Molla (poet)

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Native name ఆతుకూరి మొల్ల
Born Atukuri Molla
Gopavaram, Kadapa
Died 1530
Occupation Kummara (potter)
Language Telugu
Nationality Indian
Period 14th-15th centuries
Genre poet
Subject Telugu Ramayanam
Literary movement Propagation of Sanatana Dharma
Notable works translated the Ramayana from Sanskrit into Telugu

Atukuri Molla (1440–1530) was a Telugu poet who authored the Telugu-language Ramayana. Identified by her caste, she was popularly known as Kummara (potter) Molla.


Molla is the second female Telugu poet of note, after Tallapaka Timmakka, wife of Tallapaka Annamayya ("Annamacharya"). She translated the Sanskrit Ramayana into Telugu.

Her father Atukuri Kesanna was a potter of Gopavaram, a village in Badvel Mandal, fifty miles north of Kadapa in Andhra Pradesh state. He was a Saivaite and devotee of Sri Srikantha Malleswara in Srisailam. He gave her daughter the name Molla, meaning "Jasmine", a favourite flower of the god, and also nicknamed her Basavi in respect to Sri Basaveswara.

Molla claimed Sri Shiva as Guru, and her inspiration is claimed to have come from Pothanna, who wrote Bhagavata purana in Telugu. Like him, she was Saiva Hindu, but wrote the story of Rama (an incarnation of Vishnu) and also refused to dedicate her Ramayana to any king, a general practice for poets at the time.

According to Varadarajn's book, "Study of Vaishnava Literature", as her popularity spread, she was invited to Sessions court and got an opportunity to recite Ramayana in front of Krishnadevaraya and his poets. She spent her old age at Srisailam in the presence of Sri Srikantha Malleswara.

Works and style[edit]

Her work is known as Molla bhagavata and is still one of the simplest of many Ramayans written in Telugu.

She primarily used simple Telugu and only used Sanskrit words very rarely. Poets that had written earlier than her like Potana used Sanskrit words freely in their works.

She was humble and paid tribute to the earlier scholars who had written the Ramayana in her book. The opening poem says - "Ramayana had been written many times. Does someone stop taking food because it has been taken every day? So is the story of Rama and one can write, read and love it as many number of times as possible."Additionally, she states that if a work is filled with words that reader cannot understand instantaneously, it would be like a dialogue between a deaf person and a dumb person. In other words, poetry should be intelligible to the reader as he reads along and without referring to dictionaries and/or consulting scholars. According to Molla, poetry should be like honey on the tongue—one should feel it as soon as the honey hits tongue.

She added fictional accounts to original stories and in some instances, removed some portions from the original story. Sanskrit-to-Telugu translation works from earlier poets like Tikkana followed the exact story sequences in the original work. She was contemporary to Srinatha and poets of the Vijayanagara Empire, who created Prabhandas which are known for adding fictions.Several critics have attested to her claim as valid. Her Ramayanam has been quoted as a work filled with native flavor, ease of diction and appealing to ordinary readers.

Awards and honors[edit]

  • Andhra Pradesh government erected a statue of her on the tankbund in Hyderabad along with few other Great Telugu personalities.
  • A fictional account of her life story has been written by Inturi Venkateswara Rao, under the title Kummara Molla, published in 1969
  • Based on this novel, another writer Sunkara Satyanarayana wrote a ballad, which became very popular and has been sung all over Andhra Pradesh
  • She was used as a symbol of women's advancement by women's associations. On one recent occasion a women's rights protest began at her statue in Hyderabad, in 2006.
  • A movie Kathanayika Molla was made about her, with Vanisri playing the lead role.

See also[edit]


  • "Studies in sri vaishnava literature", Dr. M. Varadarajan, M.A., Ph.D.,Sri Ananth Publications, Tirupati.

External links[edit]