Compiled by London Swaminathan               

Post No.7530

Date uploaded in London – – 3 February 2020

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Tarigonda  Vengamamba  was a poetess from Chittoor area in Andhra region. She has dedicated all her work to deity Narasimha in Tarigonda village. She was perhaps a native of that village. She was the daughter of a Brahmana named Krishnayya;  widowed early in life , she found solace in religion and philosophy  — especially yoga — , which furnished themes for her literary compositions. She was probably born in the last quarter of the eighteenth century.

Vengamaambaa was a more prolific authoress than most of the women writers who had preceded her.  Three of her metrical works in Telugu   — the Bhagavata, the Rajayoga sara and the Venkatachala Mahatmya  – have come down to us. Though not equal in literary craftmanship to Molla or Muddupalani, her poetry is not without charm.  Her language is sweet, and her descriptions, especially of erotic subjects , are free from the excesses  which mar the compositions of others.  The popularity of Vengamamba rests more upon Rajayoga sara  than on her other works.  It serves as an introduction to the study of the Yoga philosophy, and is read with avidity by many who devote their lives  to the cultivation of the spirit.

The Nayaka queens of Thanjavur were cultured women, and some of them have made distinct contributions to Sanskrit  and Telugu literatures. The poems and dramas composed during this period mark the growth of a vigorous Southern school of Telugu literature. It certainly speaks highly of these ladies that were able to distinguish themselves in a  region which has for centuries  been the hub of the South Indian culture, and during this particular period  when it produced men of eminence .


Two consorts of Ragunatha Nayaka  (1600-30 )

Madhuravani and Ramabhadramba , both pupils of Kalayya , and one queen of Vijayaraghava (1633-73) – Ranjamma deserve mention .


Her attainments are enumerated in the introduction to Ramayana.  She was proficient in grammar and prosody  and in adept in completing ‘Samayas’ – incomplete cryptic verses –  and in Ashtaavadaana  – attending to eight things at a time –  and Shataavadaana – attending to 100 things at a time.  She was also a gifted musician, and for her skill in playing on the Vina, her loyal lover called her Madhuravaani (of sweet tone).

Vijayaraghava , the next ruler introduced her as a character in his y

Yaksha Gana – the Rahunadabhyudhayam, where she is spoken of as an ‘ashu kavitaa vaani ‘– one who can compose verses spontaneously and instantaneously.

Her Ramayana in 14 cantos purports to be a Sanskrit  rendering of Raghunatha Nayaka’s poem in Telugu, Which is now probably lost. The translation is no mean work of art; the style is simple, graceful and dignified, reminiscent of Kalidasa’s Raghuvamsa , which she  appears to have imitated successfully in many placeS.

Source book – great women of India, Advaita Ashrama, Mayavati.