Wednesday 25 December 2013

The Vijayanagar Queen who composed the longest single word in the world

She was a genius. Apart from being an excellent grammarian, she was also a woman who knew many scripts. A poetess herself, she was employed as a Royal reader-a job that required her to read out the compositions of women from the royal family in the royal court.
A musician, she was also well-versed in the epics. She was a scholar in poetry, drama and philosophy. A bibliophile, she was also a linguist.
She was such a multi-talented woman that the Emperor fell in love with her and married her after elevating her to the status of a Queen. Even after her marriage, she continued writing poems and indulging in other literary activities.
She immortalized herself when she wrote a beautiful composition on the marriage of her husband-the Emperor-with the senior queen. She thus ensured her place in history when as a junior queen she lavished praise on her husband’s first marriage. No wonder, she was liked and loved by everyone who came across her. Of course, it goes without saying that the senior queen adored her and loved her as her own younger sister.
This remarkable woman was Oduva Thirumallamba. Oduva in Kannada means student. She lived during the Vijayanagar period and her husband was Emperor Achuta Deva Raya (1529-1542), the younger brother of Krishna Deva Raya (1509-1529).
Achuta Deva Raya had employed Oduva Thirmallamba as a Royal Reader. She attended the court of the Vijayanagar Emperor and read out the literary compositions of the women from the royal household.
Since she was poet herself, her language and diction was flawless. A master of several languages, she was best in Sanskrit. She conversed in several languages, including Kannada, Sanskrit and Telugu.
Emperor Achuta Deva Raya was himself an accomplished musician. He played the veena exceeding well. Just like his elder brother, Krishna Deva Raya, he too was a great patron of art, architecture and literature.
He honored Vyasa Raja as the Raja Guru and set great store by his advice. He also patronised Purandara Dasa (-1484-1564) and Kanaka Dasa (1509-1609). He was also an ardent follower of Vadiraja Theertha (1480-1600).
Thirullamba was one of the many women of literary talents in the Vijayanagar court. However, this multi-talented woman made a deep and everlasting impression on Achuta Deva Raya. Her simplicity, her goodness and her talents ensured that he fell in love with her.
Achuta Deva Raya them married Thirumallamba and gave her the status of a junior queen. Soon after her marriage, she composed Varadambika Parinaya Champu, a romance in Sanskrit,  celebrating the wedding of Achuta Deva Raya with his senior queen Varadambike.
This champu is the only one composed in Sanskrit by a woman. It ends with the investiture of  the young price, Chinna Venkatadri, as the heir apparent.
Very few people are aware that the Guinness World Record for the longest word used in any language in world literature is a Sanskrit compound word composed of 195 Sanskrit characters. This word is a part of the Varadambike Parinaya Champu. This word in Sanskrit transliterates into more than 400 letters in the Roman alphabets used by the English language. It is therefore rated as longest word to ever appear in any literature in the world.
The Sanskrit word is

She also composed two other works in Sanskrit. The first was called Anandanidhi and this was written on the occasion of  one of Achuta Deva Raya’s ceremony where he gave away gifts. She had the event engraved in many places.
The second composition was to commemorate Achuta Deva Raya’s gift of gold to Brahmins in Hampi in 1540. This is immortalised in one of the stone inscriptions in the Vittala temple in Hampi. It is in this inscription that we find her name as Oduva Turumalamba..
Whet is surprising is that at the end of the composition, Tirumallamba does not identify herself as the queen but as one who is dear to the King and as one who is his confident.
However, she herself reveals that she is musician, grammarian, rhetorician, writer, and a connosiur of several arts.
She says she is religious minded and that she made rich offerings to priests, temples and religious institutions. She says she is happy to enjoy the full confidence of the King.

Tirumallamba was also the first woman pot to write about Kannada language and culture and to appeal to Kannada nationalism.  

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