Thursday, November 09, 2006

Srikalahasti Mahatmyam – 2

Story of Natkeeran (contd.)

వచ్చి పార్వతీశు వంక గనుంగొని
యతని పద్య మతని కప్పగించి,
"నిన్ను నమ్మిపోయి, నిండిన సభ
సిగ్గు చెడితి, నున్న కథలు చెప్పనేల?"

The priest came back to the temple, gave Siva's poem back to Siva and spoke thus .. "Trusting you I went and lost my honor in the full court! What's the point of recounting all that happened?"
The priest was quite angry at Siva for subjecting him to this humiliation. He takes it all out on Him in a verbal outpouring .. with further innuendoes and barbs ..

"తానెరిగిన విద్య నృపా
స్థానములో నెరప గీర్తి సమకూరుంగా
కే నరునకు బరవిద్యా
ధీనత భూపాల సభల దేజము గలదే?"

"Any man can expect to be honored only by displaying his own learning and skills. If one tries to get fame in royal courts by depending on other's skill (i.e., by trying to bluff), how can that man get fame?" - No he can't! Because of you, I tried this trick and I got the treatment I deserved!

"నీ మాట నమ్మి పోయిన
నా మోసము జెప్పనేల? నత్కీరునిచే
నే మాట పడ్డ దుఃఖము
క్షామ వ్యధ కొరిది గాదు, సద్భక్త నిధీ!"

“Oh treasure-trove to true devotees, why dwell on my own folly of following your advice and going to the king's court with great expectations? That insult I was given by Natkeeran - the resulting pain is much worse than the pain of this famine! (Famine only causes hunger, some physical pain, but this insult, in full court, is gnawing away at my soul - it is impossible to overcome! And all this, 'cause I listened to your advice!)The spark in this poem is how the priest addresses Shiva as "a devotee’s treasure" - implying "You are a treasure trove to true devotees like me!, so if this is the kind of benefit you're bestowing on your poor devotees, why does one need enemies? You make devotees follow you and then you cheat them like this!"

అని మరియు నిట్లనియె..
నా భాగ్యం బిటులుండగా దుది నిను నత్కీరునిం దూరగా
నే భావ్యం? బిక జాలు, నిక్కరవుచే నిట్లైతి నెందైన గా
నీ భిక్షంబున గుక్షి బ్రోచుకొని, దీనిం దీర్చి నేవత్తు, దే
వా! భద్రంబగు నీకు, నన్ననుపవే?" యన్నం గృపా మూర్తియై.

So far the poor priest had been speaking in an emotional outburst. Once that heartburn cooled a bit, he takes a pause .. this change in attitude indicated by the little bit of prose .. So, the priest spoke further,"If my fortune (or misfortune) is like this, what's the point in blaming either you or Natkeeran? What's done is done, it's the famine that brought me to this state. However, I may be able to take care of our hunger by begging somewhere or other .. After the famine subsides, I shall return. Meanwhile, take care of yourself, and please allow me to go!"
The punch is in the last line .. the priest wishes Siva well and asks for His permission to leave. He had been verbally lashing out at Siva so far, for all the personal grief caused by Siva's advice, but still, after all he's a staunch devotee, so, he calmed down. However, this turn of tone pricks Siva's conscience - in spite of Siva's best intentions, His devotee is not only back to square one, but was also insulted in the process! This situation is quite unacceptable! So, Siva became benevolent .. to the cause of his devotee .. and Siva speaks thus ..

“కట కట! యన్నత్కీరుం
డట! కవితయు దప్పు వట్టె నట! యటు పదమా
యెటువలెనో తెలిసెద?" నని
నిటలాక్షుడు వచ్చి కుంభినీపతి సభలోన్

Siva's benevolence to his devotee took the form of a sort of stubborn determination directed against Natkeeran. He says, "Alas, who is this Natkeeran .. that dares to find fault with my poem? Come let's go and get to the bottom of this!". So, the one with a third eye in his forehead rushed into the court of the king.
There are a couple of interesting features in this poem .. Siva is pretty mad at Natkeeran .. The repeated "Ta" sound in Siva's speech indicates grinding of teeth, spoken through clenched teeth. The poet uses the phrase "niTalaaksha" (= one with eye in the forehead) for Siva .. giving a hint about what's coming next ..