An edited version of this essay was published in Aseema Magazine’s June 2015 edition.
One of the side effects of studying Indian history based on this European historical narrative is that stories of extra-ordinary bonhomie, especially nurtured purely because of intellectuals in the respective regions, get little or no attention. One such story, from the Telugu speaking region in India is that of Kakati Ganapatideva and Tikkana Somayaji, which teaches a very valuable lesson to today’s warring political leadership of the two regions.
The Political Scene in Dakshinapatha during Ganapatideva’s times
12th and 13th century period saw a very strong Telugu community in rule in Telugu speaking region of the Indian subcontinent. There were several kingdoms reigning the region – each kingdom with its own friends and foes. However, literary and scholarly progress went ahead beyond territorial boundaries.
Centered at Ekasilanagaramu (a.k.a Orugallu, now known as Warangal) was Kakatiya empire under the rule of Ganapatideva. Kakati Ganapatideva expanded Kakatiya kingdom to Velanadu toward East and ran a campaign to push Eastern Choda Gangas beyond the Godavari banks. He established several administrative measures which were in line with Dharmasutras. Ganapatideva’s rule was marked by great respect to dharmic scholarship. He himself wrote a treatise on Shiva Yoga Sutras called Shiva Yoga Saramu.
To the south of Kakatiya kingdom, Telugu Chola king Manumasiddhi was ruling the region from Vikramasimhapuri which is today known as Nellore. Manumasiddhi was a descendant of Telugu Cholas who were in turn from the Cholan lineage. By Manumasiddhi’s time, Hoyasalas to the west, Cholas and Pandyas down south were very strong. Manumasiddhi and his predecessors had cordial relations with Cholas in the south. He enjoyed neutral relations with Hoyasalas in the west. Pandyas down south were not particularly interested in ties with Telugu cholas’ empire. Threat from Pandyans was a persistent one.
Manumasiddi the King of Vikramasimhapuri and Tikkana the Prime Minister
One segment of Telugu Cholas were concentrated in the southern parts of coastal Andhra Pradesh cenetered at Vikramasimhapuri – today’s Nellore. When Ganapatideva was ruling Kakatiya kingdom, Manumasiddhi took over reigns of Vikramasimhapuri from his father Tikka Choda.
Little is known of Manumasiddhi, mainly because he was the last King of the Nellore Chola lineage. There is a lot of detail available of his father Tikka Choda (a.k.a Thiru Kala Choda) who is known to have came to the help of Rajendra Chola III twice – first in association with Hoyasalas, when Pandyas attacked Kanchipuram and later when Hoyasalas in association with Pandyas attacked Kanchipuram. On both occasions, he helped Rajendra III and restored Cholan rule in Kanchipuram. Tikkana referred to him as Chola Sthapanacharya. After Tikka Choda, Manumasiddhi took over the kingdom of Vikramasimhapuri.
After Manumasiddhi’s coronation, Tikkana was made Prime Minister of the kingdom. He was an obvious choice due to his close friendship with Manumasiddhi. Tikkana’s father Kommanamatya served Manumasiddhi’s father Thiru Kala Choda as prime minister.
Tikkana, who became Tikkanamatya, after becoming Prime Minister, was born to Kommanamatya and Anyamamba in Gautama Gotra. Being from a well endowed brahmana family, Tikkana entered into formal vaidika vidya as per smarta sampradaya.
Tikkana was educated in srauta smarta traditions and also was well versed in vaidika karma kanda. Tikkana was an expert in niti shastra and danda niti. Tikkana is famous for picking up translation of Mahabharata into Telugu which was left unfinished by Nannaya.
The Coup of Vikramasimhapuri and Ganapatideva’s Intervention
From Tikkana’s Nirvachanottara Ramayanamu, we come to know that Manumasiddhi faced several wars. However, the only incident of internal threat, which resulted in a coup was that with Akkanna and Bayyanna. It is believed that Akkanna and Bayyanna were both his cousins.
Akkanna and Bayyanna were Manumasiddhi’s cousins who staged a coup against him and unseated him, resulting in Manumasiddhi fleeing from Vikramasimhapuri. Tikkana, then went to Kakatiya capital Ekasilanagaramu (a.k.a Orugallu, now known as Warangal) to seek help from Ganapatideva. Siddheshwara Charitamu, a veera shiava literary work, suggests that Ganapatideva received him with full state honors.
After listening to Tikkana’s request for help, Ganapatideva struck Vikramasimhapuri with his army. Ganapatideva dethroned Akkanna and Bayyanna and reinstated Manumasiddhi as the King of Vikramasimhapuri. After Manumasiddhi’s coronation, Vikramasimhapuri kingdom officially entered into a direct leadership of Kakatiyas with Manumasiddhi taking full control of internal affairs while assisting Kakatiyas during wars, much like how Manumasiddhi’s father maintained his relationship with Cholas.
Tikkana and Kakatiyas
Ganapatideva’s reception of Tikkana is a legend in region’s history. It was a meeting of two great scholars and intellectuals of the time. Ganapatideva’s intervention into coup of Vikramasimhapuri paved the way for a lasting relationship between Vikramasimhapuri, Tikkana and Kakatiyas. After Manumasiddhi’s death, Vikramasimhapuri became a part of Kakatiya empire under Pratapa Rudra II.
Tikkana’s direct disciple Marana became a court pundit of Pratapa Rudra II. The offshoot of Pratapa Rudra’s tutelage is Marana’s Markandeya Purana.It was so popular that even after a century, Allasani Peddana under the tutelage of Sri Krishnadeva Raya wrote Manu Charitramu – a work based on a chapter of Marana’s Markandeya Puranamu.
Lessons for Modern Political Leadership of the region
Modern political leadership in the region doesn’t seem to have the flair or the sincerity at serving the region like Ganapatideva and Tikkana. Tikkana and Ganapatideva understood the essence of raja dharma, which is the only way to explain why they collaborated to avert the coup and reinstate Manumasiddhi as the king of Vikramasimhapuri. Intellectual thrust in both the regions which were well endowed with scholars helped both the parties realize the importance of having a cordial relationship.
Modern times though reflect a very sad reality in the region. Since the formation of a separate state for Telangana, the state governments of AP and Telangana have been at loggerheads! With both the states warring for land, water, electricity and taxation of produce moving from one state to the other, one could only plead the two sides to see reason and learn lessons from how historically the two regions held out helping hands to each other.
It is the need of the hour that intellectuals on both sides come together and explain the state governments that they need to set their ambitions aside and work out all outstanding issues. Constant bickering for every little issue by either parties is an insult to the brilliance of a scholar like Tikkana and a great ruler like Ganapatideva. The lasting friendship that was forged between the two regions shouldn’t become a victim of the political ambitions of the leaders of the either side.