Somanaadhudu Paalkuriki

Somanaadhudu Paalkuriki (1160-1240 AD) belongs to the Trinity of Shaivite Poets, known as "Shivakavi Trayamu," and to an era of Brahmin Shaivite poets, "Shivakavi Yugamu," in the history of Telugu literature. This is considered to be the time between Nannaya and Tikkana (12th century AD). Nannechodudu and Mallikarjuna Panditaradhryudu are the remaining two poets of the Shivakavi Trayamu.

Somanadhudu was an eminent litterateur and scholar in three languages, Sanskrit, Telugu and Kannada. He was a Shaivite missionary who spread Shaivism in Telugu and Kannada nations. Veera Shaivites believe that Somanaadhudu was an incarnation of Bhringiriti, one of the chief attendants of Lord Shiva. Unlike other Brahmin Shaivite poets who respected Brahmins, Somanadhudu derided Brahmins and mocked at their practices in his works. The purpose and goal of his life and poetry was spread of Shaivism and he was quite successful.

Somanaadhudu was the first poet to write in Telugu, using native Telugu vocabulary and meter. Somanadhudu created "Ragada," another Telugu meter. His Ragada was known as Basavaragada, and was the basis for later Ragada meter in Telugu literature. This was his favorite meter after Dwipada. Dwipada is an indigenous Telugu meter. He also used several other native Telugu meters like Seesamu, Tribhangi, Krounchapadamu, Taruvoja, Vanamayuramu, Chaturvidha Kandamu, Tripaasa Kandamu, Dwipaasa Kandamu, etc.

Deviating from his predecessors like Nannechodudu, he chose local Telugu stories for his works instead of stories from Sanskrit literature. His works include Basava Puranamu, Panditaaradhya Charitramu. In these works he describes the life histories of non-Brahmin Telugu people of different tribal origins. He created a great literary art out of the life stories of common Telugus like Bejjamahadevi, Godagoochi, Sangayya, Duggavva, Udumoori Kannappa, Sakalemaadiraajayya, Madivaalu Maachayya, Kummara Gundayya, Kakkarayya, etc. His major contribution to the Telugu literature was the selection of the contemporary people and their lives as his subject.

His language was easy and understandable to common Telugus. He avoided difficult Brahminical Sanskrit vocabulary. Sanskrit was the language of elite, just like English is today. Popular international languages like Sanskrit, Urdu, Hindi or English always fascinate Telugu elite. It is prestigious to use one of these languages in their literary endeavors. Today we see more English words than Telugu words in written and spoken language of Telugu elite. Somanaadhudu didnít like this slavish nature of elite Telugus and was determined to establish the pride of Telugus by using Telugu vocabulary rather than Sanskrit vocabulary. It was the only way to establish Shaivism firmly in the Telugu country. He was quite successful in reaching the common man through his literature by removing the elite Sanskrit from his literature.

Today, we are in dire need of another Somanadhudu to resurrect the lost glory of Telugu and to unshackle Telugus from the false pride of English/Hindi usage at home and in day-to-day social intercourse.

Sreenivasarao Vepachedu, 08/07/1999
 

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