Biographical Sketches of Dekkan Poets/Tinnala Ramalinga

TENNALA RAMALINGA.

This was a celebrated poet at the Court of Krishna Royuloo, king of Vejayanagar, being one of his eight celebrated poets, he was born in the village of Tinnala in A. S. 1384, and was of the family of Iswar Pragada, his horoscope exhibits him as born under a very propitious star: in his infancy he studied the Telugu dialect, and by the association of the Bhatarajas, or bards of Bhattu Palla he became a perfect master of that language, and a professor of rhetoric; he likewise possessed a tolerable knowledge of Sanscrit.—Having heard much of the patronage afforded by Krishna Royaloo, Ramlinga went to Anagondi in hopes of receiving the countenance of the king. As he had no friends to forward his views, our poet was obliged to ingratiate himself into the good graces of the inferior servants of the house-hold: he composed some verses on one of the female attendants of the queen named Bommedalli, which was a great panegyric on her, and at the same time he lavished abuses on any one who should make unfavorable comments on his versification. The merit of Ramlinga at length reached the ears of the king, who appointed him one of his Court poets. Tennala Ramlinga composed a poem called Pandaranga-Mahatma—Ramlinga was of a humorous character, and loved to play jokes on people, in order to raise a laugh against them—the guru of Tatachari was a very religious man, and was in the habits of visiting a cow-stall every morning as soon as he waked, and walked there blind-folded in order to view the dung of the cow as the first object, thinking as many hindus do that to look on the ordure of a cow the first thing in the morning, was a very meritorious act——the guru consequenly used to grope his way every morning to the stall above named, with his eyes shut and laying hold of the cow's tail used to wait till she evacuated, when he opened his eyes to behold the dung—One morning Ramlinga played the following waggish trick, he got up early and removing the cow from the stall, stood in its place, stark, naked.—The guru as customary presently came and instead of the cow's tail laid his hand on the naked Ramlinga, when the guru opened his eyes he was transported with fury, and running to the king, laid his complaint against Ramlinga.—The king being wroth, ordered that the poet should be forthwith beheaded, and the executioners carried him to a plain and buried him in the earth as far as the neck, leaving only his head above ground, agreeably to the sentence passed on him; they left him in this condition, intending to return in the course of an hour and decapitate him.—It so happened, that a hump-backed washerman was passing that way, and asked Ramlinga how he came to be so situated, "my good friend," replied the poet, "I was born a hunch-back like yourself and having long suffered the derision and scorn of ill-mannered individuals, I applied to a sage who had great knowledge of the occult sciences, and begged of him to relieve me from my misfortune, he informed me that if I should be buried up to my neck in this identical spot, that I should be entirely cured of my deformity, in pursuance of his direction, I got some of my friends to bury me here, and I really believe that I am cured already, I will thank you to remove the earth and see whether it be so or not." The washerman did as the poet requested, and was quite astonished to find Ramlinga a strait well made man, for he was a credulous fellow, and believed that the poet had been a hunch-back, and cured by being buried in that spot —"As one good action deserves another" said the washerman to the poet, "I will thank you to bury me in this place, that I may be cured of my affliction in the same way as you." Ramlinga with a very grave face buried the poor washerman up to the neck, and after an hour's time went to the king, and told him that by the personal interposition of a God he had been restored to life; the executioners in the mean time had beheaded the washerman, and were making their report to the king, that they had killed the poet according to the royal commands—The whole Court were consequently astonished to see Ramlinga, and as the king really believed that the poet had been killed and restored to life, by some God; he promised to forgive him the first hundred crimes that he should commit in future.

Ana Vema Reddi had in his possession two beautiful horses of the finest mettle, they were of the Candahar breed, their entire bodies were of a sable color, except the ears which was grey. Krishna Deva had great desire to obtain one of these steeds, and sent an embassy to Ana Vema Reddi, to ask him for one of them, but the latter monarch replied, that if the former would send a poet, who could excel any that he had at his Court, he would give him the horses—when this answer came, all the poets under the patronage of the Krishna Deva refused to go except Ramalinga, who forthwith proceeded to the Court of Ana Vema Reddi: when there, he completed every task set him, and in turn wrote a part of a stanza, and desired the poets of the Court of Ana Vema Reddi, to complete it. Ramlinga then took his departure and in the course of six months returned, but the pundit and poets had not been able to finish the stanzas, he therefore, wrote the concluding verses which so pleased Ana Vema Reddi, that that king embraced him and gave him one of the excellent Candahar horses before-mentioned, and dismissed him with many presents. When Ramalinga returned to the Court of Krishna Deva, he was received with great marks of attention, and enjoyed the king's favor in a very high degree; but being of a very humorous and eccentric turn, he once more forfeited the good opinion of his royal master by playing on him the following trick:—He told Krishna Deva, that he had procured for him a very beautiful damsel, and asked him when he would wish to visit her—the king being rather of luxurious and lascivious disposition, appointed an early day. Ramlinga then decorated a bed fit to receive the royal visitor, but instead of a beautiful woman, placed in it a long stone pillar, which he covered over with a rich brocade quilt: 'at the hour fixed on,'the king came, his lust having been very much excited by the description given by Ramlinga of the female, who was to receive him in her arms, when the king lifted up the bed clothes, he was very much astonished to find a stone, where he expected to find a charming virgin, and his anger being raised to an ungovernable pitch, he ordered the executioner immediately to behead Ramlinga, the poet however concealed himself, and when the king's wrath was abated, he was taken once more into favor. Some time after this, the daughter of the king had composed a poem called "Marichi Parneaya," or the nuptials of Marichi—and proposed to read the same to Krishna Deva, before the whole Court; but as she was aware of the satirical character of Ramlinga, she stipulated with her father, that he should not be allowed to be present. The king consequently forbade Ramlinga to come into Court: on the day however, that the princess publicly read her poem-Ramlinga disguised himself as a female attendant, and concealing his face, stood close to the king's daughter —who began reading with an audible voice—the poem was really very well written, and contained moral reflections and beautiful descriptions of the scenery and dresses of females and various other subjects, among which was the description of a pregnant woman; just at this moment Ramlinga made some waggish remark and gesture, which set the whole Court in a roar of laughter, and so abashed and confounded the princess, that she could read no more, and abruptly left her father.—Krishna Deva was very vexed at this conduct of the poet and sentenced him on pain of death immediately to leave his dominions—Ramlinga accordingly went to the Court of the king of Kalinga and excited him to wage war with Krishna Roya; several battles were fought by the armies of the two sovereigns, but the latter gained the, victory, and took possession of his enemy's territories— when the war was over, Krishna Roya forgave Ramlinga his treacherous conduct, and received him again into favor, which, he enjoyed till the day of his death.