దేశ భాషలందు తెలుగు లెస్స!

Posted: November 6, 2008 in Culture
Tags: , , ,

A moment of pride, a moment of triumph, a moment of accomplishment, a moment when all Telugus must feel honored. Yes! Our beloved language ‘Telugu’ was conferred the status of a ‘Classical Language’ (Praacheena Bhaasha) by the Union Culture Ministry on October 31, 2008, the eve of ‘Raashtra avataranotsavam‘ (State Formation Day). The Union Culture Minister, Ambika Soni, announced the approval of classical status to the language. It will now be regarded on par with Sanskrit and Tamil, the only two languages that have thus far boasted of the classical status. Tamil was the first to receive the title, in 2004 followed by Sanskrit in 2005. Kannada has also been granted classical status along with Telugu. The four year wait for those vouching for the two languages, has finally ended. Both languages have met the criteria for being graced with ‘classical’ status – antiquity and usage of more than 1500 years, original literature at least 1000 years old.

The panel of experts that convened to evaluate the claims of Telugu has been presented with substantial evidence which establishes its history of more than 2,500 years. The earliest Buddhist Prakrit inscriptions from Bhattiprolu in Guntur district, dating back to 400 BCE, contained several Telugu words, names of places, proving that the language of the natives was Telugu, while the rulers spoke Prakrit. The earliest inscription written entirely in Telugu was found in Kadapa district and dated back to 575 CE. By then Telugu had already evolved into a highly developed and sophisticated language. Although the earliest literature in Telugu can currently be traced back to the 9th century CE, many scholars and linguists believe that earlier literary works must have existed but were either lost or destroyed. Among the various reasons stated for the loss, one stood out – the revival of Hindu beliefs after a long hiatus of Buddhist domination in the region.

Telugu and Kannada did not branch off from an earlier form of Tamil, contrary to popular belief which was advocated by the likes of Periyar, Karunanidhi and other pro-Dravidian secessionists. However, it is true that all the three languages share the same linguistic base, the Proto-Dravidian Language. Tamil, which is considered the purest off-shoot of the Proto-Dravidian language, was the first to branch off and develop independently, while Telugu and Kannada split a little later. Tamil isolated itself and retained the corpus of Proto-Dravidian vocabulary and was less influenced by other languages, whilst Telugu and Kannada were greatly influenced by the tongues of the North, esp. Sanskrit and Prakrit. But all three languages still retain the basic grammatical structure and rudimentary vocabulary of the Proto-Dravidian language (PDL) – the children of one mother. Also, the PDL gave birth to 21 Dravidian languages which can essentially be classified into three groups – the Northern, Central and Southern group. The Northern branch consists of languages like Brahui (spoken in Baluchistan province of Pakistan), Malto and Kudukh (spoken by certian tribes in Central India). The Central group consists of eleven languages of which only Telugu developed into a civilized language with a literary repertoire. The other ten remained tribal languages. Finally, the Southern group consists of Tamil, Kannada, Malayalam, Tulu, Kodava Takk, Toda and Kota. Five of these languages evolved into modern languages spoken by large populations, while two remained within sylvan confines. Therefore, Tamil and Telugu don’t even belong to the same group to suggest that one branched off from the other. All three languages developed independently.

The great Tuluva emperor of the Vijayanagara empire, Sri Krishna Deva Raya, extoled Telugu in a poem which ends with the line ‘Desha bhaashalandu Telugu lessa‘ (the title of this post) meaning ‘Of all the tongues of the Land, Telugu is the sweetest’. The Italian explorer, Nicola Di Conti, called Telugu the ‘Italian of the East’, since all of its words end in a vowel sound (although I would prefer calling Italian the ‘Telugu of the West’, nevertheless.). The great Tamil poet, Subrahmanya Bharati, sang ‘Sundara Telunginil pattisaitthu‘ meaning ‘Sing in beautiful Telugu’.

This post neither has a structure nor a purpose. It only voices my excitement over the fact that my mother tongue has been declared a classical language. Well, to me Telugu has always been more than just a medium of communication. To me, to speak in Telugu is worship, a divine tongue that it is. It is as important to me as it is to breathe. I have savored its honey-like sweetness and the thirst is insatiable.

This post is my tribute to Telugu! To its antiquity. To its unparalleled poetic beauty. To all those great people who have contributed to it and who have died for its cause!

Jai Telugu Talli!


Image courtesy: www.teluguone.com/…/jaitelugutalli/index.jsp

  1. oh joy! great news! 🙂

    I know! My joy knew no bounds when I first heard the news. 🙂 I am so happy for Kannada too. Nannage Kannada chennagi artha aagtide. Maatadagge baruvadu. Swalpa gottu. 🙂

  2. Prashanti says:

    hey kartik,

    Great news…. The last lines made me want to kick myself for not being in love with the language and not knowing any of its beauty…I have to admit I could not read the title though(Another reason to kich myself 😦 )
    I have another reason to prove my language is better when I fight with som 🙂


    Great! So, now I’m being credited with giving a happy couple something to squabble about? Is that good? 😛 Well, jokes apart, yes, love for the language is not something that is induced, it is to be felt. This is subjective. 🙂

  3. Bhanu says:

    great news.
    btw, this post is more of a school essay for a topic like “Is Telugu a classical language” or “Telugu – a brief history”, though i enjoyed reading it.

    Thanks! Well, the history was necessary for dispelling certain myths. 🙂

  4. Sundeep says:

    Yes everyone happy for the occasion…but things are changing..mainly this decade (thanks to computers) ..where people chat in telugu..but using the English keyboard! thanks to their(IT telugus) love on telugu..its not completely lost…but the LIPI is now changing to Qwerty LIPI ( the famous english keyboard )

    Qwerty-Telugu…is the new name i guess for this….

    Lets hope this IT revolution doesnt modify the purity of Telugu…

    Jai Telugu Talli…(In qwerty-telugu though :))


    ‘Telugu unicode’ eppudo vidudala chesaru kada. Ee keyboard vishayam naaku teliyadu. Manchi vishayame vellibuchchavu. Bhasha annadi kaalam tho patu marpulu chendatam sahajam. Telugu ‘tetadananiki’ ee marpula dwara etuvanti muppu radu, bhayapadaku! 🙂

  5. 🙂 Too long in coming..
    And same here..Kannada swalpa swalpa gottu..!
    I am eternally in love with languages..

    O! I thought you were a Kannadiga! Sorry. And yes, I share the love for languages too. I wish to learn and speak all the world’s languages. I know, that’s asking for too much, but hey, nothing wrong in dreaming! 🙂

  6. maxdavinci says:

    pracheen means historic and not classical!

    yor penultimate para seems more like a linguistic fanatic!

    congrats ont eh telugu thing, but then since i like to burst yor bubble.

    tamizh was first! you only get a bronze medal.

    ‘Praacheena’ means ancient not historic. Historic is ‘chaaritrik’. That shows how much you know! In Telugu it translates to ‘Ancient language’ not ‘Classical language’. Besides ‘classical’ means ‘ Of, relating to, or being a variety of a language that is epitomized by a prestigious body of literature’, which Telugu has in abundance. The word ‘praacheena’ here connotates to its antiquity, which is the primary criterion for conferring the ‘classical’ status. I hope that dispels your absurd misconception.
    Well, if eliciting my love for my mother tongue strikes you as being linguistically fanatic, then so be it. At least, I’m better than those Tamil fanatics, who claim everything was born out of Tamil. I have nothing against Tamil being given the title first and I don’t care if it gets the gold medal or whatever crap, as long as Telugu is in the ‘classical’ group.

  7. Sundeep says:


    Thanks for the link! I wanted to mention this in the post, but it sort of slipped out of my mind.

  8. buddy says:

    i second max…if only just to irritate you…
    lots of gyaan and some humour too!
    keep posting more regularly idiot…
    manchidi 🙂

    You and max! O my god! Anyway, thanks.

  9. maxdavinci says:

    ok mistake ancient, but pracheen doesn’t mean classical!

    go easy on the fanatic case. its humor you fool! just don’t turn into a raj thakeray type guy….

    I know it doesn’t mean ‘classical’ but ‘Praacheena Bhaasha’ is the term that is currently in use by the govt. to categorise classical languages. It’s not something that I coined. That way, ‘atithi’ does not actually mean guest, it means someone who pops in without notice. ‘abhyaagata’ means a guest (someone who is invited), but we still use the word ‘atithi’ in both contexts. This is in the same vein. ‘Praacheen’ does not mean classical but ‘classical’ can be used to mean ‘ancient’. The word can be used contextually, not literally. Hence, the phrase.
    On the fanaticism issue, humor wasn’t quite evident, hence the flaming. I apologise. But, let me tell you, if need be, I might not turn into a Raj Thakceray or a Kalaignar but I may turn into another NTR! 😛

  10. Adithya says:

    Good one dude. I can never write so well about a language!

    ROFL @ you and max. Reminds me of the dialogs between Balram Naidu and Kamal in Dasavatharam.

    Thanks dude! And LOL! Yea, you’re right! 😀

  11. Ashtray on a Motorbike says:

    So I take it you’re a bong?

    Well, if Telugus are called ‘bongs’ in your language, then yes, I’m a ‘bong’!

  12. crakpot says:

    Nice post! I didn’t know more than half of what you wrote in this post, so thanks for expanding my knowledge 🙂

    Thanks and Congratulations!! Kannada has also been declared a Classical language. Kudos to that!! 🙂

  13. Srividya says:

    Baagu baagu … lessa palikitivi vatsa …

    Dhanyudanaitini! 🙂

  14. Pavan says:

    thanks for the insightful post.. Being a velu muddara in Telugu, initially didn’t get what the title was, makes me feel guilty 😦

    Anyways, makes one proud to be part of the heritage

    Since you’ve admitted to being proud, your being ‘velu mudra’ is excused! 😉

  15. Mamatha says:

    ‘Well, to me Telugu has always been more than just a medium of communication. To me, to speak in Telugu is worship, a divine tongue that it is. It is as important to me as it is to breathe. I have savored its honey-like sweetness and the thirst is insatiable.’

    Those lines gave me goos-bumps. Chaala baaga raathaavu Babu (excuse my Telugu).


    Thank you! I’m glad it made an impression. 🙂

  16. Jyothy says:


    Nice site.Nice blogs.
    Your love for telugu is touching…

    – inkoka telugu bhasha abhimaani.

    Dhanyavadamulu! 🙂

  17. sruthi says:

    Research is in ur veins….

    Lovely article.

    no doubt Desa Bhaashalandu Telugu lessa… 🙂


  18. almariada says:

    I recently discovered Telugu language. I took your image to my blog today:


    it links here.

    It is in portuguese and “doce como o mel” means “sweet as honey” as you and the poet call Telugu language.

    Thank you very much,

    I wish you the best

  19. వాసు says:

    “To me, to speak in Telugu is worship, a divine tongue that it is. It is as important to me as it is to breathe. I have savored its honey-like sweetness and the thirst is insatiable.”

    మీ రచనా ప్రతిభ, తెలుగు భాషాభిమానం చూస్తే, మీరు తెలుగులో కూడా (బ్లాగ్) అద్భుతంగా రాయగలరు, రాస్తే బావుంటుంది అనిపిస్తోంది.

    ధన్యవాదాలు వాసుగారు…..నేను కూడా అనుకున్నా, మొదలుపెడదామని. కాని బద్ధకమనే ఒక జిడ్డు భూతం నన్ను ఆవహించింది, కాబట్టి యే చేతబడో, క్షుద్రమాయో చేసి ఆ భూతాన్ని వదిలించుకోవాలి. ఫ్రస్తుతానికి ఈ ఆంగ్ల బ్లాగ్ని కాపాడుకుంటే అదే పదివేలు! ఇప్పటికే ఈ బ్లాగు నిశ్చేష్టత పై పెక్కు విమర్శలకు గురయ్యాను. తెలుగు బ్లాగు గురించి ఆలోచిస్తా. కాని మీ ప్రోత్సాహానికి నా కృతజ్ఞతలు.

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