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Telugu ‘chaaTu’ tales – (2)

Village life is entirely different. It has its own systems of celebrations and surviving situations of difficulty and danger. It has its own methods and maneuvers to be followed by everyone in the village during their daily life. It has its own spaces for daily rejoicing and time set out for the purpose for elders as well as youngsters in the village.

Usually, there used to be a central place called ‘rachchabanda’  (public platform), a central place normally an elevated platform around the base of the big peepal (the poplar leaved fig tree) tree. Elders in the village used to assemble there for daily review of happenings in the village as well as for exchanging views on matters of light-hearted humor concerning their lives, happenings in past, present  and things concerning literature etc. keeping this scenario as the back-drop, I would imagine a short episode for better explaining of the ‘chaaTu’ poem I am about to present now. In my imagination, the short episode starts here –

In a village, during one of the evening congregations of elders, one learned elder reads out the following ‘chaaTu’ poem to other elders assembled there, with a view to eliciting their opinion on the poem and knowing whether they understood the meaning of the poem at all.  The poem is this –

raajita kiirtiSaali agu raayanai baaskaru veaDaboeyinan
aajiki iTlanun, paruni aaliki iTlanu, arthi kiTlanun;
teajamu peMpu leani kaDu diinuni hiinuni veaDaboeyinan
aajiki iTlanun, paruni aaliki iTlanun, arthi kiTlanun.

రాజిత కీర్తిశాలి అగు రాయన బాస్కరు వేడబోయినన్
ఆజికి ఇట్లనున్, పరుని ఆలికి ఇట్లను, అర్థి కిట్లనున్;
తేజము పెంపు లేని కడు దీనుని హీనుని వేడబోయినన్
ఆజికి ఇట్లనున్, పరుని ఆలికి ఇట్లనున్, అర్థి కిట్లనున్.         [In Telugu font]

When you go and beseech the gloriously famed Rayana Bhaskara
He gestures – for war like this, to other’s wife like this, to a beggar like this;
When you go and beseech an inconsequential useless wretched miser
He gestures – for war like this, to other’s wife like this, to a beggar like this.

After listing the poem carefully read out, the other elders assembled could not respond with any particular opinion about the poem, since the second and fourth lines in the poem are the same and do not differentiate any particular meaning with reference to the persons in first and third lines i.e., ‘Rayana Bhaskara’ and the ‘wretched miser’ respectively.

They tell the same thing to the elder who just read out the poem and request further explaining the essential thing about the poem, since they could by then imagine that there is something more to the poem than the usual.

Then the first elder, with a smile on his lips, reads out the same poem again, but this time adding some action while he reads out the second and fourth lines of the poem. He adds action to the words ‘like this’ in the second line  – for war, aiming bow and arrow; to other’s wife, bows with folded hands in reverence; to a beggar, moves hand in a position indicating giving something as alms to the beggar. Likewise, he adds action to the words ‘like this’ in the fourth line – for war, action indicating running away, to other’s wife, winking eye indicating amorous desire; to the beggar, shows empty hand indicating negation to give alms to the beggar.

The addition of action makes the elders understand clearly the difference of intended meaning of the second and fourth lines of the poem and they clap in rejoice for the intelligent rendition of the poem by an unknown ‘chaaTu’ poet, which invariably compel the reader to enact to make the meaning of the poem understood by the listener clearly.

Feeling happy to the appreciation he received from the others assembled there, the elder who reads out the poem and enacts it subsequently says as a summarization of the episode ‘Now friends you might have by now understood that there are poems in Telugu language which compel you to enact and unless you add action to it, the meaning of the poem cannot be understood clearly. This is one of the  many specialties of Telugu ‘chaaTu’ poem . Agreed?’

‘Yes, agreed!’ says the group, in acceptance.  –

Here ends my imagination.

 Note: Rayana Bhaskara – Stated to have been one of the great 32 
       ministers who never said no to a person who went to him seeking
       his help in the form of money. Also, opined as an imaginary
       character by the common Telugu populace who wished him to be 
       one of the greatest of  givers, comparable to Bali  (of Krita
       age), Sri Rama  (of Treata age), Karna (of Dvapara age). 
       In that order Rayana Bhaskara  is for the present Kali age.

2 thoughts on “Telugu ‘chaaTu’ tales – (2)

  1. Hello Boss, just gone through the piece! Its wonderful! I thought that the same gestures which were employed to convey the meaning in the second line have to be used again in explaining the meaning in the last line also, of course, changing the order. But two different sets of gestures are applied in second and fourth lines! Just imagine….the second fellow folds hands in war; takes bow and arrow against the seeker of help; and gestures to other’s wife as if he wants to give something to her.

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