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nandi timmana

Literary Work



Back Ground


timmana was a prominent member of the famous group of eight poets popularly known as aShTadiggajamulu. He has been traditionally counted second in that group after peddana. He was in the imperial court of Sree kRShNa dEvarAya (reign: CE 1509-1530).


timmana lived during the early 1500s. A suggested period is CE 1475-1540. He was an "ArvElaniyOgi" (one or more of his ancestors lived in ArvElanADu, or ShaTsahasra dESam –comprising of six thousand villages just south of the Krishna (kRShNa) river -present day Guntur and parts of Prakasm Dt.). However, timmana himself appears to be a native of anantapuram area. His family, which had a long line of distinguished poets, seemed to have lived there (close to the seat of the imperial court) for generations and received patronage. His parents were nandi singana and tim&mAmba. He was a Saiva and was a pupil of aGhOra Siva guru. But, following the contemporary politico-social preferences and imperial patronage, he composed poetry on vaishNava themes. His grand uncle nandi mallayya and an uncle GhanTa singana (alias malaya mAruta kavi) were a famous poetic pair (janTa kavulu). The two excelled in the court of narasimha dEva rAya (father of kRShNa dEvarAya).


timmana composed a famous prabandham by name pArijAtApaharaNamu (in five cantos -511 verses) using an episode from the epic harivamSam. There is a very popular story on how the book came to be written. It is said that once, while the Emperor kRShNa dEvarAya and his wife tirumala dEvi were in bed, her ankle accidentally touched his head! (Naturally, people's imagination runs wild about the actual juicy details of the incident!). rAyalu thought that it was a great insult to his imperial personage and stopped visiting her chambers (mandiram) again. Of course, no one else knew the real reason for the Emperor's seeming estrangement from his wife. The Empress had no way of persuading her husband in to realizing that the incident was completely unintentional and no insult was intended. timmana originally joined the imperial court as part of the dowry given at the time of her marriage to kRShNa dEvarAya. His connection to nandi mallayya & GhanTa singana might have helped too. Naturally, timmana was a very close confidante of the Empress. So she sent for him and poured forth her grief. timmana consoled her, returned home, composed a grand poem on the pArijAtApaharaNam and dedicated it to the emperor.


The book is about satyaBhAma and kRShNa and their love quarrel (praNaya kalaham). satyaBhAma gets angry with kRShNa thinking that he favored rukmiNi over her. kRShNa tries in many ways to calm her down. All else failing, he puts his head at her feet and says that he is sorry. Still very upset with her husband, satyaBhAma pushes his crown aside. Instead of taking it as an insult, kRShNa expresses concern that the soft new leaf-like feet of satyaBhAma must have suffered unbearable pain in kicking his hard head. That does it! Any woman, however tough she may be, has to soften to such a lover! The message of the kAvyam is that, "lovers can exercise several types of punishments on each other and great freedom is permitted between the two!" kRShNa dEvarAya understood this beautifully delivered message and was reconciled to his wife again. The poet subtly conveyed to the Emperor that even if the general public were to hear about the incident with the Empress, no one would dub it as an insult, given the fact that Lord Krishna himself was meted out that punishment by his own wife.


There is another Telugu work by name pArijAtApaharaNamu, a yakshagAnaM by maatRBhUtayya [fl. 1788]. It was dedicated to the then ruler of Tanjore, Amarasimha. Of course, there are numerous other popular stories and even a popular movie on the same story. Timmana's story differs from these in one essential detail. In all the other stories, Satya Bhama, after getting the Parijata Tree from the heaven starts believing that her control over Krishna is complete. Towards the end of the story, she is taught a lesson and realizes the essence of Bhakti as illustrated by the unconditional love of Rukmini towards Krishna. However, Timmana subtly altered the story whereby Satya Bhama's character does not suffer any humiliation. This masterful change prevented any rasabhangaM towards the end of the story. (Even peddana's manucaritra was the object of such a "rasabhangaM" charge!)


Although timmana was a great scholar, unlike his contemporaries he was not known for the use of long and difficult compound words. Rather, he used short, soft, befriending expressions with an endearing quality. Because of this, "mukkutimmanAryu muddupaluku" earned him a prominent place amongst men of letters. Essentially, his poetry and his prabandham relate to contemporary upper middle class ethos.

In a famous caaTu poem, Tenali Ramakrishna says: "maa koladi jaanapadulaku nee kavanapu Theevi yabbunE? kUpanasdbhEkamulaku naakadhunee Seekaramula kem&maa, naMdi siMgaya tim&maa!" Such superlative praise from a very great fellow poet speaks volumes of the high esteem Timmana was accorded.


A popular story tells us about a poem he composed on the beauty of ladies’ noses.

nAnA sUna vitAna vAsanala nAnamdimcu sAramgamE
lA nannolladaTamcu gamdhaPhali balkAkam tapambandi yO
ShA nAsAkRti bUni sarva sumanassauraBhya samvAsiyai
pUnem brEkshaNa mAlikA madhukaree pumjambulirvamkalan^
| SA | [vasu, 2-47]

This poem is so beautiful that another great poet of that time, raamaraajabhUshaNa was totally bowled over by it, so much so, that he paid a dear price and purchased it from timmana and incorporated it as his own in his book vasucaritra. Because of his famous description of the nose (mukku), nandi timmana became known as mukku timmana.


The paarijaataapaharaNam is famous for many great poems. Timmana's art is especially admired for the way he portrayed the lover's quarrel between kRshNa and satyabhaama. Here is the reaction of satyaBhAma to the news of kRShNa giving the divine flower to rukmiNi:

anavini vrETuvaDDa yuragAmganayum bale, nEyi vOya Bha
ggana darikon&na BheeShaNa hutASana keela yanamga lEci, he
ccina kanudOyi kempu tana cekkula gumkuma patra Bhamga sam
janita naveena kAmti vedacallaga gadgada Khin&na kamThiyai |ca|
[pAri, 1-82]

Her response to kRShNa’s entreaties:

jalajAtAsana vAsavAdi surapUjA BhAjanambai tana
rcu latAmtAyudhu kannatamDri SiramaccO vAmapAdambunam
dolagam drOce latAmgi; yaTla yagu nAthulnEramulsEya bE
ralukam jemdina kAmta lemdu nucita vyApAramulnErturE ? |ma|
[pAri, 1-121]


In terms of language, imagery and literary nuances, these poems exemplify much of the poetic skills of this era.


timmana was perhaps the first to include in his book, all the four classical types of poetry. As per classical metric texts, (ChandO grantha), structurally poetry is of four types, viz., ASu kavitvam, bandha kavitvam, garBha kavitvam, and citra kavitvam. ASu kavitvam is extempore composition. bandha kavitvam is about composing poems that can be arranged in special shapes such as a discus, a dagger, a chariot, etc., and derive special meanings from such arrangements. garBha kavitvam hides the meter of one poem inside that of another. citra kavitvam displays various other special effects. At the conclusion of pArijAtApaharaNam, timmana wrote verses with all these features. For example, the following kanda padyam (anulOma vilOma or ardha Bhramaka) can be read either from the beginning to end or from the end to beginning. It is completely reversible. In a way, it is a very long double entendre covering an entire quatrain!

sAyajanayatAyaravirasAgaraSayanA ! |anulOma vilOma kamdam|

The following is a kanda padyam in just two letters of the alphabet "na" and "ma." Hence it is a praise of God with the letters of the word "nama@h."

manamuna nanumAnamu nU
nanu neenAma manu manumananamunu nEma
m&muna mAna nan&nu man&nana
manu manu nAnAmuneenamAnAnUnA ! |dvyakshari kamdamu|

Writing poetry with a lot of highly skilled word play became very popular following timmana’s great success.



"mukku timmanAryuni pArijAtApaharaNamu," EMESCO "sampradAya sAhiti" series No. 6, M. Seshachalam & Co., 1991 (with an introduction by Sree viSvanAtha satya nArAyaNa).

Other sources indicated in the above book include the vAviLLa press edition [1953] and the manuscripts collected by C.P. Brown (now in Madras Oriental Manuscript Library -prAcya liKhita granthAlayamu).

The Andhra Pradesh Sahitya Academy published many prabandhams (about fifty) including the pArijAtApaharaNamu at a cheap price.

Seshu Madhava Rao Adluri
First posted: Jan. 1998. Revised: April 1999.
Corrections including typos, suggestions, and additions to the above
will be gratefully appreciated.

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