REGIONAL IDENTITY AND BEGINNINGS OF VERNACULAR LITERATURE 9
flowered, or a poet like Nannaya (eleventh century), who is supposed to be the inaugurator of literary tradition in Telugu (the adikavi), could find patronage in a royal court of this period defies our imagination.1 It is equally difficult to imagine the development of a local folk dialect to the level of a medium of high culture, and the production of sophisticated literature (in contrast to folk literature) happening outside an elite culture. This paradoxical situation demands a deeper analysis of our historical data.
In this context, to some extent based on my earlier study of Kannada literature (NagarajuinNayak and VenkatachalaSastry 1975-8 l:v.2,329-9 l;v.3,128-54; v.4, 139-60; v.5,190-214), I propose to put forth the following hypotheses:
1. In a country where high culture is already present with its own language medium (e.g. Sanskrit), which is different from the language of the masses, the emergence of the vernacular to ahigher literary status does not take place in the centers of high culture (e.g., themetropolis, big towns, ^graharas), but can happen only in isolated regions located away from the above centres and free from or feebly influenced by the impact of high culture.
2. This happens at a time when there is a sudden change in the socio-economic situationin such regions, which throws up a new dominant class from within its social fabric.
3. The new class with its rising social aspiration and class consciousness tries to find various cultural mechanisms that could help to maintain its status, identity, and social cohesion (ideology, script, language, status symbols, etc.). Among these, oneof the powerful cohesive mechanisms would be the use of the local language, which is spoken commonly by all the members of this class. This would also help to maintain their identity intact.
4. Once this class opts for a language as a vehicle of culture of these elite groups, that language goes through a process of refinement to evolve itself into an effective medium for complex usages of the sophisticated culture. (Emergence of sophisticated literature is a step in the process.)
5. The emerging confidence of the new class, in establishing itself as the neo-elite and in the efficacy^oTthe^ vernacular to operate as the high culture medium, spreads in ripple motion to the neighboring regions and activates there the various social groups whose social ambitions could not have been satisfied by the traditional high culture. A new set of social relations evolves, with tension, accommodation, and adjustments operating at various levels and degrees, but the vernacular commanding the larger social base finally succeeds in replacing the traditional high culture language which was the preserve of the chosen few.
6. The cultural leadership for the above movement is often provided by socio-religious groups which are outside the brahmanical system or which are of some liberal dispensation in accommodating and promoting the interests of the new classes.