The Andhra Maha Bharatam holds an exalted place in Telugu literature. It is produced without any damage to the main story, while the unessential anecdotes are omitted. It is complete, with the story of eighteen Parvas. Though it is a translation of the Sanskrit Mahabharata it is in fact an adaptation. It has acquired the status of a Kavya, with all its basic essentials and refinement.
It is the good fortune of the Telugus, that three first rate poets undertook the great work. Nannaya under the inspiration of Rajarajanarendra, is the path-setter. He set some rules of prosody and grammar in his work and they hold good for all the succeeding poets. His pattern is the model for these ten centuries. But he could only translate two and half parvas and he left the scene. For two centuries after him, nobody could come forward to complete the work. Then Tikkana, a great artist in the art and craft of poetry began with Virata Parva and completed the rest of Mahabharata. He brought in it a number of Telugu words and idioms as against Nannaya's Sanskrit words or their equivalants. His dramatic style of narration is unique and proved effective.
But Aranya Parva remained half finished till Errapragada, half a century later completed Aranya Parva. All the three poets are graded first rate. Thus Andhra Mahabharatam occupies a high place in Telugu literature. I do not think any other Indian language can boast of such an adaptation of Mahabharata complete as well as superb.
Prof. Gurram V. Subbaramayya who headed the English Department in Nellore V.R. College and who retired as Principal of Pamulapati Butchi Naidu College at Nidubrolu was fascinated by the Andhra Mahabharatam and desired to render it into English. He adopted the blank verse form, enriched by great masters of English liierature. Blank verse form is powerful and effective and Prof. Subbaramayya did achieve that excellence in his English translation. For years he was on this sacred task and utilized all his leisure hours for it. He took it up as a mission and with full devotion and dedication he almost completed the work, just before his demise.
Sri Rebala Lakshmi Narasa Reddy, the great philanthropist of Nellore had promised help in getting it published, at least some Parvas of it. But he expired before the work could be undertaken. But Sri R. L. Reddy's charitable trust came forward with a handsome donation and his friends followed his example and enabled the publication of Virata and Udyoga Parvas. This is only the beginning and I hope efforts will be made to get the rest of the Parvas published.
Late Sri Subbaramayya's brother Sri G. V. Subrahmanyam out of his own interest in the work and out of fraternal devotion took all the care in its printing and publication. He honoured me in inviting me to write a few words of commendation in undertaking the venture of publishing all the volumes of Prof. Subbaramayya's English translation of Andhra Mahabharatam, which I do in all sincerity and acknowledge with gratitude the services of Prof. Subbaramayya in enabling Telugu and non-Telugu readers of having a good English translation of Andhra Mahabharatam. This is his greatest work and achievement.
- B. Gopala Reddy