The article introduces Sukasptati written by Palavekari Kadiripati in the third part of 17th century in Telugu verses. It is the first independent work in Telugu literature. It is a rare collection of amorous tales narrated by a pet parrot. Prabhavati, wife of Madanasena who went to a distant place for business for seventy days, desires to have sexual pleasure with the king and starts to go to the king every night. The pet parrot halts her telling thirty stories in seventy nights and Prabhavati could not meet the king. Madanasena returns home on 71st day and Prabhavati forgot what all had happened during the past 70 days and they live happy married life thereafter.
There are two kinds of protagonists in the stories. There are only five protagonists directly connected with the main story. There are many indirect protagonists in the stories told by the parrot to Prabhavati who enjoyed sexual pleasure with others and escaped with wits and skills from the risks. The essence is that freedom of sex is not bad provided that one could escape from the risks and women should also have freedom of sex as men, animals and birds have it for Sex is Nature's Creation. It is found that some Kama Sutras are used in creating some protagonists. It is also noteworthy that there may be some unforeseen and unexpected events and occurrences which may land us in troubles and in such situations also, quick, spontaneous and timely administration of wits and skills is essential to protect and save ourselves from the risks. The stories are comparable to Contemporary modern progressive literature.
Sukasaptati is a collection of tales on freedom of sex narrated by a pet parrot. It was written in Telugu by Palavekari Kadiripati in poetry in the third part of 17th century. He belongs to the era of Nayaka Raja's around the year 1660. He was born in Kolar village in Mysore State. He belongs to Palavekari dynasty which was changed as 'Tatigolla' later. Tatigolla was his family surname. He was born to Kare Manikya Nayaka's last son, Kadura Raju and his mother was Kaduramma. Palavekari was a Khatriya dynasty.
Sukasaptati was established as an independent Telugu work as it portrays glimpses of Telugu traditions, customs, methods and manners of individual, family and social living and culture with common colloquial expressions and dialects of the Telugu Language of those times.
C.P.Brown got fair copy of the Sukasaptati prepared by Zuluri Appayya in 1831. It was preserved in Oriental Manuscripts Library of Madras. He wrote his remarks on the Manuscripts "This Sukasaptati or Tales of the parrot in Telugu, being a series of amorous tales, Twenty in number, the book not having been completed, this is very rare and merits publication, as abounding in common colloquial expressions. This edition was prepared under my directions in the year 1831."
He wrote his remarks at the end of the book: Sukasaptati: Series of Telugu stories illustrating the various dialects of the Telugu language:
This valuable work is very rare indeed and I never met with a perfect copy. The present one has been collected with five Manuscripts procured with difficulty in various parts of this Peninsula.
Had it been composed in times when Telugu learning was patronized, it would have been better preserved; but the compositions of a dark gap age however valuable are seldom preserved with any case.
This book "The Seventy Tales of the Parrot" has the same title with the well-known Sanskrit composition of which, however, it is not a translation, but an imitation. The work seems incomplete, the author not having finished the whole, it is perfect as far as it goes. (Thus there are not in fact 'seventy tales')
The discrepancies in the various manuscripts of the book are very great indeed, whole lines being subscribed one for another. It will therefore be very difficult to select a pure text.
The 'Hamsa Vimsati' is a work of the same description and the close resemblance in many passages shows that one must have been borrowed from the other.
Since writing the foregoing remarks I have persuaded Zuluri Appayya, a very eminent Telugu scholar to revise and correct the work. He has done this very carefully and successfully. He considers it to be superior in style and good taste to the Hamsa Vimsati which however contains a greater variety of words and technical phrases.
He objects however very justly to the title of the work and proposed to say 'The Thirty Tales of the Parrot, not The Seventy Tales' for the book was never completed.
I have since obtained another manuscript (1839) which contains some additional passages.(Reproduced from: 1. Sukasaptati- Palavekari Kadiripati Nayaka- Sri Rama press, Chennapuri.- First edition, 1935.)
Charles Philip Brown (10-11-1798- 12-12-1884) was born at Calcutta, India. He was educated at Haileybury college, England and joined as a civil servant of the then East India Company. In 1820, he joined as assistant collector, Cuddapah (now in Andhra Pradesh). He is regarded as one of the renowned pioneers of Modern Telugu. He wrote Telugu Prosody in 1827 and later renowned Telugu classics, Mahabharatam and Vasucharitra were published under his editorial care. Later he published his Telugu-English Dictionaries. He resigned his job in 1854 and worked as Telugu professor in London University and died in 1884.
It may be noticed that C.P.Brown mentioned his writing as 'Remarks' not as 'Introduction' nor as 'Foreword'.
What do his words 'dark gap age' mentioned in his remarks say? It is construed as referring to 'British rule'. It is not irrelevant to say that the British made an Act in 1813 allowing freedom for Christianity in India. A new era of importing Christianity and English education to India began with other imports looting not only Indian wealth, but also destroying Indian cultural wealth.
I narrate the essence of the story content of the Tales. The king, Chitrasen fell in deep desire to have sexual pleasure with Prabhavati, the wife of a merchant, Madanasena. He appoints Pallavi, a highly skilled woman in the art of freedom of sex and she uses all her skills and makes Prabhavati to agree for sex with the king, who is a great artist in aesthetics and sex performance. The merchant, Madanasena went to a distant place for business purpose for seventy days. From the very day night, Prabhavati readies herself to go to the king for sexual pleasure. The parrot halts her telling a tale and by the time the tale is concluded, the day breaks and she could not meet the king. Prabhavati readies herself for all the seventy nights and the parrot halts her telling 30 tales during all the seventy nights and thus she could not meet the king and enjoy sexual pleasure with him. On the 71st day, her husband, Madanasena returns home and she happily invites him and she forgot what all had happened during the seventy nights as if nothing had happened. They lived a happy married life thereafter.
The poet himself clarified that the tales told by the parrot are not- seventy tales of a parrot, but tales told during seventy nights.
The essence of the message of all the tales is nearly one and the same. The parrot says Prabhavati" I do not say that enjoyment of freedom of sex is bad! Before doing it, you should assess yourself whether you have the capabilities such as quick and spontaneous understanding of the situation, administration of wit and intelligence, on the spot application of skills to protect and save yourself from the various risks of freedom of sex. If you are sure of them, you can go the king!"
The parrot tells live tales how the women who enjoyed freedom of sex protected and saved themselves from the risks by quick and aministration of their capabilities and skills. The parrot advises Prabhavati to be sure whether she could protect and save herself from the risks as those women did. (Sukasaptati- Palavekari Kadiripati Nayaka- Second Edition- SriRama press-1935. Introduction by krothapalli SuryaRao)
I summarise here some salient characteristics and features of this book.
1. It is established as the first independent work in Telugu literature .
2. The theme and content of the work are altogether new and modern comparable to Contemporary progressive literature.
3. The poet in 17th century questions " In the Nature, even the birds enjoy freedom of sex, then why not humankind?"
4. The amorous stories portray live and real experiences of sexual enjoyment as Nature's creation.
5. The aesthetic ornamentations are used only to focus on the event and where they are absolutely needed.
6. We find two kinds of protagonists in the stories. There are only five protagonists, namely, Chitrasen, the king who desires sexual enjoyment with Prabhavati, the wife of Madanasena, a rich merchant, Prabhavati who agrees for sexual enjoyment with the king, Chitrasen, Madana sena, the merchant who goes to a distant place for business for 70days, Pallavi who convinces Prabhavati for sexual enjoyment with the king and the pet parrot who tells stories to Prabhavati. These five protagonists only are directly connected with the main story. The protagonists in the stories told by the parrot are behind the curtain indirect protagonists who narrate live and realistic events and experiences of sexual enjoyment with others whom they desired. They create awareness and stimulus on the mind of the Prabhavati as well as on the minds of the readers on the freedom of sex.
7. They throw light on various aspects of sex and freedom of sex.
8. These stories resemble in content and narration one way or other with stories of Panchatantra (2nd century before Christ)
The Sukasaptati in Sanskrit belonging to 15th century came to light later but it's name was mentioned in the ancient classic works. It was identified as belonging to 12th century. It was not established or proved with evidence of any kind. Further some stories from 'Jataka Katha' (First century before Christ) and some stories from 'Kathasaritsagram' (of 200 years - 150 years before Christ) were found in it.
In the Kama Sutra of Vatsyayana (2nd half of the 3rd century, CE,) it was mentioned that the women who desire sexual pleasure with others against the social laws have 29 psychological characteristics and behaviour and he called them as 'Ayatnasadhya'. Such women protagonists are identified in some stories of the Sukasaptati. Jara in 9th story, Palika in 20(2) story, Subhavati in 5th story, Sulakhana in 13th story, Manimanjari in 8th story, Manohari in 16th story, Chapala in 20th story, and Kalavati in 1st story (Sukasaptati-Palavekari Kadiripati -Sri Rama press, Chennapuri- second edition, 1935) are identified as having such psychological characteristics and behaviour as mentioned in Kama Sutra.
It is therefore said that the author of the Sanskrit Sukasaptati had borrowed those characteristics and behaviour and used them in creating the protagonists in his stories.(Pracheenandhra Katha Kavyalu-Neetibodha -Ph.D thesis of Narayanam Seshubabu- Nagarjuna University-2006. Published by Telugu Academy, Hyderabad- 2010)
In view of the above facts, it was oserved that the Sanskrit Sukasaptati is also not an independent and original work.
The Sanskrit Sukasaptati was in verses and so the Telugu work also came in verses. It is so poetic, so ornamental and so classic and amorous that even the versatile and veteran readers of the contemporary generations find it difficult to understand the soul of the work. The literature as a whole is suffering from the famine of readership and this work lost the sight of the readers. A thought came to my mind that if I translate the work from verse into modern spoken language, it could remain alive. I tried sincerely, but I felt that I could not do justice to the translation. Then, I got it done by an eminent scholar and versatile and veteran translator and published it. I think, as far as I know that it is the first prose publication in spoken language.(Published as a chapter in Pracheena Katha- Prasthanam: Author and Publisher : Jayanthi Paparao: 2012.). I think that translation of the ancient classics to modern spoken language of the regional Indian languages has become the need of contemporary times.
I summarize here the essence of some of the stories to have a clear understanding of the whole work.
5th Story: Mohanudu is a professional merchant.Veerabhadrudu,a handsome young man desires sexual intercourse with Mohanudu's wife, Subhavati. He employs a professionally skilled woman to arrange it promising her lot of money and she agrees to do it. The woman often used to come and meet Subhavati and develops close contact with her. A prostitute took some loan from Mohanudu and she found them talking closely and she plans to take advantage of it. She instigates Subhavati" you see how closely they are talking! Men want always to have sexual intercourse with other women! Your husband has contacts with her. He took an oath and promised her " I want you only! I do not care for my wife!". She further added" I have a plan for you! When he wants another woman, why should you want him?! You should also desire one who desires you! Then only you could enjoy true sexual pleasure! Even animals enjoy freedom of true sexual pleasure! I arrange one for you who desires you deeply!"and makes her to agree to it!
She said to her" You go to the temple far away from the village and wait there. I will bring one who desires you deeply" and she went to Veerabhadrudu' house. He was not in the house and worried very much, she returned. On the way, she saw Mohanudu and said " A very beautiful and sexy woman is waiting at the temple. You can enjoy her. Come with me". They reached there. Mohanudu saw his own wife there! Subhavati, suddenly grew angry without loss of a single moment and began to shout" you have come here to have sexual enjoyment with another woman! I can not believe you! Even you may kill me also! I have come here to know your true mind and nature and sent this woman to prove that truth! I tell this truth to all the relatives, officials and the King also" and began to run speedily! Mohanudu fell at her feet and begged her to be pardoned and took her home.
Prabhavati heard the story told by the pet parrot, was surprised immensely and praised Subhavati for her timely skills and great lie!
10th Story: Suveshudu loves his wife so much as his own life. He has a servant, Gananadhudu, who is very faithful to him. Suveshudu's wife, Sumati is entangled to sexual pleasure with Gananadhudu. Suveshudu went to distant islands for pearls. Gananadhudu becomes as if he is the husband of Sumati. The king Dhavalakhyudu came to know about Sumati and he desires to have sexual contacts with her. Sumati agrees to it. The king goes to her house. She keeps the door of her bedroom a little bit open. The king finds that she is in sexual intercourse with Gananadhudu and gets angry. He cuts her long tuft of her hair and goes back to his palace. When her husband, Suveshudu returns, she keeps the tuft of her hair in a silver plate and goes to him with some married women and offers him the plate with her tuft as (Harati) furification ceremony of waving a lamp.When her husband asks about it ,she says" I had a bad dream! I am told by the pandits that if I do this, there would not be any problem! So, I did it!". Suveshudu thought" since I have a wife who is immensely devoted to me, I have safely returned home!" They both reached home happily and live a happy life.
Prabhavati was surprised and told the pet parrot" If a woman does so, all women get bad name!"
It is noteworthy that Sumati does not desire to enjoy sexual pleasure with her husband, nor with the king, but with their servant only. Further, she agrees and accepts gifts just to offer them to the servant with whom she enjoys sexual pleasures to her satisfaction! We come across such psychological characteristics and behavior often even in the present times and there are many such fobia relating to the sex!
18th Story: Veerabandhudu is a rich washerman. He goes to the lake away from the village and spends whole day washing clothes. His wife, Kalavati is not satisfied with him and has sexual contacts with young men. Charanudu, a strong and energetic man saw her and wanted to enjoy her. Kalavati is addicted to Palmyra toddy and he observed it. He went to her house, made her drink fully and enjoyed her to his satisfaction and Kalavati was also very much satisfied with him. Her husband, Veerabandhudu went with the king to the battle field. She spends her life happy with Charanudu paying him money also earned by her husband. One day, he started to go to his village. She asked him to take her also with him. He was very much rejoiced and promised her to do whatever she asks. The both started and it is three days journey. Kalavati' husband was returning home on the same way. She saw him and began to weep shedding tears and said " you told me that you will return within few days as you can not live without me! Did you forget that word? If husband goes to distant places, the wife will be sad and waits for him anxiously! The husband enjoys with other women there! I had a bad dream! I am very much worried about you! I am coming there to see you! This gentle man came forward as I can not travel alone to accompany and help me! God is there, I could see you safe!" He took her close and wiped off her tears! He thanked Charanudu for his help!
The pet parrot told the story and asked Prabhavati" do you have such wits and skills?" Prabhavati became speechless.