Thursday, July 19, 2007

పలుకు తేనెల తల్లి పవళించెను

Let me caution you - this is HOT stuff.

పలుకు దేనెల తల్లి పవళించెను
కలికితనముల విభుని కలసినది గాన

నిగనిగని మోముపై నెరులు గెలకుల జెదర
పగలైన దాక జెలి పవళించెను
తెగని పరిణతులతో తెల్లవారిన దాక
జగదేక పతి మనసు జట్టిగొనె గాన

కొంగు జారిన మెరుగు గుబ్బలొలయగ దరుణి
బంగారు మేడపై పవళించెను
చెంగలువ జనుమొనల సింగారములు దొలుగ
అంగజ గురునితోడ నలసినది గాన

మురిపెంపు నటనతో ముత్యాల మలగుపై
పరవశంబున దరుణి పవళించెను
తిరు వేంకటాచలాధిపుని గౌగిట గలసి
అరవిరై యూరుల జెమట యంటినది గాన

Annamacharya, as a devout vaishnava, followed in the path shown by his predecessors, and fully embraced the concept of Madhura Bhakti - singing of erotic love play of the Lord as a symbol of devotion and divine grace. However, due to his highly evolved poetic sensibility and imagination, he introduced a new element of drama into his songs which paved the way to the padams and jaavalis of later centuries.

Jayadeva's Geeta Govindam, which precedes Annamacharya by about 200 years, was composed in Samskrutam as an operatic play with three characters, Krishna, Radha and the Sakhi. It consists of 24 songs (Ashtapadis) with narrative poems (Slokas) in between. It is a glorious exposition on Vipralambha Srumgara and Sambhoga Srumgara. Because of its very structure, the composition is dramatic - each of the songs is the speech of one of the characters, and therefore embodies the personality and idiosyncrasies of that character. When Radha imagines Krishna playing with other milkmaids, when Sakhi describes Radha's pitiful condition to Krishna, when Krishna begs Radha to touch his head with her foot - each scene is highly dramatic.

Annamacharya's path is quite different. First, he composed one song at a time, not a whole play. He had to create an entire dramatic mood within each song. More is left unsaid than revealed - and it is the unsaid that gives rise to the drama. There is a distinct voice and a tone to each padam - it is not always the poet's voice. Second, he does not have the luxury of eight stanzas per song. Whatever he has to tell, he must conclude within three stanzas. Third, he composed (mostly) in Telugu. He spurned the well established Samskrutam idiom and chose to create his own in Telugu

In this particular padam, the scene is 'the morning after'. The heroine Alamelu Manga is asleep in her chamber, lost to the outside world, even though it is late in the morning and the Sun is well up in the sky. The voice in the song is that of an elderly aunt or grandma, well-versed in the ways of the world. There is no "male gaze" though the subject is certainly erotic - there is no place for leering or sleaze. In stead, there is womanly empathy and tenderness - and there is pride. When did this heroine - she was a shy little girl only yesterday - transform into such a skillful player that she could captivate Lord Venkatesvara himself? There is mystery and wonder.

The first two lines of each stanza pose an unspoken question - why does she sleep like this? The imagery employed evokes a sense of abandon, a loss of control - she sleeps as if lost to the world. The last two lines offer a solution why this is so, explain why she sleeps still.

paluku daenela talli pavaLinchenu
kalikitanamula vibhuni kalasinadi gaana

niganigani moemupai nerulu gelakula jedara
pagalaina daaka jeli pavaLinchenu
tegani pariNatulatoe tellavaarina daaka
jagadaeka pati manasu jaTTigone gaana

kongu jaarina merugu gubbalolayaga daruNi
bangaaru maeDapai pavaLinchenu
cengaluva janumonala singaaramulu doluga
angaja gurunitoeDa nalasinadi gaana

muripempu naTanatoe mutyaala malagupai
paravaSambuna daruNi pavaLincehnu
tiru vaenkaTaachalaadhipuni gougiTa galasi
aravirai yoorula jemaTa yanTinadi gaana

paluku = speech
daenela = taenela = honeyed
talli = mother
pavaLinchenu = slept
kaliki tanamula = with maidenly charms
vibhuni = with Lord, husband
galasinadi = kalasinadi = united
gaana = kaana = because

Mother of honeyed speech slept (continues to sleep), because with maidenly charms, she had united with her Lord.

(It is customary in Telugu speech to address a young woman or girl as ‘mother’ – as a form of endearment).

niganigani = of healthy glow
moemu = face
pai = on
nerulu = strands of hair
gelakula = kelakula = on all sides
jedara = = cedara = scattered
pagalaina = late in morning
daaka = till
jeli = celi = dear girl

Strands of hair scattered on all sides of her glowing face, the dear girl slept till late in the morning. Why?

tegani = unending, continuous
pariNatulatoe = with fulfillment
tellavaarina = well past dawn (literally, white in the east)
daaka = till
jagadaeka pati = jagat+aeka+pati = the only Lord of the World
manasu = heart
jaTTigone = purchased wholesale, took control of
gaana = because

She slept late into the morning because, till well past dawn, with unending fulfillment, she bought out the heart of the only Lord of the world.

kongu = upper garment (part of saree that covers a woman’s breasts)
jaarina = fell
merugu = shining
gubbalu = breasts
olayaga = came to light, exposed
taruNi = nubile woman
bangaaru = golden
maeDapai = upper story of a palace

The displaced garment lay her shining breasts exposed, so the nubile lady slept in her golden chamber. Why?

cengaluva = red water lily
janumonala = canumonala = nipples
singaaramulu = sensuality (plural)
doluga = ejected, dripped
angajagurunitoeDan = with the father of the love god Manmatha
alasinadi = got tired

She sleeps thus because she (sported and) got tired (in love play) with that father of the love god, even as sensuality arose from her red-lily nipples.

muripempu = pleased, satisfied
naTanatoe = with action, expression
mutyaala = pearly
malagupai = crumpled sheets
paravaSambuna = lost consciousness
taruNi pavaLinchenu

With a pleased expression, she slept without consciousness on crumpled sheets. Why?

tiru = Sree, auspicious
venkaTa+achala = venkaTa hills
adhipuni = overlord
kougiTa = in embrace
galasi = kalasi = met
aravirai = flushed
yoorula = oorula = on thighs
jemaTa = cemaTa = sweat
anTinadi = stuck

She sleeps so because, embracing the overlord of the auspicious Venkata hills gave her a hot flush, sweating her thighs.

There are sanitized versions in vogue these days that substitute "kanu gonala" for "canu monala" (eye corners are red due to lack of sleep) and "aravirai nunu jemaTa" for "aravirai yUrula jemaTa" (hot flush gave rise to a faint sweat), but they are rather ridiculous and pathetic.

Finally I wish to point out that Annamacharya is the master of mot juste. Every word, every expression and every figure of speech if nuanced, relational and multi-layered.