Poems from Potana’s ‘Bhaagavatam’ – 1

In the whole of Telugu classical literature it would appear that there are only a very few poets who present themselves before the inner-eye of the reader as a personality with great worth but with utter simplicity and humbleness.  Potana, who is considered as one of the greatest of Telugu poets belonging to classical period, is definitely one of them. He is very well known for his rendition of vyaasa’s bhaagavatam into Telugu. Many poems from this work of his, the telugu mahaabhaagavatam have become so popular that until very recent past it was very common that at least one or two poems from this great work used to be recited by children and elders as well amongst the Telugu house-hold whenever there used to be an occasion to do so. Such is the popularity the poems in poetana’s bhaagavatam have got even today.

There primary quality that made Potana’s poems amongst the learned as well as the persons no so learned is the fact that the words (the language) used by him was very simple, most of them used to find their place in day to day conversations of the Telugu populace.  He never appeared to have overtly depended on words connected with the Sanskrit language and even at places where he had to depend on words borrowed from Sanskrit language and Tenugaized (a process known as ‘tatsamiikaraNamu, – i.e., making the word to appear as from Telugu language by adding the necessary ‘vibhakti pratyayamu’) them, he took care that such words are also by then became common amongst the Telugu speaking populace that they could understand the meaning of the poem well at the first reading itself.

The following poem is one such poem, which became so dear to the hearts of Telugu speaking populace that it has been remembered for generations together and parents or teachers in schools at primary level itself used to make this by-heart by children so that they pick up the diction of Telugu poetry at the childhood level itself.

cheatulaaraMga Sivuni puujiMpaDeani
noeru novvaMga harikiirti nuDuvaDeani
dayayu satyaMbu loenugaa talapaDeani
galuganeaTiki tallula kaDupucheaTu….

చేతులారంగ శివుని పూజింపడేని
నోరు నొవ్వంగ హరికీర్తి నుడువడేని
దయయు సత్యంబు లోనుగా తలపడేని
గలుగనేటికి తల్లుల కడుపుచేటు….

Unless he serves Lord Shiva till his hands feel the satisfaction
Unless he praises Lord Vishnu till his mouth feels the tired pain
Unless he fills his mind with feelings of truth and forgiveness
What worth it is for mothers, giving birth turns out a real pain!

As can be seen from the meaning of this poem, this poem used to be taught to primarily inculcate in the child the necessity of being a god-fearing individual, a person with qualities of endearing himself to the good ways of life by always following the path of truth and forgiveness.

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