Basics of Telugu prosody:The earliest of poems in ‘kanda’ metrical composition-(1)

jinabhavanaMbu lettiMchuTa
jinapuuja lseayuchunki jinamunulaku na
ttina yannadaanaM biivuTaM
jina vallabhu boelaMgalare jinadharmaparul. 

జినభవనంబు లెత్తించుట
జినపూజ ల్సేయుచున్కి జినమునులకు న
త్తిన యన్నదానం బీవుటం
జిన వల్లభు బోలంగలరె జినధర్మపరుల్.

The above poem is the first of the three poems written in ‘kanda’ metrical composition that appeared in the above talked about gangaadharaM stone inscription.

Now the shadow like translation of the poem into English:

In getting buildings constructed
For Jains, in offering great feasts to Jaina sages while
Performing devotional celebrations
Can any equal jinavallabha in Jaina-dharma followers!

As the meaning of the poem suggests, the content of the poem is purely about extolling the greatness of the king jinavallabha who did great services to the followers of jaina dharma by getting constructed buildings exclusively for the stay of followers of jaina dharma and in offering great feasts for the followers of jaina dharma on occasions of devotional celebrations of that time.

Other historical information apart, this poem suggests that by the time the gangaadharaM stone inscription came into existence, poem in kanda metrical composition had already evolved to its full by following both the pre-requisites of a Telugu poem i.e., yati and praasa. In the above poem both these are scrupulously followed and it is for sure said by many that this poem should be given the honor of being the first fully evolved kanda poem in Telugu language.

Now, it is time we dwell into the ‘metrical’ characteristics of ‘kanda’ poem in Telugu language.  When we think about the ‘kanda’  poem in Telugu language, the first thing that comes to our memory is that a ‘kanda’ poem is composed in letter-units known as ‘maatra gaNa’ which further means that the basic unit is ‘matra’ – a sound unit that takes the time for uttering a short vowel – and that each letter-unit ‘gaNa’ is composed of 4 (four) ‘maatraas’ – short or long, a long one is equivalent and counted as two short ‘maatras’. For example, the letter ‘na’ (న) is equivalent to one ‘maatra’ whereas the letter ‘naa’ (నా) is equivalent to two ‘maatras’. Once this is understood, we may now look into the full line of metrical characteristics of the ‘kanda’ poem:

  • A ‘kanda’ poem is made of letter-units (gaNaas) of four ‘maatras’ each;
  • Out of the four feet (lines) it has, the odd number feet will have 3 letter-units (gaNaas), whereas the even number feet will have 5 letter-units (gaNaas);
  • The last character of each even number foot should be a long one;
  • Out of the total 16 letter-units (gaNaas), the odd number letter-unit (gaNamu) should not be a ‘ja’ gaNamu – a ‘ja’ gaNamu is formed as a combination one short letter followed by one long and then followed by another short letter (as in the words సరోజ sa roe ja, అనంత a nam ta, వరాహ va raa ha  );
  • Likewise, the 6th and 14th letter-unit (gaNamu) should necessarily be a ‘ja’ gaNamu;
  • There is the requirement of ‘praasa’;
  • There is the requirement of ‘yati’ but it is limited to the even number feet only and the place of the ‘yati’ is the first letter of 4th gaNa of the 2nd and 4th foot.  

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