The Mahabharata was written first in Sanskrit by Rishi Ved Vyas. It took three Telugu scholars their lifetimes to translate it to Telugu
Kavitrayam ~ the trinity of poets
The great Hindu epic of ancient India, Mahabharata was originally available in Sanskrit. The main story of Mahabharata revolves around the progeny of two brothers Dhritarashtra and Pandu, respectively called the Pandavas and Kauravas. The story leads up to the Kurukshetra War and the battle for the throne of Hastinapura.
The battle was not just a war over a Kingdom but it was a war to establish Dharma. It was a Dharma yudh. Interwoven all through are side-stories of thousands of people of the era. The most important part of the Mahabharata is the Bhagvat Geeta's learnings. The Geeta is a collection of 700 sacred verses. They were recited by Shri Krishna for Arjun. It is a text holy to Hindus and is considered a handbook for life and for achieving moksha.
It is understandable why Telugu scholars would want to translate it to Telugu as well. But the process to do so was not easy, in fact, it was exceptionally remarkable and must be shared. To know about it, one must know about Kavitrayam, the trinity of poets.
Mahabharata was translated into Telugu over several centuries. It took three poets a lifetime of their effort. Those three poets are namely Nannayya, Tikkana, and Yerrapragada.
Nannaya was an 11th-century AD poet. Though there was some Telugu literature written before him, it is he who has been bestowed with the title of Adhikavi (first poet). He revived the Telugu language by adding a few alphabets from Sanskrit. He wrote two and a half chapters.
Tikkana was a 13th-century Telugu poet. He translated the final 15 chapters but did not undertake to translate the half-finished Aranya Parvamu (The forest chapter).
Yeranna was a 14th-century Telugu poet. He translated the remaining half - of the Aranya Parvam (The forest chapter). This trinity of poets put their efforts to deliver the epic in Telugu as well.
Because of their dedication and creative work, it wasn’t just a translation but also their version of Mahabharata in Telugu. So treasured the Mahabharata is here that there is a saying in Telugu, ‘tinte garelu tinali, vinte bharatam vinali’ which means if you want to eat, eat vadas if you want to listen, listen to the Bharatam (Mahabharat).
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