Telugu history

Bapa Rao brao at USC.EDU
Thu Apr 30 03:50:50 UTC 1998

In my posting I  implied that the last king of the Golconda Bahmanis was
Quli Qutb Shah, aka Taneshah. My memory now says that this is an error :
Quli Qutb Shah was the founder of the dynasty of which Abul Hassan Taneshah
was the last king. My apologies.

The anecdote about the contest between the scholars Sarva-varma and
Gunaadhya that I alluded to is quite an engaging one: the two were members
of the court of Haala, the last of the "great satavahanas." Acc. to the
story, Haala was sporting in the swimming pool with his ladies; when he
playfully splashed one of them with water, she squealed in Sanskrit,
"mOdakaistaaDaya," which parses to maa+udakai:+taaDaya, don't strike [me]
with the water. (I make no claim as to the correctness of any of the
Sanskrit here, I am only telling the story as I recall it from reading it
long ago). The king mis-parses this as "mOdakai:+taaDaya", strike [me] with
mOdakaas (sweet edible balls similar to today's laDDUs), and,thinking this
to be a novel form of love-play, orders a plate of the desserts and proceeds
to attack the sweet young thing with them. The lady, on recovering from her
astonishment, says, mockingly, "O great scholar! What I meant was, do not
strike me with the water." Stung, the king leaves in a huff, summons his
court scholars, and demands a crash course in proper Sanskrit. Only the
aforementioned pair of scholars are up for the challenge; GunaaDhya offers
to make the king a scholar in six years' time; Sarva-varma counters with an
offer of six months. GunaaDhya vows to give up Sanskrit as well as Prakrit
and write only in paizaaci thereafter if Sarva-varma were to succeed in
making the king a passable scholar in such a short time, which does ensue,
leading to the fulfillment of his vow by the latter. As I remember, the opus
of GuNaaDhya was called the "Brihat-katha" (don't know why a paizaaci work
would have a sanskrit name).

I don't claim any authenticity or accuracy to the legend, even qua legend.
However, it does indicate that even the Sanskritic Haala wasn't all that
comfortable in Sanskrit.

Bapa Rao

More information about the INDOLOGY mailing list