Tirupati Venkata Kavulu

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Tirupati Venkata Kavulu refers to the Telugu poet duo Divakarla Tirupati Sastry (1872–1919) and Chellapilla Venkata Sastry (1870–1950). These twin poets are acclaimed as the harbingers of modern poetry in Telugu.[1] They have dramatised several of the Hindu epics into dramas and plays consisting of singable verses set to perfect meter. Several of their plays, especially pandavodyogavijayalu have been extremely popular with many drama clubs and audiences across Andhra Pradesh. Venkata Sastry has trained a large number of later age poets including Viswanatha Satyanarayana, Pingali Lakshmikantam and Veturi Sundararama Murthy.

Divakarla Tirupati Sastry[edit]

He was born on 26 March 1872 at Yendagandi village in Bhimavaram Taluk of West Godavari District in Andhra Pradesh, India. His father Venkata Avadhani was a great vedic scholar and a devotee of Sun God. He studied under Boorla Subbarayudu, Garimella Lingaiah, Pammi Peri Sastry and Charla Brahmaiah Sastry. During the study period under Charla Brahmaiah Sastry, Chellapilla Venkata Sastry joined them. He was sharp and talented and could silence his opponent in no time in argumentation. Venkata Sastry was unique in his own way, could compose verse in Telugu and make discourses on the puranic topics and hence would not brook Tirupati Sastry's supremacy. Once the teacher advised the students to celebrate Ganesh Navaratri, for which they needed money. They pooled their talents for collecting money for the celebrations. Slowly during these student days they understood each other and appreciated each other's talent. Venkata Sastry went to Benares and upon his return Tirupati Sastry joined him in composing poetry and performing Sataavadhaanam at Kakinada. From then, till Tirupati Sastry's death parted them, they composed together for life. Even afterwards Venkata Sastry published all his work under their common authorship. All through his life Tirupati Sastry treated Venkata Sastry as his guru. They together performed many avadhaanams, composed Dhaturatnakara, made a trip to Adayar, Madras where Annie Besant praised their talent, visited Venkatagiri Samsthaanam, composed Mulasthaneswara Stuti in Sanskrit and visited Gadwal, Atmakur, Vijayanagaram, Pithapuram samsthaanams which brought them name and fame.

Tirupati Sastry got married in 1894. His marriage celebration gave them material for composing Sravanaanandam, a work on Sringara rasa in 1898. It was dedicated to Vadrevu Venkata Ratnam of Pithapuram. The Zamindar of Polavaram came to know about them and requested them to translate Edwin Arnold's The Light of Asia into Telugu. He requested them to be his court poets. Venkata Sastry did not like to commit himself but persuaded Tirupati Sastry to accept the offer. This brought Tirupati Sastry to Kakinada in 1901. The Zamindar of Polavaram had started a literary journal called 'Saraswati' in 1889. As a court poet it became the duty of Tirupati Sastry to look after the running of the journal. Translations of Bala Ramayanam, Mudrarakshasa and Mrichhakatika from Sanskrit were done for this journal. The Zamindar of Polavaram died in 1918 and caused a setback. However the Zamindar of Golanka Veeravaram, Rao Ramayamma came to his rescue by offering him an honorarium.

He was suffering from diabetes and died in November 1920.

Chellapilla Venkata Sastry[edit]

He was born at Kadiyam village near Rajahmundry in East Godavari District of Andhra Pradesh, India. He was born on 8 August 1870. His great grandfather's younger brother was the author of two Telugu works, Venkateswara Vilasa and Yaminipoornatilaka Vilasa. There was a priceless library of palm leaf books at home collected by this poet. They were shifted to Yanam where he studied Telugu, English and Sanskrit. He studied under Kanukurthi Bhujanga Rao and Allamraju Subrahmanya Kaviraju. At the age of eighteen, he composed a sataka on Venkateswara of Yanam, which the local connoisseurs criticised for grammatical errors. Insulted by the episode, he was determined to go to Benaras to learn Sanskrit grammar. But finance was the problem. He also had a chronic eye problem on one side. He joined as disciple at Sripada Krishnamurthi Sastry, wherein he encountered Tirupati Sastry.

The Poet-Duo[edit]


Literary works[edit]

Original compositions in Sanskrit[edit]

1. Dhatu Ratnakara Campu (1889–1893) is a campu cavya with the story of Ramayana illustrating the use of verbal forms for the roots given by Pāṇini, the Sanskrit grammarian.

2. Sringara Sringataka (1891) is a small playlet called Veedhi with predominantly erotic sentiment.

3. Kali Sahasram (1891–1894) is incomplete work (300 slokas) modelled on Lakshmi Sahasram in Sanskrit.

4. Mula Sthaneswara Stuti (1893–1894) was composed in Arya vrittas on Mulasthaneswara, local deity of Nellore.

5. Ashtkas (Kalikadi Stotra), 1889–1890

6. Suka-Rambha Samvadam (1893–1894) is an argumentation between Śuka, the sage and Rambha, the danseuse. Suka interprets Ananda, the Supreme Bliss, in terms of Vedantic Truth and Rambha interprets it in terms of erotic experience.

7. Namassivaya Stotram (1914–1915) is a devotional panegyric on Shiva.

8. Kshampanam (1914–1915)

9. Pishtapeshanam (1914–1915)

10. Salabhalabhanam (1914–1915)

Translations from Sanskrit to Telugu[edit]

  1. Devi Bhagavatam, 1896
  2. Siva Leelalu, 1896
  3. Purana Gadhalu, 1896
  4. Vrata Kathalu, 1896
  5. Srinivasa Vilasamu, 1896–1897
  6. Rasikanandamu, 1893–1894
  7. Suka-Rambha Samvadamu (1893–1894) is translation into Telugu from the poets' own work of the same name in Sanskrit.
  8. Buddha Caritramu, 1899–1900
  9. Vairagya Sataka of Appaya Dikshita, 1899–1900
  10. Bala Ramayana of Rajasekhara, 1901–1912
  11. Mudra Rakshasa of Vishakhadatta, 1901–1912
  12. Mrichchakatika of Shudraka, 1901–1912
  13. Vikramankadeva Caritra of Bilhana, 1901–1912
  14. Candraprabha Caritra of Veera Nandi, 1901–1912
  15. Harsha Caritra of Bana, 1901–1912

Translations from English to Telugu[edit]

  1. Stories of Rabindranath Tagore

Original works in Telugu poetry[edit]

  1. Sravananandam (1893–1897; 1897–1898)
  2. Panigrihita
  3. Lakshana Parinayamu (1897–1901) was a mythological work which describes the marriage of Krishna and Lakshana.
  4. Ela Mahatmyamu (1898–1900) was a work on the sanctity of River Ela.
  5. Jataka Carya (1899–1930) and Iteevali Carya (1930–1950) are two unique works by Venkata Sastry. It is somewhat autobiographical work based on jyotishaphala. He has recorded his life in verse form. First work described his life from 30th to 60th year and the second work almost to the end of his life.
  6. Divakarastamayamu (1920) is an elegy by Venkata Sastry on the demise of his lifelong partner, Tirupati Sastry.
  7. George V Pattabhisheka Padyalu (1912) were composed on the occasion of the coronation of King George V.
  8. Bobbili Pattabhisheka Kavyamu (1929) was a descriptive poem pertaining to the coronation of the Maharajah of Bobbili.
  9. Kameswari Satakamu (1901)
  10. Arogya Kameswari Stuti (1922)
  11. Arogya Bhaskara Stavamu (1929–1930)
  12. Mrtyunjaya Stavamu
  13. Saubhagya Kameshwari Stavamu (1938–1941)
  14. Sita Stavamu
  15. Siva Bhakti
  16. Go-Devi was work on dialogue between a cow and a tiger.
  17. Pativrata was a kavya based on a folk song wherein a young woman is married to a snake.
  18. Suseela is a work dealing with social customs like divine dispensation.
  19. Poorva Hariscandra Caritramu is a mythological work.
  20. Daiva Tantramu
  21. Satee Smriti was an elegy by Venkata Sastry on the demise of his wife.
  22. Krishna Niryanamu (1918) was an elegy on the demise of the Raja of Polavaram.
  23. Suryanarayana Stuti (1920) was composed by Tirupati Sastry when he was seriously ill before his demise.
  24. Polavaram Rajah gari Sani Mahadasa (1918) is a deprecation of someone who had brought misfortune to the Rajah of Polavaram, his benefactor.
  25. Sukha Jeevi is a panegyric describing the qualities of Edara Venkata Rao Pantulu.

Original works in Telugu drama[edit]

  1. Panditarajamu
  2. Edward Pattabhisheka Natakamu
  3. Pandava Jananamu (1901–1917)
  4. Pandava Pravasamu
  5. Pandava Rajasuyamu
  6. Pandava Udyogamu
  7. Pandava Vijayamu
  8. Pandava Aswamedhamu
  9. Anargha Naradamu
  10. Dambha Vamanamu
  11. Sukanya
  12. Prabhavatee-Pradyumnamu (1920–1922)
  13. Gajanana Vijayamu (1901–1912)

Original works in Telugu prose[edit]

  1. Bharata Veerulu
  2. Vikrama Cellapillamu
  3. Shastipoorti
  4. Satee Jatakamu


  1. ^ Various (1987). Encyclopaedia of Indian literature vol. 1. Sahitya Akademi. 
  • Tirupati Venkata Kavulu: Makers of Indian Literature, Salva Krishnamurthy, Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi, 1985.