In Telugu Classical literature, the work ‘dasa kumaara charitaM’ (The story of ten princes) authored by muulaghaTika keatana (who was the disciple of the famous poet tikkana soemayaaji) started a new genre of works known as ‘kathaa kaavyamu’ – a poetic work of stories or episodes. This work was the rendition into Telugu language of the Sanskrit work in prose (of same name) by danDi. This was in 13th century AD and followed by maMchana’s work ‘keayuurabaahu charitra’ of the same period. Thus started a small series of poetic works of episodic nature in Telugu language. In this series a work known as ‘siMhaasanaa dvaatriMSika’ authored by koravi goeparaaju was the fifth and belonged to the 15th century AD. This work was a free rendition into Telugu of the Sanskrit work known by name ‘vikramaark charitra’. This work was composed of 32 stories told by the 32 ‘saalabhaMjika’ s (figurines carved on each of the 32 legs of the throne of the king vikramaaditya).
From the information available in the introduction of the book ‘siMhasanaa dvaatriMSika’, the poet korari goeparaaju was born in a family of niyoegi brahmans who belonged to haritasa goetra. Their family name ‘koravi’ indicates that they were from the village named ‘koravi’. The ‘koravi’ family was founded by vennaamaatya who served as prime minister to the king velanaaTi pRdhviiSvara who reigned parts of Telugu country with chandavoelu as the capital to his kingdom. This place chandavoelu is in Guntur District of Andhra Pradesh. It is said that goeparaaju’s father kasavaraaju too served as a minister in the royal court of a king named raaNaa malla nareMdra who reigned a region known as veamugallu. But nothing much is known about this king and kingdom till date except that this kingdom was located in the midst of a hill range and a temple with the presiding deity Sri vishNu was located there. This place, however, could not be identified with these minor details. It is believed that there is a gap of at least seven generations between the time of the founder of the ‘koravi’ family vennaamaatya and goeparaaju.
The following poem is the 32nd of the 1st chapter of the book ‘simhaasanaa dvaatriMSika’ in which goeparaaju, in no uncertain terms, puts forth the opinion generally held in the minds of people of his day on works in Telugu literature and lays down in the form of a statement the method of his translation and the vocabulary he wanted to use in it.
tenuguna teaTagaa gathalu telpina gaavyamu poMduleadu me
ttana pasacaaladaMdru viSadaMbuga saMskRta Sabdamuuda je
ppina navi darbhamuLLanuchu beTTaru vinula gaavuna ruchul
danara denuMgu deaSiyunu dadbhavamuM galayaMga jeppedan.
తెనుఁగునఁ తేటగాఁ గథలు తెల్పినఁ గావ్యము పొందులేదు మె
త్తన పసచాలదంద్రు విశదంబుగ సంస్కృత శబ్దమూఁదఁ జె
ప్పిన నవి దర్భముళ్ళనుచుఁ బెట్టరు వీనులఁ గావునఁ రుచుల్
దనరఁ దెనుంగు దేశియును దద్భవముం గలయంగఁ జెప్పెదన్.
When revealed stories clearly in Tenugu people say there is no aptness, soft
Substance not sufficient; when said in Sanskrit in revealingly pointed terms
They say they are sharp as sacred-grass and don’t take into ears, so as shines
Spread, I tell in mixed tongue of Tenugu, native Telugu and Sanskrit born Telugu.
This poem gives interesting information about the three main varieties of Telugu generally accepted and used in literary works of his time i.e., 15th century AD. The word Tenugu may indicate the variety of Telugu that is known as tatsamamu which means ‘similar to Sanskrit’ – which further means that a word borrowed from Sanskrit language would be used with a minor alteration of the ending (or termination) duly attaching it with the Telugu pratyayamu (an affix to the root word) – for eg., the Sanskrit word raajya (రాజ్య) becomes raajyamu (రాజ్యము) in Telugu (with the Telugu affix ‘mu’ (ము) attached to it while terminating).
The word ‘deaSi’ indicates the pure native tongue known as achcha tenugu (original Telugu) or teaTa tenugu (clear Telugu).
The word tatbhavamu means ‘word born from Sanskrit’. These are words borrowed from Sanskrit which will appear in greatly changed from as in jakku (జక్కు) from the Sanskrit word yaksha (యక్ష).
In the above poem, goeparaaju summarises that he would like to use a vocabulary which is an admixture of all the three types of Telugu words, since (i) a work that is told or written using exclusively tenugu words was not held in high esteem and even ridiculed by many and hence not worth trying; and (ii) a work told or written solely using the Sanskritised Telugu was feared as harsh to the ears and a hard nut to crack.