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Books > > For the Lord of the Animals : Poems From the Telugu The Kalahastisvara Satakamu of Dhurjati
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For the Lord of the Animals : Poems From the Telugu The Kalahastisvara Satakamu of Dhurjati
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For the Lord of the Animals : Poems From the Telugu The Kalahastisvara Satakamu of Dhurjati
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The Kdlahastisvara Satakamu (A Hundred Poems to the God of Kalahasti) is a sixteenth-century collection of lyrics composed in the Telugu language. Although the classical poets of the Andhra region of India produced a body of work that can be ranked with the best Indian and world poetry, For the Lord of the Animals is the first presentation of that literature in an English that combines informed scholarship and literary skill. Itis a collaboration between a Telugu scholar, Velcheru Narayana Rao, and an American poet and South Asian scholar, Hank Heifetz, who has previously published verse translations from the Sanskrit and ‘Tamil traditions.

‘The translations concentrate on presenting the voice of the poet Dhurjati, whose lyrics are charged with deep feeling, as he deals with such themes as sensuality, death, aesthetics, politics, and family life as well as devotionalism and mysticism. Dhurjati uses the conventions of bhakti poetry—devotional address to a deity—yet even when struggling against his desires he does not dismiss passion in a reflex of ascetic automatism. Instead he questions and probes as he reflects on the experience of his life.

A short introduction provides the background required to draw the English-speaking reader directly to the poems. The afterword by Narayana Rao is a scholarly article that places Dhurjati’s work in the context of classical Telugu poetry.

Hank Heifetz has a Ph.D. in South Asian Studies trom the University of California, Berkeley. He is a poet and novelist who is now writing and teaching in New York City.

Velcheru Narayana Rao is Professor of South Asian Studies at the University of Wisconsin- Madison and a poet in the Telugu language. Jacket illustration: A miniature entitled Mrtuijaya-Siva (Shiva, Conqueror of Death), dated ca. a.p. 1700, in the Bharat Kala Bhavan Museum, Benares.

**Contents and Sample Pages**

Introduction

The temple at Kalahasti, a small town in the far south of the modern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, is built on the bank of a river now known as the Mogileru but in tradition given the Sanskrit name, Suvarnamukhani, "the River with the Golden Sound." The temple is dedicated to Srikalahastigvara, a local manifestation of the god Shiva, and is a revered pilgrimage site for the Telugu-speaking people who are the majority population of the state. It is now «bout an hour’s bus ride—across flat country which turns burning hot in the summer—from the famous and grandiose pilgrimage temple of Tirupati, the Lourdes of South India. Kalahasti, in contrast, is a quieter place, more remote, and when it fills up at the time of an important festival (above all on Maha- §ivaratri, the Great Night of Shiva, which falls in February or March), the pilgrims are mostly farming people from the local countryside. The temple is built on a slight rise and a shrine within the walls— dedicated to the hunter Kannappa who gave his eyes to the god—is located on a small hill which overlooks a considerable distance. The walls themselves are massive, as befits the palace of the god and perhaps, at one time, the needs of defence for the temple. The site, with its moderate elevation, is a natural place for a fortress overseeing the surrounding plains.

The foundat:nn legend of Kalahasti concerns the efforts of three animals—two of them in direct rivalry—to revere the god Shiva, with apparently fatal but eventually exalted results for the. selves. The three animals are Sri, the spider; kala, the snake; and hasti, the elephant. (This interpretation of the place name seems to be a "folk etymology," since ‘"Kalahasti" is probably a Sanskritizing of "‘Kalatti," the ancient Dravidian name of the site.) The spider worships Shiva by using his webs to decorate a lingam—the phallus-shaped emblem of Shi, a— which has appeared in the forest. Shiva tests him by permitting th> webs to catch fire from a votive lamp. The spider hurls himself on the fire and tries to swallow it. With the spider at the point of death, Shiva intervenes and bestows upon him that perma- nent presence in the heaven of Shiva which 1s Shaivite liberation.

The snake and the elephant cross each other’s paths. A snake in Indian legend and literature is always, unless otherwise indicated, a cobra and, according to myth, the cobra grows jewels in his hood. With these jewels, the snake decorates the lingam. The snake does this repeatedly and, once he has left, an elephant repeatedly sweeps aside the jewels with his trunk and bathes the lingam with water, after which he offers flowers, leaves, and lotus stems. Each, ignorant of who the other may be, feels his own process of worship is being assaulted, and on the night of Mahasivaratri the snake lies in wait, while the elephant has also resolved to deal with his enemy. The battle that follows is characterized by the extreme violence that forms part of many Shaivite - devotional legends. The snake enters the elephant’s trunk, and the elephant, crazed by the venom, smashes his head against a hill, killing both himself and the cobra. Shiva then appears and takes them both into his heaven.

A subsidiary legend, of almost equal importance and with the same violent tone, is that of the tribal hunter Tinnadu, who, after his act of devotion, becomes known as Kannappa, "the Man of the Eyes." He is a tribesman, therefore outside and below the caste system, and worships the lingam with offerings that are ritually polluted by his touch or even, given the tenets of brahminical tradition, in themselves—meat, for instance, or toddy. A brahmin who is also worshiping the lingam objects to the actions of the tribesman. Shiva—to test and demon- strate the intensity of the hunter’s devotion—causes an eye on the lingam, perhaps sculpted or painted there, to water as if it were diseased. The tribal tears out one of his own eyes to replace it and then repeats the act when the other eye of the lingam begins to water. Shiva then takes the tribesman to himself.

At some time in the sixteenth century, perhaps while the kings of Vijayanagar, the last great Hindu empire, were still flourishing in Andhra, the poet Dhiurjati came to this temple. He is definitely known, through a colophon, to be the author of the Kala- hastifvara Mahatmyamu (‘‘Sacred Legends of the Lord of Kalahasti’’), a long, ornate poem (in the kavya style derived from Sanskrit) which glorifies the temple of Kalahasti through an elaborate presentation of the above and other legends. A different sort of work, the Kalahasti§vara Satakamu, a collection of short poems directed to the god of the shrine, is strongly attributed, by Telugu tradition, to Dhurjati as well. Outside of what is evident in the works themselves, almost no definite information exists about his life. We are not even certain that the name Dhirjati—unusual in the ‘Telugu country—was given to him at birth, since it is an appellation of Shiva—‘‘He Who Has a Weight of Matted Hair’’—and the poet may have taken or used it in honor of the god. Legend counts him as one of the Eight Elephants of the Directions, the astadiggajas, a name from classical mythology applied to eight great poets who are supposed to have served at the court of Krishnadevaraya (1509-1529), greatest of the Vijayanagar kings and a famous patron of lit- erature. Neither the existence of this group nor Dhurjati’s membership in it seems anything more than legend. We do know, from his work and his own words in the colophon to his long, ornate poem, that he was a strongly sectartan Shaivite, a bhaviparanmukha, "opposed to those who are reborn" (because they follow gods other than Shiva), and that his mother was named Singama Rama Narayana, his father Jakkaya Narayana, names which suggest (though they do not necessarily prove) a Vaishnavite lineage, raising the possibility that Dhirjati may at some time have become a convert to Shaivism. He does not give his caste or any further family background, a characteristic of militant Shaivism, whose adherents rejected the formal, rigorously defining affiliations of Hindu kinship and considered themselves born directly into the lineage of Shiva. As to his date, we can say that he probably lived in the middle or latter part of the sixteenth century, because of a reference to him by the poet Venkataraya, who lived around 1630, and, perhaps more significantly, by the im- portance he assigns to the poet, the craft of poetry, and the significance of the relationship between poet and patron—all features most characteristically developed for Telugu letters during the sixteenth century, the height of classical literary production and of Andhra political prominence.

What follows isa translation of nearly the entire KGlahastisvara Satakamu,* as it is known and chanted today among Telugu-speaking people. Satakamu literally means an anthology ofa hundred poems, but the number included in such a collection is usually somewhat greater, the auspicious number of 108 being especially favored. The work has never been critically edited, and editions vary as to the exact number of poems and sometimes in specific textual details. Taking various editions into account, we have omitted a small number of poems because they

"Our rendering of the Kalahastifvara Satakamu is the first translation of this work (or of any classical Telugu text) into expressive English. Attempts have been made in Andhra to pro- duce English versions. Though these translators have shown considerable energy and a genuine love for Telugu literature, their translations lack literary value. Works of this kind are Bulusu Venkata Subbarao, The Voice of Dhurjati (Visakhapatnam: Andhra University Press, 1977), and Pisipati Krishnamurti, Srikalahastisvara Satakamu Anglanuvadamu (bilingual edition; Hyderabad, published by the author, 1973). are merely slight variations on poems we have in- cluded, because the text is too corrupt for a clear translation, or because they depend on references which are not translatable.

Telugu scholars have tried to construct an imaginary biography for Dhurjati based on the poems of this collection. Setting aside so speculative an effort, what we can say is that the anthology does seem to embody an emotional biography. Many of the poems—even those which handle rather con- ventional themes—show the deep imprint of personal experience in the quality of their umagery and the intensity of their feeling. In form, all the poems are statements, exhortations, or appeals to the god of the shrine at Kalahasti. As such, they come under the category of bhakti, or devotional poetry. At its best, the bhakti poem is the closest thing in classical Indian literary tradition to the Western personal lyric, in contrast to more rigidly prescribed forms such as kavya, the ornate epic (really an extended depersonal- ized lyric narrative) which can, in the hands of a great poet like the Sanskrit writer Kalidasa, also communicate deeply felt emotion, but abstracted, aestheticized, consciously universalized. Such a formalized aesthetic approach discourages realism. The bhakti approach encourages it. Released from the formal restraints involved in producing poetry for the courts, Dhirjati is free to fill his poems with the real world, with personal, social, and contemporary concerns. He communicates directly with a god who is also a sort of beloved relative, at the same time distant and intimate, both overlord and _ friend, someone to whom he can speak and also in whose name he can really speak to himself.

Most of these poems include or suggest some praise of the god, but the discourse underlying the praise is used for many different purposes, among them psychological and philosophical reflections which include a number of meditations on sensuality— poems that could only have been written by a man of powerful emotions, who does not dismiss passion ina reflex of ascetic automatism but questions and probes and reflects on the experience of his life:

We all take pleasure in seeing and smelling and hearing and tasting and the touch of skin pressing against skin. Why have you made us with these senses if our using them is a sin? What do you gain, O God of Kalahasti, by playing this game of illusions for your own amusement to while away the time? (Poem 67)

The poems often record his fluctuating moods, in- cluding the dark fear of death and, for the Shaivite believer, grim birth after birth: When I look at myself, when [ think of my actions, terror descends upon me and darkness falls across time. (Poem 73)

He can also use the form for subjects less narrowly linked to the most essential limits of the human condition. Some of these poems are statements on aesthetics which elevate the directness of devotional poetry—the poetry of the temple—above the formal- ized rhetoric of court poetry. The Dhurjati of our text Most of these poems include or suggest some praise of the god, but the discourse underlying the praise is used for many different purposes, among them psychological and philosophical reflections which include a number of meditations on sensuality— poems that could only have been written by a man of powerful emotions, who does not dismiss passion ina reflex of ascetic automatism but questions and probes and reflects on the experience of his life: We all take pleasure in seeing and smelling and hearing and tasting and the touch of skin pressing against skin. Why have you made us with these senses if our using them is a sin? What do you gain, O God of Kalahasti, by playing this game of illusions for your own amusement to while away the time? (Poem 67)

The poems often record his fluctuating moods, in- cluding the dark fear of death and, for the Shaivite believer, grim birth after birth: When I look at myself, when [ think of my actions, terror descends upon me and darkness falls across time. (Poem 73)

He can also use the form for subjects less narrowly linked to the most essential limits of the human condition. Some of these poems are statements on aesthetics which elevate the directness of devotional poetry—the poetry of the temple—above the formal- ized rhetoric of court poetry. The Dhurjati of our text is clearly a learned man and—if the same poet did write the Kalahastisvara Mahatmyamu—himself the author of a poem with devotional content but never- theless in the highly elaborate style of the royal courts. In this collection as well there are some moments of elaborateness. The aesthetic comments, however, affirm a clear stylistic choice, which is also ideological in that it involves a rejection of the formal apparatus of institutionalized court poetry:

How can you be praised in elaborate language, similes, conceits, overtones, secondary meanings, or textures of sound? They cannot contain your form. Enough of them! More than enough. Can poetry hold out before the face of truth? (Poem 49)

and the devotional reasons for the style combine with the aesthetic:

I never think of asking you to give me things, so if you don’t care for my poetry Ill bear that all night. It’s only my tongue’s natural work, nothing other than my worship.(Poem 62)

Of great interest is the fact that he is a social poet, in some sense a "political" poet, an ancestor of the powerful strain in Telugu literature of socially con- scious, socially committed writing. In praising the poet who directs his work toward a god and uses his poetry for self-examination with the intent of self- liberation, Dhurjati—with the clear tones of bitter experience—attacks institutionalized authority for its ideological pressures, its demands for family life and for sons, and in its human embodiment as the arrogant guru, or the learned man who seeks success at the feet of power, or, most often and repeatedly, power itself in its dress of his time—the person of the king:

If you call a man a king, must he then say good-by to compassion, charity, self-respect? Is there a reason why kings seem to be a growth from the worst seed? (Poem 37)

His hatred for kings is contrasted with his devotion to Shiva, but it shows a degree of disgust that is surely a reflection of his reaction to injustice itself:

The very word "King"’ so sickens me, I will never accept it for myself ever, even in some other life. (Poem 22)

These poems, which address a god while dealing with many aspects of the human life cycle and condi- tion, have long been used in the Telugu country, among those who know them by heart, as means of focusing on their own emotions, in time of confusion, trouble, or joy. They are poems which, through the intensity of their expression, have earned a status that 1s not merely literary; they have themselves taken part in countless lives.

All these poems consist of four-line stanzas in long classical meters, each line of a set of four having the same number of syllables and metrical pattern. If it were the tradition in Telugu to chant these poems with the line as the basic unit of presentation, each poem in performance would have the regular can- tilened quality of a verse in Sanskrit—the Indo- European language which is the source of an enor- mous amount of Telugu vocabulary—or of verse in Tamil, the oldest in literary development among the Dravidian languages, to which group Telugu belongs. Instead, it is the custom in Telugu to chant the poems according to semantic units, so that poems which have the same overall meter may be pre- sented, according to their content, with a very different spacing of elements and general rhythm. To read a poem merely by meter is considered to be reading "like a child." Taking account, then, of how the poems are generally heard and felt in Telugu, we have translated these poems by meaning units, at- tempting to catch the flow of feeling rather than the formal metrical order. As a result, the lengths of the translations vary considerably, though in Telugu all the poems, in syllabic count, are very close to the same length.

There is another factor which also affects their length in translation. Telugu—especially in this period of its richest literary production—assimilated from Sanskrit not only a vast amount of vocabulary but also the Sanskrit grammatical practice of using long compounds—formed of nouns and modifiers— through which considerable information could be crowded into a brief space. Using this method, the poet could create rather intricate poems within the same metrical limitations as simpler poems consist- ing mostly of pure Telugu words. These Sanskritic nominal compounds break down naturally into phrases in English and produce longer, more elaborate poems that are analogues of their structure in Telugu. Another very interesting aspect of the mixed Sanskrit and Telugu vocabulary is that Sanskrit words, like Latinate vocabulary in English, tend to be used for relatively formal, elevated speech while the Telugu vocabulary—often in the same poems and for specific shifts of tone—will be used for very direct, even colloquial statements of feeling, just as Anglo-Saxon words are frequently used for the same purposes in English. We have tried, where possible, to convey some of this sense of changing tones.

Each of the poems in Telugu has the formal ending Srtkalahasti§vara, a vocative which, very literally trans- lated, means ‘‘Lord of the Spider, the Snake, and the Elephant!" Kala and hasti clearly mean "snake" and ‘elephant."’ The word Sri, in its ordinary usage, 1s an honorific title prefixed to a name as a mark of respect. According to tradition, it refers, in this compound only, to the spider. For the Telugu reader or listener, the phrase provides an expected musical completion for the poem and is felt as a reference and address to the god of the shrine at Kalahasti, not as a continuous recall of the foundation legends which, etymologically, it expresses. There are two problems in translating a fixed phrase like this one—the issues of literalness and of position in the verse. Given that the quality of the phrase when translated barely and literally into English calls a great deal of somewhat bizarre attention to itself—and this sort of stress is not warranted at all by its actual function in the poems—we have decided to translate according to its normally felt meaning, "‘God of Kalahasti,"’ the resident deity of the shrine. In translation, we have varied the placing of this vocative. It will often be found in its Telugu final position but we have also set it elsewhere, according to its usefulness in the rhythmic expression of the individual poem, and always in service to our primary purpose—presenting the voice of Dhurjati the man.

**Contents and Sample Pages**








For the Lord of the Animals : Poems From the Telugu The Kalahastisvara Satakamu of Dhurjati

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1987
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ENGLISH
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178
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Weight of the Book: 0.38 Kg
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About the Book

The Kdlahastisvara Satakamu (A Hundred Poems to the God of Kalahasti) is a sixteenth-century collection of lyrics composed in the Telugu language. Although the classical poets of the Andhra region of India produced a body of work that can be ranked with the best Indian and world poetry, For the Lord of the Animals is the first presentation of that literature in an English that combines informed scholarship and literary skill. Itis a collaboration between a Telugu scholar, Velcheru Narayana Rao, and an American poet and South Asian scholar, Hank Heifetz, who has previously published verse translations from the Sanskrit and ‘Tamil traditions.

‘The translations concentrate on presenting the voice of the poet Dhurjati, whose lyrics are charged with deep feeling, as he deals with such themes as sensuality, death, aesthetics, politics, and family life as well as devotionalism and mysticism. Dhurjati uses the conventions of bhakti poetry—devotional address to a deity—yet even when struggling against his desires he does not dismiss passion in a reflex of ascetic automatism. Instead he questions and probes as he reflects on the experience of his life.

A short introduction provides the background required to draw the English-speaking reader directly to the poems. The afterword by Narayana Rao is a scholarly article that places Dhurjati’s work in the context of classical Telugu poetry.

Hank Heifetz has a Ph.D. in South Asian Studies trom the University of California, Berkeley. He is a poet and novelist who is now writing and teaching in New York City.

Velcheru Narayana Rao is Professor of South Asian Studies at the University of Wisconsin- Madison and a poet in the Telugu language. Jacket illustration: A miniature entitled Mrtuijaya-Siva (Shiva, Conqueror of Death), dated ca. a.p. 1700, in the Bharat Kala Bhavan Museum, Benares.

**Contents and Sample Pages**

Introduction

The temple at Kalahasti, a small town in the far south of the modern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, is built on the bank of a river now known as the Mogileru but in tradition given the Sanskrit name, Suvarnamukhani, "the River with the Golden Sound." The temple is dedicated to Srikalahastigvara, a local manifestation of the god Shiva, and is a revered pilgrimage site for the Telugu-speaking people who are the majority population of the state. It is now «bout an hour’s bus ride—across flat country which turns burning hot in the summer—from the famous and grandiose pilgrimage temple of Tirupati, the Lourdes of South India. Kalahasti, in contrast, is a quieter place, more remote, and when it fills up at the time of an important festival (above all on Maha- §ivaratri, the Great Night of Shiva, which falls in February or March), the pilgrims are mostly farming people from the local countryside. The temple is built on a slight rise and a shrine within the walls— dedicated to the hunter Kannappa who gave his eyes to the god—is located on a small hill which overlooks a considerable distance. The walls themselves are massive, as befits the palace of the god and perhaps, at one time, the needs of defence for the temple. The site, with its moderate elevation, is a natural place for a fortress overseeing the surrounding plains.

The foundat:nn legend of Kalahasti concerns the efforts of three animals—two of them in direct rivalry—to revere the god Shiva, with apparently fatal but eventually exalted results for the. selves. The three animals are Sri, the spider; kala, the snake; and hasti, the elephant. (This interpretation of the place name seems to be a "folk etymology," since ‘"Kalahasti" is probably a Sanskritizing of "‘Kalatti," the ancient Dravidian name of the site.) The spider worships Shiva by using his webs to decorate a lingam—the phallus-shaped emblem of Shi, a— which has appeared in the forest. Shiva tests him by permitting th> webs to catch fire from a votive lamp. The spider hurls himself on the fire and tries to swallow it. With the spider at the point of death, Shiva intervenes and bestows upon him that perma- nent presence in the heaven of Shiva which 1s Shaivite liberation.

The snake and the elephant cross each other’s paths. A snake in Indian legend and literature is always, unless otherwise indicated, a cobra and, according to myth, the cobra grows jewels in his hood. With these jewels, the snake decorates the lingam. The snake does this repeatedly and, once he has left, an elephant repeatedly sweeps aside the jewels with his trunk and bathes the lingam with water, after which he offers flowers, leaves, and lotus stems. Each, ignorant of who the other may be, feels his own process of worship is being assaulted, and on the night of Mahasivaratri the snake lies in wait, while the elephant has also resolved to deal with his enemy. The battle that follows is characterized by the extreme violence that forms part of many Shaivite - devotional legends. The snake enters the elephant’s trunk, and the elephant, crazed by the venom, smashes his head against a hill, killing both himself and the cobra. Shiva then appears and takes them both into his heaven.

A subsidiary legend, of almost equal importance and with the same violent tone, is that of the tribal hunter Tinnadu, who, after his act of devotion, becomes known as Kannappa, "the Man of the Eyes." He is a tribesman, therefore outside and below the caste system, and worships the lingam with offerings that are ritually polluted by his touch or even, given the tenets of brahminical tradition, in themselves—meat, for instance, or toddy. A brahmin who is also worshiping the lingam objects to the actions of the tribesman. Shiva—to test and demon- strate the intensity of the hunter’s devotion—causes an eye on the lingam, perhaps sculpted or painted there, to water as if it were diseased. The tribal tears out one of his own eyes to replace it and then repeats the act when the other eye of the lingam begins to water. Shiva then takes the tribesman to himself.

At some time in the sixteenth century, perhaps while the kings of Vijayanagar, the last great Hindu empire, were still flourishing in Andhra, the poet Dhiurjati came to this temple. He is definitely known, through a colophon, to be the author of the Kala- hastifvara Mahatmyamu (‘‘Sacred Legends of the Lord of Kalahasti’’), a long, ornate poem (in the kavya style derived from Sanskrit) which glorifies the temple of Kalahasti through an elaborate presentation of the above and other legends. A different sort of work, the Kalahasti§vara Satakamu, a collection of short poems directed to the god of the shrine, is strongly attributed, by Telugu tradition, to Dhurjati as well. Outside of what is evident in the works themselves, almost no definite information exists about his life. We are not even certain that the name Dhirjati—unusual in the ‘Telugu country—was given to him at birth, since it is an appellation of Shiva—‘‘He Who Has a Weight of Matted Hair’’—and the poet may have taken or used it in honor of the god. Legend counts him as one of the Eight Elephants of the Directions, the astadiggajas, a name from classical mythology applied to eight great poets who are supposed to have served at the court of Krishnadevaraya (1509-1529), greatest of the Vijayanagar kings and a famous patron of lit- erature. Neither the existence of this group nor Dhurjati’s membership in it seems anything more than legend. We do know, from his work and his own words in the colophon to his long, ornate poem, that he was a strongly sectartan Shaivite, a bhaviparanmukha, "opposed to those who are reborn" (because they follow gods other than Shiva), and that his mother was named Singama Rama Narayana, his father Jakkaya Narayana, names which suggest (though they do not necessarily prove) a Vaishnavite lineage, raising the possibility that Dhirjati may at some time have become a convert to Shaivism. He does not give his caste or any further family background, a characteristic of militant Shaivism, whose adherents rejected the formal, rigorously defining affiliations of Hindu kinship and considered themselves born directly into the lineage of Shiva. As to his date, we can say that he probably lived in the middle or latter part of the sixteenth century, because of a reference to him by the poet Venkataraya, who lived around 1630, and, perhaps more significantly, by the im- portance he assigns to the poet, the craft of poetry, and the significance of the relationship between poet and patron—all features most characteristically developed for Telugu letters during the sixteenth century, the height of classical literary production and of Andhra political prominence.

What follows isa translation of nearly the entire KGlahastisvara Satakamu,* as it is known and chanted today among Telugu-speaking people. Satakamu literally means an anthology ofa hundred poems, but the number included in such a collection is usually somewhat greater, the auspicious number of 108 being especially favored. The work has never been critically edited, and editions vary as to the exact number of poems and sometimes in specific textual details. Taking various editions into account, we have omitted a small number of poems because they

"Our rendering of the Kalahastifvara Satakamu is the first translation of this work (or of any classical Telugu text) into expressive English. Attempts have been made in Andhra to pro- duce English versions. Though these translators have shown considerable energy and a genuine love for Telugu literature, their translations lack literary value. Works of this kind are Bulusu Venkata Subbarao, The Voice of Dhurjati (Visakhapatnam: Andhra University Press, 1977), and Pisipati Krishnamurti, Srikalahastisvara Satakamu Anglanuvadamu (bilingual edition; Hyderabad, published by the author, 1973). are merely slight variations on poems we have in- cluded, because the text is too corrupt for a clear translation, or because they depend on references which are not translatable.

Telugu scholars have tried to construct an imaginary biography for Dhurjati based on the poems of this collection. Setting aside so speculative an effort, what we can say is that the anthology does seem to embody an emotional biography. Many of the poems—even those which handle rather con- ventional themes—show the deep imprint of personal experience in the quality of their umagery and the intensity of their feeling. In form, all the poems are statements, exhortations, or appeals to the god of the shrine at Kalahasti. As such, they come under the category of bhakti, or devotional poetry. At its best, the bhakti poem is the closest thing in classical Indian literary tradition to the Western personal lyric, in contrast to more rigidly prescribed forms such as kavya, the ornate epic (really an extended depersonal- ized lyric narrative) which can, in the hands of a great poet like the Sanskrit writer Kalidasa, also communicate deeply felt emotion, but abstracted, aestheticized, consciously universalized. Such a formalized aesthetic approach discourages realism. The bhakti approach encourages it. Released from the formal restraints involved in producing poetry for the courts, Dhirjati is free to fill his poems with the real world, with personal, social, and contemporary concerns. He communicates directly with a god who is also a sort of beloved relative, at the same time distant and intimate, both overlord and _ friend, someone to whom he can speak and also in whose name he can really speak to himself.

Most of these poems include or suggest some praise of the god, but the discourse underlying the praise is used for many different purposes, among them psychological and philosophical reflections which include a number of meditations on sensuality— poems that could only have been written by a man of powerful emotions, who does not dismiss passion ina reflex of ascetic automatism but questions and probes and reflects on the experience of his life:

We all take pleasure in seeing and smelling and hearing and tasting and the touch of skin pressing against skin. Why have you made us with these senses if our using them is a sin? What do you gain, O God of Kalahasti, by playing this game of illusions for your own amusement to while away the time? (Poem 67)

The poems often record his fluctuating moods, in- cluding the dark fear of death and, for the Shaivite believer, grim birth after birth: When I look at myself, when [ think of my actions, terror descends upon me and darkness falls across time. (Poem 73)

He can also use the form for subjects less narrowly linked to the most essential limits of the human condition. Some of these poems are statements on aesthetics which elevate the directness of devotional poetry—the poetry of the temple—above the formal- ized rhetoric of court poetry. The Dhurjati of our text Most of these poems include or suggest some praise of the god, but the discourse underlying the praise is used for many different purposes, among them psychological and philosophical reflections which include a number of meditations on sensuality— poems that could only have been written by a man of powerful emotions, who does not dismiss passion ina reflex of ascetic automatism but questions and probes and reflects on the experience of his life: We all take pleasure in seeing and smelling and hearing and tasting and the touch of skin pressing against skin. Why have you made us with these senses if our using them is a sin? What do you gain, O God of Kalahasti, by playing this game of illusions for your own amusement to while away the time? (Poem 67)

The poems often record his fluctuating moods, in- cluding the dark fear of death and, for the Shaivite believer, grim birth after birth: When I look at myself, when [ think of my actions, terror descends upon me and darkness falls across time. (Poem 73)

He can also use the form for subjects less narrowly linked to the most essential limits of the human condition. Some of these poems are statements on aesthetics which elevate the directness of devotional poetry—the poetry of the temple—above the formal- ized rhetoric of court poetry. The Dhurjati of our text is clearly a learned man and—if the same poet did write the Kalahastisvara Mahatmyamu—himself the author of a poem with devotional content but never- theless in the highly elaborate style of the royal courts. In this collection as well there are some moments of elaborateness. The aesthetic comments, however, affirm a clear stylistic choice, which is also ideological in that it involves a rejection of the formal apparatus of institutionalized court poetry:

How can you be praised in elaborate language, similes, conceits, overtones, secondary meanings, or textures of sound? They cannot contain your form. Enough of them! More than enough. Can poetry hold out before the face of truth? (Poem 49)

and the devotional reasons for the style combine with the aesthetic:

I never think of asking you to give me things, so if you don’t care for my poetry Ill bear that all night. It’s only my tongue’s natural work, nothing other than my worship.(Poem 62)

Of great interest is the fact that he is a social poet, in some sense a "political" poet, an ancestor of the powerful strain in Telugu literature of socially con- scious, socially committed writing. In praising the poet who directs his work toward a god and uses his poetry for self-examination with the intent of self- liberation, Dhurjati—with the clear tones of bitter experience—attacks institutionalized authority for its ideological pressures, its demands for family life and for sons, and in its human embodiment as the arrogant guru, or the learned man who seeks success at the feet of power, or, most often and repeatedly, power itself in its dress of his time—the person of the king:

If you call a man a king, must he then say good-by to compassion, charity, self-respect? Is there a reason why kings seem to be a growth from the worst seed? (Poem 37)

His hatred for kings is contrasted with his devotion to Shiva, but it shows a degree of disgust that is surely a reflection of his reaction to injustice itself:

The very word "King"’ so sickens me, I will never accept it for myself ever, even in some other life. (Poem 22)

These poems, which address a god while dealing with many aspects of the human life cycle and condi- tion, have long been used in the Telugu country, among those who know them by heart, as means of focusing on their own emotions, in time of confusion, trouble, or joy. They are poems which, through the intensity of their expression, have earned a status that 1s not merely literary; they have themselves taken part in countless lives.

All these poems consist of four-line stanzas in long classical meters, each line of a set of four having the same number of syllables and metrical pattern. If it were the tradition in Telugu to chant these poems with the line as the basic unit of presentation, each poem in performance would have the regular can- tilened quality of a verse in Sanskrit—the Indo- European language which is the source of an enor- mous amount of Telugu vocabulary—or of verse in Tamil, the oldest in literary development among the Dravidian languages, to which group Telugu belongs. Instead, it is the custom in Telugu to chant the poems according to semantic units, so that poems which have the same overall meter may be pre- sented, according to their content, with a very different spacing of elements and general rhythm. To read a poem merely by meter is considered to be reading "like a child." Taking account, then, of how the poems are generally heard and felt in Telugu, we have translated these poems by meaning units, at- tempting to catch the flow of feeling rather than the formal metrical order. As a result, the lengths of the translations vary considerably, though in Telugu all the poems, in syllabic count, are very close to the same length.

There is another factor which also affects their length in translation. Telugu—especially in this period of its richest literary production—assimilated from Sanskrit not only a vast amount of vocabulary but also the Sanskrit grammatical practice of using long compounds—formed of nouns and modifiers— through which considerable information could be crowded into a brief space. Using this method, the poet could create rather intricate poems within the same metrical limitations as simpler poems consist- ing mostly of pure Telugu words. These Sanskritic nominal compounds break down naturally into phrases in English and produce longer, more elaborate poems that are analogues of their structure in Telugu. Another very interesting aspect of the mixed Sanskrit and Telugu vocabulary is that Sanskrit words, like Latinate vocabulary in English, tend to be used for relatively formal, elevated speech while the Telugu vocabulary—often in the same poems and for specific shifts of tone—will be used for very direct, even colloquial statements of feeling, just as Anglo-Saxon words are frequently used for the same purposes in English. We have tried, where possible, to convey some of this sense of changing tones.

Each of the poems in Telugu has the formal ending Srtkalahasti§vara, a vocative which, very literally trans- lated, means ‘‘Lord of the Spider, the Snake, and the Elephant!" Kala and hasti clearly mean "snake" and ‘elephant."’ The word Sri, in its ordinary usage, 1s an honorific title prefixed to a name as a mark of respect. According to tradition, it refers, in this compound only, to the spider. For the Telugu reader or listener, the phrase provides an expected musical completion for the poem and is felt as a reference and address to the god of the shrine at Kalahasti, not as a continuous recall of the foundation legends which, etymologically, it expresses. There are two problems in translating a fixed phrase like this one—the issues of literalness and of position in the verse. Given that the quality of the phrase when translated barely and literally into English calls a great deal of somewhat bizarre attention to itself—and this sort of stress is not warranted at all by its actual function in the poems—we have decided to translate according to its normally felt meaning, "‘God of Kalahasti,"’ the resident deity of the shrine. In translation, we have varied the placing of this vocative. It will often be found in its Telugu final position but we have also set it elsewhere, according to its usefulness in the rhythmic expression of the individual poem, and always in service to our primary purpose—presenting the voice of Dhurjati the man.

**Contents and Sample Pages**








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