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Books > Hindu > Muvvagopala Padavali: Amours of The Divine Cowherd with Jingling Bells (An Old and Rare Book)
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Muvvagopala Padavali: Amours of The Divine Cowherd with Jingling Bells (An Old and Rare Book)
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About the Translator

The translator of 'Muvvagopala Padavali' titled "Amours of the Divine Cowherd with jingling bells" is Dr. B. Rajanikanta Rao, the winner of Central Sahitya Akademi Award Sahitya Akademi Award for his book in Telugu "Andhra Vaggeyakara Charitramu" – comprising biographies of composers of lyrics and music and an evolutionary history of music (1961). He also authored monographs in English on the life and works of Kshetrayya and Ramadasu (1981 & 1988) published by the Central Sahitya Akademi.

Having worked in various capacities as a broadcaster in All India Radio for over 40 years, he becomes a household name in Andhra (popularly known as 'Rajani') as a lyricist, author of several dance dramas in the Kuchipudi style and a musicologist. He was awarded the honorary degree of doctorate "Kalaprapoorna" by the Andhra University for his distinguished services in the field.

 

Preface

Kshetrayya is one of the illustrious Vaggeyakaras in Telugu. He is like Annamacharya in using Sringara in his devotional compositions. This is Madhurabhakti so common in the various literary compositions of the age in India. Like [ayadeva's Ashtapadis Kshetrayya's Padams are full of Sringara and this gives to them a contemporaneous acceptability. The Padams serve the double purpose of catering to the needs of the age and in giving to the poet the mystic communion with the Lord. So the use of Sringara in Kshetrayya's Padams is only a means to an end, of sublimation of desires. Kshetrayya 's Padams, with their rich mellifluousness, are the outcome of his bhakti for Muvvagopala. As a poet musician he has a creative urge and he sings because he must. He feels he has to glorify his deity Muvvagopala through his Padams.

As an artist, Kshetrayya 's message is implied. His Padams propagate bhakti, but harmoniously blended with Sringara. The devotee's love for the Lord as expressed in the Padams is like the varied feelings of joy and suffering experienced by a Nayika waiting for her lover, sometimes in hope and some times in despair. The Padams have the rare distinction of being musical, literary and excellent for dance. Kshetrayya will be remembered as a poet, a musician, a scholar, as one who has created a new style of writing and as one who has elevated Sringara from the plane of physical love to devotional love.

Dr. Rajanikanta Rao has done an excellent job in translating the Padams of Kshetrayya into English. It is a stupendous task. Kshetrayya 's Padams are full of spontaneity and lyrical ecstasy. They can be sung and set to dance. To translate them and to render them into a pleasant, readable verse is indeed an innovative attempt. This is the first laudable translation of Kshetrayya 's Padams into English. One has to possess scholarship, a sound knowledge of music and a fine artiste sensibility in order to render Kshetrayya's Padams into English. All these qualities Dr. Rajanikanta Rao has in abundance. He does service to the non-Telugu reading public in translating the Padams into English thereby bringing to them a rich fare of music, dance and literary grace. His book the Lyrics of Kshetrayya in English will serve the purpose of exposing the best in the cultural heritage of Andhras.

Earlier, Dr. Rajanikanta Rao wrote the biography of the poet- musician, Kshetrayya in English, and my novel The Blise of Life is an imaginative reconstruction of Kshetrayya's life. To me Kshetrayya symbolises the ascendance of man from a physical to a spiritual plane. Kshetrayya transcends the limitations of earthly life and attains the bliss of life through surrender to God. In some respects my account of Kshetrayya's life differs from that of Dr. Rajanikanta Rao. To me the love of Kshetrayya and Mohanangi is a natural emotional experience as both of them happen to be ardent lovers of dance and music. The revelation in Muvvagopala temple instils in Kshetrayya an awareness of his mission of spreading the cult of Madhurabhakti. Once he understands God's will his love for Mohanangi takes a different turn and he merges from the worldly entanglements only to attain the bliss of life. In Dr. Rajanikanta Rao's Ksltetrayya., Kshetrayya in the early part of his life at Movva, sees Mohanangi in the precincts of temple of Gopala and desires to have her. She says she will accept him on condition that he will glorify Muvvagopala through Padams. In order to please her he starts worshipping Muvvagopala, gets revelation, and in that process of spiritual enlightenment visits holy places and attains supreme bliss in one of those Kshetras.

In most of the Padams composed by Kshetrayya Or. Rajanikanta Rao discovers a dichotemy of psyche haunting the lyricist like two streams running parallel to each other, one being his genuine and natural affection for his sincere wedded wife 'Rukmini' portrayed as a 'Sweeya' type of heroine and the other, his unrequited love for his adolescent playmate 'Mohanangi' - depicted as a 'Parakiya' type of heroine or as a 'Samanya' type. Up to a stage in his life Kshetrayya identified himself with Muvvagopala, as a bohemian philanderer, and according to Sri Rajanikanta Rao, after a 'chiding' from the Lord, he reconciled himself to be a devoted 'beloved' (a preyasi) of the Supreme Soul 'Muvvagopala'.

I am sure that the Lyrics of Kshetrayya in English will be accepted and appreciated by all those who admire music, dance and all that is best in the Indian tradition of Madhurabhakti in literature.

 

Foreword

Living in the days of great many facilities our mind refuses to go back to the days when these were not available. Look at the time when there was no printing press, everything was written on the palm leaves. Day, when there were no trains or buses and not even cars, people were moving up and down the country on foot. Perhaps the royalty and the queens were moving in palanquins. Just remember the days, when there was no electricity, kerosene or candle; people were spending their evenings with lamps, lighted with vegetable oils like castor oil We have forged ahead with the days of availability of facilities. Likewise when there was no royal support to folkarts like music and dance and sculpture except the poor man's rural support; our music and dance thrived for centuries in humble surroundings. Later on these arts moved to the urban population where they got the support of some kings and zamindars. Poor artistes and artisans work to preserve our culture living on very meagre means and utter poverty. It must be said to the credit of those artistes of those days who kept alive the torch of our civilization and culture. On the banks of the Godavari and the Krishna and other rivers, those artistes worked dedicating themselves to the muses they worshipped. Certainly they deserve our humble salutations. On the banks of the Krishna Kshetrayya lived and sang many "Padams" - "Irams" to the praise of "Muvvagopala" taking the theme of Lord Krishna and Gopikas. Later on he moved on to the Court of Tanjore and spent evening of his life on the banks of the Kaveri. Next to Tyagaraja, a profound scholar Kshetrayya became popular in the Telugu land.

Kshetrayya's padams are meant mainly for dance and people who took to dance were well-versed in his padams. They are profound, amorous and highly enjoyable. They depict different faces of love and separation. While Tyagaraja was a devotee of Rama; Kshetrayya is more a man of masses depicting different movements in "Sringara". Kshetrayya occupies a high place in music and most specially for dancing. And of course they are all in the name of "Muvvago- pala", Krishna is the central figure in his compositions. They are naturally lovable to the masses for depicting their own mundane emotions, to the musicologists and to the people who took to dance. Kshetrayya is an artiste of great sublimity. His padams are pieces of literature, musical compositions of so many "ragas and talas". Thus amenable to those who practice dance.

Dr. Balantrapu Rajani Kanta Rao, known as "Rajani" to the lovers of Music and Literature was an Honours Graduate of Andhra University. In fulness of time he was the proud recipient of a Doctorate of Kalaprapoorna for his services to literature and Music.

Dr. Rajani is essentially a product of the A.I.R. He was chiselled into the present shape by the electronic media, he served during the best part of his life. A.I.R. brought him into close proximity to various writers, musicologists, musicians and all lovers of finearts. His postings in several parts of India were a great boon to him, for he was in the company of new artistes. His own flair for music and literature flowered during the days he spent in the A.I.R. Dr. Rajani has an instinctive attraction for anything that is lyrical and melodious. His book "Andhra Vaggeyakara Charitram" won the Central sahitya Academy Award for the year 1961. And later he authored monographs in English on the life and work of Kshetrayya and Rarnadasu and were accepted by the Central Sahitya Academy in their publications. He also gave music to the lyrics of our eminent modern poets. For a while he was also in the cinema field giving tunes to the cinema songs. Thus he was deeply attached to the realm of finearts in its varied aspects. He authored some English translations of some lovely lyrics like "Ekantaseva", a popular book in Telugu literature. He has a facile pen both in English and in Telugu. And his writings are relished and became popular. With his attachment for literature, his instinctive sensibility to the musical form and his profound admiration for Kshetrayya made him render into English 160 Padams which is now under publication for which I am writing this foreword. They give you an insight into the various complexities of emotions as depicted by Kshetrayya. Perhaps for the first time English-knowing public will have an idea to what eminence Kshetrayya belongs. My good friend Mr. B.V.S . S.Mani with his fondness for all that is best in. our ancient culture, has come forward to finance this publication. I greatly appreciate the generous gesture of Mr. Mani.

Finally I congratulate Dr. Raj ani Kantha Rao for his translation of his lyrics into good readable, nay enjoyable English and getting them published for the benefit of non-Telugu readers. All those who are admirers of Kshetrayya will welcome his publication in English. I am privileged for being requested to pen these few lines to praise Kshetrayya and Dr. Rajani's translations.

 

Introduction

BHARATA NATYAM and Carnatac music are fine examples of emotional integration in the sense that they are the shared heritage of the Telugu composers and the Tamil artistes.The repertoires of these two great disciplines have been enriched over the years by a succession of such haloed mystics and musicians as the Tanjore quartet, Thyagaraya, Narayana Teertha, Kshetrayya, Annamacharya and several others, all of non-Tamil origin. Recitals of classical music or dance in South India are embellished by such Telugu compositions as javalis, padams,keertanas, sankeertanas, varnams, subdams, etc., all in Telugu, one of the most musical and mellifluous languages in the world.

Kshetrayya,one of the most inspired exponents of Madhura-bhakti, has energised the vision and idiom of generations and generations of musicians and dancers with his elegant and euphonic padams which are the nearest equivalents to Jayadeva's Ashtapadis and Vidyapathi's Padavali. He lived in the 17th century. As Abburi Ramakrishna Rao once said, Kshetrayya padams are unique in the sense that musicians hear music in them, dancers see dance and poets read poetry. As expressions of Madhurabhakti with the focus on Nayaki-Nayaka bhava, these lusty and languorous lyrics are no doubt erotic in style but not in spirit. They are not sizzlers like the Konarak and Khajuraho sculptures.They are, on the contrary, sparklers like the Kangra and Basohli miniatures.

Kshetrayya used sringara as vehicle for his mystic, transcendental communion with the Supreme Lord, Gopala of Muvva. The sentiment is sensual, the imagery is carnal, the mood is intimate, the intention is hedonistic and the idiom and accent are amatory, all true. But the overall impact of each padam is spiritually uplifting, because while technically it is a lyric in form, basically it is a hymn in spirit.

My good friend Dr Balantrapu Rajanikanta Rao has undertaken a stupendous task and how successful it is only time will tell. It is not easy to translate the 17th century Telugu padams into/20th century English. But then that's what translation is all about. This is the only way to bring these within the reach of the non-Telugu reading public who deserve to savour the exquisitely succulent padams of Kshetrayya. A translator's task is really tough, because he has\necessarily\to be extremely good at both languages--- the language of the original and the language of the translation. Good not merely at verbal level but, more importantly, at creative level. In fact translations made by academically competent but creatively bankrupt people don't come alive. Dr Rajanikanta Rao has the advantage of being not only/ a sensitive scholar but an extremely perceptive and creative poet, musician and composer with an intense feeling for words, whatever the language. He knows his Kshetrayya and he knows his English. I give below an example of Dr. Rao's English rendering of Kshetrayya's padam describing the plight of Parakaya Madhya- Virahothkanthita N ayika :

If he is angry, it's my luck, what else
If he is angry, it's my luck!
O friend, with a twig-like mien,
can I punish him at all !!

To him who speaks apparently nice words
can I be considered a nice woman?
He doesn't come to me, my dear friend, and
may not see my face again,
is there no God above?

No more pangs of separation, perhaps
my company is too much for him,
well and good ;
if I am not to his liking like you,
O dark-haired one, lacking in affection of olden days.

There are so many instances in which
even in my teens he enticed and enjoyed me;
how many a promise he made to me,
O my dear, the same Muvvagopala, now

Dr Rao has done his best and his best is good enough. But then no translation, however well done, can be a substitute for the original, nor can it pretend to be.

Kshetrayya's original name was Varadayya. He was an ordinary householder living happily with Rukmini, his devoted wife. But when he came into contact with Mohanangi, a temple dancer, he was smitten with love at first sight. From then on it was a frenzied and futile exercise in courtship for him with no matching response from her. Mohanangi, a devadasi attached to Gopala's temple at Muvva, found him unacceptable because of his apparent lack of talent or skill in any field. She dismissed him as wild and wayward and unworthy of her attention. But he wouldn't give up. He would pursue her all the more doggedly to her disgust. Addressing one of his padams to Muvvagopala in a state of distraught, he says:

Oh, Lord! Unite her with me !
For having supplicated you to such an extent
Oh, Lord! Fulfill my desire!

At last.. somewhat relenting, Mohanangi suggested that, if he really desired her, he should compose songs in praise of the presiding deity of Muvva and make himself acceptable to the Lord, before wooing her. One day a saint noticed Varadayya's sorry state, and, taking pity on him, decided to show him what real love was. He took him to the temple pushkarini and gave him the beejamantra which at once revealed to Varadayya a hitherto unsuspected world of sublimity on the highest plane of bhakti. Now Muvvagopala replaced Mohanagi and Varadayya's carnal passion for her was transformed into love of Divinity. Thus began his spiritual odyssey which took him from shrine to shrine and wherever he went, he sought the communion with the Lord through song and dance in a state of agony and ecstasy ---agony because of the physicality of his being dividing him from the Lord and ecstasy because of his spiritual bliss. Thus he became Kshetrayya---one who kept moving from one pilgrim centre to another, with dance in his step and song on his lips.

Kshetrayya's padams have irresistible simplicity and sensuousness. The arrangement of words is crisp and elegant. The language used is that of the common man. Structurally, the padams are tight and tidy. The images evoked are down to earth, at the same time losing none of their essential other -worldly ethos, Sringara as rasa, if handled delicately and deftly as in his padams, has a morally cleansing effect on the public. Some critics have expressed the opinion that Kshetrayya's padams are pachhi sringaram (naked obscenity). Well, they can say the same thing about Jayadeva's Ashtapadis also.It all depends on how one responds to the very concept of Madhurabhakti which is the highest form of worship, because it is based on the ultimate oneness of man with God through the total surrender of the devotee to the deity. Andal and Mira and their male counterparts such as Nammalwar, Jayadeva, Vidyapathi, Chaitanya and Chandidas have only expressed in words what they have experienced in the privacy and intimacy of their communion with the supreme Lord--- the Eternal and Universal Lover.

 

Contents

 

1 Dedication 4-5
2 Acknowledgements (Author's Note) 6-9
3 Preface by Prof. M.V. Ramasarma 11-12
4 Prologue (Padam & Kshetrayya) - Rajani 14-29
5 Foreword by Dr. B. Gopal Reddy 30-31
6 Introduction by Dr. A.S. Rama 33-35
7 Prelude by Rajani 36-37
8 A note on CevandiiSwara - by Rajani 37-38
9 Lists of Lyrics in Roman script 39-48
10 Code of Transliteration 49
11 Text of the Book Proper 1-322
12 English Titles of Translated Lyrics followed by Alphabetical Order in Roman Script 322-330
13 Notes of Technical terms from Alankara Saastra 338 -345

 

Sample Pages
















Muvvagopala Padavali: Amours of The Divine Cowherd with Jingling Bells (An Old and Rare Book)

Item Code:
NAM467
Cover:
Paperback
Edition:
1994
Language:
Tamil Text With Transliteration and English Translation
Size:
8.5 inch X 5.5 inch
Pages:
396 (108 B/W Illustrations)
Other Details:
Weight of the Book: 450 gms
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About the Translator

The translator of 'Muvvagopala Padavali' titled "Amours of the Divine Cowherd with jingling bells" is Dr. B. Rajanikanta Rao, the winner of Central Sahitya Akademi Award Sahitya Akademi Award for his book in Telugu "Andhra Vaggeyakara Charitramu" – comprising biographies of composers of lyrics and music and an evolutionary history of music (1961). He also authored monographs in English on the life and works of Kshetrayya and Ramadasu (1981 & 1988) published by the Central Sahitya Akademi.

Having worked in various capacities as a broadcaster in All India Radio for over 40 years, he becomes a household name in Andhra (popularly known as 'Rajani') as a lyricist, author of several dance dramas in the Kuchipudi style and a musicologist. He was awarded the honorary degree of doctorate "Kalaprapoorna" by the Andhra University for his distinguished services in the field.

 

Preface

Kshetrayya is one of the illustrious Vaggeyakaras in Telugu. He is like Annamacharya in using Sringara in his devotional compositions. This is Madhurabhakti so common in the various literary compositions of the age in India. Like [ayadeva's Ashtapadis Kshetrayya's Padams are full of Sringara and this gives to them a contemporaneous acceptability. The Padams serve the double purpose of catering to the needs of the age and in giving to the poet the mystic communion with the Lord. So the use of Sringara in Kshetrayya's Padams is only a means to an end, of sublimation of desires. Kshetrayya 's Padams, with their rich mellifluousness, are the outcome of his bhakti for Muvvagopala. As a poet musician he has a creative urge and he sings because he must. He feels he has to glorify his deity Muvvagopala through his Padams.

As an artist, Kshetrayya 's message is implied. His Padams propagate bhakti, but harmoniously blended with Sringara. The devotee's love for the Lord as expressed in the Padams is like the varied feelings of joy and suffering experienced by a Nayika waiting for her lover, sometimes in hope and some times in despair. The Padams have the rare distinction of being musical, literary and excellent for dance. Kshetrayya will be remembered as a poet, a musician, a scholar, as one who has created a new style of writing and as one who has elevated Sringara from the plane of physical love to devotional love.

Dr. Rajanikanta Rao has done an excellent job in translating the Padams of Kshetrayya into English. It is a stupendous task. Kshetrayya 's Padams are full of spontaneity and lyrical ecstasy. They can be sung and set to dance. To translate them and to render them into a pleasant, readable verse is indeed an innovative attempt. This is the first laudable translation of Kshetrayya 's Padams into English. One has to possess scholarship, a sound knowledge of music and a fine artiste sensibility in order to render Kshetrayya's Padams into English. All these qualities Dr. Rajanikanta Rao has in abundance. He does service to the non-Telugu reading public in translating the Padams into English thereby bringing to them a rich fare of music, dance and literary grace. His book the Lyrics of Kshetrayya in English will serve the purpose of exposing the best in the cultural heritage of Andhras.

Earlier, Dr. Rajanikanta Rao wrote the biography of the poet- musician, Kshetrayya in English, and my novel The Blise of Life is an imaginative reconstruction of Kshetrayya's life. To me Kshetrayya symbolises the ascendance of man from a physical to a spiritual plane. Kshetrayya transcends the limitations of earthly life and attains the bliss of life through surrender to God. In some respects my account of Kshetrayya's life differs from that of Dr. Rajanikanta Rao. To me the love of Kshetrayya and Mohanangi is a natural emotional experience as both of them happen to be ardent lovers of dance and music. The revelation in Muvvagopala temple instils in Kshetrayya an awareness of his mission of spreading the cult of Madhurabhakti. Once he understands God's will his love for Mohanangi takes a different turn and he merges from the worldly entanglements only to attain the bliss of life. In Dr. Rajanikanta Rao's Ksltetrayya., Kshetrayya in the early part of his life at Movva, sees Mohanangi in the precincts of temple of Gopala and desires to have her. She says she will accept him on condition that he will glorify Muvvagopala through Padams. In order to please her he starts worshipping Muvvagopala, gets revelation, and in that process of spiritual enlightenment visits holy places and attains supreme bliss in one of those Kshetras.

In most of the Padams composed by Kshetrayya Or. Rajanikanta Rao discovers a dichotemy of psyche haunting the lyricist like two streams running parallel to each other, one being his genuine and natural affection for his sincere wedded wife 'Rukmini' portrayed as a 'Sweeya' type of heroine and the other, his unrequited love for his adolescent playmate 'Mohanangi' - depicted as a 'Parakiya' type of heroine or as a 'Samanya' type. Up to a stage in his life Kshetrayya identified himself with Muvvagopala, as a bohemian philanderer, and according to Sri Rajanikanta Rao, after a 'chiding' from the Lord, he reconciled himself to be a devoted 'beloved' (a preyasi) of the Supreme Soul 'Muvvagopala'.

I am sure that the Lyrics of Kshetrayya in English will be accepted and appreciated by all those who admire music, dance and all that is best in the Indian tradition of Madhurabhakti in literature.

 

Foreword

Living in the days of great many facilities our mind refuses to go back to the days when these were not available. Look at the time when there was no printing press, everything was written on the palm leaves. Day, when there were no trains or buses and not even cars, people were moving up and down the country on foot. Perhaps the royalty and the queens were moving in palanquins. Just remember the days, when there was no electricity, kerosene or candle; people were spending their evenings with lamps, lighted with vegetable oils like castor oil We have forged ahead with the days of availability of facilities. Likewise when there was no royal support to folkarts like music and dance and sculpture except the poor man's rural support; our music and dance thrived for centuries in humble surroundings. Later on these arts moved to the urban population where they got the support of some kings and zamindars. Poor artistes and artisans work to preserve our culture living on very meagre means and utter poverty. It must be said to the credit of those artistes of those days who kept alive the torch of our civilization and culture. On the banks of the Godavari and the Krishna and other rivers, those artistes worked dedicating themselves to the muses they worshipped. Certainly they deserve our humble salutations. On the banks of the Krishna Kshetrayya lived and sang many "Padams" - "Irams" to the praise of "Muvvagopala" taking the theme of Lord Krishna and Gopikas. Later on he moved on to the Court of Tanjore and spent evening of his life on the banks of the Kaveri. Next to Tyagaraja, a profound scholar Kshetrayya became popular in the Telugu land.

Kshetrayya's padams are meant mainly for dance and people who took to dance were well-versed in his padams. They are profound, amorous and highly enjoyable. They depict different faces of love and separation. While Tyagaraja was a devotee of Rama; Kshetrayya is more a man of masses depicting different movements in "Sringara". Kshetrayya occupies a high place in music and most specially for dancing. And of course they are all in the name of "Muvvago- pala", Krishna is the central figure in his compositions. They are naturally lovable to the masses for depicting their own mundane emotions, to the musicologists and to the people who took to dance. Kshetrayya is an artiste of great sublimity. His padams are pieces of literature, musical compositions of so many "ragas and talas". Thus amenable to those who practice dance.

Dr. Balantrapu Rajani Kanta Rao, known as "Rajani" to the lovers of Music and Literature was an Honours Graduate of Andhra University. In fulness of time he was the proud recipient of a Doctorate of Kalaprapoorna for his services to literature and Music.

Dr. Rajani is essentially a product of the A.I.R. He was chiselled into the present shape by the electronic media, he served during the best part of his life. A.I.R. brought him into close proximity to various writers, musicologists, musicians and all lovers of finearts. His postings in several parts of India were a great boon to him, for he was in the company of new artistes. His own flair for music and literature flowered during the days he spent in the A.I.R. Dr. Rajani has an instinctive attraction for anything that is lyrical and melodious. His book "Andhra Vaggeyakara Charitram" won the Central sahitya Academy Award for the year 1961. And later he authored monographs in English on the life and work of Kshetrayya and Rarnadasu and were accepted by the Central Sahitya Academy in their publications. He also gave music to the lyrics of our eminent modern poets. For a while he was also in the cinema field giving tunes to the cinema songs. Thus he was deeply attached to the realm of finearts in its varied aspects. He authored some English translations of some lovely lyrics like "Ekantaseva", a popular book in Telugu literature. He has a facile pen both in English and in Telugu. And his writings are relished and became popular. With his attachment for literature, his instinctive sensibility to the musical form and his profound admiration for Kshetrayya made him render into English 160 Padams which is now under publication for which I am writing this foreword. They give you an insight into the various complexities of emotions as depicted by Kshetrayya. Perhaps for the first time English-knowing public will have an idea to what eminence Kshetrayya belongs. My good friend Mr. B.V.S . S.Mani with his fondness for all that is best in. our ancient culture, has come forward to finance this publication. I greatly appreciate the generous gesture of Mr. Mani.

Finally I congratulate Dr. Raj ani Kantha Rao for his translation of his lyrics into good readable, nay enjoyable English and getting them published for the benefit of non-Telugu readers. All those who are admirers of Kshetrayya will welcome his publication in English. I am privileged for being requested to pen these few lines to praise Kshetrayya and Dr. Rajani's translations.

 

Introduction

BHARATA NATYAM and Carnatac music are fine examples of emotional integration in the sense that they are the shared heritage of the Telugu composers and the Tamil artistes.The repertoires of these two great disciplines have been enriched over the years by a succession of such haloed mystics and musicians as the Tanjore quartet, Thyagaraya, Narayana Teertha, Kshetrayya, Annamacharya and several others, all of non-Tamil origin. Recitals of classical music or dance in South India are embellished by such Telugu compositions as javalis, padams,keertanas, sankeertanas, varnams, subdams, etc., all in Telugu, one of the most musical and mellifluous languages in the world.

Kshetrayya,one of the most inspired exponents of Madhura-bhakti, has energised the vision and idiom of generations and generations of musicians and dancers with his elegant and euphonic padams which are the nearest equivalents to Jayadeva's Ashtapadis and Vidyapathi's Padavali. He lived in the 17th century. As Abburi Ramakrishna Rao once said, Kshetrayya padams are unique in the sense that musicians hear music in them, dancers see dance and poets read poetry. As expressions of Madhurabhakti with the focus on Nayaki-Nayaka bhava, these lusty and languorous lyrics are no doubt erotic in style but not in spirit. They are not sizzlers like the Konarak and Khajuraho sculptures.They are, on the contrary, sparklers like the Kangra and Basohli miniatures.

Kshetrayya used sringara as vehicle for his mystic, transcendental communion with the Supreme Lord, Gopala of Muvva. The sentiment is sensual, the imagery is carnal, the mood is intimate, the intention is hedonistic and the idiom and accent are amatory, all true. But the overall impact of each padam is spiritually uplifting, because while technically it is a lyric in form, basically it is a hymn in spirit.

My good friend Dr Balantrapu Rajanikanta Rao has undertaken a stupendous task and how successful it is only time will tell. It is not easy to translate the 17th century Telugu padams into/20th century English. But then that's what translation is all about. This is the only way to bring these within the reach of the non-Telugu reading public who deserve to savour the exquisitely succulent padams of Kshetrayya. A translator's task is really tough, because he has\necessarily\to be extremely good at both languages--- the language of the original and the language of the translation. Good not merely at verbal level but, more importantly, at creative level. In fact translations made by academically competent but creatively bankrupt people don't come alive. Dr Rajanikanta Rao has the advantage of being not only/ a sensitive scholar but an extremely perceptive and creative poet, musician and composer with an intense feeling for words, whatever the language. He knows his Kshetrayya and he knows his English. I give below an example of Dr. Rao's English rendering of Kshetrayya's padam describing the plight of Parakaya Madhya- Virahothkanthita N ayika :

If he is angry, it's my luck, what else
If he is angry, it's my luck!
O friend, with a twig-like mien,
can I punish him at all !!

To him who speaks apparently nice words
can I be considered a nice woman?
He doesn't come to me, my dear friend, and
may not see my face again,
is there no God above?

No more pangs of separation, perhaps
my company is too much for him,
well and good ;
if I am not to his liking like you,
O dark-haired one, lacking in affection of olden days.

There are so many instances in which
even in my teens he enticed and enjoyed me;
how many a promise he made to me,
O my dear, the same Muvvagopala, now

Dr Rao has done his best and his best is good enough. But then no translation, however well done, can be a substitute for the original, nor can it pretend to be.

Kshetrayya's original name was Varadayya. He was an ordinary householder living happily with Rukmini, his devoted wife. But when he came into contact with Mohanangi, a temple dancer, he was smitten with love at first sight. From then on it was a frenzied and futile exercise in courtship for him with no matching response from her. Mohanangi, a devadasi attached to Gopala's temple at Muvva, found him unacceptable because of his apparent lack of talent or skill in any field. She dismissed him as wild and wayward and unworthy of her attention. But he wouldn't give up. He would pursue her all the more doggedly to her disgust. Addressing one of his padams to Muvvagopala in a state of distraught, he says:

Oh, Lord! Unite her with me !
For having supplicated you to such an extent
Oh, Lord! Fulfill my desire!

At last.. somewhat relenting, Mohanangi suggested that, if he really desired her, he should compose songs in praise of the presiding deity of Muvva and make himself acceptable to the Lord, before wooing her. One day a saint noticed Varadayya's sorry state, and, taking pity on him, decided to show him what real love was. He took him to the temple pushkarini and gave him the beejamantra which at once revealed to Varadayya a hitherto unsuspected world of sublimity on the highest plane of bhakti. Now Muvvagopala replaced Mohanagi and Varadayya's carnal passion for her was transformed into love of Divinity. Thus began his spiritual odyssey which took him from shrine to shrine and wherever he went, he sought the communion with the Lord through song and dance in a state of agony and ecstasy ---agony because of the physicality of his being dividing him from the Lord and ecstasy because of his spiritual bliss. Thus he became Kshetrayya---one who kept moving from one pilgrim centre to another, with dance in his step and song on his lips.

Kshetrayya's padams have irresistible simplicity and sensuousness. The arrangement of words is crisp and elegant. The language used is that of the common man. Structurally, the padams are tight and tidy. The images evoked are down to earth, at the same time losing none of their essential other -worldly ethos, Sringara as rasa, if handled delicately and deftly as in his padams, has a morally cleansing effect on the public. Some critics have expressed the opinion that Kshetrayya's padams are pachhi sringaram (naked obscenity). Well, they can say the same thing about Jayadeva's Ashtapadis also.It all depends on how one responds to the very concept of Madhurabhakti which is the highest form of worship, because it is based on the ultimate oneness of man with God through the total surrender of the devotee to the deity. Andal and Mira and their male counterparts such as Nammalwar, Jayadeva, Vidyapathi, Chaitanya and Chandidas have only expressed in words what they have experienced in the privacy and intimacy of their communion with the supreme Lord--- the Eternal and Universal Lover.

 

Contents

 

1 Dedication 4-5
2 Acknowledgements (Author's Note) 6-9
3 Preface by Prof. M.V. Ramasarma 11-12
4 Prologue (Padam & Kshetrayya) - Rajani 14-29
5 Foreword by Dr. B. Gopal Reddy 30-31
6 Introduction by Dr. A.S. Rama 33-35
7 Prelude by Rajani 36-37
8 A note on CevandiiSwara - by Rajani 37-38
9 Lists of Lyrics in Roman script 39-48
10 Code of Transliteration 49
11 Text of the Book Proper 1-322
12 English Titles of Translated Lyrics followed by Alphabetical Order in Roman Script 322-330
13 Notes of Technical terms from Alankara Saastra 338 -345

 

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