Vemana (Telugu: వేమన) was a Telugu poet. He composed numerous poems in Telugu in Aata Veladhi metre which consists of four lines; the fourth line, with some exceptions, is the refrain or chorus Viswadabhirama Vinura Vema. Vemana's style is simple, his poems deal with social problems and sometimes propose solutions too. With the zeal of a social reformer, many of his poems criticise and strive to give fresh perspective to ardent followers of old, embedded traditions. Vemana is often portrayed in the nude.


Basically Vemana was a Yogi. He disseminated his philosophy in simple Telugu verses. And he is very famous in Telugu literature, relatively very less is known about the actual poet.

Vemana was from Kapu social group having the title 'Reddy'. He was a native of Kadapa district and believed to have lived in Gandikota area. He was born at Mugachintapalli. Later he moved to Kondaveedu to learn Achala Yoga from Lambika Shiva Yogi. He wandered most of the southern India to propagate his Achala Philosophy through verses. At the end of his life, he settled in Katarlapalli near to Kadiri.

Scholars do not unanimously agree about the period in which he lived. C.P. Brown, who did extensive work on Vemana in his preface to the English translation Verses of Vemana, states that the date of birth from his 707th verse is Vemana's date of birth. But it is not clear. This cyclical date of Hindu calendar coincides with 1352 or 1412 or 1472. Brown also wrote that the verses of Vemana were 400 years older in his preface of the book 'Vemana padyalu'. So it is inferred that he was born in the year of 1352. He denied the false religious systems and blind beliefs. He discouraged idol worships. He preached universal brotherhood. He is not Advaitin. He refuted the theories of Dwaita and Visisthadvaita also. He was a great Achala yogi.

The Andhra Pradesh government established a University in Kadapa in his name Yogi Vemana University. The university construction has been started and going in full pace to start its operations by 2008.

Literature and Style

Many lines of Vemana's poems are now colloquial phrases of the Telugu language. They end with the signature line Viswadhaabhi Raama, Vinura Vema, literally Beloved of Vishwadha, listen Vema. There are many interpretations of what the last line signifies.

Vemana's poems were collected and published by C.P.Brown in the 19th century. His poems are of many kinds, social, moral, satirical and mystic nature. All of them are in Ataveladi (dancing lady) meter.

Sample poetry

Uppu Kappurambu nokka polika nundu
Chooda chooda ruchulu jaada veru
Purushulandu Punya purushulu veraya
Viswadhaabhiraama, Vinura Vema

Salt and camphor look similar,
but closer observation shows their taste is different
Among men, virtuous people stand apart
Beloved of the Bounteous, Vema, listen!

Gangi govu paalu garitadainanu chaalu
Kadivedainanemi kharamu paalu
Bhakti kalugu koodu pattedainanu chaalu
Viswadhaabhiraama, Vinura Vema

A ladleful of a Sacred cow's milk is enough
Of what worth is even a potful of donkey's milk
Even a little food given with respect is sumptuous
Beloved of the Bounteous, Vema, listen!

Atmasuddhi leni acharamadi ela
Bhandasuddhi leni pakamadi ela
Chittasuddi leni sivpujalelara
Viswadhaabhiraama, Vinura Vema

What is the purpose of custom sans inner purity?
What is the purpose of cooking sans cleanliness of vessels?
What is the purpose of worship of Shiva sans purity of mind?
Beloved of the Bounteous, Vema, listen!

Alpudeppudu palku adamburamu ganu
Sajjanundu palku challaganu
Kanchu moginatlu kanakammu mroguna
Viswadhaabhiraama, Vinura Vema

A mean(low) person always speaks pompously
A good person speaks softly
Does gold reverberate the way brass does?
Beloved of the Bounteous, Vema, listen!

Anagananaga raga matisayilluchunundu
thinaga thinaga vemu tiyyanundu
sadhanamuna panulu samakuru dharalona
Viswadhaabhiraama, Vinura Vema

As you sing (again and again), the melody (raga) excels
As you eat Neem (again and again) , it becomes sweeter
With practice, things become perfect
Beloved of the Bounteous, Vema, listen!

Anuvu gani chota Nadhikulamanaradu
Kochmayina nadiyu kodava gadu
konda addamandu knochami undada
Viswadhaabhiraama, Vinura Vema

When it is not our place or time, we cannot win
You have not become small because of this
Don't you know the hill looks small in a mirror
Beloved of the Bounteous, Vema, listen!

Apadiana velanarasi bandhula judu
bhayamuvela judu bantu tanamu
Pedavela judu pendlamu gunamu
Viswadhaabhuraama, Vinura Vema

In times of distress, observe the attitude of relatives
In times of fear, observe the behaviour of the army
In times of poverty, observe the nature of the wife
Beloved of the Bounteous, Vema, listen!

Chippalonabadda chinuku mutyambayye
nitabadda chinuku nita galise
Brapti galugu chota phalamela tappura
Viswadhaabhiraama, Vinura Vema

The rain drop that fell in the shell became a pearl
The one that fell in water merged with water
If something is yours, you are sure to get it.
Beloved of the Bounteous, Vema, listen!

Veshabhashalerigi Kashayavastramul
gattagane mukti galugabodhu
talalu bodulina talapulu bodula
Viswadhaabhiraama, Vinrua Vema

Knowing external behaviour and language, wearing saffron (renunciate) clothes
That does not lead to mukti (liberation)
Shaving of head (of a renunciate, widow etc) does not shave (unwanted) thoughts
Beloved of the Bounteous, Vema, listen!

Cheppulona rayi chevilona joriga
kantilona nalusu kali mullu
intilona poru intinta gadaya
Viswadhaabhiraama, Vinura Vema

A stone in shoe, a fly near ear
Pollen in eye, a thorn in foot
A quarrel in the house, are unbearable(painful)
Beloved of the Bounteous, Vema, listen!

Tappulennuvaru Tandopatandambu
Lurvi janulakella nundu tappu
Tappu lennuvaru tamatappu lerugaru
Viswadhaabhiraama, Vinura Vema

There are many that find faults (with others)
Every one in the world has faults
The people who count faults do not know their own faults
Beloved of the Bounteous, Vema, listen!

Inumu virigeneni irumaaru mummaaru
kaachi yatakavachu kramamu gaanu
manasu virigeneni mari chercharaadaya
Viswadaabhiraama, Vinura Vema

Iron, if broken, can be joined together, twice or thrice
but heart once broken can never be put together again

Medi pandu chooda melimaiyundu
Potta vippi chooda purugulundu
Pirikivani madibinkamilagura
Viswadhaabhirama vinura Vema


Medi, a fruit, looks gorgeous externally,
But when we rip it, we find worms within.
In a similar manner, a coward appears brave outside, but in reality he is not.
Beloved of the Bounteous, Vema, listen!

See also


External links

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