HYDERABAD: Language is the road map of a culture. It tells you where its people come from and where they are heading. With the World Telugu Conference underway, the spotlight is on the Dravidian language. But it was never in the shadows or down in the dumps anytime. Even in the erstwhile Golconda dynasty, Telugu enjoyed the pride of place.Being secular, the Qutb Shahi kings issued bilingual farmans in Persian and Telugu. Historians say the rulers maintained good relations with the local Telugu population and nurtured the language. Bred as they were in the heart of Telangana, they imbibed a passion for Telugu.
But it was Ibrahim Quli Qutb Shah, the fourth Qutb Shahi ruler, who went all out to patronise Telugu. Under his reign Telugu flourished with poets and writers getting due recognition.
It was during his exile to Vijayanagar that Ibrahim developed affinity to Telugu. He took asylum there for seven years from 1543 to 1550 when his infant nephew, Subhan Quli, was thrust on the throne. As an honoured guest of the Raja of Vijayanagar he picked up Telugu and soon gained fluency in it. Later when he ascended the throne, Ibrahim encouraged the learning of Telugu in a way no other Muslim ruler had done in the past.
A different language is a different vision of life and he got a whole new perspective.
An able administrator and a patron of arts, Ibrahim loved to communicate in the language of the people. Talk to a man in a language he understands, it goes to his head. Talk to him in his language and it goes to his heart. That’s what he strongly believed. No wonder Telugu received patronage under his rule and poets like Addamki Gangadhara, Kundukuru Rudrakavi, Ponnaganti Teleganarya flocked to his court. Gangadhara was appointed the Telugu poet-laureate of the court and he went on to pen the famous poem ‘Tapatisa mavaranamu Upakhyanamu’ and dedicated it to Ibrahim Qutb Shah.
“The Sultan is known in Telugu literature by the name Malkibharam”, says M.A. Nayeem who wrote a book on the heritage of the Qutb Shahis.Ibrahim’s court, it is said, was the haunt of scholars well versed in Vedas, Sastras, Puranas, Vijya Karna and cognate sciences. Telugu poets were not just honoured, but bestowed monetary gifts, pensions and even jagirs. For instance Kandukuru Rudrakavi was granted a village named ‘Chintalepallam’ near his home village, kondukuru, in Nellor district. “Family members of the poet still live here and possess the Qutb Shahi documents”, says Nayeem.
To have another language is to possess a second soul. This is true of Ibrahim in whose reign Telugu Persian and Deccani flourished. Muhammad Quli, who succeeded him, also carried forward the secular traditions and patronised Telugu language. He appointed poet, Pattametta Samanjaju , as the poet-laureate. Important Telugu works such as Sivadharmottaramu and Padmapuranamu Sarangu Tamayyamatendu were produced during his rule. Not just this. Telugu songs and music were also encouraged.
Musician, Kshatrayya, composed Movva Gopala Padamu and dedicated it to the Sultan while Rama Raju penned Muharram folk songs in Telugu. Language is the expression of oneself, a reflection of the character and growth of is speakers. The passion of Qutb Shahi rulers for Telugu bears this out.