Ashtadiggajas Of Vijayanagara Empire

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Ashtadiggajas of the Vijayanagara Empire

The Vijayanagara Empire was one of the most powerful empires in South India. It flourished during the 14th to 16th centuries. The rulers of this empire were great patrons of arts and literature and as a result, they attracted some of the most talented poets of the time to their court. One of the most fascinating aspects of this empire was the presence of the Ashtadiggajas during the rule of King Krishna Deva Raya. They were a group of eight distinguished poets and scholars who graced the royal court. Let us dive into the world of the Ashtadiggajas of the Vijayanagara Empire and explore their contribution.

Who were the Ashtadiggajas?

The Ashtadiggajas title, which is a combination of the words Ashta (eight), Dik (direction) and Gaja (elephant), is associated with the belief in old Hinduism that eight elephants hold the earth in eight different directions, holding the weight of Earth. These elephants are named Airaavata, Sarvabhauma, Pundareeka, Kumuda, Vamana, Pushpadanta, Anjana, and Suprateeka. Each of them has a wife, namely Abhra, Anupama, Kapila, Taamraparni, Pingala, Angana, Subhradanti, and Anjanaavati. The poets’ court was also called Bhuvana Vijayam, which means the conquest of the world.

The Ashtadiggajas in the Vijayanagara Empire are also known as the “Eight Court Poets”. They were a group of highly esteemed scholars and poets who served as royal poets in the court of the Vijayanagara Empire. 

  • They were appointed by the great king Krishnadevaraya and contributed significantly to promoting the literary and cultural achievements of the empire from 1509 until his death in the year 1529.
  • The era of Ashtadiggajas is called the Prabandha Age from 1540 to 1600. 
  • Each one of them contributed to the present style of Prabandha as they composed at least one Prabandha Kavyamu.
  • These Ashtadiggajas were the eight pillars of Telegu literature.

The Eight Court Poets or Ashtadiggajas

Here is a list of the Ashtadiggajas who were present in the court of Krishna Deva Raya – 

  1. Allasani Peddana: He was one of the most celebrated poets of the Vijayanagara Empire and is often referred to as Andhra Kavita Pitamaha (the grandfather of Telugu poetry). Peddana was known for his epic poems “Harikathasaram” and “Manucharitram” which narrate the love story of Manu and Cheliya.
  2. Tenali Ramakrishna: One of the most famous of the Ashtadiggajas, Tenali Ramakrishna was not just a poet but also a witty court jester. He is best known for his humorous and satirical poems and stories that often carried moral lessons. He wrote Pandurang Mahtmyam, one of the Kavyas of the Panch Maha Kavyas of Telugu.
  3. Nandi Thimmana: Nandi Thimmana was a versatile poet who excelled in both Telugu and Sanskrit literature. He is best known for his epic poem “Parijataapaharanam,” which is a classic in Telugu literature. He dedicated his writings to his emperor.
  4. Dhoorjati: Dhoorjati was versatile and composed poems in both Telugu and Sanskrit. He was known for his complex metaphors and deep philosophical insights in his poetry. 
  5. Ayyalaraju Ramabhadra: Ramabhadra was known for his devotional poetry and was a staunch devotee of Lord Venkateswara. His poems were filled with bhakti (devotion) and were highly revered by the people. His poetry reflects themes of love, nature, and devotion.
  6. Pingali Surana: Surana was a master of both Sanskrit and Telugu poetry. He was known for his lyrical compositions and his keen insights into human emotions. He is acclaimed for his work “Raghava Pandaveeyam,” a poetic retelling of the epic Mahabharata.
  7. Ramaraja Bhushana: Bhushana was a court poet who was well-versed in both Telugu and Sanskrit. He was known for his patriotic and nationalistic poems that praised the glory of the Vijayanagara Empire.
  8. Madayyagari Mallana: Mallana was a versatile poet who excelled in various forms of poetry such as Elegy, Ode and Sonnet. He was known for his lyrical and emotive verses that touched the hearts of the readers.

It has been deduced from the ancient stone inscriptions that the emperor bestowed the village of Thippalur, located in the present-day Cuddapah district, upon the Ashtadiggajas.

Also Read – Navratnas of Akbar: Birbal, Tansen and More

Ashtadiggajas and their Work

Some of the famous works through which these eight pillars contributed to the court are –  

AshtadiggajasFamous for 
Allasani PeddanaHarikathasaram and Manucharitram
Tenali RamakrishnaGhatikachala Mahatmyau, Udbhataradhya Charitramu and Pandurang Mahtmyam
Nandi ThimmanaParijataapaharanam
DhoorjatiKalahasti Mahatyamu
Ayyalaraju RamabhadraRamaabhyudayamu
Pingali SuranaRaghava Pandaveeyam
Ramaraja BhushanaKavyalankarasangrahamu, Harischandranalopkhyanamu and Vasucharitramu
Madayyagari MallanaRajasekhara Charitramu
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