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Bhadra kavi & linga kavi


Bhadra kavi and linga kavi (fl. CE 1540s)


Bhadra kavi and linga kavi were janTa kavulu who were in the court of acyuta dEva rAya of Vijayanagara Empire (reign: CE 1530-42). acyutarAyalu was the younger step brother of emperor kRShna dEva rAya.

The same authors also wrote another book by name.

They wrote sAnanda caritra and dEvAnga purANamu. The latter deals with dEvAnga history. dEvAngas are weavers in rAyala seema region as well as karnATaka. The dEvAngas in Andhra speak Telugu exclusively while the karnATaka branch uses kannaDa. They are perhaps called dEvAngas since they clothe the deities. They are the equivalent of padmasAleelu in circar districts. The book traces the lineage back to manumaharshi who was said to be the son of Siva.

The book does not seem to have attracted the attention of critics, textbook writers and historians. Yet it may be useful from the point of view of social history. What is interesting is the fact that there is an exclusive kAvyam dedicated to a single sub-caste. Does it mean that this community could afford to hire a couple of poets from the imperial court to publicize their social standing? Or, does it mean that the two poets belonged to this particular caste and had tried their best to elevate (in the rigid social order) and legitimize (read Aryanize/Sanskritize) the profession of their fore-fathers? Perhaps both were true. It may throw some light on the socio-economic conditions of that time as well. In the subsequent "Southern" era of Telugu literature, several authors of significant merit emerged from the so-called "lower" castes. They too seem to have tried and succeeded (in limited fashion) in legitimizing their newfound social prominence. In hindsight it is debatable whether this practice really helped in the societal advancement of their respective communities and castes. But this hunger for "Aryanization" has been a running theme for much of Telugu history, e.g., look at all the royal families that tried to claim direct descent from the Moon or the Sun! It may not be far from truth to say that this tendency to "legitimize" through "Aryanizing" and "Westernizing" is very strong even today. The Tamil country has succeeded to a small extent to thwart this process. In Andhra and Karnataka all such attempts have failed in the long run. Of course, it is up to each generation to redefine itself and its goals. The book under consideration is the attempt of a particular section of the society of mid 1500s to view itself in an acceptable light -an acceptability criterion that was defined without their consent. Over the course of time, such books have been produced about other communities too. It is perhaps inevitable given the state of affairs where the intrinsic worth and the equality of human professions and trades was never recognized.


Seshu Madhava Rao Adluri
Corrections including typos, suggestions, and additions to the above will be gratefully appreciated -April 1998

NOTE: No denigration to any section of the society is intended.
If there is a strong objection, kindly let me know. Appropriate steps will be taken.

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