Till eleventh century, literature in Telugu speaking regions was essentially in Sanskrit written by the elite and strictly for the elite. The ordinary apparently had their own form and style of literature known as janapada meaning people's which is not preserved systematically. While the elite literature was concerned about Gods, Goddesses and their love affairs, religion, mythologies etc, the janapada was about the people, their contemporary problems that included at least occasionally a voice of dissent, festivities etc. During that period Raja Raja Narendra the ruler from Rajamandry directed a poet in his court Nannaya to translate Mahabharata from Sanskrit to Telugu. Indeed he translated a portion of it. Other parts were translated by Tikkana and Errana joined both these parts and completed the task. Thus Nannaya officially is the poet who initiated a new trend in Telugu literature. Despite these efforts Telugu and Telugu poets [including Nannaya himself ] could not escape the influence of. Sanskrit. What was written as Telugu was mostly Sanskritandramu . I had an opportunity to see a book titled Bahulaswa Charitramu by Damerla Vengala Nayaka Bhupaludu the raja of Srikalahasty in such style and I could not make out a single poem.
The effective and path breaking change in Telugu literature was due to Mahakavi Gurajada Venkata Appa Rao [1862-1951] popularly known as Gurajada Appa Rao or simply Gurajada, in that he wrote in the language of the people. His play Kanyasulkam was written with the aim of educating people against the evil practice child marriages of buying child brides. The movement against child marriages started by sri Kandukuri Viresalingam was already in progress by that time. Gurajada was successful in his mission. He enjoyed the support of Ananda Gajapati Raju the raja of Vijayanagaram. Such a serious issue was dealt with humour. Readers of the play [Kan..] will burst into laughter while reading the book. I happened to read kanyasulkam and also viewed the play directed by eminent actor/ director [play] sri K .Venkateswara Rao while studying in AndhraUniversity. Very recently I read his heart touching poem puttadi bomma purnamma. I found tears in my eyes as I completed the poem. If any body knowing Telugu is reading this blog I request pl. pl. read that poem. See these patriotic lines of Gurajada [as I tried to translate ].
Love the country brother
Do some good to the other
Hollow words will not matter
Do things that are better
Nation means not the soil
Nation means it's own people
……… Gurajada, 1910.
Gurajada translated a Persian poem[ into English , edited later ]which was told to him by raja Ananda Gajapati as follows:
The thought of her locked by night
Whithin the dungeon of my soul.
But strange to think the burglar's might
Who ran away with jail and all.
All poems of Gurajada are not so flowing may be the spoken language used those days was such. It needs to be mentioned that between Nannaya and Gurajada, the poetry of Vemana was written which is easy to understand and is out standing even today.
The real revolutionary change in Telugu poetry was due to Srirangam Sriniwasa Rao[1910-1983 ]. He was a BA graduate from AVNCollege ,Vizag. He settled in Madras [ now known as Chennai ] writing songs for Telugu films. His words are extremely powerful rather I prefer to say Sri Sri had the capacity to power even the ordinary words. He followed no grammar. He claims to have released Kavita [Telugu poetry] from the chains of grammar which of course is true. As a person he was humorous and had quick wit. He was a Marxist and many youngsters became Marxists on reading his poetry. He was liked very much even by non Marxists for the style and power of his poetry. Sri Sri stands the tallest among the Telugu poets historically. There was a debate on as to who is the Telugu poet of the new era if Gurajada or Sri Sri. Later Sri Sri himself closed the debate saying that he widened the path opened by Gurajada. While Gurajada enjoyed the official patronage Sri Sri was a rebel through out. He surrendered to none. He preferred poverty rather than to accept employment where his views are not honoured. In fact left the jobs as demonstrator in AVNCollege and
as laboratory asst. in Andhra Prabha.
Sri Sri dismantled all the standared only to show his own which none could reach.
Sri Sri won both Government and other prestigious awards. He choose to support the Naxal movement without caring for his age.
 Gurajada Rachanalu, Visalandhra Publishing House, 2005, Hydrabad.
 Sri Sri, Mahaprasthanam , Visalandhra Publishing House, 2006, Hydrabad.
----There is a web site on