Telugu, Kannada & Malayalam Literature

The four Dravadan languages - Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Malyalam developed their own literature. Tamil being the oldest of these langauges began writing earlier and produced the sangam literature - the oldest literature in Tamil.

Telugu Literature

The Vijayanagara period was the golden age of Telugu literature. Nachana Somanatha, a court poet of Bukka I, produced a poetical work titled Uttaraharivamsam. Krishnadevaraya (1509-1529), the greatest of the Vijayanagara emperors, was a poet of great merit. His work Amukta Malyada is regarded as an excellent prabandha in Telugu literature.

Eight Telugu literary luminaries, popularly known as ashtadiggajas adorned his court. Among them, Allasani Peddana, the author of Manucharitram, was the greatest. He was known as Andhra kavitapitamaha. The other seven poets of the group were Nandi Timmana, the author of Parijathapaharanam, Madayagari Mallana, Dhurjati, Ayyalaraju Ramabhadra Kavi, Pingali Surana, Ramaraja Bhushana and Tenali Ramakrishna.

Dhurjati, a devotee of Shiva, composed two poetical works of great merit known as Kalahasteeswara Mahatmayam and Kalahasteeswara Satakam, Pingali Surana composed two works Raghavapandaviyam and Kalapuranodayam.

Ramakrishna was the author of Panduranga Mahatmayam which was considered one of the greatest poetical works of Telugu literature. Ramarajabhushana was the author of Vasucharitram. He was also known as Bhattumurti. His other works include Narasabhupaliyam and Harishchandra Nalopakhyanam. It is a poetical work on the model of Raghavapandaviyam.

Madayagari Mallana’s work Rajashekharacharitra is a prabandha dealing with the wars and loves of Rajashekhara, king of Avanti. Ayyalaraju Ramabhadra was the author of two works Ramabhyudayam and Sakalakathasara Sangraham.

Kannada Literature

Apart from Telugu, Vijayanagara rulers extended their patronage to Kannada and Sanskrit writers as well.

Many Jain scholars contributed to the growth of Kannada literature. Madhava wrote Dharmanathapurana on the fifteenth tirthankara. Another Jain scholar, Uritta Vilasa, wrote Dharma Parikshe. The Sanskrit works of the period include Yadavabhyudayam by Vedanatha Desika and Parasara Smriti Vyakhya of Madhavacharya.

Kannada language developed fully after the tenth century AD. The earliest known literary work in Kannada is Kavirajamang written by the Rashtrakuta King, Nripatunga Amoghavarsha I.

Pampa, known as the father of Kannada wrote his great poetic works Adi Purana and Vïkramarjiva Vijaya in the tenth century AD. Pampa lived in the court of Chalukya Arikesari.  Ponna and Ranna were two other poets who lived during the reign of Rashtrakuta Krishna III. Ponna wrote an epic named Shanti Purana and Ranna wrote Ajitanatha Purano. Together Pampa, Ponna and Ranna earned the title ratnatraya (the three gems).

In the thirteenth century new feats were achieved in Kannada literature. Harishvara wrote Harishchandra Kavya and Somanatha Charita whereas Bandhuvarma wrote Harivamshabhyudaya and Jiva Sambodhana.

Under the patronage of later Hoysala rulers, several literary works were produced. Rudra Bhata wrote Jagannathavijaya. Andayya’s Madana Vijaya or Kabbïgara Kava is a work of special interest in pure Kannada without the mixture of Sanskrit words. Mallikarjuna’s Suktisudharnava, the first anthology in Kannada and Kesirja’s Shabdamanidarpana on grammar are two other standard works in the Kannada language.

Kannada literature flourished considerably between the fourteenth and sixteenth centuries under the patronage of the Vijayanagara kings. Poets of all religious groups made important contribution to it. Kunura Vyasa wrote Bharata and Narahari wrote Tarave Ramayana. This is the first Rama Katha in Kannada composed on the basis of Valmikis Ramayana.

Lakshamisha who lived in the seventeenth century wrote Jaïmini Bharata and earned the titled of Kamata-Karicutavana-Chaitra (the spring of the Karnataka mango grove).

The other eminent poet of this period was the great Sarvajna, popularly known as the people’s poet. His aphoristic tripadi (three-lined) compositions serve as a source of wisdom and ethics. A special mention may be made of Honnamma, perhaps the first outstanding poetess in Kannada. Her Hadibadeya Dharma (Duty of a Devout Wife) is a compendium of ethics.

Malayalam Literature

Malayalam is spoken in Kerala and the adjoining areas. The language of Malayalam emerged around the eleventh century AD. By fifteenth century Malayalam was recognised as an independent language. 

Bhasa Kautilya, a commentary on Arthashastra and Kokasandisan are two great works. Rama Panikkar and Ramanuj an Ezhuthachan are well known authors of Malayalam literature.