Bammera Potana (1450-1510) was born in Bammera, a village twenty miles away from Warangal, into a Niyogi Brahmin family. His father was Kesanna and his mother was Lakkasanamma. He was considered to be a natural scholar (sahaja panditha) without a teacher. Potana was a very polite gentleman. He was an agriculturist by occupation. Though he was a great scholar, he never hesitated to work in the agricultural fields.
At an early age he wrote ‘Bhogini Dandakam’ a poem wrote in praise of king Sri Singa Bhoopala’s concubine Bhogini. This was his first poetic venture which had the seeds of his great poetic talents. His second work was "Virabhadhra Vijayamu" which describes the adventures of Lord Virabhadhra, son of Lord Shiva. The main theme was the destruction of a yagna performed in absence of Lord Shiva by Daksha Prajapathi.
As a young man, he was a devotee of Lord Shiva. Later, Potana became a devotee of Lord Rama and more interested in salvation. His conversion from Shaivism to Vaishnavism was triggered by an incident. One early morning during a lunar eclipse, on the banks of river Godavari, Potana was meditating on Lord Shiva. At that auspicious moment, Lord Rama appeared dressed like a king and requested Potana to translate Bhagavatam into Telugu and dedicate it to him. This inspired him to translate Vyasa’s Sanskrit Bhagavatam into Telugu.
The king of Warangal, Sarvajna Singa Bhoopala, wanted Potana to dedicate ‘Andhra Maha Bhagavatamu’ to him. But, Potana refused to obey the king’s orders and dedicated the Bhagavathamu to Lord Rama, whom he worshipped with great devotion. It is said that Potana remarked, ‘it is better to dedicate the work to the supreme Lord Vishnu than dedicate it to the mortal kings.’ He was of opinion that poetry was a divine gift and it should be utilized for salvation by devoting it to the God.
He was quite fond of using rhythm and repetition of sounds giving a majestic grace to the style of writing. He was very skilful in using alankaras (figures of speech) like similes and metaphors. Potana imparted the knowledge of the divine to the Telugu people along with lessons in ethics and politics through Andhra Maha Bhagavatamu.
Even illiterate Telugus readily quote verses from chapters 'Gajendra Mokshamu' and 'Prahlada Charitra' of his work, ‘Andhra Maha Bhagavathamu,’ the crown jewel of Telugu literature. Andhra people are greatly indebted to the most beloved poet Bammera Potana.
Potana, who lived in the later part of the 15th century, is the author of several works like Narayana Satakamu, Veerabhadra Vijayamu and Bhogini Dandakamu. Potana also translated the Bhagwata Purana into Telugu in his great classic Andhra Mahabhagavathamu.
The child's eyes fix upon the mother;
The lover's lips long for the mate's;
The earth looks up to the sky;
The devotee is ever in search of God!
The gopis are looking for that mischievous Lord of the Brindavan.
They enquire the animate and inanimate objects-- flowers, trees,
rivers and the elements. They enquire thus the jasmine creepers:
"He has a dark skin;
He has lotus eyes;
He radiates compassion;
He has feathers of the peacock on his crown;
He has a face that sparkles with smiles;
He has robbed the souls of women--
Is He, by any chance, hiding behind these bushes?
Tell us quick, O jasmine flowers!"
"aMgajunaina cUDa hRdayaMgamuDai karagiMcu vADu srI-
raMgat+ uraMbu vADu madhuraMbagu vENuravaMbu vADu mam-
maMgaju puvvu tUpulakun+ aggamu cEsi lavaMga luMga nA-
raMgamulAra! mI kaDaku rADu gadA! kRpan+ unna cUparE!"
"With his looks, he can melt the heart of even Eros;
He is wealthy wearing Lakshmi on his chest;
He produces melodious notes on his flute;
He has made us victims to the flower-arrows of the Love god;
O creepers of lavanga, lunga and nAranga!
Has He by any chance come to your shadows?
Please, tell us His of whereabouts."
Note: lavaMga=clove; luMga=mAdI tree; nAraMga=orange.
vaDugA evvari vADa vevvaDavu saMvAsasthalaMbeyyadiyyeDakun nIvarudeMcuTan saPalamayyen vaMSamun janmamunkaDu dhanyAtmuDa naiti nI maKamu yOgyaM bayye nA kOrikalkaDa tEren suhrutaMbulayye saKulun kaLyANa mikkAlamun !!munnennuduru vadAnyulanennuDucO ninnu triBuvanESuMDanucuninni dinaMbula nuMDiyunennaDu ninu beTTu maMcu nIMDramu sEyan !!oMTi vADa nAku nokaTi reMDaDugulamEra yimmu sommu mEra yolla kOrke dIra brahma kUkaTi muTTeda dAna kutuka sAndra dAnavEMdra !!vasudhA KaMDamu vEDitO gajamulan vAnCiMcitO vAjulan vesa nUhiMcito kOritO yuvatulan vIkshiMci kAnkshiMcitO pasi bAluMDavu nEravIvaDuga nI BAgyaMbu lIpATi gAkasurEMdruMDu pada trayaM baDuga nI yalpaMbu nI nErcunE ? goDugO jannidamO kamaMDaluvo nAkun muMjiyO daMDamOvaDugE nekkaDa? bhoomulekkaDa ?karul vAmAkshu laSvaMbu lekkaDa? nityOcita karmamekkaDa ? madAkAnkshAmitaM baina mUDaDugul mEraya trOva kiccuTadi brahmAnDaMbu nA pAlikin !!vArijAkshulaMdu vaivAhikamulaMduprANa vitta mAna BaMgamaMducakita gOkulAgra janma rakshaNamaMduboMka vaccu naGamu voMda dadhipa !!kArE rAjulu rAjyamul galugavE garvOnnatin boMdirE vArErI siri mUTa gaTTukoni pOvaMjAlirE BUmipai pErainan galadE Sibi pramuKulun prItin yaSa@h kAyulaiIrE kOrkulu vAralan maracirE ikkAlamun BArgavA !!nirayaMbaina nibaddhamaina dharaNI nirmUlanaMbaina durmaraNaMbaina kulAMtamaina nijamun rAnimmu kAnimmu pOharuDainan hariyaina nIraja BavuMDaByAgatuMDaina nautirugannEradu nAdu jihva vinumA dhIvarya vEyETikin !!Adin SrIsati koppu pai tanuvu pai naMsOttarIyaMbu paipAdAbjaMbula pai kapOla taTi pai pAliMDla pai nUtna maryAdaMjeMdu karaMbu kriMdaguTa mIdai nA karaMbuMTa mElgAdE rAjyamu gIjyamun satatamE kAyaMbu nApAyamE !!viprAyaprakaTa vratAya BavatE vishNu svarUpAya vEdaprAmANya vidE tripAda dharaNIM dAsyAmi yaMcun kriyAkshipruMDai danujESvaruMDu vaTuvun cEsAci kommaMcu brahmaprItammani dhAra vOse BuvanaMbAScaryamun voMdagAn !!iMtiMtai vaTuDiMtayai mariyu tAniMtai naBO vIdhi painaMtai tOyada maMDalAgramuna kallaMtai praBA rASi pai naMtai caMdruni kaMtayai dhruvuni pai naMtai maharvATi painaMtai satya padOnnatuMDagucu brahmAnDAnta saMvardhi yai !!ravi bimbaMbupamimpa pAtramagu CatraMbai SirO ratnamaiSravaNAlaMkRti yai gaLA BaraNAmai sauvarNa kEyUra maiCavimatkaMkaNamai kaTisthali nudaMcat GaMTayai nUpura pravaraMbai padapITha mai vaTuDu tA brahmAnDamun niMDucOn !!gajEMdra mOkshaM padyAlu kari digucu makari sarasikikari darikini makari digucu karakari berayankariki makari makariki kari Baramanucunu natala kutala BaTularudu paDan !!nAnAnEkapa yUdhamul vanamu lOnan pedda kAlaMbu sanmAniMpan daSa laksha kOTi kariNI nAdhuMDa nai yuMDi maddAnAmBa@h paripushTa caMdana latAntacchAya laMduMDa lEkI nIrASa iTEla vacciti BayaM beTlO gadE ISwarA !!kalaDaMduru dInula yeDakalaDaMduru Bakta yOgi gaNamula pAlaMgalaDaMduranni diSalanukalaDu kalaMDaneDu vADu kalaDO lEDO !!lOkaMbulu lOkESululOkasthulu tegina tudi nalOkaMbagu peMjIkaTi kavvala nevvaDu EkAkRti velgu natani nE BajiyiMtun !!evvani cE@m janiMcu jaga? mevvani lOpala nuMDu lInamai?evvani yaMdu DiMdu? paramESvaruDevvaDu? mUla kAraNaMbevva? DanAdi madhya layuDevvaDu? sarvamu tAne yaina vADevvaDu? vAni nAtma Bavu nISwaru nE SaraNaMbu vEDedan !!lAvokkiMtayu lEdu dhairyamu vilOlaMbayye prANaMbulunThAvul dappenu mUrca vacce tanuvun Dassen SramaMbayyeDinnIvE tappa ita@h paraMberuga manniMpaM dagun dInuninrAvE ISwara kAvavE varada saMrakshiMpu BadrAtmakA !!ala vaikuMTha puraMbulO nagarilO nA mUla saudhaMbu dApala maMdAra vanAMtarAmRta sara@h prAntEndu kAntOpalOtpala paryaMka ramA vinOdi yagu nApanna @h prasannuMDu vihvala nAgEndramu pAhi pAhi yana guyyAliMci saMraMBi yai !!sirikiM jeppaDu SaMKa cakra yugamuM cEdOyi saMdhiMpa DEparivAraMbunu jIra DaBragapatin manniMpaDA karNikAmtara dhammillamu cakkanottaDu vivAda prOddhita SrI kucOpari cElAncalamaina vIDaDu gajaprANA vanOtsAhi yai !!aDigeda nani kaDu vaDi januaDigina tana maguDa nuDuvaDani neDayuDugunveDa veDa jiDi muDi taDa baDa naDugiDu naDigiDadu jaDima naDugiDu neDalan !!