Name: Pothana or Potana (c.1370–c.1450)
Birth Place and Residence:
Bammera Pothana (1450–1510) is an Indian poet whose mother tongue is Telugu. He is well known Telugu and Sanskrit Scholar and has translated the Bhagavata Purana from Sanskrit to Telugu. His work Maha Bhagavatam is also referred to as Pothana Bhagavatam in Telugu.
Apart from being a poet, Bammera Pothana was also an agriculturist by occupation.
He was considered to be a natural Poet (Sahaja Kavi) who do not need any teacher.
Pothana used to live in Bammera and went to ‘Ekasilanagaramu’ to write Bhagawatamu.
The early life of Bammera Pothana
- Bammera Pothana has written a poem, Bhogini Dhandakam in praise of king Sri Singa Bhoopala (Singama nayaka-II – 1384 AD – 1399 AD). Biagini Dhandakam is the earliest available Dhandaka in Telugu.
- Potana has referred to Bahaskara Ramayanamu from 1370 A.D.
- Potana has referred to Taatambhattu written by Kavi-Chintaamani to write Narayana-Satakamu and Bhogini-Dandakamu.
- The last poem in Kavi-Chiniamani, Pina-Veerana was written and dedicated to Saalva-Narasingaraya around a.d. 1480. It is clear that Potana lived before a.d. 1480.
Pothana was born in the Niyogi category of the Brahmin caste. He hails from Apastamba Sutra and Kaundi- Nyasa gotra.
Potana was born and brought up in Bammera Village, Palakurthy Mandal, Jangaon District in Telangana State.
Potana’s father’s name was Kesanna and his mother’s name was Lakshmamma. Pothana’s teacher’s name was Ivatuuri Somana. Some of the Pothana writings are Bhogini Dandakamu, Virabhadhra Vijayamu, Narayana Satakamu, and Bhagavatam.
Potana mentioned that he started composing verses in his boyhood days with the kind blessings given by Somasekhara. He mentioned that his teacher blessed him with the power of composing poetry.
Let us look at some of his poetry works in detail.
- Bhogini Dandakamu
- Virabhadhra Vijayamu
- Narayana Satakamu
- Bhagavatam (Eight skandhas).
1. Bhogini Dandakamu:
Bhogini Dandakamu is one of the most popular books in Telugu literature. The storyline of the book is based on the prostitute name Biagini who loves Sarvagna Singa Bhupala and attains him at last. Bhogini Dandakamu is a very small work of about eight pages. It was his first ever work which was done by him to please the king at that time.
Let us look at the specialties of the Bhogin Dandakamu
- Till then, Dandakamu was written in praise of the Gods. But, it was the first Dandakamu that was written on the basis of a story and human activities.
- Dandakamu which was exclusively meant for devotion came down as an expression of erotic sentiment. Some other notable stories are the Vidyaavali Dandakamu of Ganapavarapu Venkata Kavi, Mohini Dandakamu of Vijaya Bhupati, and Chandranana Dandakamu of Sambasiva.
2. Veerabhadra Vijayamu (Veerabhadra Vijayamu):
Potana has written this book in his boyhood days. Veerabhadra Vijayamu contains four chapters and a total number of 1046 verses. In his book, he praised Lord Siva, Lord Veerabhadra, and Goddess Saraswati.
And, he also praised Sanskrit poets like Vyasa, Valmiki, Kalidasa, Bana, Magha, Sivabhadra, Manibhadra, Bharavi, and Bhoja. He has praised some Telugu poets like Nannaya, Tikkana, Vemulavaada Bheemana, Ranganatha, and Shringara Kavi.
Veerabhadra Vijayamu narrates that King Daksha wanted to perform yagna without inviting Lord Shiva. Dadichi explains to King Daksha that the yagna without the presence of Shiva is a waste. Furious Shiva and Parvathi gave birth to Veerabhadra and Bhadrakali. Veerabhadra destroys the yagna.
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3. Naaraayana Satakamu:
Potana wrote Naraayana Satakamu after he completed the Veerabhadra Vijayamu. This clearly indicates the gradual change of his faith from Saivism to Vaishnavism. Potana was a devotee of Siva and a disciple of the Veerashaiva teacher by the name of Somasekhara.
As such, the Veerashaivas have no hatred for Vishnu. Moreover, they consider Vishnu as the devotee of Siva. So, it is very obvious why Potana wrote Naaraayana Satakamu in appreciation of Vishnu.
4. Maha Bhagavatam
Maha Bhagavatam is also popularly called Pothana Bhagavatam. Potana wrote the following skandhas — 1 to 4 and 7 to 10. Gangana wrote the fifth Skandha, Singana wrote the sixth Skandha and Naraya wrote the 11th and 12th Skandhas.
As a whole, the Bhagawatamu contains 12 skandhas. Potana, after completing the twelve skandhas kept them in a box and handed them over to his son Mallana to preserve them safely.
After his death, Mallana opened the box and found that a portion of the Bhagawatamu had been destroyed by insects. Seeing this, the disciples of Potana had completed the destroyed portions.
The king himself is a scholar and wrote many works including Rudranavasudhakara, a well-known Sanskrit drama. But, Pothana refused to obey the king’s orders and dedicated the Bhagavatamu to Lord Rama.
Pothana remarked, ‘It is better to dedicate the work to the supreme Lord Vishnu than dedicate it to the mortal kings.’ He was of opinion that poetry was a divine gift and should be utilized for salvation by devoting it to God.
His descriptions touch the hearts of the readers. Even common people quote the verses of ‘Gajendra Mokshamu’ and ‘Prahlada Charitra’ from Pothana Bhagavatham