Remembering Telugu poet Tikkana


An exquisitely carved sandal sheath which held writing implements used by great Telugu poet Tikkanna Somayaji in the 12th century is still carefully preserved by his descendant Paturu Harihara Sarma. This is not just a precious artefact but also living proof of the classical status of Telugu, which the Andhra Pradesh government is lobbying hard for.

It is believed that Tikkanna used this iron stylus (Gamtamu) to translate the great epic Mahabharata on a mandap in the banks of the Pennar river. Tikkanna, one of the trinity of poets who translated the Mahabharata, was born in Nellore, Andhra Pradesh in a Saivaite Brahmin family. He was known as Vikrama Simhapuri and lived in Paturu, a small village about 10 km from Nellore.

Tikkanna translated 15 chapters of the work during his lifetime. It was only a century later that the remaining part was translated by Erranna. Apart from this, Tikkanna also penned the Niryachanottara Ramanyanamanu which traces the life of Lord Ram and Sita after they return to Ayodhya.
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