Sunday, January 04, 2015

ఆముక్త మాల్యద: గోదాకళ్యాణము

So, having been captivated by the fresh beauty of Goda, Sri Ranganatha was unable to contain his lover for her for even a moment longer. Therefore, he took away Goda to himself and, in her stead, placed an illusory female form in that palanquin, with which Vishnuchitta returned to his place of stay. When Vishnuchitta opened the palanquin, the illusory form was gone too. When he could not find his beloved daughter, Vishnuchitta ran back to the temple and began to lament thus:

శా. అబ్రహ్మణ్యము లోన వైచుకొనె నన్యాయంబున న్మత్సుతం
దా బ్రహ్మాదుల మేర నిల్పియు బ్రభుత్వం బూదియుం దోతురే\
యీ బ్రక్కం ద్విజు జూడరయ్య సభవారీ రంగభర్తంచు దుః
ఖాబ్రాశింబడి బాష్పకంఠుడు సముద్యద్దోఃపలాలుండునై.

Shame on him! He unlawfully abducted my daughter. After all, he is the supreme lord. He is lord over Brahma and all such gods. Is this the way to behave? To rob a poor Brahmin like me? Please bear witness, all you gentlemen, to this misdeed by the lord of Sriranga! Vishnuchitta was drowning in a sea of sorrow, his voice choking with tears.

శా. ఎంతే వేడుకయైన బెండ్లగుట కీనే దేహమున్ బ్రాణమున్
సంతానంబు నిశాంతమున్ ధనము సస్యంబుల్ పశుశ్రేణులే
కాంతస్వస్వజనార్చనంబునక కాదా కూర్చుటే మీ కయో
వింతే యీ బుడుతెంత నంగురుచ గావింపం దనున్మెత్తురే.

If he was so fond of her, wasn't I ready to give her in marriage? My body, life, progeny, home, wealth, harvests, and cattle - everything I possess is only meant for offering to him and the service of his devotees, isn't it? Oh my fate! See this horror! Such a small kid she is. He did this only to belittle me - who would praise him for doing like this?

ఉ. నెట్టన యల్ల లచ్చి యల నీళయు భూసతి యుండ నీకు నీ
నెట్టిక సీలపై మనసు నిల్చుట కేమనవచ్చు? వెర్రి యౌ
నట్టుగ బేద నన్ను బరిహాసము నేతకు దక్క వింతచూ
పెట్టిది? దిద్దు నెవ్వడిల నేరులవంకలు వారి డొంకలున్.

Oh Lord! You have Srilakshmi, Neela as well as Bhudevi, your dear wives readily waiting on you. After all, my young daughter has become so thin through severe fasting penance - how could you be enamored of her? You are only doing this so that my poor self is going to become the laughing stock - otherwise, what benefit is this to you? Who can correct the path of rivers and floods? (No one can offer corrections if the powerful go astray)

While Vishnuchitta was crying inconsolably in this fashion, the lord feared for the grief of his devotee. Deliberately, he brought a smile to his lips and addressed Vishnuchitta thus:

చ. ముది మది దప్పితోయి మునిముఖ్య భవత్తనయన్ గృహంబునన్
బదిలము జేసివచ్చి మరి బట్టబయ ల్వెడదూరు దూరె దా
సదన మికొక్క మాటరసి చంచలలోచన గానకున్న బో
రెదు మరి కాని బుద్ధి విపరీతత బొందక పోయి చూడుమా.

Oh leader among devotees! Looks like you lost your mind, perhaps from old age. You left your daughter at our residence, yet you come out like this and throwing all sorts of accusations on me. Please go and look for her at home one more time. If you still don't find her, then you can find fault with me. Don't let your mind be scattered! Go, go home and see!

Vishnuchitta thanked the lord and ran back home. Real Goda came out of the house and touched her father's feet in greeting. Vishnuchitta was overjoyed to see his daughter again, he gently kissed the top of her head and blessed her.

Then, Sri Ranganatha summoned his attendants like Vishvaksena and well-wishers like Brahma and Siva and requested them to go on his behalf and, following established tradition, seek Sri Goda's hand in marriage from her father. When the divine delegation approached Vishnuchitta, he replied thus:

కం. ధన్యుడనైతిం దనకీ
కన్యక నీగాంచి భృగువు గౌరవము బయో
ధిన్యాయము నొదవె నిటే
నన్యాయంబే చమూప హరవిధులారా
Oh great beings! I am blessed by this opportunity to present my daughter to the Lord. Much like the Sage Bhrigu and the Lord of the Sea were blessed when they presented Sri Mahalakshmi to Lord Srimannarayana (according to Vishnu Purana, when Sri Mahalakshmi was born from the churning of milky ocean). However, demanding a bride like this is quite improper.


కం. వినుడీ దగు సంబంధపు
టెనయిక గని మోచి తెచ్చి యిచ్చె ననరె చు
ల్కని నరులు గాన మాపుర
మునకు న్విజయంబు సేయ బుత్రిక నిత్తున్
Loose tongued people will gossip that this poor father brought along his daughter and gave her away in some far away place! Why give chance to such gossip? So, please listen to my prayer, come to our native village of Srivillibuttur and I will gladly perform the kanyadanam (giving away of the bride).

The great beings took this message back to Sri Ranganatha and he, in his limitless compassion towards his devotee, agreed to the proposal. On the auspicious day, Sri Ranganatha set out from his heavenly abode, surrounded by the entire divine community. His general, Vishvaksena led the magnificent procession through the star studded heavenly paths to Srivillibuttur. Visvakarma, the divine architect himself, made temporary residences for all the guests.

కం. శర్వాణీ వాణీ ముఖ
గీర్వాణీ కోటి జానకీరఘుకుల రా
ట్పూర్వా చరిత వివాహా
ఖర్వ సుగీతములు పాడగా విభవమునన్

Parvati, Sarasvathi and other goddesses sang wonderful melodies, recounting great weddings of the past such as that of Seeta and Sri Rama.
They performed all the prescribed preparatory rituals for Sri Goda and decorated her in bridal finery.

కం. కలికి తెలిగన్నుగవ గ
జ్జల రేఖలు దీర్చి మేన సారంగమదం
బలది లలామక మిడి చెం
గలువలు క్రొవ్వెదకు వేరొకర్తు ఘటించెన్.

To her bright eyes, they applied dark kohl, and daubed fragrant kasturi on her torso. They lined up a dangling hair ornament in her hair parting, and decorated her long dark hair with red waterlilies.

మ. కలధౌత ద్రవ చిత్రముల్ మెరయ ముక్తాస్యూత మౌ మేచకాం
చలపుం బెందెర వారి లగ్నము సమాసన్నంబుగా వేల్పు బె
ద్దలు వంపన్ గుడజీరకంబులు సముద్యత్ప్రేమ నన్యోన్య మం
జుల హస్తంబుల నుంచి రర్ధి గనుమించుల్ చిర్రుముర్రాడగన్.
Water in golden pots reflected strange twinkling lights. The curtain (held between the bride and the groom) with a black border, decorated with strings of pearls held by priests who proclaimed the approach of the auspicious moment in the wedding. The bright eyes of the divine bride and groom sparkled with mutual love for each other. The great beings like Siva and Brahma placed the auspicious mixture of jaggery and jeera in the hands of the bride and groom.

చ. మరి వనమాలి చూడమున మానిని ముత్తెపు బ్రాలు వోయుచో
మెరయు దదంగుళీ కిసల మేళన జక్రి చెమర్ప రాలె మై
నరిమురి ఘర్మ బిందువులు నమ్మణులున్ మొగులందునుండి డాల్
గిరిగొన జారు ధారలబలెన్ వడగండ్ల బలెన్ గనుంగొనన్.
The body of Sri Ranganatha was effulgent like a dark cloud. As Sri Goda poured the sacred rice (talambralu) on him, her tender finger tips gently grazed him, and the resulting excitement caused him to sweat. The sweat drops were like rain drops raining down from a rain cloud and the white rice particles looked like hail.

తే. ఇంతి దోయిట సేస బ్రాలెత్తుచోట
గుబ్బ పాలిండ్ల క్రేవ గ్రక్కున మురారి
కన్ను వేయుట గత లజ్జ గదుర బాహు
లెత్తక కరాగ్రములన పైకెగుర జల్లె.

To pour the sacred rice (talambralu) in Sri Ranganatha's head, Sri Goda gathered the rice in her palms and raised her arms. However, her breasts were uncovered in that act and she noticed her husband's gaze feasting on the delightful sight. Overcome by modesty, she lowered her arms and threw the rice up on to his head.

కం. గళమున గట్టెను హరి మం
గళసూత్రము పులక లతివ గాత్రము బొదువన్
నెలతయు బతియును గరముల
నలవరిచిరి కంకణంబు లన్యోన్యంబున్
Sri Ranganatha tied the sacred sutra around Sri Goda's neck, as her body rejoiced at his touch. The bride and groom tied wedding bracelets on each other's wrists.

Thus concluded the divine wedding of Sri Godadevi, daughter of Vishnuchitta and Sri Ranganatha, bringing to a close the masterful Telugu prabandha, Amukta Malyada.

Aum tat sat!

Sunday, January 06, 2013

ఆముక్త మాల్యద: గోదాకళ్యాణము

A small joke before we dive into the real stuff: This was told by my math professor back in the day. While he was a graduate student at Caltech, the first part of a course ran during the winter semester (Jan to May) - then there was the summer break of about 3 months. The second part of the course continued in the fall semester, starting in late August. Their professor entered the class on the first day, and started, "Continuing from where we left off in the last lecture, ..."
Following in his tradition, I will pick up where I left off in my last post (from more than 3 years ago) :)

After narrating the story of Mangala Kaisiki to Sri Vishnuchitta, the Lord of Srivillibuttur, in his great compassion, consoled his devotee that the peculiar troubles being experienced by his daughter Sri Goda are caused only by her separation from her Lord, not by anything else. The Lord then instructed Vishnuchitta to offer Goda in marriage to Lord Sri Ranganatha without further delay.

Vishnuchitta took this advice as divine command, seated Goda in a golden palanquin, assembled his family and attendants and set off for Srirangam.

మ. చని కాంచె న్విరజాభిధాంతర వపుస్సహ్యోద్భవాతీర నం
దనవాటీ వలయద్రుమావళి దళాంతర్దృశ్య పాపాళి భం
జన చాంపేయసుమాయమాన విషమ స్వర్ణావృతివ్రాత ర
శ్మి నభస్ స్పృక్ఛిఖరాళి దీపకళికా శృంగంబు శ్రీరంగమున్.

Vishnuchitta saw the majestic town of Srirangam. No, not even town - he basically saw the majestic golden Gopurams - they are seven in number. A very fascinating phrase in this lengthy description is పాపాళి భంజన చాంపేయసుమాయమాన - paapaali bhanjana champeya sumaayamaana.
How are these gopurams? They are like the Champeya flowers (సంపెంగ పూలు) that vanquish the black bees of sins! Sins are black, like black bees, they swarm around you, they sting you - they won't let you go. Then you come into the presence of a Sampenga flowers - the powerful aroma of the flowers drives the bees away. Normally, other aromatic flowers attract the bees - the attraction between flower and the bee is a constantly recurring metaphor in Telugu classical poetry. However, in this particular case, the flower is driving the bees away. Similarly, the sight of these golden gopurams drives away the sins of the pilgrims.

The next fascinating phrase is స్వర్ణావృతివ్రాత రశ్మి నభస్ స్పృక్ శిఖరాళి దీపకళికా శృంగంబు - svarnaavrithi vraatha rasmi nabhas sprik sikharaali deepakalikaa srungambu. The golden radiance from the gopuram top seems to be touching the sky; those tops are like so many lamp flames. The sampenga flower looks a bit like lamp flame, and so do the tops of these gopurams. The beauty in this expression is how the poet neatly ties together the common aspect of the three different objects - the gopuram, the champeya flower and the lamp flame; in the process, intensifies the devotional fervor of the devotee who came to witness such a majestic sight. The feeling experienced by the devotee is so intense that everything else simply falls away.

I am sure the literati among the readers have already spotted the similarity of this poem to the famous one from Manu Charitra. Interestingly enough, there is yet another similar poem earlier in this chapter of Amukta Malyada itself, recounted here (కాంచె న్వైష్ణవుడు). The Manu Charitra poem was also recounted there in that link in the comments section.
Even today, the first vision of the Srirangam temple gopurams is quite breathtaking.


Upon arriving there, Vishnuchitta performed the prescribed purifying ablutions, offered the appropriate prayers and worship to Sriranganatha's various attendants such as Jaya, Vijaya, Sudarsana, Garuda and Vishvaksena. He then entered the holy sanctum and beheld the glorious form of the reclining Lord.

Here, Srikrishna Devaraya described the visual glory of the Lord in a long vachana (prose) piece that runs two and a half pages in print, in deeply devotional, utterly tantalizing, and fittingly glorious detail.

Vishnuchitta, upon encountering the glorious Lord, prostrated on the ground and praised him thus:

తే. విధిగృహాక్షయవిత్త సేవధికి శరణు
చిరకృతేక్ష్వాకు పుణ్యరాశికిని బ్రణుతి
ధనపతి భ్రాతృకుల దేవతకు జోహారు
నత మృడాదిక సుమనస్సునకు నమస్సు.

I take refuge in the Lord who is the repository of inexhaustible wealth in Brahma's abode.
I salute the Lord who is the aim of all good deeds done by King Ikshvaku.
I praise the Lord who is the family deity of Vibhishana, brother of Kubera.
I salute the Lord who is Lord to various gods like Siva et al.

తే. అజ శివాదిక మగు నీ సమస్త జగము
నెందు బ్రభవించు వర్తించు డిందునట్టి
మహిమ కిమ్మైన నిత్యు సమస్త భూత
మయు బరుల కంటె బరు మహామహుని గొలుతు.

You are that unchanging one who is the source of the magic by which this whole creation, including Brahma and Siva, is being created, sustained and destroyed. You are the embodiment of all elements (all living things), and yet you are distinct from any thing in this creation. I serve you.

సీ. పరపురుషునికంటె బరుడు నా జనువాని, బరమాత్ము ముక్తికై పరమయోగి
పరిషత్తుచే సదా భావింపబడువాని, నెవ్వని యందు బ్రాకృతములైన
సత్త్వాది గుణముల సందడి లేదట్టి విమలుని, సర్వభూతముల కంటె
నాద్యుడు శుద్ధుండు నగువాని, విభుగళాకాష్ఠానిమేషాది కాలసూత్ర
తే. మయిన యెవ్వాని శక్తి యింద్రియ వితతికి
గోచరముగాదొ నిర్లేపుడై చెలగుట
నతి విశుద్ధుడు దానయ్యు నౌపచార
వృత్తి బరమేశుడగు నిన్ను విష్ణు దలతు.

You are distinct from any man. You are the Paramatma. The association of great yogis meditates on you constantly to achieve liberation. The three gunas - sattva, rajas and tamas - that are born from creation, can not stir anything in you, you are without flaw. You precede all elements. You are pure and all pervading. You are the thread of time marking units like kala, kashtha and nimisha. Your power is not perceived by the five senses. Since you are untouchable, you remain absolutely pure. However, you manifest as the Lord so that we can worship you. Oh Vishnu, I meditate on you.

The poet distills in this poem the nature of the Supreme Being as Sriranganatha, with ideas excerpted from Vishnu Sahasranama, the Vedas and the Bhagavad Gita. Para here indicates creation, srushti. Para purusha is a man that is born from the creation, whether be a human, or god or demigod. The poetic intent here is to show that, though the Lord is in a masculine form, he is separate and distinct from the creation. That is to say, he is Svayambhu, exists by himself, and not part of the creation. Each being born of creation is animated by the three gunas. The Lord by his very nature is beyond creation, and therefore the three gunas can not bother him. Kala, Kaashtha and Nimisha are units of time, of decreasing duration. Sri Krishna, in Bhagavad Gita, declares himself as kaalapurusha, as embodiment of time, witnessing the rise and fall of multiple creations, and not subject to such vagaries himself. The Lord is essentially formless, but in his compassion, to give a chance to his devotees (or pleased by their devotions), he manifests in various forms so that the devotees may worship him.

Sri Ranganatha was pleased by the various devotions offered by Vishnuchitta and regarded him with benevolent gaze, and inquired after his welfare. Meanwhile, Goda was offering various flowers, with her bracelets jingling, to the lotus feet of the Lord. The Lord viewed her with suggestive glances. Noticing her
youth, beauty and grace, he thought to himself thus:

సీ. దీని చూపెదురెక్క గానెకా సిరిపట్టికిని బోర బిరుదు టెక్కెంబు గలిగె
దీనికౌ నల్లాడ గానెకా గర్వించి యుర్విజైత్రునకు గాలూదగలిగె
దీని పాలిండ్లుబ్బ గానెకా రతిచేతి కిన్నెర మ్రోతకు వన్నె గలిగె
దీని మోమొప్పార గానెకా వాణి రాయంచ లేమకు గులాయంబు గలిగె
తే. దీని పెన్నెరు లేపార గానెకా ప్ర
పోషిత మయూరికి విరాళి పొందు గలిగె
దీని యడుగులు రంజిల్ల గానెకా పి
పాస బడు తేటులకు మెట్ట పంట గలిగె.

1) Just because her glances rose up, Manmatha got his proud flag on his chariot. 2) Just because her waist sways gracefully, Vasantha is able to proudly set foot on earth. 3) As her breasts blossomed, the sound of Rathi's veena acquired new glow. 4) When her face shone with youth, Saraswathi's swan found a place to stay. 5) As her long hair acquired thickness, the pet peacock discovered joy of love. 6) Just because her feet blossomed, the thirsty bees got a feast of lotus flowers.

The above is just literal rendition of the poem. But the real meaning is hidden and multi layered. In the bhakti literary tradition, Sri Vishnu is visualized as Purushottama (The ultimate male). Moreover, he is the father of Manmatha, the love god. In addition, in this particular case, he is fully captivated by the beauty and devotion of Goda. So, the inner thoughts of the Lord are not only heavily laden with Sringara bhava, but are also expressed in highly imaginative terms.

1) She is meenakshi; her eyes are like fish. And Manmatha's war flag symbol is also fish. So, when the lady's glances are fluttering, it is like the fluttering of Manmatha's flag. That means that Manmatha has declared war (on his own father).
2) Her waist is slender like a flowering creeper. Vasantha, the god of spring, announces his arrival on earth with the swaying and burgeoning of creepers. Without creepers, his existence will be unknown. Now that Vasantha is here, his presence is being felt, it is the season of spring and it is the season of love.
3) Kinnera is the lute (veena) and it has a globe like ornament called kinnera kaya. It is a poetic device in classical poetry to compare full breasts of the heroine to these globular decorations on the veena. In this case, the lute is held by none other than Rathi, the wife of Manmatha and the goddess of love.
4) Saraswathi, the goddess of learning has a swan for her vehicle. It is well known that swans dwell in Manasarovar amidst the blossoming lotus flowers. Goda's face is like a blossoming lotus, thus giving a home to the swan.
5) The peacock is attracted by rain-laden dark cloud and does its dance. Goda's long and thick hair is like a dark cloud so that it brought the feeling of joy to the pet peacock.
6) Goda's feet are also like lotus flowers so that the thirsty bees find a feast.

Each of the six comparisons employs a well-established poetic device to draw attention to different aspects of Goda's beauty. However, the actual comparison is couched in indirect reference and innuendo. Apparently, this kind of device is called vishayinigarana alankaram (the art of swallowing the subject).

As the poet, Sri Krishnadevaraya played a rather naughty joke in juxtaposing these last two poems. No sooner did Vishnuchitta praised the Lord as permanent, pure and free of passions than the Lord was wracked by thoughts of love.