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Viswanadha Satyanarayana
Born(1895-09-10)10 September 1895
Nandamuru, Krishna District, Madras Presidency, British Indian (now Andhra Pradesh, India)
Died18 October 1976(1976-10-18) (aged 81)
Guntur, Andhra Pradesh
Notable awards
  • Kavisamrat
  • Kalaprapurna
  • Padmabhushan
  • Jnanpith Awardee

Viswanatha Satyanarayana (10 September 1895 – 18 October 1976) was a 20th-century Telugu writer. His works included poetry, novels, dramatic play, short stories and speeches, covering a wide range of subjects such as analysis of history, philosophy, religion, sociology, political science, linguistics, psychology and consciousness studies, epistemology, aesthetics and spiritualism. He was a student of the illustrious Telugu writer Chellapilla Venkata Sastry, of the Tirupati Venkata Kavulu duo. Viswanatha's wrote in both a modern and classical style, in complex modes.[1] His popular works include Ramayana Kalpavrukshamu (Ramayana the wish-granting divine tree), Kinnersani Patalu (Mermaid songs) and the novel Veyipadagalu (The Thousand Hoods). Among many awards, he was awarded the Jnanpith Award in 1970, the first for a Telugu writer, and Padma Bhushan in 1971.[2][3]

The parallel "free-verse" movement in easy prose of Telugu literature criticised him as a bigot who hung onto the strict rules of poetry such as Yati, Prasa (rhyme) and Chandas (meter). However this only covers a part of the wide variety of literature he created. At the same time, there was no contemporary in Telugu literature who could match his depth of the subjects he covered and his mastery of literature. A book with his memories compiled has been released.[4][5]

Early life

Viswanatha Satyanarayana was the son of Shobhanadri, a Brahmin landlord, and his wife Parvathi. He was born in their forefathers' place Nandamuru, Krishna District, Madras Presidency (currently in Unguturu Mandal, Krishna district in Andhra Pradesh) on 10 September 1895. He went to Veedhi Badi (literal translation: street school) which were recognized informal schools during 19th and early 20th century in India. During his childhood village culture has made a long-lasting impression on Satyanarayana and he learnt a lot from it. Traditional performers of street folk art forms attracted and educated him. These art forms involves story-telling, extempore poetry, music, performance, and dance in different forms. They left deep impression on his thought and story-telling. Bonding among villagers beyond castes and social barriers, beauty of village life were also shaped his thought and ideology later.

His upper primary education shifted to well-known Nobel College in near-by Bandar at age 11.[6] His father Shobhanadri, who almost lost his wealth due to his charity by then, thought that English-centric education can help his son to get a good living.[7]

He worked as the first principal of Karimnagar Government College (1959–61).[8] Some of Viswanatha’s disciples formed a committee with Tummalapalli Ramalingeswara Rao and Cherakupalli Jamadagni Sarma as Secretaries and organized Sahasra purna chandrodayam celebrations (శ్రీ కవిసమ్రాట్ విశ్వనాథ సహస్ర చంద్రదర్శనశాంతి పౌష్టికోత్సవం) for two days at Vijayawada (14 and 15 September) in 1976. Vedic rituals in the morning followed by Sahithya goshti (meeting) in the evenings marked the occasion.[9]

Historical Novels

Viswanatha was of the view that history is not the story of kings but the narrative that gives one an understanding of the sociological, political, economic, cultural, scientific, spiritual and aesthetic lives of man in a given time, and their evolution.[10] Based on Kota Venkatachalam's chronology Vishwanatha wrote three series of novels depicting all these aspects of ancient and medieval society, along with stories woven around the famous characters of three royal lineages:

  1. Purana Vaira granthamala is a series of 12 novels about the Magadha Royal dynasties after Mahabharata war. In this series, there are two tendencies – Krishna representing Dharma, and Jayadratha representing the darker side of human psyche, the unrighteous side. The primary characters in each of the 12 novels behave under the influence of these two tendencies, each having its temporal victories.
  2. Nepala Rajavamsa caritra is a series of 6 novels about the Nepali Royal dynasties. This series expounds Carvaka school of thought, its intricacies and sub-schools, social life and values influenced by carvakas.
  3. Kashmira Rajavamsa caritra is a series of 6 novels woven around the Royal dynasties that ruled Kashmir.

Literary career

poem of viswanatha satyanarayana about himself

Viswanatha's literary works includes 30 poems, 20 plays, 60 novels, 10 critical estimates, 200 Khand kavyas, 35 short stories, three playlets, 70 essays, 50 radio plays, 10 essays in English, 10 works is Sanskrit, three translations, 100 introductions and forewords as well as radio talks. Some of his poems and novels have been translated into English, Hindi, Tamil, Malayalam, Urdu and Sanskrit.

Veyipadagalu was later translated into Hindi by former Prime Minister PV Narasimha Rao as Sahasraphan.[11]


Most of Viswanatha's novels depict evolving social conditions, and involve an in-depth analysis of culture as well as human nature and consciousness.

(The twelve below form Purana Vaira Granthamala Series)

(The six below form Nepala Rajavamsa series)

(The six below form Kashmira Rajavamsa series)




Other Writings


Satyanarayana on a 2017 stamp of India


  1. ^ "Classical Telugu Poetry". Retrieved 23 May 2020.
  2. ^ "Jnanpith Laureates Official listings". Jnanpith Website. Archived from the original on 13 October 2007. Retrieved 7 November 2008.
  3. ^ "Padma Awards" (PDF). Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. 2015. Retrieved 21 July 2015.
  4. ^ V. Raghavendra (4 January 2014). "Book festival: stall showcasing works of 'Kavi Samrat' a highlight". The Hindu.
  5. ^ "Viswanatha Satyanarayana deserved a Nobel". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 22 July 2012. Retrieved 21 July 2012.
  6. ^ Staff Reporter (22 July 2012). "Viswanatha Satyanarayana deserved a Nobel". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 30 December 2018.
  7. ^ "viswanatha satyanarayana navalalu, telugu navalalu, viswanatha books". 20 December 2018. Retrieved 30 December 2018.
  8. ^ CiNaRe: A pioneer of ‘free verse’ in Telugu literature Archived 30 April 2018 at the Wayback Machine. New Indian Express. 13 June 2017
  9. ^ "Sri Kavisamrat Viswanatha Sahasra Chandradarsana Shanti Poushtikotsavam" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 6 March 2022.
  10. ^ Introduction to Purana Vaira Granthamala
  11. ^ Modern Indian literature, an anthology. George, K. M., Sahitya Akademi. New Delhi: Sahitya Akademi. 1992. ISBN 8172013248. OCLC 29599405.((cite book)): CS1 maint: others (link)