Literary Shelf

Hamsavimsati-Twenty Amorous Tales

The era of independent Literature began in Telugu in the 17th century with the 'SUKASAPTATI' written by Palavekari Kadiripati and 'HAMSAVIMSATI' written by Ayyalaraju Narayanamatyudu. Till then, transcreations from Sanskrit continued beginning with transcreation of Mahabharat from Sanskrit by Nannaya in 11th century. It does not mean that transcreations from Sanskrit were totally discontinued from 17th century onwards.

Ayyalaraju Narayanamatyudu's father was Suranna and mother was Kondamamba, but his date of birth and the place of his birth were not known. Nelaturi Venkata Ramanayya, an eminent scholar investigated the political, economic and cultural facts mentioned by him in his work and estimated that he belongs to the last part of 17th century as his work came after SUKASAPTATI written by Palavekari Kadiripati who belongs to 1660. ( Bharati - Telugu monthly- November, 1945.)


C.P. Brown (10-Nov-1798 to 12 -Dec-1884) joined as assistant collector of Cuddapah, appointed by the then East India Company. In addition to official requirement of learning regional language, he took keen interest in Telugu Language and Literature and made memorable contributions for their development. He collected the manuscripts of HAMSAVIMSATI from different sources and gave them to Zuluri Appayya, a very eminent scholar to prepare a fair copy of the manuscript. He prepared the fair copy around 1831 and it was kept in the Oriental Manuscripts Library of Madras.

C.P. Brown wrote the following remarks at the conclusion of the fair copy:

The HAMSAVIMSATI is a work of the same discription of SUKASAPTATI with the close resemblance in many passages and shows that one must have been borrowed from the other. Zuluri Appayya considers that SUKASAPTATI is superior in style and good taste to the HAMSAVIMSATI which , however contains a greater variety of words and technical phrases.


The fair manuscript prepared by Zuluri Appayya was used and the following books were brought out.

1. Chitturu Ramaswamy Modaliyar. Published in 1882. Book is not available. Maddulapalli Venkata Subrahmanya Sastry made a mention of it in his foreword for the book published in 1964 by Vavilla Press.

2. It was published by Vavilla Press, Chennapuri- in 1920. Foreword by Janamanchi Seshendra Sarma.

3. It was published in 1938 by Srungara Kavya Grandha Mandali, Machilipatnam. Foreword by Malladi Ramakrishna Sastry.

4. It was published in 1954 and in 1964 by Vavilla Press, Chennapuri. Foreword by Maddulapalli Venkata Subrahmanya Sastry. In this book, meanings and summary were also given in prose.

5. It was published in 1977 by Sahitya Academy, Hyderabad.

There are no differences and variations as far as content is concerned, but some changes are there in the use of sutras of Telugu verses and grammar among these five publications.

The book was written by Ayyalaraju Narayanamatyudu in proud verses using aesthetics, the sutras of Telugu verses and grammar strictly and so were the subsequent publications. It is very difficult for the readers of the contemporary generations to understand the heart and soul of the work. I, therefore, got it translated into contemporary spoken Telugu and published it for the convenience of the readers.(Pracheena Katha - Prasthanam: Bharatiya Katha-Telugu Katha: Six thousand years Kathayatra: Author and Publisher: JAYANTHI PAPARAO: 2013: page - 547.)

This is the history of the work as of date.


The king, Chitrabhogudu desires to enjoy sexual pleasure with Hemavati wife of Vishnudasu, a rich merchant. The king employed a skilled professional of freedom of sex, Hela to convince and make Hemavati to agree for enjoyment of sexual pleasure with the king. Hela with all her skills was successful in making Hemavati  to agree for sex with the king. Vishnudasu went on business for twenty days to distance places. While leaving on business travel, he asked his pet Swan to take care of Hemavati. Hemavati prepared herself to go to the king for sexual pleasure, but the pet Swan told her twenty stories on twenty nights on freedom of sex and thereby, Hemavati could not meet the king. After twenty days, Vishnudasu returned home. Hemavati, overwhelmed with joy, surprise, shame and fear welcomed him. They both lived a happy life as Vishnudasu did not know anything about Hemavati's efforts to meet the king and he had never suspected her nature and character.

This is the story content of the main story. There are only five protagonists, namely, Chitrabhogudu, Vishnudasu, Hemavati, Hela and the pet Swan in the main story. Chitrabhogudu and Hemavati realised that sexual contacts with others are wrong and dangerous from individual, family and social points of life.

We may derive a lesson or message from the main story. The men and women, sometimes ,are attracted to wordly pleasures and weaknesses. The social systems, traditions, cultures and knowledge of experiences protect them from the dangers in one way or other. Those who ignore them may land into troubles.


The pet Swan told Hemavati each night a story and halted her from going to the king for sexual pleasure. The essence of each story is that how a woman who enjoyed sexual pleasures with others had protected her from the dangers of freedom of sex by administration of wits and skills spontaneously and timely and concluded saying" If you have such skills to protect you from the dangers, you can go to the king. Before going to the king make yourself sure that you have such skills." The pet Swan, thus. told twenty stories in the twenty nights and halted Hemavati from going to the king and protected her from the dangers.

The heart and soul of all the twenty stories is one and the same. It advocates and pleads for freedom of sex. It questions when all animals and birds enjoy freedom of sex, why mankind should be deprived of it. Sex is created by Nature and the law of the Nature allows freedom of sex! Then, mankind should also enjoy freedom of sex. Here, we limit ourselves to the stories without spreading our wings in search of answers to the questions as it is a big ocean.

There are twenty women protagonists, their husbands and twenty men protagonists in these twenty stories. There are a few other protagonists also. The role of men protagonists is limited just to do whatever is advised by the women protagonists and have no mentionable independent role. The greatness of the women protagonists lies in the facts that they disclose different psychological characteristics and attitudes of sexual pleasure. Sex is more of a psychological issue than of just physical contact. If we investigate the stories, we come across many such psychological and physical facts and truths. They apply different wits and skills to protect them from the dangers. Their spontaneous understanding of the situation and circumstances and application of wits and skills for protection show a lot on the capabilities of the human brain! These protagonists live as long as mankind lives! The poet, in the first story, compares sexual desire with hunger with his own observations!


We will now attempt to find out some important similarities between SUKASAPTATI written by Palavekari Kadiripati and HAMSAVIMSATI written by Ayyalaraju Narayanamatyudu.

1. They both were written in 17th century.

2. One appears to have been borrowed from the other.

3. The content and essence of the stories are one and the same.

4. Both advocate and plead for freedom of sex.

5. Both are the first independent literary works in Telugu literature. 

6. Both were written in verses with a few connecting prose sentences.

7. The lessons and messages imparted by both the works are similar.

8. We find a similar framework or layout of story telling full of humour and satire.

9. Both represent the glimpses of social living , traditions and culture of Telugu people of those times.

10. Both the manuscripts were made fair by the eminent scholar, Zuluri Appayya in 1831.

We will make an effort to identify some noteworthy disparities between SUKASAPTATI and HAMSAVIMSATI.

1. The names of protagonists in the main story as well as in the other twenty stories are all together different with some differences in their characteristics in HAMSAVIMSATI.

2. The language used in writing the verses and also in the talks of the protagonists in HAMSAVIMSATI is more refined than that used in the SUKASAPTATI. We find many a foul words in SUKASAPTATI.

3. The twenty stories are quite different in content and narration in the HAMSAVIMSATI. The message only is same in both the works.

4. The protagonists in the twenty stories of HAMSAVIMSATI are more reformed and intelligent in their talk and behaviour and we can find it in how they have protected them from the dangers of sexual intercourse with others.

5. The protagonists in HAMSAVIMSATI are doctors, officers, artists, businessmen and common men while in SUKASAPTATI, the protagonists are mainly kings and common men.

6. The stories in the HAMSAVIMSATI are simple and direct while the stories in the SUKASAPTATI are somewhat complicated and lack in artistic narration.

7. There are twenty stories only in HAMSAVIMSATI while in SUKASAPTATI, there are thirty three stories.

8. The poet of HAMSAVIMSATI knows closely about his protagonists while the poet of SUKASAPTATI knows closely about the life of king's.

9. The HAMSAVIMSATI contains greater variety of words and technical phrases.

10. The supremacy and prominence of HAMSAVIMSATI exists in mirroring the Telugu society and social living of those times. It has historical importance for the detailed information it provides on Kulagothras, handicrafts, tools used in the handicrafts and other professions, kitchen appliances, house designs, jewellery, village markets, festivals, games, gambles, village administration, officials and their duties, information on mathematics, astrology, yoga, songs, Aayurveda medicines and kamasastra and such valuable information. We find information on mountains, trees, forests, rivers, animals, birds, temples and fishes and such worthy information.

We do not come across such detailed, valuable and worthy information in any book of those times.


I will analyze the summary and essence of a few stories taken from the HAMSAVIMSATI, published by Srungara Kavya Grandha Mandali, Machilipatnam in 1938.

3rd Night's Story: Asahayudu, a defence official was sent to a distant place by the king on an important work. When his wife, Hemarekha, was in sexual intercourse with a doctor, Guptagunudu, Asahayudu returned home and observed that someone was in the house. He got angry and shouted loudly for his wife. The doctor was terribly frightened and she silenced him. She opened the door and showed him the doctor's bag containing medicines. She said" I am Suffering from unbearable stomach ache. I called this great doctor and he came, gave me the medicines and protected my life. What more can I say?!" So saying, she fell on the bed pretending suffering of stomach ache. Asahayudu thanked the doctor Guptagunudu for his timely help with all his gratefulness. The doctor went his home with all his joy!

Hemavati heard the story told by the pet Swan and praised Hemarekha for her timely and spontaneous skills.


4th Night's Story: A weaver, Subhapradudu went to the village markets for selling his clothes. On a night, he returned home very much tired and called his wife to open the door. At that time, his wife, Hemantini, was engaged in sexual intercourse with an official, a tax official and he was shivering in fear. She asked him to keep dead silent and went to open the door naked, opened the door and she closed his eyes tightly with her palms. The official slipped away silently. She said" I was about to have bath and on hearing your call came running to open the door!" She took him closely and tightly into her arms. He was rejoiced for her devoted love for him and praised her with all his love for her.

Hemavati heard the story told by the pet Swan and said " that is the greatness of women!" And thus Hemavati was halted from going to the king.

*   *     *

14th Night's Story: Hiranyaguptudu was a rich businessman. His wife, Hastini developed sexual contacts with Sarasudu, an official who verifies the business accounts for tax collection. On a night, when Hastini was in sexual enjoyment with Sarasudu, her husband called her to open the door. She, without loss of a moment, asked Sarasudu to go out and stay outside and he did so silently. She opened the door and said " a tax officer came and is waiting for you outside." Without any word, he ran away from the house to hide somewhere to avoid the tax officer. Hastini and Sarasudu enjoyed sexual pleasure whole night and the tax officer went away. Hiranyaguptudu was happy as he could avoid the tax officer. Sarasudu went away happily without asking business accounts.

The pet Swan told Hemavati the story and said" if you have such skills, you can go to the king" Hemavati went back to her bedroom and slept without going to the king.


The poet, Palavekari Kadiripati of SUKASAPTATI and the poet, Ayyalaraju Narayanamatyudu of HAMSAVIMSATI of 17th century had very deep knowledge of Life and Sex and wrote the amorous tales to create awareness of Sex and freedom of Sex. They live as long as mankind lives.


More by :  Papa Rao Jayanthi

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Views: 3557      Comments: 1

Comment Excellent work!!! Jayanti varu your are very great.
All the best!

vvb ramarao
13-Sep-2020 20:22 PM

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