Kavi Choudappa Satakam (rendered into English) -(1)

Kavi Choudappa Satakam (rendered into English) -(1)

There once was a way of telling poems in Telugu language which is known as adhikshepam. The word adhikshepamu means ‘to blame or to find fault with’. Targets for this kind of poetry usually were the kings who used to be ill-tempered, ill-natured and ill-treated the poets who went to them expecting patronage.

Poets who were pained to receive bad treatment from their kings and some others who could not adjust to the hard ways of the world and immoral behaviour of certain people around them, started giving vent to their ire in the form of poems that depicted blame and hatred on whatever they disliked.

The first work of this type of ‘adhikshepa‘ works was the one done by Kuchimamchi Jaggakavi who lived during the period 1700-1765 and the name of the work is ‘Chandrarekha vilaapamu‘ which means ‘The wailing of Chandrarekha‘. It was his brother Kuchimamchi Timmakavi who started the new category of Adhikshepa Sataka works (i.e., a work consisting of 100 poems of adhipkshepam; the number of poems in some cases is 101, poets didn’t somehow like to stop at the 100th poem, they carried the work on and stopped at 101st poem) with his work Sri Bharga Satakam. Other poets followed this method and works like Venugopala Satakam, Madanagopala Satakam etc., came into existence.

Amongst all the poets who effectively practiced and brought out Adhikshepa Sataka works in Telugu language, one poet by name Kumdavarapu Coudappa kavi stands out from the rest for his intelligent and witty way of portraying things in the space of 64 matras (a ‘matra‘ is equivalent to time taken to utter a short vowel), the ‘prosodical’ arrangement of letters known as ‘Kanda‘ meter. Most of his poems have become very popular and remembered to this day, mainly for the wit they contained, the intelligent and fluent way in which it was portrayed.

One of the poems from his work Kavi Choudappa Satakam reads as under:

peddana vale kRti cheppina
peddanavale, alpakavini peddanavalenaa?
eddanavale moddanavale
gaddanavale kuMdavarapu kavi chouDapaa!

పెద్దన వలె కృతి చెప్పిన
పెద్దనవలె, అల్పకవిని పెద్దనవలెనా?
ఎద్దనవలె మొద్దనవలె
గద్దనవలె కుందవరపు కవి చౌడప్పా!        (Poem-10)          (In Telugu font)

When a person tells poetry as Peddana
He be called Pedda; a lesser poet be called Pedda?
He should either be called eddu, moddu
Or gadda, Oh Kumdavarapu kavi Choudappa!

To understand the meaning of this poem, I should give some explanatory notes for the words that occurred in this poem with a certain amount of rhyming. Those words are: Peddana, eddu, moddu and gadda. Peddana is a big name in classical Telugu poetry.  His full name is Allasani Peddanamatya, who adorned the royal court of Vijayanagar king Sri Krishnadevaraya, the most revered and liked king of South India, who ruled between the years 1509 and 1529. Peddana‘s work,  Manu charitra (The history of Manu) is considered by many as one of the greatest of works in Telugu Classical literature and is befittingly regarded as one of the pancha kavyas (five great works) in Telugu language. He invented a style of his own, an easy-going style of telling poetry, which is replete with descriptions of high imaginations which are pleasing to the mind. His style of poetry, therefore, is liked by many and he is considered as the guru for the Prabamdha  style of poetry. This Prabamdha style differed from the earlier ‘Classical’ style in many ways, including the selection of theme for the entire work, which very often than not was love, pain of separation, in some cases immoral love and excessive description of passionate love between man and woman etc. Though they deviated from the established moral values, people, however, liked this style of poetry and many kings patronised poets who delivered works in this style. The word Peddana  in the first line of the above poem refers to this PeddanaAllasani Peddanamatya.

The word Pedda that occurred twice in the second line means a big one, a grand one (in telling poetry); the first two lines of the poem thus mean, a poet who could tell poetry as good as Allasani Peddanamatya could only be called a good poet; a poet of lesser capabilities cannot be called a Pedda – good poet. He could only be called eddu – means Ox, moddu – means an unintelligent fool and gadda – means vulture, all these words intentionally derogatory. I hope with this explanation, the meaning and intended wit in the poem is made clear.

Another important thing in this poem is the way the poem is made to move from word to word with a kind of pleasant rhyme by the repetition of words having the sound ‘dda‘ (it should be pronounced as a doubled consonant of ‘tha‘ in the word ‘that’ and not as ‘dde‘ in the words ‘udder’ or ‘shudder’) in them with a kind of musical precision, which is the speciality of most of the peoms told by Kavi Choudappa.

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