In all, there are about one hundred and forty ‘chaaTu’ poems available today which are known to be said by the great poet Sriinaatha during his visits to different areas in Andhra deaSa and most of them are remembered till this day for the stamp – a typical Sriinaatha-style of rendering a Telugu poem – they have on them which can easily be recognised by the grandness of words used, the word-flow (which is known as dhaara in poetic terminology) and wit they contain. Any Telugu-poem appears too easy to come out of Sriinaatha’s mouth giving an impression that the words made themselves structured as per the prosodic composition involved before they actually came out. The poems are extraordinarily eloquent and sublimely witty that they grab the attention of the listener instantly and remain in his memory for too long. That is the reason for their still remaining as fresh as when they were actually told by Sriinaatha during his life-time i.e., 14th Century AD.
There is this ‘chaaTu’ poem told praising the knowledgeable quality of the king Singa bhupaala. This king had an epithet ‘sarvajna’ which gives a meaning ‘the all-knowing person’ and he was always called as Sarvajna Singabhupaala by attaching this epithet to his name. In his ‘chaaTu’ poem Sriinaatha further extols this quality making too pleasurable to listen to the king and all those present in the royal court during the moments of its actual recital by Sriinaatha. The central idea of the praise and the ease of word-flow made this poem remain unforgotten till this day.
This poem is in ‘kanda’ prosodic metered composition. The composition is so compact that it has to be told in the space of 64 maatras. A maatra is a single measure of sound that can contain one short letter (a consonant combined with one short vowel – for ex., s + a = sa; going by this measure a consonant combined with a long vowel i.e., s + a + a = saa is equal to two maatras). It amazes how much meaning and how much wit Sriinaatha could fill in the poem which has to be compacted in the space of a mere 64 maatras!
Sarvunakea, raavu siMgajanapaalunikea,
yurviMjellunu, da kkoru
sarvajnuM DanuTa, kukka saamaja manuTea!
శర్వునకే, రావు సింగజనపాలునికే,
యుర్వింజెల్లును, ద క్కొరు
సర్వజ్ఞుం డనుట, కుక్క సామజ మనుటే!
The epithet ‘the all-knowing’
Suits only Lord Siva and the king Rao Singa
On this earth, to call any other
The all-knowing is like calling a dog an elephant!
This part is one side of the whole story; the other side, which will be revealed in the following post, would be even more interesting!!