THE CONTRIBUTION OF PRINCIPALITIES
The growth, development and spread of the satstras have a chequered story behind them. There is an adage in Sanskrit according to which pundits, women and creepers cannot become resplendent without a suitable prop.
विनाश्रया: न शोभन्ते पण्डिता: वनिता: लता:
This support was readily forthcoming for pundits from the then ruling kings and nobility. History brought about gradual change of authority to Moguls, and, later, the British. Patronage of pundits continued, though at a lower key, even under some of the Mogul rulers. In course of time there was a geographical reorganization culminating in the constitution of what came to be known as principalities. Even under this transition, poets and pundits were not denied encouragement and patronage. The result : Teaching of the Vedanta and other sastras went on untrammeled.
A word of specific activity in this regard is warranted here. The literary programme may be divided into four categories - appointing and\or honoring the scholars of Vedanta in their courts, getting scholars to write books on Vedanta and publishing them; organizing regular schools for teaching the Vedanta; organizing regular libraries by collecting and stocking thousands of books in general and of Vedanta in particular. A brief sketch of the contribution made by the principalities which are also coined as estates is given under.
Here is a synopsis of their contribution. This writer has thought it fit to employ the Telugu alphabetical order for the estates.
Papayaradhya of Mulugu family, patronized by Amaravathi estate, was not only a scholar of repute but also a Brahmajnani. There is an interesting story about the power of his prayer. When he went to the temple of Lord
Amareswaraswamy of Amaravathi, he found the doors of the temple closed. He started a panegyric of the Goddess Chamunda and lo behold ! the doors opened themselves. Having come to know of this wonder, the king of the estate Jagannatha Naidu invited him to be his courtier. Papayaradhya wrote many books on different sastras. An author of over a hundred works, he translated Devibhagavata which was replete with Advaita thought, into Telugu.
In our alphabetical journey we now come to Bankupalli Mallayya Sastry of Urlam estate whose achievement was translation of the Brahmasutras, a tough task indeed. We now go to Undrajavaram estate which patronized Vemparala. Suryanarayana Sastry, a poet and a scholar who wrote Sankaravijayam in a singularly scholarly Telugu. He contextually touched upon many doctrines of Advaita. Further , in order to bring home (Telugu land) the ideas in Sankaravijaya, he made some appropriate alterations, without, at the same time, sacrificing the sprit of the original work.
Peri Kasinatha Sastry, who was patronized by the Urlam estate, contributed his might by producing a monumental work in the field of Advaita. His work Sarirakabhashyasahitapratyushaprabodhamananamu , a translation of the Brahmasutrabhashya of Sankara , is itself a scholarly feat.
Next comes Kalahasti (A.D.1765 - 1850). This estate patronized Shanmukhadas of Akshintala family who translated the Sriramavasistasamvadamu, also called the Yogavasista. It deals with a number of philosophical thoughts and was a marvelous work.
A scholar patronized by Kurupam estate of Srikakulam District was Pulugurthi Narasimhamatya for authoring Mahavakyaratnavali in which he highlighted the Mahavakyas of different Upanishads. In addition, he drew the close attention of the devotees to the concept of Avidya, illusoriness of the world and the uniqueness of Brahman.
Another towering personality who produced a huge amount of literature in the field of Advaita Vedanta was Paravastu. Srinivasa Jagannathaswami, patronized by the Gode estate. His most inspiring book Bhagavadvishayopanishattulu , is an anthology and yet draws the attention of the seekers of the knowledge of Brahman as the original work does. His another work, Vaidikamatavali , explains not only the six systems of orthodox Indian philosophy but also the other subsystems of Vedanta : Sakteya, Visistadvaita and Dwaita.
Another renowned scholar whose fame is not confined to Andhradesa but extended beyond Andhra borders to as far as Varanasi was SubbaSastry of Akshintala family. The Jataprolu estate of Mahaboobnagar district was lucky in having patronized him. His Bhashyartharatnamala, in poetic format is a commentary on the Brahmasutrabhashya of Sankara. His son Singara Sastry, like his father, was a noted scholar and he was honored by the neighboring estates such as Venkatagiri, Gadwal, Vanaparthi, Atmakuru. He was the author of many works.
Here is a refreshing departure from the array of honors conferred on well deserving scholars by various estates. We have to honour the honorerPanuganti Parthasarathi Rayadu, the king of Panugallu estate of Nellore district of Andhra Pradesh, was a great scholar himself. He digested the essence of the Gita and translated it in Manjaridwipada metre basing on the tradition.
Puranapanda Mallayyasastry of Pithapuram estate, of Andhra Pradesh translated the Brahmasutrabhashya of Sankara into Telugu. It is considered to be one of the best translations of Sutrabhashya..
Madhunapantula Satyanarayanasastry of the same estate wrote Shaddarsanasangraha and dedicated it to Suryaraobahaddur, head of the estate.
Mikkili Mallikarjunakavi [A.D.1805-1875] , who was the native of the village Peddada of Godavari district, wrote Nachiketacharitam and translated the Bhagavad-Gita into Telugu .
Dendukuri Narasimha Sastry a reputed scholar of Vedanta, was appointed by the king in his estate as parikshadhikarin in the branch of Advaita Vedanta and his services as parikshadhikarin were highly appreciated by the king as well as his colleagues.
Venkatakrishna Somayaji of Kotikalapudi family was patronized by the Bobbili estate of Srikakulam district. He translated Prabodhachandrodayam of Krishnamisra in to chaste Telugu. His son, Kotikalapudi Kodandaramakavi, was again a profound scholar in Vedanta and his scholarship was recognized by his being appointed as teacher in the estate to teach Vedanta.
Sriman Kalattur Vikrala Ramachandracharyulu [A.D.1879-1932] flourished in Mutyalapadu of Nellore district. He was a scholar in Vedas, Vedangas, and the six orthodox systems of Indian Philosophy. He was also a versatile scholar in all branches of learning. He not only preached Vedanta but defeated the scholars of other systems whom he came across. His versatile scholarship was appreciated in the following manner.
वेदानां सदनं तदर्थ शरणं वेदांगविद्याधनं
षड्दर्शिन्यवधारणं सकलविद्यारण्यपंचाननम् |
वाग्गंगाभरणं यशोSधिकरणं दुर्वादिनां भीषणं
विक्रालान्वयभूषणं शुभगुणं श्रीरामचन्द्रं भजे||
Akshintala Subbasastry who flourished in the Vanaparthi estate of Mahaboobnagar was a native of Reparla. He wrote Bhashyaratnamala in Arya metre.
Matukumalli Narasimhasastry who lived in Valluru estate of Krishna and Godavari districts was a panditadhikari. He debated for about three weeks and
defeated a scholar in Logic and Vedanta of a Sankara Mutt. While acting as Parikshadhikari, he honoured a number of Vedanta scholars.
Yellapeddi Raghavasastry [ A.D. 1765 - 1850] of Karampudi village and Vankamamidi Ramasastry of Varahapura Agrahara were also of considerable literary prowess..
Now, let us take a quick look at a few great but less- known Pundits.
Peri KasinathaSastry of Vijayanagaram estate wrote Bhagavadgitasaramu in Telugu.
Similarly, Gopinatham Venkatakavi of Venkatagiri estate wrote Bhagavadgitasaramu in Telugu.
Tanikella Prakasasastry of Sangamavalasa estate which was situated in the north of Visakhapatnam and west of Parvathipuram, wrote a work Vedantasiddhantaprakasa which throws light on many concepts of Advita Vedanta.
Chelekani Lacharao of Yerragudem estate composed Bhagavadgitamritam.
Raja Kalidindi Kumaralakshminarasimharaju, head of Mogultur estate, was a compelling scholar. In addition to becoming a great poet by himself, he also patronized many poets. He composed a work entitled Bhagavad-Gita in Dwipada metre.