslim) kingdom’. But later taking advantage of Krishnadevaraya’s preoccupation with the Orissa campaign, Ismail Adil Khan, the successor of Yusuf recaptured Raichur. Krishnadevaraya marched against him with an army consisting of one million men and defeated the Bijapur army at Kembavi and Surapur. Raichur was re-conquered in 1522. Then once again he marched to Gulbarga and liberated the sons of Mahmud II from Ali Barid, the son of Kasim Barid, made the eldest of them sultan and brought the others with him to Vijayanagar and treated them with much consideration.

His campaign against the Gajapatis: In 1512, Krishnadevaraya turned his attention to the east and conquered the fort of Udayagiri from the Gajapati in 1513 after a long a siege of one and a half years. Prataparudra’s attempt to raise the siege of Udayagir resulted in his defeat and the fleeing Gajapati army was pursued by the Vijayanagara army up to Kondavidu. Forts like Kandukur, Addanki, Vinukonda, Bellamakonda, Nagarjunakonda and Ketavaram was conquered and in June 1515 Kondavidu was caputured. Next he captured Rajamahendri and proceeded as far as Simhachalam. He established a pillar of victory at Potnur. Finally he invested Cuttack, the capital of the Gajapatis and Gajapati Prataparudra was forced to sue for peace in 1518. The Gajapati gave his daughter, Tukkadevi or Jaganmohini in marriage to Krishnadevaraya. In turn Krishnadevaraya returned all the territory north of Krishna to Prataparudra. Taking advantage of the Krishnadevaraya’s preoccupation in his Orian war, the sultan of Golkonda marched against Kondavidu and besieged it. Krishnadevaraya immediately dispatched a huge army of 200000 men under Saluva Timma, who defeated the Golkonda army and captured its commander Madarul Mulk and several officers.
Suppression of Internal revolts: The chieftain of Ummatur, Gangaraya had been in revolt since the last days of Vira Narasimha’s reign. In 1512, Krishnadevaraya marched against him and captured Sivanasamudra, the headquarters of Gangaraya. Gangaraya fled and was drowned in the river Kaveri. The conquered territory became a new province with Srirangapatana as capital. The same year Mangalore was also captured.

As a Warrior: Krishnadevaraya used to personally lead his army against adversaries in the battlefield and showed amazing resourceful ness in overcoming obstacles in his path. During the siege of the Udayagiri fort, he got boulders and rocks smashed to make passage wider and smoother for the movement of his troops. He showed extraordinary courage even in the face of gravest danger. For instance during the siege of the fort of Raichur, when the first line of defense was broken by the artillery fire from the enemy, Krishnadevaraya who was in charge of the second line stood firm and exhorted his men to fight without caring for their lives. Motivated by his call his men fought heroically and won the battle. Krishnadevaraya loved and cared his men and on the conclusion of a battle used to go to the battlefield looking for the wounded, making arrangement to pick them and treat.

His personality: According to Domingo Paes, the Portuguese traveler who visited Vijayanagara in 1520, Krishnadevaraya was of medium height and of fair complexion and with a good figure, rather fat than thin and had the signs of smallpox on his face. Paes records that Krishnadevaraya used to do exercises daily in the morning by applying oil on his body and used to work out till all the oil came out in the form of sweat. This was followed by a long ride over his horse. Then he used to take his bath, offer worship to gods and began his official work. “He is the most feared king, but very cheerful and merciful”- he adds.
Scholar and Patron of Arts: Krishnadevaraya was a great patron of literature and was know as Abhinava Bhoja. Himself being a scholar, he wrote the Telugu work Amuktamalyada and a Sanskrit play, Jambavati Kalyana. He had eight great scholars called Ashtadiggajas in his court. They included Allasani Peddana often described as the Andhrakavitapitamaha. His famous work was Manucharitamu, Another famous poet was Nandi Timmanna, the author of Parijathapaharanamu. Others eminent literary luminaries were Tenali Ramakrishna, Kumara Dhurjati and Rama Raja Bhushana. He asked the Kannada poet Timmanna to complete the Kannada Mahabharatha started by Kumara Vyasa. Telugu poet Peddanna was personally honoured by him for his proficiency in Telugu and Sanskrit and taken in a palanquin borne by Krishnadevaraya himself. According to Nidatavolu Venkata Rao, the reign of Krishnadevaraya is a glorious chapter in the South Indian literary history. The imperial court had representatives of Sanskrit, Telugu, Kannada and Tamil poets, who contributed largely to their respective literatures.
His religious beliefs: Krishnadevaraya patronized all religious sects and was a devotee of Lord Venkateshwara of Tirupati and even now we can see the images of Krishnadevaraya along with his two queens standing with folded hands in the Tirupati temple. The images have their names written in Kannada. Vallabhacharya and Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, the renowned saints of the bhakti movement visited his court. Krishnadevaraya honoured the former by performing Kanakabhisheka (showering gold coins on him). Krishnadevaraya held the Madhwa saint Vyasatirtha in much reverence and had left his throne vacant for the saint to occupy for some time. Krishnadevaraya expanded the temple of Ramaswamy at Vijayanagara and added a kalyanamantapa and tower to the temple of Virupaksha. He also constructed the Krishnaswamy and Vithalaswamy temples in the imperial capital.

As an Administrator: Krishnadevaraya toured the remote corners of his empire and heard the grievances of the people and redressed them then and there. He set up an excellent administrative system. The empire was divided into Mandalas, Nadus and Seeme. For the purpose of assessment and fixation of revenue, Krishnadevaraya had the whole of his empire surveyed. The unit of land for assessment was known as Rayarekhe or the royal line and which measured roughly about seven feet and nine inches. Twenty of these units made a bigha and 36 bigha’s, a mar or plot of 16 to 18 acres. Land revenue was fixed based on the yield, normally 1/3rd of the produce. Krishnadevaraya provided irrigation facilities to the dry regions around Vijayanagara with the help of a Portuguese engineer. The friendly relations with the Portuguese helped him obtain the highbred Arabian horses and the expansion of the overseas trade of the empire. He helped the Portuguese to conquer Goa from the Bijapur rulers in 1510. Krishnadevaraya built two new suburbs in the capital and called it Nagalapura and Tirumala Deviyarapattana in honour of his mother, Nagala Devi and queen Tirumalamba. Portuguese travelers Domingo Paes and Durate Barbosa visted his court and have left accounts of their experience there. According to the former Vijayanagar was very prosperous with abundance of foodstuffs, vegetables, fruits and animals being sold in profusion in the markets of the city at cheap rates. Barbosa speaks of the trade in jewels, diamonds, pearls and silk brocades, which were in plenty on its streets. “The city of Vijayanagar is constantly filled with an innumerable crowd of all nations and creeds”, he adds.

The End: It is said that Krishnadevaraya in his own lifetime had made his six year old son prince Tirumalaraya as the king and himself took up the post of minister. But Tirumalaraya fell ill and died possibly poisoned by the son of Saluva Timma (chief minister). When Krishnadevaraya came to know of it, he sent for the chief minister, accused him in open court and cast him and his whole family into prison. Meanwhile Krishnadevaraya was preparing for an attack on Belgaum, then in the Adil Shah’s possession when he took seriously ill and died soon after in 1529. Before his death, he nominated his brother, Achyutaraya to be his successor. The rule of Krishnadevaraya was a glorious chapter in the history of Vijayanagara Empire.

Vijayanagar's Kingdom (1336 -1565)
Foundation of kingdom
Death of Harihar II
End of Sangama Dynasty
Succession of Krishnadeva Raya
Krishnadeva Raya defeats Sultan of Bijapur
Death of Krishnadeva Raya
Vijayanagar's Kingdom comes to an end
Foundation of the Kingdom

When Muhammad Tughlaq was losing his power in Deccan, the two Hindu princes, Harihar and Bukka founded an independent kingdom in the region between the river Krishna and Tungabhadra in 1336 in order to check the progress of Islam in the south. Harihar and Bukka were sons of Sangama, one of the chiefs at the court of the Hoysala ruler. Both the brothers founded their capital at Vijayanagar on the south bank of the Tungabhadra and the kingdom was known as the Kingdom of Vijayanagar.

Harihar became the first ruler of the kingdom. After his death, his brother Bukka succeeded. Bukka was an able ruler and brought under his control nearly the entire Hoysala territory. He died in 1379 and was succeeded by his son Harihar II.

Harihar II was given the title of Maharajadhiraja. During his reign, the whole of Southern Deccan came under the authority of Vijayanagar. This also included present Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala states. But there was continuous conflict with the Bahamanis and so he was not able to extend their boundaries beyond the Krishna river. Harihar II died in 1404. The dynasty founded by these two brothers were known as Sangama dynasty. The dynasty ruled for about 150 years till 1486, when one of their chiefs Narasimha Saluva deposed the last ruler of Sangama dynasty and seized the throne.

The ruler of Saluva dynasty did not last long. Narasimha Saluva was succeeded by his two sons. During the reign of the second son Immadi Narasimha in 1505, the Taluva chief Vira Narasimha usurped the throne and thus laid the foundation of the Taluva dynasty.

Reign of Krishnadeva Raya (1509-1529)

Vira Narasimha ruled for four years and in 1509 was succeeded by his younger brother Krishnadeva Raya. The Vijayanagar kingdom reached the pinnacle of its glory during the reign of Krishnadeva Raya. He was successful in all the wars he waged. He defeated the king of Orissa and annexed Vijaywada and Rajmahendri. He defeated the Sultan of Bijapur in 1512 and took the possession of the Raichur Doab. The Vijayanagar kingdom extended from Cuttak in east to Goa in the west and from the Raichur Doab in the north to the Indian Ocean in the south.

Krishnadeva Raya encouraged trade with the western countries. He had a cordial relationship with the Portuguese who had at that time established trade centres on the west coast of India. He was not only a great warrior, but was also a playwright and a great patron of learning. Telugu literature flourished under him. Painting, sculpture, dance and music were greatly encouraged by him and his successors. He endeared himself to the people by his personal charm, kindness, and an ideal administration.

The decline of the Vijayanagar kingdom began with the death of Krishnadeva Raya in 1529. The kingdom came to an end in 1565, when Ramrai was defeated at Talikota by the joint efforts of Adilshahi, Nizamshahi, Qutubshahi and Baridshahi. After this, the kingdom broke into small states.

The Vijayanagar Administration

Vijayanagar was the most powerful and prosperous kingdom in the south. Textiles, metallurgy and mining were the main industries in the kingdom. The Vijayanagar traders paid special attention to trade. Trade was carried on with countries like China, Sri Lanka, Central Asia. Foreign travellers who visited this kingdom had left wealth and prosperity during their visits. Many European travellers of the time have also left records testifying to the very high standard of art and culture, refinement and luxury of this kingdom.

No comments:

Post a Comment