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Among the Dravidian languages, Telugu exhibits the greatest influence of Sanskrit. Telugu literature is generally divided into six periods :

  1. The Pre-Nannaya period (upto 1020 A.D.)
  2. The age of the Puranas (1020-1400)
  3. The age of Srinatha (1400-1510)
  4. The age of the Prabandhas (1510-1600)
  5. The southern period (1600-1820) and
  6. The modern period (After 1820).

    In the earliest period there are only inscriptions from 575 A.D. onwards. Nannaya's (1022-1063) translation of the Sanskrit Mahabharata into Telugu is the first piece of Telugu literature as yet discovered. After the death of Nannaya there was a kind of social and religious revolution in the Telugu country.

    Virasaivism propagated Bhakti towards Shiva as the only means of attaining salvation. Tikkana (13th century) and Yerrana (14th century) continued the translation of the Mahabharata started by Nannaya. Yerrana was also a devotee of Shiva. Quite a few poets continued writing in Telugu and we come to the age of Srinatha. During this period some Telugu poets translated Sanskrit poems and dramas while others attempted original narrative poems. The popular Telugu literary form called the Prabandha evolved during this period. Srinatha (1365-1441) is the formost poet who popularized this form of composition. Srinathas Naishadham is particularly well known.

    We may also refer to the Ramayana poets. The earliest Ramayana in Telugu is generally known as the Ranganath Ramayana authored by Gona Buddha Reddi. Then there are great religious poets like Potana (1450-1510), Jakkana (14th century) and Gaurana (15th century) The golden period of the Telugu literature is the 16th and 17th centuries. Krishnadevaraya's Amuktamalayamada is regarded as a Mahakavya. Peddana's Manu Charita is another outstanding Mahakavya. Telugu literature flourished in the south in areas like Madurai, Thanjavoor, etc. and that is why the age itself is called the Southern Period.


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