Sunday, October 21, 2007

ముగురమ్మల మూలపుటమ్మ

The time of daevee navaraatri (the nine nights of the goddess), dasaraa, is drawing to a close. Telugu people take this opportunity to worship all the diverse forms of the goddess during these nine nights/ten days, including Sarasvati and Lakshmi. In the temples dedicated to the Goddess across the land, the deity is decorated in a different form each day. On this Vijayadasami day, marking the victory of the Goddess over evil, we pay tribute to the three forms of the goddess, Sarasvati, Lakshmi and Durga, through the pen of Bammera Potana.

The poet: Potana (pronounced poetana) lived in late 15th century in the village Bammera, near the town of Warangal. He is best remembered by Telugu people for the translation of bhaagavata puraaNa of Vedavyaasa from samskRtam into Telugu. While living in the times of heavy royal patronage of all arts, Potana shunned such honors and dedicated his aandhra bhaagavatam to Sri Rama, his favorite deity. Being devotionally inclined naturally, he expanded greatly and imaginatively on themes of devotion from the original. Even today, Telugu people derive great pleasure from Potana's aandhra bhaagavatam.

The poems I post today are from the introductory invocation (naamdi - stuti) part of the epic. If just the invocatory poems are so beautiful, one can imagine how wonderful the actual epic may be.

Goddess Sarasvati:

శారద నీరదేందు ఘన సార పటీర మరాళ మల్లికా
హార తుషార ఫేన రజతాచల కాశ ఫణీశ కుంద మం
దార సుధా పయోధి సిత తామర సామర వాహినీ సుభా
కారత నొప్పు నిన్ను మది గానగ నెన్నడు గల్గు భారతీ !!

The poet lists a series of things which are famous for their "whiteness" and compares the fairness of the goddess to these and invokes her blessings. Oh Goddess Sarasvati (bhaaratee!), when will I get the good fortune of realizing you in my heart, you whose graceful form is radiant like ..
శారద నీరద = autumn clouds,
ఇందు = Moon ,
ఘనసారము = camphor ,
పటీరము = sandal tree,
మరాళము = swan,
మల్లికా = jasmine,
హార = pearl necklace of 108 strands,
తుషార = snow,
ఫేన = froth or foam,
రజత+ అచల = silvery/ white mountain = కైలాస,
కాశ = (a kind of) reed flower,
ఫణీశ = king of snakes = ఆదిశేష,
కుంద = a kind of wild jasmine ,
మందార = one of the 5 celestial trees ,
సుధా పయోధి = milky ocean ,
సిత తామరస = ,
అమర వాహినీ = heavenly river, గంగ

Notes: This meter is called utpala maala, perhaps the most ubiquitous meter in Telugu epics. Each line has the rhythm
laalala laalalaa lalala laalala laalala laalalaa lalaa -
One can note the repeated use of the syllable 'ra' which produces a pleasing sound effect. This technique is called anupraasa and Potana is well known for its dexterous use.

A story:
There is an interesting legend about Potana and Goddess Sarasvati. When he started the work on bhaagavatam, Potana wrote that he was commanded to the task by none other than Sree Rama. The word spread about the beauty of this work and many local kings aspired to be "recipients" of this great epic, which is sure to render them immortal in history. Potana was of the mind that this work is a fit tribute only to Sree Rama himself! However, the kings brought a lot of pressure on Potana, trying to tempt him with great wealth and other perks. After speaking to one such emissary, Potana goes into pooja room, to think about how to reject the offer. As he sat in meditation, he saw in front of him Goddess Sarasvati, shedding copious tears - she is sad that this epic poetry may be sold to the highest bidder. That sight is enough to strengthen Potana's resolve - he consoles the Goddess in the following poem, swearing that he will not sell his work to please unworthy kings.

కాటుక కంటి నీరు చను కట్టు పయింబడ నేల యేడ్చెదో
కైటభ దైత్య మర్దనుని గాదిలి కోడల యో మదంబ యో
హాటక గర్భు రాణి నిను నాకటికిన్ గొని పోయి యెల్ల క
ర్ణాట కిరాత కీచకులకమ్మ త్రిశుద్ధిగ నమ్ము భరతీ !!

So that tears from collyrium (kohl)-darkened eyes fall to your breasts, why do you weep, Oh beloved daughter-in-law of Vishnu, Oh my mother, Oh wife of Brahma? I shall not, out of hunger, sell you, neither in thought, word nor action, to these meager kings of Karnataka, vulgar and bullying they are, trust me, O Bharati!

Notes: This also is an utpala maala.
కైటభ దైత్య మర్దనుని = the suppressor of the demon Kaitabha, i.e., Vishnu
హాటక గర్భు= the one born in a lotus, Brahma
త్రిశుద్ధి =by the three deeds of thought, speech and action - supposed to be required for completion of any task successfully. Typically used in taking a vow.

Goddess Lakshmi:
హరికిన్ బట్టపు దేవి పున్నెముల ప్రో వర్థంబు పెన్నిక్క చం
దురు తోబుట్టువు భారతీ గిరిసుతల్ తోనాడు పూబోణి తా
మరలం దుండెడి ముద్దరాలు జగముల్ మన్నించు నిల్లాలు భా
సురతన్ లేములు వాపు తల్లి సిరి యిచ్చున్ నిత్య కళ్యాణముల్

The consort of Hari, a mass of good virtues, magnificent abode of all wealth, the one born alongwith Chandra, the delicate one accompanied by Sarasvati and Parvati, the maiden who resides in lotuses, the housewife (lady) honored by all the worlds, the mother who in radiance removes scarcity, Lakshmi, may grant us good fortunes always.

Notes: This meter is called mattaebhamu, a bull elephant. From the expression "born with Chandra" to the end, notice the progression of her age from birth to being a mother!

Goddess Durga:

This one is a personal favorite of mine as I am from Vijayawada whose presiding deity is Goddess Kanaka Durga. This poem is inscribed in stone on the entrance to the sanctum sanctorum of the temple. I feel as if Potana wrote this poem especially for the goddess of Vijayawada - she is powerful - she's wielding the trident, riding the lion and trampling over the demon - yet the smile lighting up her face is most benevolent and reassuring to the devotees seeking her blessings!

అమ్మల గన్న యమ్మ, ముగురమ్మల మూలపుటమ్మ, చాల పె
ద్దమ్మ, సురారులమ్మ కడుపారడి పుచ్చిన యమ్మ, తన్ను లో
నమ్మిన వేల్పుటమ్మల మనమ్ముల నుండెడి యమ్మ, దుర్గ మా
యమ్మ కృపాబ్ధి నిచ్చుత మహత్త్వ కవిత్వ పటుత్వ సంపదల్

The mother of all mothers, the mother who is the source of the three goddesses (Sarasvati, Lakshmi and Parvati), very noble mother, the mother who caused heartburn to the mother of gods' foes (she's a slayer of demons), the mother who resides in the heart of all divine women that believe in her, Durga, our mother, in her sea of compassion, may grant us the wealth of great poetic prowess!

Notes: This too is an utpala maala. However, in contrast to the first poem, this is almost entirely in pure Telugu, with some wonderful Telugu usages. The expressions "ammala ganna yamma" and "maa yamma" bring a ring of "familiarity" while referring to this powerful Goddess, as if the Goddess is very close to the poet. Also notice the anupraasa on the 'mma' syllable.

My gratitude to Suprabha gaaru of Chandassu Yahoo Group for providing one of the poems and explaining several meanings. I also borrowed freely from the translation of Professor Velceru Narayana Rao for the second poem.