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Medieval Telugu Poetry - III

Continued from Medieval Telugu Poetry - II

Renowned as one among the ashtadiggajas (Eight Elephants of the Eight Directions) again in the court of Andhra Bhoja, Sri Krishnadevarayalu, Nandi Timmanna is also familiarly known as Mukku Timmana. Parijaatapaharanamu is a succulent prabhandha. Lord Sri Krishna, known for his amorous adventures and escapades, finds himself in a spot when his ‘most beloved’ Satyabhama comes to know that her lord has given Parijata, the flower Sage Narada brought to her sapatni, the chief Royal Consort, Rukmini. The romantic Sri Krishna’s travails to pacify his beloved after being kicked by her are described in the santvanamu, pacification episode. This is a delight to feminists as well readers with an eye for delicate romance.

A prabhandha revels in exaggerations of all sorts and poetic language full of terms like lotus-eyed one, black-cloud-hued one, etc. Many such phrases are literally translated to convey the flavour of the original. For readers of Bhasha literatures in our country, appreciation of these is not at all difficult.

Pacification: Nandi Timmana

“Dwaraka is Vaikuntha, the very heaven,
This Rukmini, your consort, is Lakshmi the true goddess of wealth,
Verily, the Lord Vishnu Himself, are you.,
Come here I oftentimes my worship to offer
With a mind devout, O Killer of Kamsa, Mukunda, Murari!”

So praising Lord Krishna in myriad ways, Narada, Virinchi’s son
With joy pervading his heart, proffered Him
Parijata flower in a tender lotus-leaf wrap, bees hovering above
As if to signify the glory of its fragrance, the dew-drops on the
Flower symbolising tears of joy rushing to his eyes,
Radiant with the fame of having the power to fulfil all wishes
Wafting fragrance divine.
With humility and wonder filling his mind
Took the Lord the offering:
While looking at Bhishmaka’s daughter
The Lord’s thoughts to Satyabhama fled.

Would the daughter of Satrajit be peeved,
If I gave the flower to Bhoja’s daughter?
If I send this to Satrajit’s offspring,
Would Rukmini feel sadly belittled?
Best it were, mulled He, to give it to the spouse here

A lustrous smile into His wide-open eyes falling
Getting the signal from the sage’s eyes
Gave the Lord the flower to Rukmini with grace
She taking it in great style, made the seer obeisance deep.
And the heavenly flower tucked she in her hair
Her face bathed in the radiance of the crescent moon.

Enhanced stood the lustre of the dame’s eyes
Putting to ridicule the glory of the male fish
Appeared her breasts assuming a fabulous hue
Reducing the Jakkava birds’ shapeliness to naught:
The plaits of her hair shone
Radiant like the resplendent black bees:
Came there a rare glow on her face,
Casting around sparkling light:
Came there a new
Loveliness to hear beauty,
A strange freshness to her youth,
A rare grace too to her wondrous daintiness:
All caused by the flower divine.

While the melodious-throated one
Looked radiant, like a washed pearl,
With a smile large spreading on his face
Spoke the son of the lotus-seated creator
Hastening with eagerness a quarrel to kindle.

“Lotus-eyed one! Rarely accessible it is for mortals
Indra’s consort, the daughter of Himavant,
And the creator’s consort
Wear it in their hair every day;
Hari’s outer life you are and so fortune rare too it is
For you to wear this flower glorious.
He giving to you above those sixteen thousand:
Unparalleled is your fortune and the merit of your births previous.
Joyous is the flower being in your hair.
Used judiciously fulfil it would desires all you hold dear.
Explain I in detail the myriad powers of this blossom.

Lotus-faced one! Fade it never will, nor wither
or lose its fragrance, freshness ever retaining
Ever in its full bloom
Will this flower be joy-giving to the world entire.
Bee-like-black-haired one! When you in dalliance meet
Roused by the flower-arrowed one to amorous feats.
This lamp of a flower would be for you to make love by,
And a fan agreeable to dry the sweat off your bodies.

Drives this away hunger and thirst,
Serving food of the choicest varieties
Keeping fatigue and all inauspicious things away
Bestowing all things desirable.
Just for the wearing
Excel you all women enjoying affluence diverse.

Black lotus-eyed one! Wearing this in your hair
Draw you the vying rival wives around to your feet
Your Lord never can ever dream your word to transgress
Obeys you he always,
His love steadfast, undiluted joy to you giving.

When you in your hair this blossom wear,
Coolness it gives you in the hot season
And pleasant warmth in the cold winter,
The novelties of this fabulous bloom it’s impossible to list.

Flower among damsels graceful,
Fade, this never will, never become stale.
Becomes you this, enhancing every grace;
Stay you wearing this, O blossomed-lotus-eyed one!

Heard I the word go about that Satya your lord obeys,
Slave to the movement of her eyes,
But damsel pure, never have you seen the love he has for you
This incomparable bloom gave he to anyone else?
Proud, arrogant and gloating that hers is the beauty entire,
Youth and fame only hers totally, hers her husband devoted,
Wouldn’t Satya that looks down on all women around
Feel slighted and hopelessly grieved hearing of this flower?
From the day you wear it
For a full year fresh this would stay
And will return then immediately
To the very place it has come from.”

The words so uttered by Narada
With the entire circumstance in every detail
Diversely will the maids in attendance
Quickly to others carry
Themselves stricken with grief.

Reassured herself Lakshana that being the eldest Rukmnini got the flower,
Cooled herself Kalindi, consoled herself Bhadra,
Stopped Sudanti feeling depressed,
Restrained their anger jealous Jambavati and Mitravrinda.
The highest in the height of self-esteem began wondering
Why her maid in attendance delayed return from Srihari, her lord,
Sat she waiting, the lotus-eyed one in her palace garden,
Beside the engineered fragrant rivulet,
Where changalvas wafted fragrance:
Seated on a moon-rock seat,
Went she describing to her handmaid
The glorious traits of her beloved lord.
Captivated by the melodious music of bees
And singing birds hidden among tender leaves,
The soft, cool breeze never so sweet before,
Fell into a faint doubt Satyabhama, and seeing the maid said:

“Alas! I wish I knew why: these ill omens,
The quivering of the right shoulder, eye and nipple
Portend something inauspicious, drawn to sadness my mind is.
Tremble I for this: the lord, the light of my life,
Entangled with another woman, is he?”

While Satyabhama hinted at her apprehension to a maid dear
Came in rushing there another in attendance
Speaking thus, her eyes, exuding the red of dawn:

“Mother dear! Vexed am I and sad to tell
Not knowing how to convey it,
While the lord of yours in Rukmini’s palace shining
Came in there, Narada, sudden and unexpected.

Having come to the lord, the sage renowned,
The auspicious and the officious, the one angelic,
The most comfort-giving and joyous flower
Impossible of attainment to any other
Praising it gave he to your lord.

Over-joyed took he the blossom
Considering it a boon precious
With utmost respect, making obeisance deep
Gave he in his turn the flower to Rukmini
And pat tucked it in her hair the lady.

In the meanwhile miraculously enough
Limitless wondrous grace and beauty coming,
Rukmini, the moon-faced one,
Shone in effulgence
Like an arrow sharp of the deity of Love.

O Sparkling-eyed one! How should I describe it to you, dear!
The moment she wore the blossom, she had him under her spell
Damsels all shedding their jealousy began to serve
She sitting on the dais as the overlord of all the worlds three

Capable is Narada of knowing all, the past and future
Said he not in the hearing of your lord, Rukmini and me too,
The arrogance of Satya for having the lord her slave
None matching her love and power, has now come to naught.

The guile and wiles of the quarrel sustained
The deeds of Krishna, the killer of Mura,
The mien of Rukmini and her behaviour joyous,
O lotus-eyed one! will sting anyone to sulking,
Whoever wouldn’t to anger be provoked?”

Fell Satya to ground in a heap,
Like a female snake felled.
And rising, like a fierce tongue of flame,
Cheeks reddened from looks flowing from her eyes
Pervading the comely leaf-paste drawings thereon,
Spoke she thus in low tones sad:

“What! Came he, the quarrel-fed seer, and speak did he so?
Did the milkmaid-lover give ear to words so spoken?
What said he and how replied she?
The lotus-eyed one! Speak, then, why hide anything now?

Given it in flattery as a gift fabulous, the sage may have;
May the lord too, in his turn, to his loved one has given.
Be it so, but why should the sage matted-haired
The wily and guileful, mischievous one, think of us?

Natural it is for the one
wandering the three worlds uttering provocative words;
Thinking quarrel alone a cure for all,
Shouldn’t him the lord restrain?

What could the sage do?
Why blame it on Rukmini?
How could I describe the cowherd’s misdeed?
Wouldn’t the heart burn if my lord, my husband is so?

Undiscriminating all men are,
Unstable and changeful are women said to be
But not assessed as they are, truly speaking;
It’s men who are changeful and inconstant:
Their hearts like clouds in the season of Sharat.

All these days, even among consorts, renowned
Respected and beloved have I been:
Now, thus slighted by the lord wouldn’t I be laughed at?
Tolerate would I such heinous treatment?
Would life any longer be sweet again?

Aren’t wondrous the deeds of the killer of demon Mura,
Play-acting with me, showing over-flowing love,
Hiding his affection real, regard, love and grace for Rukmini?
Wonder I, how feigned he all along and so well?

O, Companion dear! Narada gave Krishna a flower
And he it gave that wandering-eyed one!
Oh! What words are these! Living thus hereafter,
What more shall I have to endure, hear and suffer?

Knows the world entire who’s who and what’s good and evil
Without my having to go about telling.
Knows he not the slayer of the demon Naraka,
Knows she not, the daughter of King Bhoja herself?

Krishna must have found it fit to give her the flower
For it was her palace to which the sage brought it,
And then, it might be just to see that she is not offended.
Should the consorts then begin to fall at her feet thus?
Surprises not, his giving the flower there
Wonder I to see these wives being so crass her to worship.

O, Lotus-eyed one! Fortune and blessedness,
And merit if previous births it is
For a woman to have a husband
That would have her in mind always
Like the thread holding flowers in a garland.

Oh,.moon-faced one! Dread he would even in a dream
My word to disobey, not giving another anything
Without first offering it to me, bribe he would the maid
Lest they carry tales against him,
Tolerates not he when co-consorts claim their due
With friendship and affection boundless,
With desires knowing no satiety,
With never a sign of deception
Together we have always been:
How could he do this to me?

Playing hide-and-seek in caves,
Doing deeds of wonder while performing flower weddings,
Forcing payment of dues in gambling, pulling at my upper cloth,
Observing at dusk the separation of the bird couple,
Playing in broad moonlight,
Sitting on the moon rock seats,
Looking at portraits drawn on slates:
Forgot he all these, entangled in Rukmini’s charms?

A husband to wife is the very bond of life,
God, and the giver of seven protections:
Were he to transgress the limit,
Is there a way for a wife to love?

Tolerable it is to endure
A husband giving or taking money
Were he to give amorous intimacy to another:
Possible is it to survive and exist, dear?”

Thus grieving, grave and sulking,
Retreated she to the quarter of pouting anger,
Like a female snake into the hollow of a red sandal tree.

Clad in a sari soiled, sullen, all ornaments cast away,
With a cloth tied round her temple the pain to alleviate
Anointed with the thick paste of Kasturi, with grief weighed down
Tossed she in her bed in a corner of the darkened chamber.
Stricken with pangs of separation by love-god caused.

Deep anguish and pain like a serpent’s bite caused,
Jealously coursing like poison fast in her body,
The lotus-eyes suffered passion extreme,
Intolerable grew her grief, began she to tremble,
Broke into sweat, her heart a pallor overtook.

Slightly would she open her eyes, laugh and nod her head
Sighing in bed shocks and fights experience,
While in her mind peevishness growing, sulking and raging.
Suffers she the pangs of love,
Trembling like a lotus in a rogue elephant’s trunk.

Glory of beauty suffering,
Thus the daughter of Satrajit in the height of rage,
Grief-stricken was she.

While Hari in mind trouble-tossed, wondered
What the maid
Seeing him give the Parijata to Bhoja’s daughter
Would do concocting further her mistress to tell.

Mounted he his chariot, quickening the steeds,
In hurry dire drove to the row of Satya’s palaces,
His mind a flutter turning like the chariot wheels.
Getting off the chariot, leaving a man at the gate
In he went alone passing the inner chambers
Seeking her out in the palace large.

Why aren’t the ladies in attendance feeding sugar to caged parrots?
Why aren’t they coaxing peacocks rhythmically to dance?
Why aren’t they playing the veena,
Pulling at strings with nails sharp?
Why aren’t they assembling royal swans gait to teach?
Wherefore are things different today?
Looks this palace a little downcast losing its charm?
Did someone carry the Parijata episode to the lotus-eyed one?

Thus apprehensive walked he slowly into the quarter of anger
With all his guile becomingly manifestly clear,
Talking confidently to some,
Looking at some with shattering looks
With gestures and signs winning some.
All the palace maids subdued, in he went
saw Satrajit’s daughter, her face hidden under the sheet,
Lying like a tender creeper sun-struck in summer severe.

Took the wily cowherd from a maid
A palm-leaf fan himself his lady love to fan with
His lady’s reaction to observe, and thus
Fanned he the love-god’s fire in her.

Fanned thus by her lord,
The fragrance wondrous of Parijata wafting around,
Removed the cover from her face the chamber to scan
And found the husband with concern great, waving the fan.
Tears copiously flowing down her cheeks thin,
Like honey from the laval leaves
Retreated she quickly into the sheet again.

The black-cloud-hued one, coming to comfort the lotus-eyed Satya
But heaved she blowing the smouldering fire within,
Her sari-end waving in the gusts strong.

Washed away by sweat
The vermilion mark on her breast was,
As though filtering she has been
The red coloured juice of anger.

Finding his egoistic dear one, not shedding her anger
Being cross, grief stricken and sulking
With love gushing from his heart
Spoke softly the lotus-navelled lord, thus:

“Moon-faced one! Wherefore wear you not your ornaments?
Ill afford you abandoning muslins and silks delicate and fine,
Wherefore clad you are in a sari white?
Why not reddened your lips with betel-juice are?
Endeavour you my heart to test or is it just fun?
Or is it that I offended you by some lapse?
O lotus-eyed one! Look you upon me as an alien, an enemy?
Can thus live I even for a trice, if you with grace look not on me?
Wherefore speak you not words oozing honeyed sweetness?
Look you not at me with blushes in the corners of the eyes?
Breasts pressing against my chest,
Wherefore woulds’t thou not embrace me tight?
Dear one, with eye-corners like the parrot’s
Whatever was done to peeve you?

Love I you alone, in thought, word and deed
My acts outward are only just to please the others;
See you not the esteem I hold you in,
Orders you deliver and obey I would at all times.
Know you not that my mistress you are to me unique?

Youthful woman! Blessed am I with the nectar of your lips
And the tight embrace of your hands loving me ever.
If not that I entreat I for a sidelong glance from your eye,
Impatient I am for your grace to flow,” said the lord,
Pulling at her sari-end
Trying to slap her with a lotus amorously.

The weight of anger in the woman feeling forlorn
Impossible to assuage it in any other way:
Fell he at her tender leaf-like feet in supplication total,
Their radiance enhancing the glory of his diadem stones.

The head of the sire of the god of love
By deities like the lotus-eyed creator,
And the lord of gods worshipped,
Creeper-bodied Satya with her left-foot kicked.
Proper it is. For when husbands make mistakes hideous
Would ladies thus provoked learn better to behave?

The kick of the beloved’s, angered by love,
Caused horripilation pleasant,
Stimulated the lord’s amorous desire deep
And with affection welling in him spoke he then:

“Curly-haired one! Honour and endearment
It is for me to receive this treatment for you
The tender leaf-bud of your foot touching my hair
In rigid and sharp gooseflesh
Must have hurt you dear, shed you !his ire.”

Hearing this, up the damsel stood
Half naked, raised she her hands to tie up her hair
Quickly covering her breasts into a sweat breaking,
Frightened lips quivering like tender leaf-buds.

“The result of this is my believing your falsehoods sweet,
Why these skilful lies, these flatteries?
Got I the reward and fruit quickly enough of trusting you.
Oath on you, know you not how laughed at I have been?
Knows a cow-herd the strategies of the love god?
Provoke me no further, for trust, I will never again,
Relish not I the lies you speak me to win;
Dear they are, perhaps, like life to the lotus-eyed Rukmini,
Cow-herd servant, feign not intimacies unreal.
Deceit, guile and bad behaviour, right from your birth.,
Mischief of many a kind have you imbibed all a long
Knowing this all, innocent and helpless,
Deceived fell I.

What do I know, losing my charm, esteem and everything,
Came the seer and gave the flower,
Making much of the lady dearest to you.
Have I suffer to hear words to my palate not delicious
Your coming here carrying the fragrance of the Parijata.
Tell me truly, was it not to mock and ridicule me?

Ornaments, character and renown to women
Greater are than life are they:
Basic they are all for all honours,
Why life for a woman with these gone?

Holds not me Devaki in high esteem,
As the eldest of her daughters?
Would it not slighting be to me
To go serve her whom intimacies rare you give?

Wonder I as to whoever this Syamantaka wear hereafter
Whoever hereafter would in these bowers and caves dally,
Wherever hereafter the procession of the spring pleasure-domes have,
Whoever would hereafter consort with you
From casements opening out on the sea?
Alas! What the parrots and the peacocks I reared would overtake
Before my co-consorts have their laugh
As per my vow, please you I would.
Me for an ordinary woman took you?”
Thought she, holding grief captive and secret,
Face fallen, looks downcast, voice choked, unable to speak.
Troubled by the fierce jealousy-born grief fostered in her heart.
In the very sight of the lord of her life,
Covering with her sari-end her lotus face, the friend of the lord of light.

In the tones of the tender leaf-bud-eating cuckoo,
Broke the creeper-bodied one into a wail euphonious:
That diamond of a lady by grief weighed down,
Unable to bear any longer the lord closed her,
In an embrace tight, comforting and wiping the coursing tears,
In great concern and friendliness, sweetness oozing began he:

“Dear one with black-diamond-haired beauty!
Why this grief for a mere flower?
Listen, I would force my way into the gods’ flower garden
And undaunted even to fight with the killer of Balasura,
Driving him away, would I bring the Parijata plant entire for you.
Charming-eyed! In your pleasure garden extensive
Near the crystalline lake that spreads coolness around
By the red lotus rows, amidst sweet plantains
As a back yard creeper would I plant that.”

Words these of the blue-cloud-hued one hearing,
Exulted Satyabhama, like a creeper in full bloom
Amidst peacock maids in attendance and companions.

(16th Century)

This is first published in 2000 by Sahitya Akademy in Medieval Indian Literature Part 4 (Sanskrit, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu and Urdu) edited by K.Ayyappa Panicker.


More by :  Dr. Rama Rao Vadapalli V.B.

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