Telugu Poet & Writer Palkuriki Somanatha – Lingayat Religion

Telugu language writers Palakuriki Somantha

Palakuriki Somantha or Palakurti Somanatha (1160 AD to 1240 AD) was one of the most noted Telugu language writers of the 12th or 13th century. Apart from the Telugu language, Somantha was also an accomplished writer and has written several classics in the Kannada and Sanskrit languages. 

Palkuriki Somanatha - Lingayat Religion
Palkuriki Somanatha – Lingayat Religion

He was a Lingayat, a Shaiva poet who is a follower of the 12th-century social reformer Basava. Most of his writings were primarily intended to propagate this faith and were well-acclaimed. 

Palakuriki Somantha indicates that he was not a Shaiva by birth. As he mentions the names of his parents in his very first work, Basava Purana, as Visnuramideva and Sriyadevi,  violating a general practice of Shaiva writers. Usually, Shaiva writers do not mention their real parents but rather consider the god Shiva as the father and his consort Parvati as the mother.  

However, the scholar Bandaru Tammayya has argued that he was born as Jangama, a devotee of the god Shiva. The Kannada scholar R. Narasimhacharya dates Palakuriki Somantha’s writings to the 12th century and claims Somanatha was patronized by Kakatiya king Prataparudra I (1140–1196).  

Palakuriki Somantha’s place of birth is uncertain because there is a village by the name Palkuriki in the Warangal district of the Telangana state as well as in Kannada.

Palakuriki Somantha early life

Palakuriki Somantha Birth Place and Residence is Palakurthi Village, Palakurthi Mandal, Jangaon District in Telangana State. Palakuriki Somantha’s father was Siva and his mother was Parvati.

Palakuriki Somantha Teacher was Ivatuuri Somana

Palakuriki Somantha have written books like Basava Purana and Panditaradhya Charitamu.

Somanatha mentions in his Basava Purana Avatarika that he was a disciple of Kattakuri Potidevara. In the Introductory passages of his Panditaradhya Charitra, Somanatha mentions that he was the disciple of the grandson of Balideva Vemaradhya. Somanatha’s literary guru was Karasthali Viswanatha.

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Palkuriki Somanatha poetry 

Basava Purana is a 13th-century Telugu epic poem written by Palkuriki Somanatha which is a sacred text of Lingayat. The epic poem narrates the life story of philosopher and social reformer Basava or Basavaṇṇa (c.1106–67/8), the founder of Lingayatism. 

Before Palkuriki Somanatha, there was no single poet who did poetic work in Telugu on contemporary social events. He wrote ‘Basava Puranam’ which was in ‘Janu Telugu’ in Dwipada (two lined verses) with the inspiration of Veera Saivism. It was a masterpiece appreciated by all poets and was translated into Kannada as well.

In fact, Palkuriki Somanatha was a rebel poet and wrote literary works in original Telugu neglecting the grammatical rules prescribed by Nannaya, the ‘Aadikavi’, during his days. Janu Telugu is another famous Telugu poem written by Palkuriki Somanath that has the least Sanskrit diction and can be easily understood by commoners. 

Palakurki Somantha also referred to as the famous Saiva Poet has written a Telugu book called Panditaradhya Charitamu. This is based on the biography of Saiva preacher Panditaradhya which gives some religious perspectives during that period.

Palakurki Somantha spent his last days in his native place and after his death, a samadhi was constructed in Palkuriki. A temple was made on his samadhi and inside the temple, a linga and Nandi are installed. This linga is known as Somanatha linga.

Palkuriki Somanatha writings

Telugu language

Palakurki Somantha’s majority of works are in the Telugu Language. Basava Purana, Panditaradhya Charitra, Malamadevipuranamu and Somanatha Stava–in dwipada metre (“couplets”); Anubhavasara, Chennamallu Sisamalu, Vrushadhipa Saataka, and Cheturvedasara–in verses; Basavodharana in verses and ragale metre (rhymed couplets in blank verse); and the Basavaragada are his most important Telugu writings. 

Kannada language

Apart from the Telugu language, Palakurki Somantha has contributed his writings in the Kannada language as well. Basavaragada, Basavadhyaragada, Sadgururagada, Silasampadane, Sahasragananama, and Pancharantna are some of his contributions to Kannada literature.

Palakurki Somantha’s other contributions to Kannada literature are Vachana and ragale poems. Somanatha’s Telugu Basavapurana was the inspiration for Vijayanagara poet Bhimakavi (c. 1369) who wrote a Kannada book by the same name. 

Sanskrit language

Somanathabhashya, Rudrabhashya, Vrushabhastaka, Basavodharana, Basavashtaka, Basava panchaka, Ashtottara satanama gadya, Panchaprakara gadya, and Asharanka gadya are some of his important works in the Sanskrit language.

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