Monthly Archives: August 2017

Excerpt: Dasama Skandha of Potana’s Bhagavata Purana III

Continuing our Series of Articles on the translation of Telugu Bhagavatam by Professor T.S.B. Narasaraju of Banaras Hindu University, is Excerpt III. Those interested in reading Excerpt I of our series can find it here and can read Excerpt II here.

This installment will provide selections from both Part I and Part II of Potana’s Bhagavata Purana (Dasama Skandha). This Post will give key episodes demonstrating the importance of Bhagavata Purana and why it is such a pillar of our culture.

Publishers interested in printing or offering e-Publication of Narasaraju garu’s work can reach him via email at  shamraan@gmail.com

Click here to download Part I of the English Translation of Potana’s Bhagavata Purana (Dasama Skandha)
Click here to download Part II of the English Translation of Potana’s Bhagavata Purana (Dasama Skandha)

Part I Excerpt

3. Brahma and Maheswara Praising Vishnu as Infant in Devaki`s Womb

“Oh! Lord! You uphold truth as a ritual. You are the basis for attaining the Yogic state of permanency. You are a Kalatita being capable of existing in the past, present and future. The five Bhutas, earth,water, fire, air and sky are born in you and, in turn, you are present in all of them.You continue to exist even when all the five Bhutas are destroyed. Words spoken by you constitute an embodiment of truth. You maintain a sense of equality towards all that exists in this universe. We bow down before you.

Maya, which makes the unreal appear as real and makes the real look unreal, is under your control. Those under the influence of Maya with power of discrimination covered by it, see plurality mistakenly in you. Those who transcend the power of Maya are the enlightened and  see you as a single existing entity in the entire gamut of apparent plurality of the universe (89).

You are the lord for all the living beings. In your creation there is what is known as a family, Samsara, which is comparable to a tree. The medium or milieu in which the family exists is the material world, Prakriti, which is comparable to a creeper entwining the tree. Happiness and sorrow are the two fruits to the tree. The three qualities, virtuosity (Sattvaguna), ambition (Rajoguna) and laziness (Tamoguna) which embrace a human being are the roots of the tree.The four objectives of human  existence, namely, righteousness (Dharma), wealth (Ardha), desire (Kama) and salvation (Moksha) are the fluids (Rasas) flowing through the tree. What are experienced by the sense-organs, namely, sound (Sabda), touch (Sparsa), form (Rupa), taste (Ruchi) and smell (Vasana) are the receptive mechanisms of the tree. States of the human body such as, lust, anger, miserliness, love, pride, jealousy, hunger, thirst, sorrow, attachment, childhood, youth, old age , disease and death, among others, are all  supporting parts of the tree. The principal constituents of the human body, such as, body fluids, blood, flesh, brain-matter, skeletal system and semen are the sheaths enclosing the trunk of the tree. The Pancha Bhutas mentioned above along with intelligence, consciousness and ego are the branches of the tree.  The nine holes of the tree are eyes, ears, two nostrils, mouth and the two excretory organs. The five principal constituents of life, namely, Prana, Apana, Vyana, Udana and Samana along with the five subsidiary constituents of life, namely, Naga, Kurma, Krukara, Devadatta and Dhananjaya are the leaves of the tree. Human being (Jeeva) and the lord (Iswara) are comparable to two birds residing on the tree. Oh! Lord! You are the creator, protector and destroyer of such an extra-ordinary family tree (90, 91).

The enlightened persons keep their minds focussed on you preventing them from deviation. They  thus cross the dreadful ocean, namely, family ( Bhavasagara) effortlessly (92).You take any number of births to do good to the good  and to punish the bad thereby keeping the worlds safe (93). Oh! Lord with eyes as beautiful as lotuses! The enlightened get salvation by uttering your name with devotion. Some pretend to be enlightened with destructive intelligence and refuse to utter your name not learning a lesson from those who had a down-fall due to such a behaviour (94). Great devotees keep their thoughts focussed on you. This enables them to become your men, being fearless and devoid of obstacles in life. They reside in the divine place where you stay (95).You are worshipped by human beings belonging to the four principal classifications, namely, the unmarried, those with families, the old detached from their families and the ascetics. In all the worlds (Lokas) you wear a virtuous, and sacred body ensuring the safety of your devotees (96).

Oh! Lord with eyes comparable to lotuses! Your body is an embodiment of virtues and knowledge eliminating ignorance. You are considered as an effulgent embodiment of virtuosity. A devotee who worships you keeping such a form of yours in his mind is blessed with your appearance before him. You remain as an observer following a path which transcends the different forms of behaviour, mind and speech. Only the enlightened can perceive your form which is beyond Gunas (mental states) and Kriyas (actions). Remaining engrossed in your worship, thinking and hearing only about you and praising you incessantly, your devotees are able to strap the terrestrial bonds of the family and stay at your feet eternally (97).

Oh! Lord! You are the best among all. You are the ruler for all of us. Your birth is to lessen the burden of the earth. With your grace and under the shelter of your feet, as attractive as lotuses, we are able to discern our existence in a mileu surrounded by the earth and the sky (98). Oh! Lord! You are devoid of birth. Hence, taking birth now as Devaki`s son is a playful event for you. While birth and death are the acts of Maya inflicted on the human beings, Maya staying in your proximity runs away incapable of touching you. You are therefore the only one capable of not getting entangled in the acts of Maya and hence you are the lord of the universe (99).

You took several births in different forms (Avataras) with qualities of grace and kindness and condescended to save the world in crisis. You were born as a great fish (Matsya), a tortoise (Kurma), a pig (Varaha), a combined form of man and lion (Narasimha), a short man (Vamana), a horse-faced human form (Hayagriva), Parasurama and Rama. We salute to you for this act of kindness. We pray to you to save the earth by reducing its load (100).The world is drowned in incessant sorrow being tormented cruelly by  vicious people like Kamsa. Lord Mukunda!You leave Devaki`s womb and take birth soon(101).”Addressing Devaki, lord Brahma and the Devatas accompanying him said, “Mother! Lord Purushottama is in your womb. He is likely to take birth soon. There is no more fear from Kamsa.You please have faith in our words. Today onwards your safety is assured. All the Yadavas are excited with joy. May your progeny prosper always (102,103)!After praising Lord Vishnu as described above, the Devatas being led by lords Brahma and Maheswara blessed Devaki and departed (104).

Part II Excerpt

34.Krishna Going to City of Kundina on his Chariot

The best among Yadavas, Krishna heard patiently the narration by the Brahmin of the message of the daughter of king of Vidarbha, her  form, beauty and other important aspects. He held in his hand smiling the hand of the Brahmin and uttered the following words :- “ Oh! Recepient of approbation of the learned! I have an intense desire to marry Rukmini. Hence I have been spending sleepless nights. I know even earlier that Rukmi had bad intentions disapproving this marriage.I crush the enemy groups and get Rukmini, a jewel among maidens. It is like generating fire from rubbing wood (1716). I reach the kingdom of Vidarbha and enter the city of Kundina effortlessly. I get the maiden in a flash. In case the enemies oppose me I kill them in the battle-field (1717).”

Having said those words, Hari came to know about the stipulated time of proposed marriage of Rukmini Devi. In accordance with orders of the lord, his charioteer Daraka, got ready a chariot with four horses by names Saibya, Sugriva, Meghapushpa and Valahaka respectively. Hari got up the chariot along with the Brahmin, crossed all the intermediary kingdoms in one night and reached the kingdom of Vidarbha. There, Bhishmaka, the king of Kundina, agreed to get his daughter married to Sisupala under the compulsion of his son and started getting the preparations done for the event (1718).

The whole city was decorated. Porticos, lanes, royal-paths and marketing places were all cleaned. Water mixed with sandal paste was sprinkled every-where. Enchanting festoons of lotuses were erected. All the houses were cleaned and designs of Karpoora and Kumkuma were drawn in front of the houses to the accompaniment of fragrant smoke from  sticks of Agar.Men and women every-where wore new multi-coloured garments. They decorated themselves with different types of flower-garlands, jewellery and fragrant skin-lotions, scents and ointments.The whole city wore a festive appearance (1719).

Bhishmaka paid obeisance to his ancestors following the stipulated procedures, fed the Brahmins and got auspicious blessings recited by them. Rukmini Devi was made to have a special auspicious bath. He got her decorated with special robes and ornaments studded with precious stones. Brahmins recited from Rig, Yajur, Sama and Adharvana Vedas to shower ceremonial blessings on the bride for her protection and safety. A Purohit got obeisance to god Agni done through performance of stipulated Homa for peace at the place of residence. In addition, the king donated seeds of til and wheat, silver, gold and clothes to Brahmins for the good of the couple getting married (1720).

In the mean-while the king of Chedi reached the city of Kundina with pomp, feeling proud of getting married to the princess of the kingdom of Vidarbha. He was accompanied by a retinue of soldiers, a row of chariots, a collection of elephants of a fine quality, a group of quick-running horses, relations and friends (1721). Jarasandha, Dantavaktra, Salva, Viduraka, Poundrakavasudeva and others came along with arrogant-looking elephants, infantry, horses and chariots professing that Balarama, Krishna and their relations would  be driven out to get the princess married to Sisupala without any opposition (1722). In addition kings of several other kingdoms arrived. Bhishmaka went in advance to welcome Sisupala and made arrangement for appropriate accommodation for him.

Balarama came to know about the entire information (1723). He thought within himself as follows :- “ Hari went alone. Many well-wishers of the king of Chedi such as Jarasandha and others  went to the city of Kundina to help him. There is bound to be a war at the place of getting the maiden. My brother needs help.” Carrying his weapon he went along the path followed by Krishna. He was accompanied by a huge army (1724). In the mean-while the drooping-broad-eyed Rukmini was sitting solitary inside a temple. She was getting agitated fearing that Krishna, an eye to all the Lokas, might not reach her after seeing her message (1725).

Rukmini thought as follows within herself :- “ Tomorrow is the day of the proposed marriage. The event ia approaching closer. How is it that Govinda has not come yet? My mind is getting agitated. I do not know whether the lord got the message or not. Why did the Brahmin Agnidyotana delay so much? Is my attempt going to be successful or is it to get wasted? What is ordained by the Almighty is not known (1726). Did that illustrious Brahmin reach Dwaraka? Did he get tired on the way giving up the plan? Did Krishna consider my message to be improper after listening to it? Alternatively did he already reach this place? Does the proposal get god`s favour or not? Does Aryamahadevi save me or not? I do not know as to what is destined for me (1727).”

She continued to think within herself as follows :- “ Agnidyotana might not have gone to Dwaraka. That is why the son of Vasudeva did not come to this place. There is no intimate relation to go to invite Hari to come to this place. Alas! My brother lost all decency in getting ready to offer me to the resident of Chedi. Alas! Goddess Gauri does not have kindness for me today (1728,1729).”

She was not inclined to narrate to her mother the agitation in her mind. She was not in a mood to spread in all directions the brightness of her sweet smile. She was disinterested in driving away the carpenter-beetles hovering round being attracted by her lotus-like countenance. She was avoiding sleep. She was disinclined to untwine the coiled pearl-necklaces of her bosom. There was no attempt to turn her eyes away even for a second from the path to be followed by Krishna to reach her (1730).

She did not wipe tears flowing from her eyes nor did she put in order her tuft of hair hanging behind on her neck. She stopped exchanging pleasantries with her companions. Her food-intake became meager. She refused even to touch drinking-water. She stopped teaching recitation of poems to the friendly parrot approaching her. She had no inclination to stretch the strings of Veena to cause entertainment. She had no desire to go to her friends (1731).

Vanamali, Krishna did not come to take her away in response to her prayers. It was unjust on his part. Consequently, Mrigaraja-madhyama,  the thin-waisted Rukmini refused  to apply Mriganabhi, fragrant musk lotion to her body. Having a face resembling a mirror, she refused to look into a mirror for her beautification. Being a Puvvuboni, a beautiful maiden, she gave up wearing Puvvulu, flowers.Having eyes resembling Jalajas, lotuses, she relinquished Jalakrida, aquatic games. Being a Vanajata-lochana, one having eyes similar to lotuses, she became disinterested in Vanakeli, forest-sports. Having a gait similar to Hamsa, a swan she became disinclined to rear a swan. Having a body as tender as a creeper, Latika-lalita-deha, she was reluctant to bring up creepers, Latas.  Being herself an ornament to ornaments, she refused to wear ornaments. Being a Tilakini-tilakmu, the best among women, she gave up putting Tilaka, a saffron mark on fore-head as a decoration. Having hands like lotuses, Kamala-hasta, she was reluctant to enter a house of lotuses, Kamal-griha (1732).

In addition, a strong desire for Krishna inflicted heat on Rukmini and made her behave abnormally. She resisted a gentle breeze. She avoided the noisy cluster of carpenter-beetles. She was angry with the cries of cuckoo. She was agitated by the sweet words of young parrots. She felt moon-light to be warm  and avoided the shade of young mango trees (1733,1734). Thus she was under the sway of Manmadha. In the process of awaiting Krishna`s arrival she was unmindful of even her routine acts of the day.

Indicating a favourable omen, her left eye and left shoulder started tingling. Agnidyotana came to her quickly in accordance with the orders of Achuta. She noticed the facial expressions of him. The sweet-voiced Rukmini went quickly and extremely eagerly towards him with a smile on her face.The Brahmin said, “ Oh! Maiden! The lord with Sudarsana as his weapon praised your sterling qualities. He gave limitless wealth to me. He already reached this place. He is sure to take you away under Rakshasvivaha even if Devatas and Danavas oppose him. Your good behaviour and good fortune are coming to fruition today (1736).” Hearing those words the princess of Vidarbha said, “ Oh! Gem of the Brahmin race! Donor of boons desired by relations! Conveying my message, you brought along with you the lord himself with eyes  comparable to lotus petals. You kept me alive. I am surviving solely by your grace. There is no other virtuous man like you. I am ignorant about the way I have to reciprocate  the help done. Oh! The best among Brahmins! I pay my obeisance to you with folded hands (1737,1738).” Thus she prayed to the Brahmin.

King Bhishmaka came to know that Balarama and Krishna came to attend the marriage of his daughter. He went with the accompaniment of festive sounds from auspicious musical instruments, received them with full honours, presented them clothes and ornaments, among others. He got all arrangements made for stay and other conveniences for them, their relations and army accompanying them. Bhishmaka treated thus all the kings who visited the city of Kundina with honours appropriate to their age, power and status offering them what all they desired (1739).

The inhabitants of Vidarbha heard about the arrival of Hari, came to have his Darshan and felt ecstatic enjoying with their eyes the sight of his countenance comparable to a lotus. They said,  “This lord, with Sudarsana as his weapon, is the most suited to the pricess of Vidarbha. The princess is also, in turn, equally suited to him. What an excellent alliance! How skilled is lord Brahma in making these two husband and wife! May Chakri, consequent upon our past virtuous deeds, become husband of this handsome girl through his valour (1740).”

During that time, maiden Rukmini, with locks of  hair covering her fore-head, started for worshipping goddess Gauri by walking towards the out-skirts of the city accompanied by a procession. Brave soldiers fully equipped with diverse arms walked protecting her. Dancing girls walked in a group in front  carrying eatables and presents. The wives of Brahmins, with sandal-paste applied to their bodies, followed her singing, having flowers in their tufts of hair and wearing new saris and ornaments.  The sounds of various percussion and blowing instruments sky-rocketted. Companions, servant-maids and women related to her followed her (1741,1742).

Encomiasts, singers and others singing in praise accompanied her. Rukmini reached the temple of goddess Gauri walking gracefully like a swan. All the while she was praying mentally to the lotus-shaped feet of Mukunda. She cleansed her feet and hands, purified herself and reached the proximity of the deity. The wives of Brahmins sprinkled sacred water on the idols of lord Siva and goddess Bhavani. They offered sandal-paste and saffron-soaked rice to the deity. They decorated the idol of the goddess with new clothes, flower-garlands and ornaments. They offered, in addition, lighted Agarbattis and Deepas to the idol. Diverse types of eatables were offered to the goddess as Nyvedya. They gave presents to the deity and later made Rukmini pray to the goddess (1743).

Rukmini Devi prayed to goddess Gauri as follows :- “Oh! Mother Iswari! I have implicit faith in my mind on the eternal and primordial couple, Uma and Maheswara. I pray to you with devotion. You are the best among mothers. You are an ocean of grace. Make Hari my husband. There is never a misfortune to those who repose their faith in you (1744).” She presented to the Brahmin ladies and their husbands salt, special eatables, betel-leaves, Mangalasutras and stumps of cane-sugar plants and prayed to them (1745). The Brahmin ladies, in turn,  blessed her enthusiastically and sprinkled Akshatas on her head. With those on her head, she prayed to the consort of lord Siva, gave up the silence she was following till then and left the temple (1746)

Such a Rukmini who came out was looking like a lightning in the midst of clouds during the commencement of rainy season, a deer coming out from the lunar surface and hovering around,  walked slowly like a divine figure, Mohini manifesting from behind a curtain lifted by an actor,lord Brahma and goddess Rama-Ramani emerging from a whirl-pool with accompanying sounds in the middle of an ocean being churned by Suras and Asuras using mountain Mandara as a stirrer and serpent Vasuki as a rope fastening the stirrer.

Thus Rukmini started from Kali temple appearing lustrous in diverse forms. She was walking slowly like a young fabulous swan loitering amidst golden lotuses in Manasa-Sarovara. Her waist was losing balance under the load of her breasts comparable to golden narrow-necked vessels. She was holding the hand of her beloved companion with hers being reddened by the ruby-studded ring on her finger. The luster from her golden earrings studded with precious stones was dancing on her cheeks. Her curly locks of hair, comparable to carpenter-beetles hovering round fragrance of lotuses, were covering her pretty countenance. The light emerging from her pleasant smile was like fresh moon-light spreading in all directions.The red colour of her lips comparable to that of Donda-Pandu was lending red colour to her otherwise white teeth looking like buds of jasmine. The edge of her sari put on her shoulder was fluttering like the flag of Manmadha. Precious stones, studded in her golden belt wound over clothes around the waist,Oddanam were emanating a luster creating illusion of an untimely rain-bow. The hearts of valorous kings were made to flutter by her beautiful glances which could be compared to sharp arrows of Manmadha glittering after being just taken out from their receptacle. Her beautiful anklets were producing melodious sounds causing a feast to the ears. She was coming out walking in a valorous and captivating form awaiting the arrival of Hari (1747).

Seeing Rukmini all the on-lookers were astonished. She had locks of hair black as carpenter-beetles, a  face comparable to a full-moon, glances like those of an antelope, lips like corals, an indescribably sweet tone, a pair of feet tender like fresh new leaves, breasts like heads of elephants, a lower back like a sandy island, a walk like that of a superior elephant, hands like red lotuses, a waist like that of a lion and a body-fragrance like that of a lotus (1748).The princes there had their minds attracted by her smile and glances full of shyness.They lost their steadiness and grandeur. They forgot about their status and became actionless and forgetful. They let their weapons slip down. They gave up getting up on their elephants, horses and chariots and slipped down to the ground. Rukmini with her glances like those of a deer was found pushing up her locks of hair hanging on her fore-head with nails of her left-hand and setting right her sari on her shoulder. In the process of performing these acts, she had her side-glances on the group of princes (1749).

During that time she saw Jaganmohana Krishna. He had a face like a full-moon, a waist like that of a lion, eyes like fresh lotuses, most handsome chest, a complexion like that of a blue cloud, hands like the trunk of elephant Ia weapon, Iravata, silken yellow coloured robes and Chakra as a weapon. He appeared to be anxious to become victorious and capable of getting attracted by the entire universe (1750).


Disclaimer: This book represents the opinions of Author, and should not be considered a reflection of the views of Andhra Cultural Portal. The author is responsible for ensuring the factual veracity of the content, herein.

Copyright: T.S.B.Narasaraju. All rights reserved. 2017.

Personalities: Pothana

In light of our Spotlight on the Telugu Bhagavatamu, it is only appropriate for us to spend a little time on the background of its author.

We continue our ongoing Series on Telugu Personalities with today’s post on Pothana.

Background

Pothana Mahakavi may be famous for one thing, but he was known by many names. Also called Potaraju and later Potanamatya, he is a native of the town of the same name as his surname. Bammera Pothana was born some time in the first decade of the 1400s , in Nalgonda District of Telangana. While his exact birth year is not known, it is said that he lived between 1400 and 1475. [3] A minority school of thought has argued that his birthplace was in fact Vontimitta in Kadapa district.

Irrespective, it is known that his mother was Lakkamamba and his father was Kesana, who was of the Kaundinyasa gotra and attached to the Apastamba Dharmasutra. [1, 535] His elder brother was Tippana.

There is a beloved myth among Telugus that Pothana and Srinatha were brothers-in-law. In contrast to the spiritual and penurious Pothana, Srinatha lived an hedonistic life, and would periodically visit to poke gentle fun. Pothana is said to have always had a ready riposte to the Kavi Sarvabhauma’s gest and celebration of sensuality. However, Professor T.S.B. Narasaraju garu asserts that this tale of relation by marriage does not have any historicity to it.  Nevertheless, comparison remain apt:

Pothana was honoured in his day for his purity, integrity and independence. In this he was a striking contrast to his brother-in-law, Srinatha, who lacked the subtle sense of self-respect. Srinatha basked in the sunshine of royal favour; Potana avoided kings and courts. Srinatha knew how to turn rhyme into rupees, Potana preferred poverty with honour [2, 63]

In any event, Pothana did marry and had one son named Mallana and another son named Kesava, who was also a great litterateur. He earned the title Praudha Sarasvati, and the entire lineage itself is said to be blessed with literary prowess. [3]

As for the man himself, he is thought to not only have been a self-made man,but self-taught as well, with little or no formal schooling. To what extent he was an auto-didact was not known, given his father’s own status as a Pandit, nevertheless, it speaks volumes not only about his dedication to the divine, but to learning itself.

A yogi name Jeetananda blessed him in his younger years, and that was said to be the origin of his later intellectual awareness and talent for poesy. [2, 64]

Potana’s Bhaagavatam, a translation of the Sanskrit Mahabhaagavatam, is his magnum opus. This great work also shared, for causes unknown to us, the same fate as the Bhaaskara Raamaayana. There is a traditional story current in the country that Potana buried his Bhaagavatam underground to save it from destruction at the hands of Sarvajna Singa III, to whom Potana refused to dedicate that work [1, 536]

Unlike his contemporary, Srinatha, Pothana didn’t stoop to ninda-stuthi (praise of men). Further Sarvajna, though a cultured ruler, nevertheless remains infamous in the annals of the Telugu history for his family’s alliance with the Turkic Bahmanis and betrayal of the Musunuri Nayaks, as well as his war with the Reddi Kings.

It only goes to show that while Dharma is the foundation of our Culture, it is possible for one to be cultured and adharmic. As such, despite writing on the Bhagavata Purana, which largely focuses on the life of Sri Krishna, the dedication was to Lord Vishnu’s 7th avatar:

Potana dedicated his Bhaagavatam to god Sri Raama. He had the title sahajapaanditya, which shows that he acquired proficiency in the Telugu language and poetics by his self-effort. Potana’s poetry is mainly devotional in character. He is at his best when describing a devotional episode. He intensely felt the emotions of a devotee whom he described and went into ecstasy, while singing the glory of god Visnu. [1, 536]

But perhaps the best commentary on this Saastriya Telugu Poet is one that shows how his life influenced and was in turn reflected in his art:

In his later life when he wrote his Bhaagavatam, Potana was a bhakta practicing bhaktiyoga. He was, therefore, able to add devotional fervour to Telugu poetry. [1, 536]

Achievements

Pothana is credited with authoring 4 works: The Telugu Bhagavatam, Veerabhadra-vijayam, Narayana Satakam, and the Bhogini Dandakam.

Telugu Bhagatavam is in fact longer than the original Srimad Bhagatavam of Veda Vyasa. This is because, as stated by Narasaraju garu, Pothana’s translation style was a combination of Svatantra anuvada (taking liberties with the original) and Bhava anuvada (focus on the essence rather than word for word). That is also why Pothana is so celebrated. Rather than merely repeating word for word, Vyasa’s own work, the great Poet of Telangana added his own original thought, while holding true to the spirit of the Maharishi.

Hence, his work, Bhaagavatam may be aptly termed as a devo-tional lyric. Potana had such a mastery over the language that sabdaalankaaras, like yamaka and anupraasa and others, crept into his poetical lines without effort. In spite of these sabdaalankaaras his poetry has a fine finish and an innate beauty about it, characterised by its sweetness and melody. The flow of his poetry is smooth, and his style vigorous and supple. Potana’s imagery is superb. He can make us realise the spirit conveyed in his poems intensely. He pressed the figures of speech in to service so as to make his imagery perfect…” [1, 536]

His style of Telugu was also rich in Sanskrit, making him the litterati’s delight. At the same time, the work is so popular, that large sections are famous even among the unlettered masses. Such is the impact the Telugu Bhagavatam has had on Telugu culture.

Veerabhadra Vijayam is an interesting work. According to legend, Pothana is said to have written it as atonement for writing the section of Bhagavatamu where a Rakshasa insults Lord Siva. Coming from a staunchly Saivite family, the Poet of Bammera felt the need to expiate himself for repeating the words in translation.

A third work of interest in the Narayana Satakam. The least known of the 4 credited to Pothana.

The last is in fact said to be his first, and is a work with rati as the sthayibhava, though this remains subject to much debate. There are those who argue that Pothana, like Srinatha, initially lived a more materialistic life in his youth before fully dedicating himself to traditional austerity. But it is also important to note that the orthodox do not accept this asserting that in marked contrast to Srinatha, Pothana lived according to traditional observances his whole life and did not write this text, known as Bhogini Dandakam. [1, 89]

The first work, Bhogineedandakam, furnishes the clue to settle the date of Potana. He wrote that work on a vesya of his patron Sarvajna Singa Bhoopaala. Some Telugu scholars contend that the author of this Bhogineedandakam could not have been Potana for the simple reason that, as he was a great devotee, he could not have stooped to write this work on a courtesan.” [1, 535]

Historians will have to settle the matter. For now, however, it is better to focus on the composition of his that most reflects his character and his contribution to our Culture:

Legacy

The state the Telugu Bhagavatamu is found in is very much a commentary on the state of Telugu society.

decay of some of the portions—the fifth, sixth, eleventh and twelfth skandhas—which were later on comple-ted by some Telugu poets, namely, Gangana, Ercoori Singana and Veligandala Naaraya, a pupil of Potana himself. [1, 536]

Pothana was disgusted with material life, and did not publish the Telugu Bhagavatam himself. Believing the people of the time too be too engrossed in material worldliness, he felt them to be unworthy of his work. He passed it on to his other son, Mallana, instructing him to give “this Pearl of Great Price…to a pure man who had devotion in his heart.” [2, 65] Interestingly, Mallana never opened the box, and when he gave it to Veligandala Naarayya, the manuscript was found to be partly diminished by worms. The sections that were destroyed were later re-translated by Erchoori Simganna and Velingandala Narayya.

Pothana himself was later emulated by Haribhat who translated parts of the Srimad Bhagavatam in 1660. There is also the Baala-Bhagavata of Koneru Kavi, and the Devi Bhagavata translated by Dammanodara and later Srirama Pantulu and Mulugu Paapayya. [2, 65]

Pothana’s entire collection of works can be accessed here for free.

To read Bhagavatamu in Telugu, click here.

Those of you who wish to read in English can download T.S.B. Narasaraju garu’s translation of Telugu Bhagavatam’s Dasama Skandha on our article here.

Those who wish to buy book versions can go to online publishers such as these:

 

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There is much dividing the modern states of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. However, Mahakavi Pothana is, without a doubt, one of the many things uniting the Telugu people, on both sides of the Polavaram.

There was a movie in 1942 featuring Chittoor Nagaiah and Hemalatha, called Bhakta Potana.  Here is a lovely clip from it here:

The Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) sponsored a Serial on his life, with a title by the same name.

Pothana’s work is said to be rhythmic with beauty and alliteration, so much so that it is said to be best savoured through music.

As such, we will end with a poem from the Prahalada Charitam of Srimadandhra Bhagavatam written by Bammera Potana.

Kamalakshu narchinchu karamulu karamulu

The hands that worship the Lotus-eyed One are the real hands. The tongue that speaks Srihari’s language is the True Tongue. The looks that absorb the protector of the worlds are the right and precise eyes. The head that bows to the sleeper on the snake bed is the great head. The ears that hear Vishnu, the all-pervading one, are perfect ears. The feet that guide one to the almighty are the truthful feet. The thought that revolves around Him is the noblest thought. The day that praises the Lord of Lords is the best day. The studies that reveal the wheel holder is the true learning. The teacher who tells about the master of the earth is the real teacher. The father who bids his son to reach Hari is the perfect father.” [4]

References:

  1. Malampalli, Somasekhara Sarma.History of the Reddi Kingdoms.Delhi:Facsimile Publ. 2015
  2. Bhujanga, Chenchiah P. A History of Telugu Literature. Vol.2. London: Forgotten Books.2015
  3. Narasaraju, T.S.B. Potana. Dasama Skandha of Potana’s Telugu Bhagavatam. http://www.andhraportal.org/excerpt-dasama-skandha-ii/
  4. http://www.thehansindia.com/posts/index/2013-07-26/Pothanas-Bhagavatham-in-English-61299