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Personalities: S.V.Ranga Rao

In the annals of Andhra cinemadom, there are certainly many actors who have attained superstardom, and many actresses who became Pan-National stars.

But perhaps no star is as synonymous with a single  dialogue and song as a certain actor is with Vivaha Bhojanambu.

From Maya Bazaar to Gundamma Katha to Bhookailas and beyond, SVR is one of those rare thespians whose admirers and fans cut across caste and class alike.

Few actors fared as well in cinematic fare as S.V.Ranga Rao, who is the next feature in our Continuing Series on Andhra Personalities. We begin our introduction with SVR’s own Introduction, because no yesteryear character could make an entrance like he could.

Background

Samarla Venkata Ranga Rao garu was born in 1918 to Lakshmi and Koteswara Rao. They hailed from Nuzvid, Krishna District in what was then the Madras Presidency.

His father was a government employee. In light of that, and irrespective of an early interest in the stage, SVR soon focused on serious studies. Interestingly, despite doing his bachelor’s in Science, he had been contacted by a relative in Madras’ budding film industry to act. After his fresher feature (Varudhini), he was bitten by the acting bug. Though he briefly had a stint at the Tata office in Jamshedpur, he soon quit and never looked back.

At the age of 31, he married a young lady by the name of Leelavathi. They would have two daughters and a son together.

Back in his professional world, the aspirations of pre-Independence India becoming post-Independence achievement would be reflected by SVR’s own career. A rather unique fact is even in his earliest days in the industry he was routinely playing Thaathaiah’s (old men). In fact, his very first feature film with NTR was NTR’s very first feature film (Palleturi Pilla), and SVR essayed a role literally titled “Thaatha”.

His filmography reads like a list of TFI’s great Golden Age hits: Paathaala Bhairavi, Missamma, Maya Bazaar, Bhookailas, Narthanasala, Sampoorna Ramayana, and even Bhakti Prahalada. Though no stranger to negative roles, SVR could humanise even the hated Hiranyakashipu with such scenes.

Little known is that S.V.Ranga Rao had two director credits (Bandhavyalu & Chadarangam)  and a few producer credits to his name. Nevertheless, though he was fated to pass away all too soon, he was destined to be remembered as one of the finest actors in Indian cinema, and especially Telugu Cinema. Frequently reprising his Telugu roles in Hindi, he even featured in original roles in Tamizh. Indeed, his last movie was in Madras’ native language, but Andhra’s Cinema Sarvabhauma would not be forgotten in his native land.

He passed away in 1974, at the relatively young age of 56. This was the same age as his method actor-character actor predecessor, CSR Anjaneyulu.

Achievements

  • Afro-Asian International Film Festival (Indonesia)
  • Nandi Award (Multiple times, for Best Actor and also Best Director)
  • Filmfare Award (South)
  • Rashtrapati Award

Though it is often standard repertoire to list a battery of awards and honours an actor has accumulated over the years, SVR is best remembered through his on-screen personae.

So captivating was his delivery, so identifiable was his style that it became almost a standard cultural practice for Telugu actors to deliver dialogues as he might, some out of jest, but others out of genuine desire for gravitas. He could appeal to tiny tot and serious cinema-goer alike.

Whether he was a grandiose gourmand of Ghatotkachic proportions (Maya Bazaar) , a genteel gentleman of the gentry (in Missamma), or a leering lech (in Narthanasala), he brought a grandeur that was instantly recognisable and enrapturing. With performances that could register with the backbenches as well as august halls of cultural stalwarts, he was the larger-than-life quality of chalanachitram itself.

Nevertheless, notable roles include the following:

Paathaala Bhairavi – His role as Nepala Mantrikudu was equal parts engaging and reviling. His devious behaviours and penchant for abhichara made him the perfect foil for the innocent protagonist. Despite being an antagonist here, this was one of the early roles that would cement SVR’s place in celluloid history.

Ghatotkacha – Without a doubt his most celebrated role, he managed to find the perfect balance between intimidating and accessible  as well as avuncular and childlike. The scene where he consumes the Vivaha Bhojanambu itself is emblematic of that plasticity of facial innocence he managed to conjure up despite playing the role of a Rakshasa. Food, it appears, brings out the child in all of us—even Ghatotkacha.

Hiranyakashipu – Quite possibly the marquee performance in a long line of titles on the marquee, SVR shone in this role of a lifetime. He was the perfect foil to the humble vinayam of Prahlada. Indeed, his diction and dialogue delivery in rapid-fire prose would be emulated for decades.

More than anything else, however, he set the standard for cinematic authenticity. This character actor truly was the authentic character for audiences and comedians alike.

Imitation as they say is the finest form of flattery. Which comedian to better capture this than the current day comedy king himself: Brahmanandam. S.V.Ranga Rao’s inspiration clearly crosses generations even to this day.

Legacy

Statue of S.V.Ranga Rao, Vijayawada

The legacy of SVR is little remembered, but oft-remarked. In an industry with many accomplished character actors (Gummadi, CSR Anjaneyulu, Rao Gopal Rao, Kota Srinivasa Rao, Tanikela Bharani, etc), Nuzvid’s naata nayaka was one character who dominated a stage filled with stars.

He could effortlessly play a secondary protagonist (Bhookailas), genteel supporting cast (Missamma) or even a villainous antagonist (Paathaala Bhairavi). While it was perhaps Maya Bazaar and its most famous song that forever cemented his celluloid immortality, movies such as Manchi Manasulu also showed his range, and everyday character too.

Theatrical drama and Comedy were the two main markers of the man many consider to be the greatest character actor of them all. This is so much so that even the Nandi award in this category is named after him. And that is perhaps the greatest tragedy. Whether it is Nedunuri Krishnamurthy in Music or S.V.Ranga Rao in acting, yet again another Andhra great was ignored at the national level, despite international recognition. How sad that an Indonesian International Film Festival could recognise him, but not his own national film fraternity.

Despite Paathaala Bhairavi being a national hit, with Viswa Naata Chakravarthi reprising his role as Nepala Mantrikudu, there was no Padma for this mahanaata. People have all the time in the world for Mughal-e-Azam, but a culturally rooted Pan-India blockbuster actor could not expect recognition from the Delhi Durbar (ironically, he himself played the same Mughal in Anaarkali). He would play many all-India figures including Raja Bhoja in the silver screen version of Mahakavi Kalidasu.

And that is also why if people like S.V.Ranga Rao did not get their due at the national level (Rashtrapati award aside), the proper path is to not point fingers at “North this and that”, but identify the real problem: cultural sellouts and the cultureless (despite their pompous airs, these overlap more often then not). Court eunuchs engage in career nara stuti for the highest bidder, so why would they recognise a great Nayaka hailing from a Dharmic culture that “Secular, Socialists” would not patronise? Or perhaps they did treat patronisingly while refusing to give real patronage to those who stood for the native Civilizational ethos.

Irrespective, the issue as in all these things lies in lack of culture. Not the culture of court eunuchs with the mere form but absence of cultural spirit, but the essential truth of the trial of life: that the great Drama of Indian Culture is in Dharma. The truly deserving dramatists are those may not always live it, but do their utmost to celebrate and propagate it, not only for the cloistered few, but for the people as a whole.

In any event, in recent years there has been a small push to get him considered for a Padma Sri, posthumously. Whether or not the effort fructifies, he remains a lotus of modern cinema as far as modern Telugus are concerned.

Whether it was his earliest days in pre-Independence India or his final ones in undivided Andhra, he remains the “Global Acting Emperor” in the eyes of Trilinga desa.

Even a scene with no dialogue could result in SVR stealing the show:

So we end as we began. To most he is remembered simply as S.V.Ranga Rao, to others as Viswa Naata Chakravarthi, but as far as we’re concerned, only one salutation is good enough for him:

Hai Hai Nayaka!

References:

  1. http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0710036/
  2. http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/Padma-Shri-sought-for-S.V.-Ranga-Rao/article14497248.ece
  3. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/entertainment/telugu/movies/did-you-know-/SV-Ranga-Rao-was-conferred-the-best-actor-award-at-Indonesian-Film-Festival/articleshow/34794951.cms

Temples, Antiquity, & Heritage

The following Post was composed by Spandana . You can follow her on Twitter.


Temples have been quite important parts of our lives from ancient times. Temples have always been the centre of many vibrant activities. They might be social or cultural or spiritual or sometimes even political.  In simple words we can say every temple has been a proto type of society (of that particular place, how it was and how it is).

I want to elaborate a point, which everyone may not understand or maybe don’t accept:  modernisation of our ancient temples in the name of renovations. Yes, in our state there are many ancient temples with a great past. The good news is these temples are very much functional and the chain of devotion is passing to succeeding generations without break. But are many of these ancient temples looking that ancient?? No they are completely looking ultra-new. But along with being worshiping places, aren’t these temples our standing examples of our past and our heritage?? Isn’t this our responsibility to maintain their art, architecture, unique construction, and grandeur in the way they were?? But instead of preserving we are damaging these architectural marvels in the name of renovation. The picture below, is the temple which is supposed to be one of the ancient temples in our state. New look of the ancient temple

Srikakula Andhra Mahavishnu Temple

 Photo Credit: highwayonlyway.com

I am not blaming the thought of renovating ancient temples, but am only saying that renovation should be done in the way that temple reflects its grand past with the help of new techniques, instead of completely demolishing and rebuilding. Here is an ideal example of renovation:

Photo Credit: Spandana

Chola period temple (Mulasthaneswara temple) in Gajulamandyam village, was renovated in a beautiful manner—anyone can get the inspiration. All these renovations were done by locals. They took extra effort to maintain the temple’s antiquity. They cleared all paint from the temple walls just to make the old carvings and architecture visible, which was a costly process. Locals taking pride of their past, and conserving their identity is a commendable act.

Photo Credit: Spandana

In the first picture u can see the temple before renovation, in the second picture after renovation (all the paint was removed.

Not all ancient temples are under Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). Many are with state endowment department. Though it is the endowment department’s job to conserve these old temples, they hardly understand or care about the antiquity or sanctity of the particular temple. Here I am taking another example of the beautiful temple in Kadapa district in Meenapuram Village:

Rajarajeswari Temple

Photo Credit: Spandana

This ancient temple is very much under the umbrella of endowment department, but this temple is conveniently neglected, due to its low income from Hundi. This temple has a beautiful stepwell in the front and ancient Kalyana mandapa made out by carving a rock. This intricately carved centuries old Kalyana mandapa completely collapsed recently. Not even a sign board or direction board is present to know about the temple. If one wants to reach this place, it’s only with help of locals.

Photo Credit: Spandana

It’s not the story of Meenapuram alone. There are many ancient temples under endowment department facing similar situation. We have examples of 500 year old SriKalahasthi gopuram and Bhavanarayana swamy temple raja gopuram collapsed, due to lack of timely care. This topic is just unending. I can write pages about this.

Photo Credit: Spandana

In brief: as a heritage lover, as a devotee, I wish our temples function well along with maintaining their antiquity and our heritage. I sincerely hope the endowment department takes some responsibility with such temples. As people, who respect our past and understand our heritage, it is our responsibility to educate people in our little circle.

        HERITAGE IS OUR PRIDE
#Heritageisourpride #Heritagemustbepreserved

              Jai Hind


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

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:

 

Click here to Buy this Book set Today!!

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Click here to Buy this Book Today!!

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

Excerpt: Dasama Skandha of Potana’s Bhagavata Purana II

The following Post continues our Series on Narasaraju garu’s Book on Bhagavatamu


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

This installment will cover the Author’s Preface, a brief intro on Pothana Mahakavi, and provide selections from the Original Work itself.

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)

Part II can be found below at the end of the article and is also available for free.

       chetularanga sivuni pujimpadeni

       norunovvanga hari kirthi nuduvadeni

       dayayu satyambu lonuga talupadeni

        kaluganetiki tallula kadupuchetu

If Lord Siva is not worshipped by one with folded

hands till the hands ache, Lord Hari`s glory is not

sung in full throat till it chokes, kindness towards

others and righteousness are not cultivated by one,

giving such a birth is a curse to the mother

[Excerpt. Some emphasis ours.]

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

Preface

Bhagavata Purana is one among eighteen Puranas written by sage Vyasa in Sanskrit. Puranas are  accounts of births and deeds of Hindu gods.The literal definition of a Purana is that which remains new perennially.  Bhagavata Purana emphasizes the path of devotion to the lord by describing his sterling qualities and incarnations. It was first taught by Vyasa to his son, Suka. Being requested by Parikshit tormented by an impending death by the bite of a serpent, Suka recited Bhagavata Purana enabling Parikshit to attain salvation.

Being the most prominent among the Puranas, Bhagavata Purana underwent translations into several other languages. Its translation into Telugu by Potana is one such. It is believed that Potana was born and spent his life in a village called Bammera located in the present Telangana State during the fifteenth century. He wrote the work there motivated by the appearance and command of lord Rama of whom he was an ardent devotee.

Potana’s Bhagavata Purana continues to remain close to the hearts of Telugu-speaking people since the concept of Mathura Bhakti, one of several recommended methods of devotion to the lord, is competently illustrated by him in the work through simple and sweet vocabulary. His work has been embedded with a rhythmic and a delightful combination of vocabulary to make the readers recite its verses over and over again in a devotional ecstasy. Potana`s Bhagavata Purana continues to influence a large section of Telugu population to imbibe a spiritual thinking, a devotional involvement and a principled living.

It is believed that Telugu has been in use ever since the commencement of the Christian era. However, prominent literary works in Telugu emerged only from the middle of eleventh century C. E. The earliest significant work was a translation of Mahabharata from Sanskrit, like other works which followed. Consequently, this period of Telugu literature is known as Anuvada Yuga, an era of translations.

The mode of translation followed can be divided into three types: (i) Swatantra Anuvada or Kathanuvada, (ii) Bhava-anuvada and (iii) Yatha-tadha-anuvada.The first mode of translation was adopted by the famous Kavitraya, the three famous Telugu literary personalities, Nannaya,Tikkana and Yerrapragada in the translation of Mahabharata. Here the translator enjoys the liberty of additions and deletions of the original work adhering at the same time to the story of the original. In the second type followed by Srinatha, another towering Telugu literary personality of the distant past, in the translation of Nyshadha,written in Sanskrit by Harsha, only the essence of the original is reproduced.The third type, followed principally for the translation of dramas, is a true reproduction of the original including the usage of the same vocabulary, being a literal counterpart of the one used in the original. Potana followed a judicious combination of types (i) and (ii) being motivated by the Kavitraya and Srinatha. Being a strong devotee of the lord he elaborated extensively the devotional sequences departing from the original. Potana, in addition to his devotion to the lord, was a great scholar and a poet of exllence. His Bhagavata Purana contained stanzas of all categories of Telugu poetry.  It is mentioned by Potana in his Bhagavata Purana that he had a transcendental experience of the appearance of lord Rama and his consort Sita commanding him to translate Vyasa’s Bhagavata Purana into Telugu to free himself from the mundane terrestrial bonds to get salvation. That experience seemed to have transformed the natural poetic ability of Potana into an ecstatic state of mind which resulted in his version of Bhagavata Purana which makes a studious and devoted reader of the work wonder whether at all a human mind can attain such levels of excellence once again.

Potana`s literary prowess is believed to be a divine gift. He says that some among the likely readers of his work have a bias for Telugu while others have a liking for Sanskrit. He prefers to adopt a judicious combination of the two languages in his Bhagavata Purana, a luxury which he could afford because of his proficiency in both the languages. According to Potana`s philosophy activities devoid of devotion to god are totally futile.

The Dasama Skandha,Tenth Canto of Bhagavata Purana, is different from others, being a complete and a competent account of the different facets of Krishna Avatara,  an incarnation of lord Krishna. He is considered to be the primordial incarnation of lord Vishnu, who appeared in the form of other Avataras. Bhagavata Purana is considered to be an embodiment of lord Vishnu himself with its twelve cantos as the different organs of the lord.The significance of Dasama Skandha is evident from the fact that it is considered to be the face of the lord and is therefore distinct from the other cantos. It is the biggest among the cantos of Bhagavata Purana spreading over three thousand verses and pieces of prose.

The writer of the present translation of Dasama Skandha of Potana`s Bhagavata Purana into English has no pretensions about his competence to undertake the work since he spent a major part of his life of about eight decades in studying, teaching and guiding research in Chemistry at a couple of Central Universities, namely, Banaras Hindu University,Varanasi and North-Eastern Hill University, Shilling.A tenure of about four decades, his entire professional career, was consequently spent away from Andhra Pradesh as a Pravasa Andhra. He could thus realize the disadvantage inflicted by him on his son and daughter, as well as by his intimate Telugu colleagues on their children, by alienating them from an exposure to even rudimentary aspects of Telugu literature for no fault of the youngsters. The same sentiment is applicable to a big chunk of contemporary Telugu-speaking people scattered all over the globe consequent upon professional compulsions.

Being motivated probably by an over-ambitious feeling that he is capable of writing a comprehensible English, the author ventured to do Yadha-tadha anuvada into English of Dasama Skandha of Potana`s Bhagavata Purana which has been very close to his heart right from his days of higher secondary education  in Veeresalingam High School, Rajahmahendravaram, a place of Adi Kavi Nannaya. His audacity to attempt this work was to a large extent motivated by the fact that selected portions of Dasama Skandha of Potana`s Bhagavata Purana were taught to him by an illustrious Telugu literary personality of the recent past, namely the late Sri Madhunapantula Satyanarayana Sastri, the then member of the teaching staff of the high school in which the author studied, to whom the author wants to express his homage and gratitude. The present attempt is primarily intended to expose the Pravasa Andhra adolescents, not knowing written Telugu, who may read this work, to the nuances of Potana`s Bhagavata Purana, an opportunity denied to them by their parents, for which the youngsters are not to be blamed.

The author is not apologetic about his truncated level of comprehension of Bhagavata Purana since Potana himself says in his work that a complete understanding of the work is beyond the capability of any one. The greatness of this Purana is such that even a negligible level of understanding benefits the one who makes an attempt. In order to avoid inconvenience in typing, no transliteration is followed in the present work since the clientele is supposed to be familiar with pronunciation of the Sanskrit words of the work given in italics.The present translation has been divided into three parts to avoid unwieldiness. Part I consists of events ranging from Krishnavatara to lifting of Goverdhanagiri while Part II includes events ranging from Rasakrida to Rukmini Kalyana. The remaining events of Dasama Skandha ranging from Narakasuravadha to  Subhadra Parinaya come under Part III of the present work.

Miscellaneous short-comings of the author in understanding some of the usages of Potana are adequately compensated by referring to a few illustrious relevant publications of TTD Religious Publication Series, Tirupati, Potti Sriramulu Telugu Viswavidyalayam, Hyderabad, and of Geeta Press, Gorakhpur. In addition, an exposure to the spiritual discourses by illustrious personalities namely, Sri Swamy Chinmayananda, Sri Swamy Ranganathananda, Sri Jagadguru Kripaluji Maharaj, Sri Ganapat Sachchidananda Swamy, Sri Sukhbodhananda Swamy, Sri Sundarachaitnyananda Swamy, Sri Chinna Jeeyar Swamy, Sri Siddheswaraananda Bharathi Swamy and Sri Ravi Shankar and also of Sri Chaganti Koteswara Rao and Sri Samavedam Shanmukha Sarma, among others, transmitted through different TV channels of India, is of extensive  guidance to the author. The author desires to place on record his indebtedness and gratefulness to these organisations and personalities for rendering commendable service to the spiritually oriented sections of our community.

T.S.B. Narasaraju


 

(v) Potana`s Biography

Potana also known as Potaraju was born in a village Bammera located in the Warangal Taluk of the present Telangana State . While the exact year of his birth is not known, he is believed to have lived between 1400 and 1470 C. E. He was born in Kaundinyasa  Gotra as the second son of  Kesana and Lakkamamba. Their first son was Tippana. That Srinatha, the famous Telugu poet, was Potana`s brother-in-law, has no historical basis. There is evidence to show that Potana had a son by name Kesana  named after Potana`s father. Potana`s son seemed to have inherited literary prowess of the father to earn the title, Proudha Saraswati .  In fact the literary proficiency seemed to have percolated through the entire progeny of Potana. In addition to Bhagavata Purana,  Potana wrote Veerabhadra Vijaya, Bhogini Dandaka and Narayana Sataka.

(vi) Dedication of Potana`s Bhagavata Purana to Almighty

Bammera Potaraju decided to offer his version of Bhagavata Purana to lord Sri Hari for the good of all. By offering , instead , to kings of disrepute in return to gifts  such as  Dhanadhanya Vastuvahanas and Grihagramadulu, the author feels that he succumbs after death to  lord Yama`s punishments. The following is an account of the sentiments of Potana which prompted him to offer his work to the almighty :–

“A great man appeared before my eyes. He was with his consort and comparable to a blue cloud coupled with a lightning. His smile was as pleasant as the moon-light. He wore a bow comparable to the curvatures and beauty of a huge Ganuga tree entwined with creepers. He wore a crown as effulgent as the sun on top of a blue mountain. His eyes were as elegant as the petals of a lotus. He was a broad-chested prominent king of kings.”

He exhorted Potana to translate Vyasa`s Bhagavata Purana into Telugu.

“ What I am going to write is the most sacred Bhagavata Purana. The one who makes me write is Ramachandra Prabhu himself.This writing has the propensity to disentangle me from the family bonds. Therefore I decided to write it. Where is the need to write any other work?

When a complete comprehension of Bhagavata Purana transcends the abilities of even lord Siva and Brahma will it be possible to understand it for an ordinary man like me? Yet I make an attempt  to  write  what I heard about it from  scholars  and what is understood by me. Because of my good fortune great poets like Nannaya and Tikkana who translated many works from Sanskrit to Telugu left Bhagavata Purana.I translate it into Telugu to sanctify myself.

I offer my version of Bhagavata Purana to lord Gopalakrishna who wears beautiful effulgent garlands, resides in Nandagokula, steals  butter and ghee  from houses of shepherds, redeems the sorrows of devotees, wins the hearts of Gopakantas and  destroys  demons such as Trinavarta and Putana. My work is dedicated to Krishna, a lord of exemplary qualities endowed with the grace of lord Siva, a destroyer of demon Banasura, a savior of Gopagopikas from a hail-storm caused by Indra, by lifting the Govardhana mountain, a redeemer of a curse on Yakshas by uprooting a couple of huge trees, a protector of Varnasrama Dharma and a lord capable of obstructing sun`s rays through his Sudarsana Chakra.

I offer my work to the lord who is an embodiment of grace, a counsellor capable of averting the agony of Arjuna to revive his duty consciousness, a protector of the safety of all living beings and a benefactor of his devotees having the sense organs under their control. He could dance playfully on the hood of a serpent, Kaliya, and destroy the army of Jarasandha several times.

The version of Bhagavata Purana written by me is dedicated to the lord who reclines on a serpent, Adishesha, wearing yellow silken garments. He  follows justice   rigorously  in deciding the results of Karma of human beings, resurrects  lives of sons of a Brahmin , restores mental peace to an agitated Rukmini, gives happiness to all living beings, exhibits grace to righteous human beings, steals butter from the houses of Gopikas and creates the entire universe.

My Bhagavata Purana is offered to the almighty who is a skillful sole monarch of initiating creation, propagation, protection and destruction of the universe. He taught Vedas to Brahma. Remaining pure and effulgent, he spreads an illusion as a magician showing that the universe created by him engulfed in the Trigunas  is real, like the belief of existence of water in a mirage. I adore such a lord who is ever present in my thoughts.”


1.Introduction

Dasama Skandha of Bhagavata Purana is distinct from the other Skandhas since it contains a complete and competent account of the different facets of Krishnavatara. It is therefore considered as Sri Krishna Sarvaswa. Lord Krishna is considered to be the primordial incarnation of the lord who appeared in the form of the other Avataras. Although the appearance of lord Rama and his exhortation to translate Bhagavata Purana into Telugu to be dedicated to lord Rama motivated Potana to take up the sacred mission, he dedicated his work, instead, to lord Krishna conscious of the primordiality of the lord.

Bhagvata Purana is considered to be an embodiment of lord Vishnu, its twelve Chapters or Skandhas being considered as the organs of the lord. The significance of Dasama Skandha is evident from the fact that it is considered to be the face of the lord. Just as Krishnavatara is distinct from the remaining Avataras of the lord, Dasama Skandha is distinct from the other Chapters of Bhagavata Purana.

The story of Krishna is competently described in several other Sanskrit works, the principal among them being Jaya Deva`s Gita Govinda, Leela Suka`s Sri Krishna Karnamruta and Narayana Tirthulu`s Sri Krishna Leelatarangini, among others. An equally eloquent account of lord Krishna in Telugu is provided by Yarrana’s Hari Vamsa and Potana`s Dasama Skandha of his Bhagavata Purana, among others.

Dasama Skandha is the biggest among the Chapters of Bhagavata Purana spreading over three thousand verses and pieces of prose. It is divided into two parts known as Purva Bhaga and Uttara Bhaga. The Telugu titles of principal aspects of the Purva Bhaga are : (Part I): Krisnavatara Ghattam,   Kamsuni pampuna Putana yanu Rakshasi  Vrepalle ku Chanudenchuta, Sri Krishna Balaramula Balyakreedabhivarnana, Mryudbhakshana, Viswarupa Pradarshanabhivarnanamu, Sri Krishnudu Kaliyamardanamu Gavinchuta, Gopika Vastrapaharanamu, Sri Krishnudu Govardhana Parvatamunettut. (Part II):  Rasakreedabhivarnanamu, Kamsuni Pampuna Akrurudu Brindavanamunaku Chanudenchuta, Sri Krishnamurty Madhuranagara Prvesamu Cheyuta, Sri Krishna Balaramulu Chanura Mushtikulanu Vadhinchuta, Sri Krishnudu Kamsuni Vadhinchuta, Muchkunduni Purva Kathabhivarnanamu, Rukmini Kalyana  Katha Prarambhamu, and Sri Krishnudu Rukmini Devini Pendliyaduta.among others. The Uttara Bhaga of Bhagavata Purana  is constituted, among others, by the Telugu titles :  (Part III): Sri Krisnudu Satyabhamatokudanaragi Narakasuruni Vadhinchuta, Naradundu Sri Krishnunito Dharmaraju Rajasuyamu Neraverpumani Chepputa, Pandavulu Sri Krishnuni Yadurkoni Todkoni Povuta, Sri Krishnuni Sahayunduga Bhimundu  Jarasandhunito Yudhamu Seyuta, Dharmaraju Chesedi Rajasuyamunandu Sri Krishnudu Sisupaluni Vadhinchuta, Kuchelopakhyanamu, Subhadra Parinayamu, and Parikshittunaku Sukayogi Vishnuseva Prasastyambu Chepputa.

2.Krishna Bringing Nanda from City of Varuna

On a sacred Ekadasi-day Nanda observed fasting and performed Puja of Vishnu. Unmindful of the fact that it was time of demons, he got into river Yamuna to have Dwadasi-bath even before the day-break. Then demon Varuna`s servant took him away to the city of Varuna. Rest of the Gopakas got agitated since they could not find Nanda. They shouted loud to call Balarama and Krishna. The latter could know that his father was deceitfully kidnapped by the servant of Varuna to his land. He reached that land at once (953).

Varuna saw Madhava visiting his place, worshipped him hurriedly, and said obediently, “Oh! Lord! You are kind enough to visit my house. You make the learned happy. You are the lord who makes those rejoicing in your lotus-shaped feet tread a path unattainable to others. A visit by such a lord filled my heart with over-flowing joy. My desires are fulfilled. Obeisance to you makes my life sanctified (954, 955, 956). Oh! Mahatma! Maya, capable of engulfing all the Lokas, is incapable of conquering you and hence remains under your control, you being the lord of lords.Your effulgent form is the donor of good. You rejoice always in protecting the pious-minded. You are the emperor of those virtuous people who possess Tapas as their wealth. I am saluting to such a lord to free myself from the bodily turmoils (957).You are a role-model in devotion to one`s father ! Your devotees with  pure hearts  are dear to you ! Without even an iota of intelligence my servant  brought your father here. Kindly take back your father with you.Forget about the offence. Pardon me and my servant and show kindness to us. Forgiving the repentant  is a resplendent virtue in you (958).

Excusing the repentant Varuna, Hari returned along with his father. Nanda narrated to his relations the account of his son releasing him from Varuna`s city and bringing him back.They in return thought Krishna to be lord Iswara himself. He promised to fulfill their desires (959). He felt that people, in general, get entangled in mundane worldly activities experiencing pleasure and pain being engulfed in a mirage incapable of realizing his true form (960). With such thoughts  the kind-hearted lord manifested to the Gopakas his Loka which transcends Maya,which is effulgent, indescribable, real, blissful with realization, ultimate, eternal and seen only by those transcending the Trigunas (961). The lord showed to Nanda and others the Brahmaloka seen by Akrura earler. They felt delighted. They saw the divine form of Krishna, praised and worshipped him (962).

There was then the onset of autumn with nights illuminating all directions under full moon.These nights caused feast to the lotuses, difficult times to the love-lorn, favourable conditions for Cupid`s sojourns, enjoyable times to clusters of Chakora birds and times congenial for the wives to succumb to the enticements of their husbands (963).There was onset of Sarad Purnima which provides a clarification to the art of love-making, makes the lotuses blossom, provokes the desire for love-making, eliminates the tolerance of love-lorn, perturbs the Chakravaka birds and causes joy and good to the people, in general (964). Just as a lover applies Kumkum to the fore-head of his sweet-heart, moon, comparable to a lover beautified the east, comparable to his sweet-heart, by the red light, comparable to Kumkum, propagated at the time of his onset in the east (965). Circular, effulgently red and extra-ordinarily smooth  full moon emerged on the sky in the proximity of Udayagiri to the delight of clusters of Chakoras. It appeared as a golden Kalasam on the army-camp of Manmadha invading the soldiers of the love-mongers. It is like the weapon of the destroyer of demon Sambara intended to cut across the resistance of the love-lorn, comparable to the tender edges of a creeper. It is like a fire let loose by Manmadha to destroy the cofidence, comparable to a forest, of the lovers separated from their sweet-hearts. It is like a torch used by Manmadha to hunt the lovers tormented by the pangs of separation from their love-mates (966).

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