Telangana and Andhra

On November 1st, 1956, a Telugu state called Andhra Pradesh was formed from the merger of a Telangana part of Hyderabad kingdom and Andhra state that was formed in 1953 from the Madras province of British East India. The State of Andhra Pradesh is home for approximately eighty million strong Telugu speaking nationality.

Telugu language, land and people have many names.  Andhra, Aandhra, Tenumgu, Tenungu, Telugu, Telumgu, Telungu, Trilinga, Vadagu, Vaduga, and Gentoo are names by which Telugu people and their language are known.  Andhra and Aandhra are Sanskrit names for Telugu.   Tenumgu, Tenungu, Telugu, Telumgu, Telungu and Trilinga are names used in Telugu literature.  Vadagu and Vaduga are Tamil names for it.  Gentoo is a Portuguese name for Telugu people and their language.

Andhra and Aandhra are ancient names used in Sanskrit literature to denote Telugu tribe/race/nationality/caste/people (hereinafter Nationality or Nationalities).  According to Aitareya Brahmana composed in 600 BC, sage Viswamitra, a Kshatriya-an Aryan warrior tribal, adopted Brahmin Sunasyepa.  However, fifty of Viswamitra's sons objected and didn't accept Sunasyepa as their brother.  Enraged Viswamitra exiled those sons from Aryavarta (land of Aryans - probably NorthWestern part of the Indian Continent) and cursed them to mix with Dasya Nationalities such as Aandhra, Pundra, Sabara, Mootiba and Pulinda.  This is the first ever description of non-Aryan (Mleccha) Aandhra Nationality in Sanskrit literature.  These five Mleccha nationalities are considered to be the Dasya Nationalities living in the borders of Aryavarta.  Andhra Nationality was a greeat Nationality respected and known to Europeans. Greek Ambassador Megasthanese visited Chandragupta Mourya's empire in 400 BC and wrote that the Andhras were a powerful Nationality and possessed several villages and thirty towns defended by walls and towers that supplied its king with an army of 100,000 infantry, 2000 cavalry and 1000 elephants.   Aandhra Nationality was described in Mahabharat also.  Andhras were fudators of Dharmaraja and in Kurukshetra war they fought against Dharmaraja.  According to Manusmriti, Andhras were Nishadas and were born to a Karavara tribal woman and Vaideha.  In the beginning of Christian era, Bharata in Natyasastra prohibited the use of non-Aryan languages (non-Indo-European languages) like Aandhra, Kirata, Berber, Dramila etc.  In Bhagavata, sage Suka, in his praise for lord Vishnu, describes how "bad people" (paapulu) like Kirata, Huna, Andhra, Pulinda etc. were rescued by the Supreme God when they converted to Vaishnavism and prayed to lord Vishnu.  In addition, various Andhra kings considered themselves related to Aryans and invited Brahmins from various parts of the Indian Continent to immigrate to the land of Andhra by providing incentives such as donation of villages and lands.  Thus, the Andhra Nationality became a genetically hybrid Nationality when Sanskrit speaking Aryans mixed with them. And hence the non-Aryan (non- Indo-European) languages of these people also became hybridized. Also, Sanskrit influenced Telugu language tremendously because of the immense and rich literary contribution of Sanskrit speaking Brahmins, leading to the misbelief that Sanskrit was the mother of all languages.

The word “Aandhra” was also used to indicate the country/land inhabited by the Aandhra Nationality in Sanskrit literature, for example, in Valmiki Ramayana, Sugreeva sends his monkey troops to countries of Aandhra, Pundra, Chola, Pandya etc in search of Sita.  According to Vyasa's Bharata, Aandhra was a southern country that was conquered by Sahadeva.   Until 1100 AD, the word Aandhra was not used in Sanskrit literature to denote a language, except in Bhrata's Natyasastra. So far it was predominantly used for either land or the Nationality.  However, from the beginning of 2nd millennium when Telugu literature started blooming Aandhra word has been used in Telugu literature (Nannaya onwards) to denote Telugu language.

Tamils, in their Sangam literature in the beginning of Christian era, called Telugu people Vadugu, Vadagu, Vadugar etc., meaning 'the northern people."  Jayagondar’s work called Kaldlingattupparindni used words like Telungaru and Vadugu to describe Telugus.

Portuguese who colonized parts of the Indian Continent called Telugu Nationality, the Gentoo or Gentio.  This Portuguese word means gentile or heathen.  This is the name used by Europeans to describe the various peoples of Indian Continent, especially Telugu people, for when Portuguese arrived, the Telugu king of Vijayangar was dominant over the great part of the peninsula.

The name Telugu is used Telugu literature to denote Telugu language, but was never used in Sanskrit literature.  Other variations like Tenugu are also known. This variation occurs because pronunciation of la and na sometimes merge in Telugu speakers.  Even today, one can see this merger, e.g., chenagu-chelagu, munukola-mulukola, janmam-jalmam, ledu-nedu etc., in the speech of villagers.  Trilinga is another name for Telugu country. This word is a Shaivite term and derived from the fact that there are three Shaivite temple cities in Telugu country. They are Srisailam, Daksharama and Kaleswaram.  However, Trilinga is not the origin for the word Telugu.

So, Andhra, Telugu, Gentoo, Vadugu etc all stand for Telugu Nationality, culture and language localized in the present state of Andhra Pradesh. However, words like Gentoo and Vadugu and other forms of Telugu are almost obsolete now and coastal Andhra has become a distinct dialect localized to coastal districts under the British influence and rule. While a new dialect and culture developed in the Telangana region because of 400 years of Islamic rule and the influence of Urdu on this region.  Now, coastal Andhra language and Telangana language could be considered separate languages. A villager from Adilabad district of Telangana may not comprehend at all the language of a villager from Visakhapatnam district of coastal Andhra!  Of course, that’s how new languages, new Nationalities and new states are born. We all should equally respect each Nationality- young, old, rich, poor, strong and weak, as the mitochondrial DNA from various ethnic groups supports the concept that all humans come from the same genetic stock.  We are all siblings, but we desire to establish our own independent homes, as we become adults.

Telugu Bhasha Charitra, Ed Bhadriraju Krishnmurti, "Andhram, Tenugu, Telugu" by G. N. Reddy, pp 1-14.
Tamil Literature: Kurundogai, stanza 107; Nanninnai, stanza 212; Kalingattupparini, Verse 469;
Manual of the Administration of the Madras Presidency, Vol. III, Madras.
Aitareya Brahmanam, Asiatic Society of Bengal, 7th edition, 3rd chapter, 6th kanto.
Vayasa Bharatam, Book of Sabha, 4th Chapter, Geeta Press, Gorakhpur.
Manusmriti, chapter 10, Verse 36, Nirnayasagar Press, Bombay
Natyasastramu, by Ponangi Apparao, p486
Srimatbhagavatam, 14th chapter, Verse 18
“Maccrindle's Magasthanese", Indian Antiquity, Vol. VI, pp 337-339.
"Andhrula Saanghika Charitra," Suravaram Pratapareddy
Telugu Sahitya Charitra, by Mudiganti Sujatareddi
Telugu Sanskriti, Mallampalli Somasekharasarma

Sreenivasarao Vepachedu, November 7, 2001

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