Gems of Telugu poetry –‘Satakamu’ (1)

‘Satakamu’ – a short introduction:

Sata’ is a ‘Sanskrit’ word that means ‘a hundred’.  ‘Satakamu’ is a Telugu word derived from the Sanskrit word ‘Sata’ and means ‘a collection of 100 poems’.  The poems in a Telugu ‘Satakamu’ shall always be of the same meter, the underlying theme shall always be the same.  One more characteristic of a ‘Sataka padyam’ is that it ends with a refrain like word or group of words, a chorus, which in Telugu language is called ‘makutamu’.  This ‘makutamu’ identifies the ‘Satakamu’; that means the collection of poems that ends with the ‘makutamu’ ‘bhaaskaraa!’is known as ‘bhaaskara Satakamu’, the collection of poems that ends with the ‘makutamu’ ‘sumatii!’ is known as ‘sumatii Satakamu’ and likewise others such as ‘daaSarathii Satakamu, veamana Satakamu’ etc.

Though the underlying theme is the same, each poem in a ‘Satakamu’ can be independently read and the meaning enjoyed.  The name given for this type of poem in Telugu classical poetry is ‘muktakamu’. Nannaya Bhattaaraka, a poet who lived in the first half of 11th C (AD), known as ‘aadi kavi’(the first poet as for as the Telugu classical metered poetry is concerned), while translating the ‘Sanskrit Mahabhaarata’ into Telugu, had interspersed the narration with these kind of  poems (i.e., ‘muktakam’)that teach certain good and notable aspects of human nature and life as well.  Taking cue from the methodology adopted by Nannaya in composing such poems in Andhra Mahabharatam, poets in the latter years had invented the method of composing such poems in hundreds and placing them in a separate collection, theme wise and had given the name a particular  ‘Satakamu’.

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