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Amuktamalyada - Literary Work Of King Krishnadevaraya

Amuktamalyada is a Telugu poetical work of King Krishnadevaraya (1510 – 30 CE). He was the distinguished ruler of Vijayanagar kingdom. The king was a philosopher and a great devotee of Sri Venkateshwara of Tirupati. Krishnadeva Raya selected two stories from Puranic literature, one from Sanskrit, and the other from poetic stories from local records, and combined them into one. Thus he artistically synthesized the northern and southern cultures. The work is reckoned as one of the five great epics of Telugu literature, the other four being Manucharitra of Peddana, Amuktamalyada of Krishnadevaraya, Vasucharitra of Ramraju Bhushana, Sringara Naisadam of Srinatha and Vijaya Vilasam of Chemakira Venkata Kavi.

Amuktamalyada begins with the invocation of the primordial Brahman – Sri Venkateshwara – who has his consort Goddess Lakshmi in his heart. Thus, he is ekah (one), yet seems to be two. The story ends with a beautiful description of the eternal couple’s marriage, Amuktamalyada or Kodaidevi and her Bhagavan. The beginning and ending are the same. The circular process of creation is the theme of this classic.

The word Amuktamalyada stands for ‘offering the flower garland after decking oneself’. It is the story of Andal, one of the twelve Alvars of Vaishnavism. It is said that Vishnuchitta, the first among the Alvars, found a girl child in a Tulasi grove. As the child grew into adolescence, her mind was continuously contemplating Bhagavan Sri Ranganatha, the presiding deity of Srirangam. She offered him the garlands which were woven by her father, after first decking herself with them. She offered herself to Sri Ranganatha and she was renowned as Andal and is worshipped as a Goddess.

To the above story of Vishnuchitta, the author has added the substory of Khandikya Kesi Dhvaja Samvada that is famous through Vishnu Purana and Bhagvata. And a love story of Andal, a substory was also added which is told in Varaha Purana. That story revolves around a devotee who is considered to be an untouchable by the society. In between these two main stories of Vishnuchitta and Andal, another story of Yamunacharya, the first pontiff of Visishtadvaita, the philosophy of Vaishnavism was added. In this last story, the poet wrote 70 verses on the rajadharma, the political aspects of good kingship. In the story of Yamunacharya the poet portrayed the concept of an ideal king, which is a brilliant poetic expression of the vas experience and reading of the poet-king himself.

Thus the entire work is also in the circular tradition of Hindu storytelling, wherein one story leads to another, and subplots are woven within these to link me with another, like a garland. In this garland of stories, the biography of Yamunacharya stands out like a diamond in a necklace. The garland of stories also matches perfectly the original theme of the little girl (Andal) wearing the garlands made for Bhagavan.