Friday, 1 November 2013

Sree Krishna Devaraya

         తెలుఁగ దేల యెన్న దేశంబు దెలుఁగేను
             తెలుఁగు వల్లభుండఁ తెలుఁగొకండ
యెల్ల నృపులు గొలువ నెరుఁగవే బాసాడి
దేశ భాషలందు తెలుగు లెస్స” – తుళువ రాజు శ్రీకృష్ణదేవరాయ"

“Desa bhashalandu Telugu Lessa” meaning " Telugu is the best/sweetest among the languages of the nation", said by none other than the Vijayanagara king Shri Krishna Deva Raya of Tuluva Dynasty well known as Andhra Bhoja, Kannada Rajya rama ramana, Moorurayaraganda(King of 3 kings). He is born on 17th January,1471 at Hampi of Karnataka state to Tuluva Narasa Nayaka. Emperor’s coronation took place on the birthday of Hindu God Krishna.

            He is one of the greatest kings in India. Krishnadevaraya who ruled the kingdom of Vijayanagara in between 1509-1529(16th century A.D) was one of the greatest statesmen which medieval South India had produced. Size of Vijayanagara empire is estimated as large as Rome. The Vijayanagara period (1336-1565 A.D.) is considered to be the golden age of Telugu literature. Literary activities flourished during the rule of the Vijayanagara dynasty, and the period of Krishnadevaraya’s rule in the sixteenth century. During this time Telugu was one of the languages spoken in the royal courts. 

                Telugu literature also flourished in the traditional “samsthanas” (centres) of Southern literature, such as Madurai and Tanjore. Therefore this age is often also referred to as the Southern Period. Emperor was fluent in many languages. Telugu, Kannada, Tamil and Sanskrit poets enjoyed emperor’s patronage. Painting, sculpture, dance and music were greatly encouraged by him and his successors. Nilakantha Somayaji (Greatest south Indian Mathematician) , Allasani Peddanna, Nandi thimmana, Madayyagari Mallana, Dhurjati ( Andhra Kavi), Ayyala-raju Rama-Bhadrudu, Pingali surana, Ramaraja Bhushanudu and Tenali Rama Krishna are the Ashta Diggajas of his court, (Ashta + dik + gaja) means elephants in eight directions. It refers to the old Hindu belief that eight elephants hold the earth in eight directions. The court of poets were also called Bhuvana Vijayam (Conquest of the World).

Among these eight poets Allasani Peddana is considered to be the greatest and is given the title of Andhra Kavita Pitamaha (the father of Telugu poetry). Manu-charitramu which was patronised to Sri Krishna Devaraya is his popular prabhanda work. Nandi Timmana wrote Paari-jaata-apaharan-amu. Madayya-gari Mallana wrote Raja-sekhara Charitramu. Dhurjati wrote Kalahasti Mahatyamu and Ayyal-raju Rama-bhadrudu wrote Rama-abhyuday-amu. Pingali Surana wrote the still remarkable Raghava-pandaveeyamu, a dual work with double meaning built into the text, describing both the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. Bhattumurty alias Rama-raja-bhushanudu wrote Kavyalankara-sangrahamu, Vasu-charitramu, and Harischandra-nalopakhyanamu. Among these works the last one is a dual work which tells simultaneously the story of King Harishchandra and Nala and Damayanthi. Tenali Ramakrishna first wrote Udbhataradhya Charitramu, a Shaivite work and later wrote Vaishnava devotional texts Pandu-ranga Mahatmyamu, and Ghatikachala Mahatmyamu. The period of the Empire is known as “Prabandha Period,” because of the quality of the prabandha literature produced during this time. Tenali Ramakrishna remains one of the most popular folk figures in India today, a quick-witted courtier ready even to outwit the all-powerful emperor. Among Dhurjati's works, a set of poems rather a collection of 100 poems called the "srikalahastheeshwara satakamu" (satakamu means set of 100 poems) is the most famous.

The Vijayanagar kingdom reached the pinnacle of its glory during the reign of Krishnadeva Raya. He was successful in all the wars he waged. He defeated the king of Orissa and annexed Vijaywada and Rajmahendri. He defeated the Sultan of Bijapur in 1512 and took the possession of the Raichur Doab. The Vijayanagar kingdom extended from Cuttak in east to Goa in the west and from the Raichur Doab in the north to the Indian Ocean in the south.


Sri Krishna Deva Raya being himself well conversant with literature, wrote the book Amuktamalyada in Telugu, beautifully describing the pangs of separation suffered by Sri Andal (one of the twelve bhakti-era alwars) for her lover Lord Vishnu

One of the main characters is Periyalvar, the father of Andal. Lord Vishnu commands Periyalwar to teach a king of the Pandya dynasty the path of knowledge to moksha. Amuktamalyada is also known by the name Vishnu-chitteeyam, a reference to Vishnu-chittudu, the Telugu name of Vishnuchittar aka Periyalwar. Several other short stories are included in Amuktamalyada in the course of the main story of Godadevi, the Sanskrit name of Kothai Naachiyaar aka Andal, which is used throughout the tome. Krishna Raya was also well-versed in Sanskrit, Tamil and Kannada. Jambavati Kalyanamu is his Sanskrit work. He strove for the welfare and the uplifting of Telugu people.


Sri Krishnadevaraya used to place lot of importance to trade. As warfare during these times depended upon effective cavalry, the import of horses from Arabia and Central Asia was very important for rival kingdoms. This trade was initially controlled by Arab traders. Local communities of merchants known as kudirai chettis or horse merchants also participated in these exchanges. From 1498 other actors appeared on the scene. These were the Portuguese, who arrived on the west coast of the subcontinent and attempted to establish trading and military stations. Their superior military technology, especially the use of muskets, enabled them to become important players in the tangled politics of the period.

In fact, Vijayanagara was also noted for its markets dealing in spices, textiles and precious stones. Trade was often regarded as a status symbol for such cities, which boasted of a wealthy population that demanded high-value exotic goods, especially precious stones and jewellery. The revenue derived from trade in turn contributed significantly to the prosperity of the state.

The following extract from Amuktamalyada will clarify how much important trade is in the view of Sri Krishnadevaraya -"A king should improve the harbours of his country and so encourage its commerce that horses, elephants, precious gems, sandalwood, pearls and other articles are freely imported … He should arrange that the foreign sailors who land in his country on account of storms, illness and exhaustion are looked after in a suitable manner … Make the merchants of distant foreign countries who import elephants and good horses be attached to yourself by providing them with daily audience, presents and allowing decent profits. Then those articles will never go to your enemies." 

  1. Kalinga war

The Surya Vamsi Gajapatis of Odisha ruled a vast land comprising Andhra region, most of Telengana region, the whole of Odisha, parts of present West Bengal, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh. Krishna Deva Raya's success at Ummatur provided the necessary impetus to carry his campaign into the Telangana region which was in control of Gajapati Prathapa Rudra Dev. The Vijayanagar army laid siege to the Udayagiri fort in 1512. The campaign lasted for a year before the Gajapati army disintegrated due to starvation. Krishna Deva Raya offered prayers at Tirupati thereafter along with his wives Tirumala Devi and Chinnama Devi. The Gajapati army was then met at Kondaviduraju where the armies of Vijayanagara, after establishing a siege for a few months and heavy with initial defeats began to retreat, until Timmarusu upon discovering a secret entrance to the unguarded eastern gate of the fort launched a night attack culminating with the capture of the fort and the imprisonment of the greatest swordsman of his time, Prince Virabhadra, the son of Gajapati Emperor of Kalinga-Utkal,Gajapati Prataprudra Deva. Saluva Timmarasa took over as governor of Kondavidu thereafter. The Vijayanagar army then accosted the Gajapati army at Kondapalli area and laid another siege. Krishnadevaraya then planned for an invasion of mainland Kalinga-Utkal but the Gajapati Emperor, Prataparudra, privy of this plan had built up a strategy to rout the Vijayanagara army and along with it its king, Krishnadevaraya. The confrontation was to happen at the fort of Kalinganagar. But the wily Timmarusu secured the information by bribing a Telugu deserter, formerly under the service of the mighty Prataprudra deva. Prataprudra was driven to Cuttack,the capital of the Gajapati empire and eventually surrendered to Vijaynagar, giving his daughter Princess Annapurna Devi in marriage to Sri Krishna Deva Raya.As per treaty Krishna river became boundary of Vijaynagar and Odisha Kingdom. Thereafter peace between the two strongest Hindu empires in India ensured a period of harmony and the safety of Sanatana dharma in India.

 The complicated alliances of the empire and the five Deccan sultanates meant that he was continually at war, in one of these campaigns, he defeated Golconda and captured its commander Madurul-Mulk, crushed Bijapur and its Sultan Ismail Adil Shah and restored Bahmani sultanate to Muhammad Shah.
The highlight of his conquests occurred on 19 May 1520 where he secured the fortress of Raichur from Ismail Adil Shah of Bijapur after a difficult siege during which 16,000 Vijaynagar soldiers were killed. The exploits of the chief military commander, Pemmasani Ramalinga Nayudu, during the battle of Raichur were suitably rewarded by the grateful emperor. During the campaign against Raichur, it is said that 703,000 foot soldiers, 32,600 cavalry and 551 elephants were used .Finally, in his last battle, he razed to the ground the fortress of Gulburga, the early capital of the Bahmani sultanate. His empire extended over the whole of South India.
In 1524 he made his son Tirumala Raya the Yuvaraja though the crown prince did not survive for long. He was poisoned to death. Suspecting the involvement of Timmarusu, Krishna Deva Raya had his trusted commander and adviser blinded. At the same time, Krishnadevaraya was preparing for an attack on Belgaum that was in the Adil Shah’s possession; Krishnadevaraya took seriously ill. He died soon after in 1529. Before his death, he nominated his brother, Achyuta Deva Raya as his successor. The rule of Krishnadevaraya was a glorious chapter in the history of Vijayanagara Empire.Even the ruins at Hampi tell the glorious tale of that mighty empire.

The decline of the Vijayanagar kingdom began with the death of Krishnadeva Raya in 1529. The kingdom came to an end in 1565, when Ramrai was defeated at Talikota by the joint efforts of Adilshahi, Nizamshahi, Qutubshahi and Baridshahi. After this, the kingdom broke into small states.


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