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Bammera Pothana

Name: Pothana or Potana (c.1370–c.1450)  
Birth Place and Residence : Bammera Village, Palakurthy Mandal, Jangaon District in Telangana State. 
Parents: His father was Kesanna and his mother Lakshmamma. 
Teacher : Ivatuuri Somana
Books : Bhogini Dandakamu, Virabhadhra Vijayamu, Narayana Satakamu, Bhagawatamu.

Pothana is the first Indian poet who translated the Bhagavata Purana from Sanskrit to  his mother-tongue Telugu. He was a Telugu and Sanskrit Scholar. His work Maha Bhagavatamu, is popularly called as Pothana Bhagavatam in Telugu.

He was considered to be a natural Poet (Sahaja Kavi), needing no teacher. He was known to be very polite and was an agriculturist by occupation. Though he was a great scholar, he never hesitated to work in the agricultural fields. 

Pothana himself wrote that he used to live in Bammera and went to ‘Ekasilanagaramu’ to write Bhagawatamu. Koravi Goparaju (1430-1490) who was a contemporary of Potana, made it clear in his Simhasana-Dwatrmshika that Warangal had the name of Ekasilanagaramu also.

Life Period of Pothana
1. At an early age he wrote Bhogini Dhandakam a poem wrote in praise of king Sri Singa Bhoopala’s (Singama nayaka-II - 1384 AD - 1399 AD) concubine Bhogini. This was his first poetic venture which had the seeds of his great poetic talents. Bhogini Dhandakam is the earliest available Dhandaka (rhapsody which uses the same gana or foot all through) in Telugu. 
2. Potana has referred Bahaskara Ramayanamu which was completed around 1370 A.D
3. Taatambhattu is the author of Kavi-Chintaamani. He has referred in his work about the Narayana-Satakamu and Bhogini-Dandakamu of Potana. Pina-Veerana is the last poet, mentioned in Kavi-Chiniamani who had dedicated his work to Saalva-Narasingaraya around a.d. 1480. Hence, it is clear that Potana lived before a.d. 1480.

Genealogy : Pothana belongs to Niyogi-branch of the Brahmin-caste. He hails from Apastamba Sutra and Kaundi- nyasa gotra. He furnished the infomation about his pedigree in Veerabhadra Vijaydmu which is his first work. On the basis of that we can construct his genealogy as follows: 
Mallaya Bheemana Annaya - Gaurama (wife) 
Somana — Mallama (wife ) 
Rarhaiia Annaya JEIlana Ayyala pregada Machaya Machama (wife) 
Kesana-Lakkama Madhavudu Immadi (wife) 
Tippana Potana

His Boyhood Days: According to Potana’s revelations in Veerabhadra Vijayamu, it could be noted that he was taught first by his father only. He started composing verses in his boy- hood days with the kind blessings of Veerabhadra. In the same work, he has also mentioned about his teacher. His teacher blessed him with the power of composing poetry. Somasekhara was his teacher. 

Potana was a self-taught parson. He read with great effort and attained the knowledge of Veda, Vedanta, Parana, Ithiliasa, Kavya. Nataka, Alankara and other things. It is evident from his Bhagawalamu , that he had read the Maha- bharatamu of Nannaya, Tikkana and Krrana j the Hari Vamshamu and Uttara-Harivamshamu , works of Errana, Nachana and Somana; and the Ramayanamu of Bhaskara. Since he was a Veerashai-vite in the beginning, lie also read the Basava Puraana and Panditaaraadhya Charitra of Palkuriki Somanatha. Later on, he had a title ‘Sahaja Panditya’ (Self scholarly ) because his scholarship was due to his self-effort.  

His Works: Potana is said to have written four books. 
  1. Bhogini Dandakamu
  2. Virabhadhra Vijayamu
  3. Narayana Satakamu
  4. Bhagawatamu (Eight skandhaas).
Bhogini Dandakamu: This is a popular book in Telugu literature. Bhogini is the name of a prostitute who loved Sarvagna Singa Bhupala and attained him at last. Such is the story of the book. It is a very small work of about eight pages. Just because Potana was a great devotee, one need not think that he was as pious from his boyhood days. He too was a human being. He might have been dependent upon Rao Singa Bhupala. in the beginning. Potana might have written the Bhogini Dandakamu just to please him. Slowly when he gained the worldly experience and when the mind became mature, his tastes too might have changed; aims and ideologies might have been changed. His outlook about the other-world might have been strengthened. It is my faith that the same would have taken place in Potana as his age grew.” 
There are three qualities of Bhogin Dandakamu: 
  1. This is the first Dandakamu which appeared in the form of an exclusive work.
  2. So far, the Dandakamu was written in praise of Gods. But, this is the first Dandakamu which was written on the basis of a story and human activities.
  3. Dandakamu which was exclusively meant for devotion came down as an expression of erotic-sentiment. Only after Potana, the erotic- dandakamus have come out. Notable among them are the Vidyaavali Dandakamu of Ganapavarapu Venkata Kavi, Mohini Dandakamu of Vijaya Bhupati, and Chandranana Dandakamu of Sambasiva. 
 Veerabhadra Vijayamu (Veerabhadra Vijayamu): Potana wrote this book in his boyhood days. It is acclaimed in the world of literature because it was written by Potana. Veerabhadra Vijayamu contains four chapters. It contains a total number of 1046 verses. In the beginning of the work, he praised! Lord Siva, Lord Veerabhadra and Goddess Saraswati. He praised the Sanskrit poets such as Vyasa, Valmiki, Kalidasa, Bana, Magha, Sivabhadra, Manibhadra, Bharavi and Bhoja. He also praised the Telugu poets such as Nannaya, Tikkana, Vemulavaada Bheemana, Ranganatha, Shringara Kavi (Sreenatha). He also mentioned with reverence about his teacher who was Ivatuuri-Somana. 
 The story of Veerabhadra Vijayamu will be clear by going through the last chapter of it. Thus King Daksha wanted to perform yagna without inviting Lord Shiva.’ He invited all the gods and die saints. Dadichi explained to King Daksha that the yagna without the presence of Shiva is a waste and incom- plete. Daksha did not pay heed to his words. On th e other hand, he disrespected Dadichi. Dadichi went to Kailasa straightaway and narrated the whole incident to Siva. Siva and Parvati became angry. Siva’s anger gave birth to Veerabhadra and Paarvati’s anger gave birth to Bhadrakali. Veerabhadra destroyed the yagna of Daksha. He beheaded him. But Vishnu fought with Veerabhadra. As a result, the wheel of Vishnu got broken. The noses and the cars of other gods were cut. Veerabhadra brought all of them victoriously to Kailasa. Siva showed pity for Daksha, gave their previous forms to gods, respected Vishnu and felt happy at the victory of Veerabhadra. After going through the Veerabhadra Vijayamu, it will be clear that Potana had already read the Kumara-Sambhavamu of Nannechoda. 

Naaraayana Satakamu: Potana wrote Naraayana Satakamu after he wrote the Veerabhadra Vijayamu. This clearly indicates the turning point of his faith from Saivism to Vaishnavism. It is the beginning stage of his mental maturity and which attains its perfection at the time of writing the Bhagawatamu. Potana was a devotee of Siva and a disciple of the Veerashaiva teacher by name Somasekhara. As such, the Veerashaivas have no hatred for Vishnu. Moreover, they consider Vishnu as the devotee of Siva. So, there is no wonder that Potana wrote Naaraayana Satakamu in appreciation of Vishnu. A ‘Satakamu’ contains hundred poems. The einflunccs of Sarveswara Satakamu of Annamayya and Mukundamaala of Kulasekhara Aalwar are seen on the jdaaraayana Satakamu of Potana. This hook contains 103 poems. This book was published very recently by the late Vanguri Subba Rao, as having been written by Potana. Some scholars arc of the opinion that it might have been written by a reader- lover of Potana. The style of the work differs from the style of Potana. Nidudavolu Venkata Rao has proved after citing several examples of style from the Bhagawatamu that it is an authentic work of Potana. He wrote it at a stage when his poetic genius was yet to attain maturity and perfection

Maha Bhagavatamu, is popularly called as Pothana Bhagavatam: Though Potana had not written the whole of the Bhagawatamu which is available to us at present, lie wrote the major part of it. Hence, it is popularly called Potana’s Bhagawatamu, although a few of the skandhans were written by Gangana, Singana and Naraya Poets. Potana wrote the following skandhas — 1 to 4 and 7 to 10. Gangana wrote the fifth Skandha, Singana wrote the sixth Skandha and Naraya wrote the 11th and 12th Skandhas. This is evident from the prose lines presented at the end of each skandha. As a whole, the Bhagawatamu contains 12 skandhas. Some scholars are of the opinion that Potana wrote all the skandhas. Other poets wrote and completed some of the skandhas which were destroyed. The reasons presented for the laxity of some of Potana’s skandhas are the following two : 1 . Potana, after completing the twelve skandhas kept them in a box and handed them over to his son Mallana to preserve them safely. After his death, Mallana opened the box and found that a portion of the Bhagawatamu had been destroyed by insects. Seeing this, the disciples of Potana had completed the destroyed portions. This story is found in the first edition (a.d. 1848) of the Bhagawatamu published by Puranamu Hayagreeva Shastri. 2. Kuuchimanchi Tliimmakavi wrote the following story in his Sarva-lakshana-sara-sangrahamu which was written in a.d. 1740. Potana did not want to dedicate his Bhaga- watamu to Sarvagna Singa Bhupathi ((Singama nayaka-II - 1384 AD - 1399 AD). So, the Bhupati got angry and buried the Bhagawatamu. So, some of the portions got destroyed. And so, the other poets have completed the lost portions.  
The king himself is a scholar and wrote many works including Rudranavasudhakara, a well known Sanskrit drama. But, Pothana refused to obey the king’s orders and dedicated the Bhagavatamu to Lord Rama, whom he worshiped with great devotion. It is said that Pothana remarked, ‘It is better to dedicate the work to the supreme Lord Vishnu than dedicate it to the mortal kings.’ He was of opinion that poetry was a divine gift and it should be utilized for salvation by devoting it to the God. It is known that Pothana was patronized by this king in his early career, Pothana dedicated his first great work to this king, the king himself was a scholar, his contemporary reputation was immense (vide Srinatha's poems). It was common practice for many poets of the time to dedicate their devotional works to God himself and not necessarily to their patron-kings. 

Pothana was fond of using rhythm and repetition of sounds. His descriptions touch the hearts of the readers. Even common people quote the verses of ‘Gajendra Mokshamu’ and ‘Prahlada Charitra’ from Pothana Bhagavatham

The poem containing the mockery against Karanata Kiraata Keechakulu is a chatuvu (apocryphal) attributed to Pothana with no proof that he actually wrote it. Even if he did, it is unclear who the Karanata villains were, very likely the rulers of Karnaata Samrajyam (the contemporary term for the Vijayanagar empire) who were raiding Rachakonda at the time. The Rachakonda kingdom was under intense turmoil at the time, under attack by the Bahamani's from the west, Karanata (Vijayanagar) empire from the south and the Reddy Rajas from the east. Rachakonda and its king ceased to exist by the mid-15th century, absorbed into the Bahmani kingdom. 

Srinatha (c. 1365-1370 – 1441) was the Contemporary of Potana and not the brother-in-law as shown in the movies.

Hussain, Ahmed. “Potana.” Indian Literature, vol. 19, no. 1, 1976, pp. 102–13. JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/24157253. Accessed 19 Jun. 2022.


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