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Allasani Peddana – Short Biography

Allasani Peddana is one of the ashtadiggaja kavis (eight-learned poets) of emperor Krishnadevaraya’s court (1509 – 30 CE) at Vijayanagar. As per his biography, he held the title of Sarvatomukhandhra Kavitapitamaha – grandsire of Telugu poetry.

Peddana was a Smarta Niyogi brahmin of the Nandavarika sect and Vasistha gotra (clan). The son of Cokkayamatya, and a student of Sathkopa Tapasa, he belonged to Peddanapadu village in Kamalapuram taluk in the Cuddapah district of Andhra Pradesh.

It is believed that Peddana entered the royal court sometime in 1511 CE a year after the coronation of Krishnadevaraya and remained at Vijayanagara will around 1533 CE, that is, even after the demise of the emperor.

His first work is Hari Kathasara, dedicated to his teacher, Sathakopayati. The work is not extant,  only half a dozen verses are found cited in Anamdarangarat Chandas.

Next came Simhavalokana Utpalamalika, a thirty-line malika (a garland of the meter utpalamala) in which Peddana laid down the rules for poetic composition and the usage of Telugu words and Sanskrit. An utpreshksha (a metaphoric expression, a figure of speech) on the whole, this malika touches upon maturity, senuousness, music, universality of experience, dramatic interest, rhythms, and exhilarating experience. Peddana’s concept of poetry is in tune with the mystic and naturalist philosophy.

Krishnadevaraya is said to have offered the Kavigandependeram to the best poet, after himself having received a Gandapendera from king Prataparudra Gajapati of Odisha. When Peddana claimed the title, the king is said to have put it on his ankle himself.

Peddana’s next major work Svarocisamanu Sambhavamu, popularly known as Manucaritra, is dedicated to Krishnadevaraya sometime during 1526 CE and seems to have been commissioned on the birth of the emperor’s son around 1517 CE. This work is significant, in that it celebrates the birth of Manu, the forefather of mankind. The story is taken from Markandeya Purana and portrays Krishnadevaraya in the guise of Svaroci.

Peddana is also said to be the author of Ramastavarajam and Advaitasiddhamatamu, but evidence does not support this claim.