VELCHERU NARAYANA RAO*
Coconut and Honey: Sanskrit and Telugu in Medieval Andhra1
It was January 15,1517. Kr$nad@varaya, the Vijayanagara king, who was on his way to invade the Kalinga country, stopped at the temple of god Andhramahavi$nu in Srikakulam on the bank of the Krishna river. That night the god appeared in his dream.2 As reported by Kr$nadevaraya himself in his Amuktamalyada, the god said:
You told the Story ofMadalasa, exciting connoisseurs of poetry
with skillful similes and metaphors and the trope of true description.
You sang of SatyabhSima, a poem resonant with rich feeling.
You made a collection of superb stories culled from all ancient books.
You composed the Gem of Wisdom, an eloquent work
that dispels residues of darkness in those who hear it.
You astounded us with honeyed poems m the language of the gods,
The Pleasures of Poetry and other essays.
Is Telugu beyond you? Make a book in Telugu
now, for my delight.
Why Telugu? You might ask. This is the Telugu land. I am the lord of Telugu. There is nothing sweeter.
You speak many languages
with kings who come to serve you.
Don't you know?
Among all the languages of the land,
Telugu is best. (Amuktamalyada 1-13, 15)
The final statement—deSabhasaY andu telugu lessa, "among all the languages of the land, Telugu is best"—has acquired new meaning in the context of post-Department of South Asian Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Social Scientist, Vol. 23 Nos. 10-12, October-December 1995