Thursday, October 9, 2008

The contribution of west Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh to Sanskrit – literature in 60 years of independent India

The contribution of west Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh to Sanskrit – literature in 60
Years of independent India
[A bird’s eye - view]

Dr.chilakamarthi Durgaprasada Rao
dr.cdprao @gmail.com.

It was Appayyadikshitar, a great poet, rhetorician and philosopher of South India, who declared that to be an Andhra and to speak Telugu is a rare gift won through a rigorous penance.
“Andhratvamandhrabhasha cha
Prabhakaraparishramah
Tatrapi yajushisakha
Nalpasya tapasah phalam”

The Andhras are a society with a long antiquity. There are several references to Andhras in the Vedas, the epics like the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, Puranas as well as the Buddhistic literature. The foremost reference to Andhras as a race is as old as the Aitareyabrahmana of the Rig Veda. An episode in the Aitareyabrahmana goes like this.
Ambarisha was performing a Yajna in which the sacrificial animal died before it was actually offered for the sacrifice. As a remedial measure, he had to substitute a human being. He accumulated a huge amount of money and wandered from door to door seeking a human being for the purpose. Having failed in his effort, he approached the sage Richika, brother- in- law of Viswamitra, and requested him to spare one of his children in exchange for the money. Although Richika had as many as three sons -- Sunahpuccha , Sunassepha and Sunolangula -- he refused to part with his eldest son while his wife Satyavati was unwilling to give away the youngest son. Thus it fell to the lot of Sunassepha, the middle boy, to oblige Ambarisha and undergo the ordeal. While he was reluctantly following Ambarisha, he came across Viswamitra, his maternal uncle, and prostrated before him for relief from the predicament. Having taken pity on him, Viswamitra wanted any one of his own sons to follow Ambarisha in lieu of Sunassepha. It so happened that one of his sons bore the name Andhra. Since none of his sons were willing, Viswamitra grew angry and cursed them.
Though not strictly relevant here, the reader may get curious to know the follow-up of this episode. At Viswamitra's instance, Sunassepha invoked Indra and got relieved of the surrogate sacrifice, as Indra was content with the function sans the sacrifice of life.
Though Andhras have existed even from Vedic times, nothing is known about their contribution to Sanskrit literature till recently. Apastamba was the first known person who contributed considerably to Grihya Sutras, a work in Sanskrit known as Apastamba Sutra and this work is the oldest literary contribution of Andhradesa.
The Andhra region of India is a treasure house of rich culture and heritage. This land, though united geographically, is divided into three regions for administrative convenience: Coastal area, Telangana and Rayalaseema. The Coastal region is divinely identified with Saraswati, Rayalaseema, with Parvati, and Telangana, with Lakshmi. The ancient name of the State of Andhra Pradesh is Thrilingadesa as it is in the midst of three Sivakshetras, Draksharama, Kaleswara and Srisaila. This idea is expressed by Vidyanatha, a great rhetorician and a Poet Laureate in the court of King Prataparudra.

The ancient Andhradesa is said to be somewhat different from and wider than the present Andhra Pradesh. According to Vidyanatha the Andhradesa bordered on Maharashtra in the West, Kalinga in the East, Pandya in the South and Kanyakubja in the North.

The geographical situations and other ambience of Andhradesa are congenial for the development of education in all branches of knowledge. This region, which has earned the well-deserved title "the granary of South India" because of the lush green fields encompassing the area producing very rich harvest, is congenial for the spread also of mundane and transcendental knowledge.

The greatness of Andhradesa is also reflected in the writings of the Greek historian Megasthanes and the records of the Venitian traveller, Marco Polo, who visited this country during the reign of Rudramadevi of the Kakatiya race. Great personalities of the East and West have paid rich tributes to Andhradesa in respect of language, culture and heritage.

For example, while describing the greatness of Krishnadevaraya
[A.D.1509-29], Barbosa, a famous historian of the West, says : "The king allows such freedom that every man may come and go and live according to his own creed without suffering any annoyance and without enquiring whether he is a Christian , Jew, Moor or Heathen. Great equity and justice is observed to all, not only by the ruler but by the people to one another". [The Wonder That Was India; vol-2, by saa rizvee. p-87.]
Andhras have made rich contributions in almost all branches of knowledge. In the words of Dr.V.Raghavan, an eminent critic and Indologist of the South, the Andhra output has been remarkable in quantity as well as quality. In Kavya, Andhra evolved a large variety of panegyrical poems, Prasasti Kavyas or Kshudra Prabandhas. Historical Kavya and Kavya by women writers are two other noteworthy features of the productions of Andhra. In some branches, the works of Andhra Sanskritists gained pan-Indian vogue. In Alamkara Sastra, the Prataparudriyam of Vidyanatha under the Kakatiyas initiated a form which was imitated in other areas. In several branches, the works produced in Andhra gained places of honour in the curriculum of studies in the respective branches all over India. There is no study of Veda without Sayana's commentary; no Advaita without Panchadasi and Jivanmuktiviveka; Annambhatta's Tarkasangraha and Dipika form the beginning of all study of Tarka; Jagannatha's Rasagangadhara occupies a similar position in Alamkara Sastra. Above all, one name is enough to highlight Andhra contribution to Sanskrit - Mallinatha, the prince of commentators, a name synonymous with the study of Sanskrit and the Panchamahakavyas with which that study begins.

In this context, it is necessary to state that there were many scholars in Andhra who toiled for the development and preservation of Sanskrit literature. Many works were authored by scholars of the 19­ th century and beyond. Besides the contribution made by individual pundits, the contribution made by Mutts, Gurukulas principalities and other educational institutions of higher learning deserves a scrutiny.
In this article, the contribution of the scholars of west Godavari district is vividly sketched. In this connection the contribution of not only the natives of the west Godavari district but also the scholars who spent their major span of life in the west Godavari district is also taken into consideration.
West Godavari district came into existence in 1925. Krishna district was bifurcated and eastern part was named west Godavari district. In 1995 the Polavaram taluq of East Godavari district was separated and merged in west Godavari district. The boundaries of the newly formed west Godavari district are: Krishna district and Bay of Bengal in the South, Krishna and Khammam in the west, East Godavari in the East and North. The area of this district is 7780 sq. km. The head quarters of the new district is Eluru. Some parts of this district are well-known for their academic excellence. For example, the statement given by Max muller , the great German Indologist, states : “There are a few Brahmins in the village Kakaraparru. They are in loined cloths and they are capable of governing the entire world in a better way”. Several branches of Sanskrit literature have been enriched by valuable contributions from the west Godavari district. The monumental contribution can be divided into two categories:
One of them is oral while the other is in written form. The oral contribution constitutes the teaching of the Vedas, Shastras and kavyas. As I confine myself to the written contribution of kavyas, the oral part is being ignored although there is a great tradition of teaching and learning of Vedas and other sastras orally.
The written contribution is further divided into original Sanskrit works and their Telugu rendering .The Sanskrit works, done by the scholars of west Godavari district have been further subdivided as follows :
1. Independent works
2. Commentaries and
3. Minor works.
An attempt is made in this paper to high light the literary acumen of some of the scholars in an alphabetical order.
Kavyas and minor works:
* Dr. Arkasomayaji of Dhulipala family took his doctorate in Vedic Mathematics. He authored many kavyas in Sanskrit and was praised for his scholarly exposition of various disciplines of Sanskrit literature. His literary pieces received many laurels. For example, a small piece of his poetry, viz., ‘koham’ meaning ‘Who am I?” is pregnant with great philosophical values.
1 .“kuto desagarbhat aham samprajatah
Gamishyami kutreti vaham na jane
2. Mahadesagarbhe mahakalagarbhe
Kva me jivitam budbudabham mahesa
3.Nabhogola drishyah prabhabhasamanah
Aho kotishah tarakah sambhramanti
4. Param tat samastah khagoliyasastre
Mahasuryagolah bhavantiti vidmah
5. Mahatejasam tadrisanam cha madhye
Ravirno bhaved ekatatrti vidmah
6. Adurasthitatvat daridrishyate no
Brihadbimbarupascha dandahyamanah
7. Aho bhaskaroyam budhadinnavapi
Grahannatmashaktya daridharti karshan
8. Yatha sampratam rajapithe nishannah
Jananatmana samparibhramayanti
9. Iyam bhuh grahanam cha samanyagplah
Mahakasagarbhe svayam bambhramiti
10. Samastasya visvasya dharmah pratistha
Tatah sviya dharmam svayam palayanti
11. Iyam bhuh kavinam prasange mahiti
Svayam renukalpa cha tostuyamana
12. Bahumschapi jivan samutpadayanti
Na tan tratumiste chiram jivitum va
13. Aho! Sa dayamurtirasmasu yasmat
Raverekadure paribhramyatiti
14. Raveh sa samipam tatha durato va
Bhramet chet sajiva vayam kim bhavamah
15. Tadiya cha pricche bahunam cha madhye
Bhavaty ekakhando hyam bharatakhyah
16. Bhavanti pradeshahyaneke tadiyah
Ayamchandra desho madiyotra kaschit
17. Madiye pradeshe bahunam puranam
Idam tirpatitiprasiddham puram cha
18. Vasan srinivasotra yavaccha vishvam
Supasyannivadraw sthitim svichakara
19. Vasan bindurupo puretrapi dehi
Prapanchasya sakshiva jagarmi sadyah
20. Jaramrityuyukte sharirepi jivan
Chidatmamritasmi putra kshitaw cha
21. Parabrahmano yat dinam tatra kalpe
Shrindu pramaneshu manvantareshu
22.Vyatiteshu shatsvadya vaivasvatakhye
Ghatah saptavimso yugopiti vidmah
23. Tato vartamane yuge samprayatah
Trayapadasamjnah kritadyah turiye
24. Kalau namni pade tadiyadyapade
Samayam cha vedasta khaksaih samayam
25. Dharayam bhavamyadya sadyo mameyam
Sthitiryavati syadaham naiva jane
26. Naratvena jato mahadevadeva!
Tvadiya daya me dadau janma tadrik”
In this piece of poetry the author thanks the Almighty for creating him as a human being and prays to Him to elevate him from his obscure physical and animal mentality to a Supra mental illumination to understand Him properly. He also composed a number of kavyas, both major and minor, and they are accessible even to the common reader and many pieces of his poetry are prescribed for intermediate students.
Here is a quick look at some more scholars belonging to West Godavari district who are famous at least in the world of Sanskrit scholars.


**Attili Gopalakrishnamacharya of Narsapur composed a number of laghukavyas in Sanskrit.
** Krishna Sastry of Somanchi family, a native of Relangi {a village near Tanuku}, wrote a commentary on Viduranitulu.
** Krishna Murthy Sastry of Sripada family, who lived between A. D 1866 – A.D 1960, was a native of Devarapalli of west Godavari district. He was the first poet laureate of Andhra Pradesh. He composed more than a hundred works in Telugu. He composed ‘Sri Krishnasweeyacharitam’, an autobiography in Sanskrit, rich in literary values.
**. Kakaraparthi. Krishnamurthy Sastry, who was born in 1905, wrote three works: Vyajyavyavaharam, Ahalyasausilyam and Sadamuktisudharnavam.

*** Kumaraswami of Manepalli family, who lived between A.D 1901-1966 and a native of Palakollu, composed a khandakavya ‘Suswaralu’ in Sanskrit
** Jatavallabhula Purushottam was not only a Sanskritist but also a patriot. He was born in a village Atreyapuram which is on the banks of the river Godavari. Though he obtained a master degree in English, he was interested in Arshadharma. He received two titles Arshavidyabhushana and Dharmopanyasakesari for his eloquent speeches on Vaidikadharma. He also participated in the Quit India movement called by Mahatma Gandhi in 1942 and was jailed for about ten months. He worked as principal of Sanskrit college at Kovvur. He wrote two works in Sanskrit Jagadguruprasasti and Chitrasataka. In this Sataka the greatness of Indian culture, Indian way of life, renunciation and familial relations are scintillatingly described. For example the following sloka underlines the superiority of parental love to the love of offspring towards their parents. Let us relish the beauty of the sloka.
“Putreshu rago hi nisargajath
Pitradibhaktistu yatnasadhyah
Nichairgatissa sahaja jalasya
Yatnenasadhyordhvagatistu tasya.”
[The love of parents towards their children is natural whereas the love of children towards their parents is to be cultivated by effort. The flow of water from higher place to lower region is natural where as the flow from lower to higher level is to be achieved through effort.]
** Cheruvu Satyanarayna Sastry of Tanuku was a great scholar. He performed a number of Avadhanams wherein he composed hundreds of slokas of aesthetic excellence in Sanskrit.
** Dr. Seshu Kumar of Amritavakkula family was born in the village Satyavaram near Marteru. However, he migrated to Nellore on professional work. Besides his works in English, Hindi and Telugu he authored Amritavaniparichaya, a work in four volumes, a one - act play on Kalidasa and a benedictory work Vidyanandagiricharitra in the form of an Astottara composition. This book is being used at the time of puja everyday in Erpeduashram.
** Achanta Venkata Sitarama Murthy, a great scholar in Sanskrit and Telugu wrote Kumaravijayam.
** Dr. Dorbala Prabhakara Sarma is a renowned scholar in many disciplines of Sanskrit literature. He retired from his service as principal of the oriental college at Kovvur. He composed a number of Sanskrit plays and songs to popularise Sanskrit among the masses. Another work of the same author, “Vivekananda”, written in prose is lucid in style and prescribed for intermediate students. And, inspite of his old age, he has also been toiling a lot for the development of Sanskrit.
** Bharatam Srimannarayana, a well - known scholar composed Gayatrisuprabhatam wherein the supremacy of the goddess Gayarti is depicted.
** Peddinti Suryanarayana Bhagavatar, popularly known as Dikshitadasu of Narsapur authored many harikathas in Sanskrit
** Dr. Veluri Subbarao, who, hailed from the W. G. District, was a noted scholar of Sanskrit. He composed a kavya entitled Sundarimeghasandesha, also known as Dakshinatyameghasandesha, in six cantos. The theme of the kavya is as follows.
A poet who had just been married was ordered by the government of the state to go and teach Sanskrit at Mangalore on the West coast for a year. Consequently the poet had to leave his wife at Bhimavaram on the East coast for some time. This abrupt and unanticipated separation from his beloved drives him rather mad and he discloses his deplorable state of mind to the first cloud of the season. In a fit of dejection and utter helplessness he makes a request to the cloud though known to be insentient and extols it as the right messenger competent to deliver the message of his love to his wife.
** Dr. Chirrravuri.Sivaramakrishna Sarma, a scholar in Nyaya, Vedanta and Vyakarana, and presently working in Andhra Jateeya Kalasala, Machilipatnam as Reader in Telugu, authored some works in Sanskrit.
** Dr.G.S.R.Krishna Murty, who hails from the Iragavaram village of West Godavari district is a well-known writer in Sanskrit. Even as a young man, he produced many works among which “Vanaki’’ and “ Suvarnaswachalitam’’ received immense popularity. The Sanskrit Academy of Uttar Pradesh honoured him for his rich contribution in creative literature. His other work, entitled Navarupakam. a bunch of one - act plays written, on various topics of public interest, received great appreciation. He is presently working as professor in Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapeetha, Tirupati.
** Suryanarayana Sastry of Sannidhanam family was a versatile scholar. He was born in the village Kandrika, near Bhimadolu of West Godavari district of Andhrapradesh. He composed a number of laghukavyas of which only forty kavyas are published. Among the published works Kirasandesha, Prabhavatipradyumnam, Vijayavilasa,Vivekanandam, Samyuktasvayamvaram, Kachadevayanam, Andhrakavyakathah, Andhrabagavatanuvadah , Ekalavya and Chikrodakatha are praiseworthy. Dr. Maruduri Narasimhacharya made a special study on the works of Sannidhanam Suryanarayana Sastry under the guidance of prof:- Sannidhanam Sudarsana Sarma and obtained doctoral degree from Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapeetha,Tirupati.
**. Kesiraju Venkata Nrisimha Apparao, a scholar - cum - patriot composed a kavya Panchavati and also a benedictory verse entitled Gangalahari.
** Dhulipala Venkata Satyanarayana, authored Ramayana in chaste Sanskrit.
Avadhanis. Divakarla Tirupati Sastry, one of the two avadhanis of the modern age hailed from Yandagandi of the West Godavari district. In the present age also there are many Avadhanis, viz., Rompicharla Srinivasacharyulu, Kadimilla Varaprasad and his disciples Vaddhiparthi Padmakar and Kota Lakshminarasimham who are performing Avadhanams in Sanskrit by composing beautiful Sanskrit verses of aesthetic value.
The tradition of writing Sanskrit works is still continuing in this district. There seem to be some other scholars of repute but their literary works have either not been published or are otherwise inaccessible.

*****

2 comments:

Swami said...

It gives a great joy to read this information which shows how Samskrit is alive even now and how such great scholars were there until very recent time. How nice it would have been if their works were available on line for reading ?

dr.pbvsivaprasad said...

Arya Namamsi! Ahamasmi sivaprasadah sisyoham ramanamahodayebhyah! visakhapattanatah! baahu vinodah anubhuyate bhavataam etat e-patram drustvaa!itodhikam prekshitumicchaami!Bahu
Dhanyavaadaah!