Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Sarvam Vishnoham

-Siddartha Pamulaparty

Nov 13 2007.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

The theme behind my blog name: Pothana's Prayer

The medieval Telugu poets had this tradition of starting their poetic works with an “indicator poem” in which the author prays to his favorite God and also try to indicate the subject of the book, an ancient kind of “Preface”. They considered having this poem in the beginning is auspicious and the completion of the book will not have any interruptions. So, Pothana in continuation of the tradition, wrote this as the preface for the epic Bhagavatam. He prays to the beloved deity Krishna in this poem.

“I shall contemplate on attaining the Kaivalya Pada, the ultimate abode free from bondage (Vaikunta). I offer my prayers to the Protector and Harnesser of the World, the Enthusiast of the art of Devotion, the One who controls and mitigates the anger garnered by the evil, the One who with whose playful pastime had caused the creation of many Universes, which He holds in His abdomen and protects like a clay pot that holds the water and keeps it pure, the sweet blessed child of Yashoda Devi and Nanda Deva, the beloved Sri Krishna. "
-Siddartha Pamulaparty
Nov 10, 2007.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Gajendra Moksham - Part-2

This is another poem from the epic of “Gajendramoksham”. When I was a kid, I couldn’t get the emotions behind this poem, but later on when I started thinking on my own, my eyes filled with tears whenever I read or heard this padyam. Of course I admit I am very emotional but I believe this poem will cause everyone a tinge of sorrow in their hearts at the plight of the elephant king and at the same filled with utmost devotion to the Ultimate Liberator, Sri Maha Vishnu.

The whole story of Gajendra Moksham is how the Elephant King gets “moksham”, the Telugu/Sanskrit word, the closest equivalent in English I can think of is absolute Liberation. The scene starts with the Elephant King leading his herd and moving across the thick forest towards the river for quenching their thirst. It is described very graciously that, as the herd moved, the Elephant King glowed with pride, and all the animals in the jungle get scared, as if the Earth shook during Pralaya, destruction of Universe. This is to show that the Elephant King was no mean guy, very strong, majestic, in his prime and proud too. When they start having water from the river, a crocodile gets a hold of the leg of the Gajendra. Even after a rough battle with it, Gajendra starts succumbing to the strong crocodile. Then he prays to Vishnu who saves him ultimately.
What Pothana (and Veda Vyasa) have depicted in this allegory, as far as my little mind could think of, is even such an individual, who lived with pride and did not care anyone, in times of distress, if prays to the God Vishnu, just by taking any of His thousand names, He will come to the rescue without a second thought. It is very well known according to many accounts, that Vishnu is a devotee lover. Only thing that can “affect” Vishnu who is generally calm and unperturbed is the pure devotion. As they say, surrender to Vishnu and He will surrender to you.

My Translation:
“There is not an ounce of strength remaining in my muscles. All the courage I vested has drained off. Living tissues across my limbs, arms, are all dying. I am about to faint. My body is tired. It is demanding me to put excessive efforts to sustain further. There is no one for me; You are the only One I have! I surrender totally unto You! Please have mercy on this weakling of me! O Vishnu, the Savior of distressed! Is it not time yet for You to come? Will not You save me, my Lord? O Protector of all beings, kindly come and rescue me with Your Divine grace!! ”

-Siddartha Pamulaparty
Nov 4, 2007

Prahlada's beautiful answer to his father

Encouraged by my pal Pradeep's comment, here I go attempting a couple of more translations of Pothana's poems. These poems were being sung to us at our home, my father especially I remember taught us to recite these padyams. Very fortunate of being born in my family, I am, in deed!!

From the story of Prahlada in the Bhagavatam, this is yet another beautiful piece of work from Pothana.
Context: Hiranyakashipa is a powerful Demon King who is a staunch enemy of Vishnu. His son Prahlada is the quite opposite of him and since his childhood is a great devotee of Vishnu. In this scene, Hiranyakashipa overcome with rage asks Prahlada “Where can I find Hari (Vishnu)?”. This poem is the answer of Prahlada to his father’s inquiry.
My Translation:
He (Vishnu) is inside the deep abyss, He is in the omnipresent atmosphere, over the sky, in the core of the Earth. He is also present in the fire, He is in days and nights. He is in the embodiments of the life-giving Sun, the pleasing Moon. He is in the sacred word AUM (the origin of sound), in the Trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Maheshwara. He is in women, men, eunuchs and in every person. He is everywhere, dear father! You do not need to put your efforts in determining whether He is here or there!! "

Further to this:

“Listen O the prime among the Demons (Rakshasas/Danavas)!! Do not doubt whether The One who has the Sudharshana Chakra as his weapon, Sree Hari (Vishnu) is here and not there and so on. He is present in every place. He is the One whose grace all can seek. It is the inability of those who do not search for Him, that He is not found. Wherever you search Him, He will be there!”

I referred to the E-Book "Potana Kavita Sudha: Commentary by Dr. P. Yashodha Reddy " the first paperback copy of which was printed by Andhra Pradesh Sahitya Academy in 1983 for the grammatical correctness of the padyams.

Click on the title of the post to watch a video from Bhaktha Prahlada with Sri S.V.Ranga Rao as the Hiranyakasapa. I believe Smt. P. Susheela has rendered the padyams for young Prahalada, played by Rojaramani.

-Siddartha Pamulaparty

Nov 4, 2007.

Mediocre But Arrogant--- A review

I bought a couple of books before I started my journey to US. One of them is Mediocre But Arrogant by Abhijit Bhaduri. I read it completely in a couple of days.

The book is about a guy Abbey who joins a B-school and the way his life transforms in the years he spends in the school is the essense of the book. The best thing I liked about it is the style of narration. Everytime I read a work of fiction, I tend to imagine myself in the shoes of one of the central characters. And more so if it is a first person narration. Earlier books like "And now Miguel" by Krumgold, which I read when I was very young cast a deep impression on me and somehow I love the first person narration. Very few books give me a feeling that the author is narrating "my imaginary story" with "me" narrating the story. MBA is one such book and I would have lost count of the number of instances in the story when I actually felt it is me narrating it in the form of Abbey. What all I am saying is that I could readily identify with the character in the book, with absolute ease and no heavy imagination required.

The friends of Abbey, his lovers and the characters of Prof.'s like Hathi (Hathaway) were all very familiar. Anyone who went to a professional college not necessarily a B-school could easily identify the typical characters around. But let me warn you, this doesn't make the characters stereotyped. In fact, there is some kind of freshness in the entire plot.

It is very important to mention the character of Abbey's friend Rascal Rusty. This character provides a unique yet curiously nostalgic flavour of someone who you look up to. The mystery and riddles associated with Rusty was very well presented. Adding another feather to the crown to Abbey's story.

On the whole, it is a book you must read,
(1) if you had enjoyed the college days spending more time with friends than books and assignments, hanging out, getting caught etc.
(2) if you were too busy with acads and often wonder what you missed in college, and if given a chance to live it through again, what would you do?

Well, now you know, which category I belong to (with my emphasis on the point (2) above).

All in all a great entertainer, full of fun, vivid incidents and a decent story telling.

Now, there's a sequel due from Abhijit, which he calls "Married But Available". I am just too curious when the book will hit the shelf!!

I recommended this MBA to all my friends who are into books and hopefully one day, as the talk is if a movie is made out of it, I shall recommend all my friends to see it!!!
So, if you get a chance grab it, relax on an afternoon in the weekend and dream away to a life full of dreams and miseries (depending on which character you suit!!) , and get a good laugh!!!

-Siddartha Pamulaparty
Nov 4, 2007.

An excerpt from Sri Pamulaparthi Sadasiva Rao's Gyana Siddhantham

This is a humble attempt to transliterate an excerpt from the Gyana Siddhantam, a treatise on The Theory of Knowledge, my grandfather Sri Pamulaparthi Sadasiva Rao had written (published by Visalandhra Publications). The Gyana Siddhantam was in turn a translation of Francis M. Cornford's "Plato's Theory of Knowledge: The Theaetetus and The Sophist". I must admit that the following translation is not to compare the literary and philosophical scholarship of either Mr. Cornford or my grandfather but a devout dedication to my beloved grandfather.

The principle (theory) of knowledge (Epistemology) should describe the transformation of human thought (intellect). It becomes obvious to scrutinize the human thought process through ages, the fundamental basis of these thoughts and the process of relating (reflecting) these thoughts onto the actual facts. Tatva Philosophy is the specialized branch of epistemology that deals with the thoughts, contemplations and the definition or determination of these phenomenon. However, often it is observed in philosophic discussions a question "Whether this thought (theory) is greater than the other thought (theory)?" and the subsequent arguments. This is inevitable, because the individuals (who author the certain thoughts/theories) are almost always associated as "thinking-machines" (think-tanks) similar to the context of defining the objects in the physical world. Evidently, merely considering "thoughts" as objects and the above mentioned point of view does not solve the problem of discerning the evolution of thought process.

Moreover, for the same reason, artificial and baseless inquiries like "Is the pen mightier or the sword?" or "Does the seed come first or the tree?" have come into existence. The practical use or applicability of these kind of inquiries is an absolute nought. Despite this fact, innocent inquiries like these fill up most of the papers and publications today. With no involvement of the actual material objects like the pen or the sword, to compare them whimsically or without any implication of the materially existing seeds and trees, to investigate which came first, is not the way to approach the problems. On the contrary it is nothing different from "day-dreaming."

In the similar fashion, in philosophy, several doctrines and arguments revolve around the God and the Soul. Owing to this nature of discussions in wide circulation, the common class of people have formed an opinion that philosophy is for those who have nothing better to do, and hence do not heed to this branch of science.

(A) To avoid the above mentioned confusion, it is extremely important to be cautious and employ tools like "materialism". The materialistic principles define a systematic examination of factual nature of thoughts and the subsequent actions associated with these thoughts.

(B) However, the materialistic approach alone cannot determine the evolution of thought process. To determine it, instead of just the peripheral material nature of the thought, a wholistic approach, examining the roots of the thought, various stages and directions it had traversed through, in a factual manner is needed. To do so, a "historical perspective" is required.

(C) A historical perspective encompasses the study of the evolution of the socio-economic establishments and the level of sophistication of knowledge in these establishments associated with the thought.

The "theory of knowledge" combines these two approaches (namely "materialism" and "historical perspective") in determination of the evolution of thought. Following these approaches, this science has detailed out the evolution of the state of mind/existence (the thought), beginning from the "reflex actions" (of instinct) to a totally liberated, conscious collective thought of the entire human race.

Note: There could be mistakes due to my limited knowledge in understanding the actual Telugu version. Kindly bear with them. Also, this is not a doctrine and the readers are not tempted to hold this to conviction.

- Siddartha Pamulaparty
Nov 4, 2007/

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Translation of Lord Vishnu's own words

Today, I went to the Hindu Temple of Lake County Illinois, for a little peace of mind. The statue of Rama had attracted me a lot. The smile on His face was amazing.

Anyways, I am a great admirer of Pothana of Bammera, who translated the Veda Vyasa's Srimadh Bhagavatam into Telugu. His poetry is endowed with great gift of using the metaphors (alankaras). I do not think any of the Adi Kavi's of Telugu can match the poetic exuberance of Pothana. Here is an interesting note from Pothana's life I heard so many times from various sources. He wrote the whole Bhagavatam with a great devotion. While writing the famous "Gajendramoksham" portion of the God's Story, there was a scene in which the author, Pothana had to describe the interior of Vaikunta, the paradise of Vishnu. Pothana suffered an immense pain, as he could not find the right words to describe the abode of the great Vishnu. In modern times, you could say he faced a writer's block. He could not visualize something people only dream of seeing, the ultimate destiny for liberation, the Vaikunta. He left the book there and he went for a stroll to attend to his agricultural duties, as farming was his livelihood. When he returned, he saw that the poem that describes the interior of Vaikunta to his bewilderment!! When he enquired his daughter on who wrote that in his absence, she mentioned that he (Pothana) himself came and finished those lines and went back. Pothana then realized that the great Vishnu Bhagavan, Himself came to his rescue and completed the poem. That is probably the reason, Pothana says: palikinchedi vadu Ramabhadrudata (i.e. the one who is speaking on my behalf of this Bhagavatha is Rama Himself!!) and dedicated the epic to Bhagavan Rama.

Here is the original poem in Telugu. I had dared to attempt to translate it to English, after trying to identify the most appropriate words in English for the beautiful verse in Telugu, which like Pothana, I believe the God wrote Himself:

అల వైకుంఠపురంబులో నగరిలో నామూలసౌధంబు దా
పల మందారవనాంతరామృత సరః ప్రాంతేందుకాంతోప లో

త్పలపర్యంక రమావినోది యగునాపన్నప్రసన్నుండు వి
హ్వలనా గేంద్రము పాహి పాహి యనఁగుయ్యాలించి సంరంభియై.

Yonder in the great city of Vaikunta, further within the interior of chief quarters of the august palace, to the left side, inside the dense woods of the fragrant Crown flower trees, on the shores of the ambrosial (lactescent) lake called the Amrutha Sarovaram, reclined over the couch adorned by the consorts of the Moon- the blue lotuses, the unperturbed, the pleased and the gracious Vishnu, rejoicing with Lakshmi, swung to His feet in haste, when He heard the cry, “Save! O Save”, of the distressed and shaken Elephant King !!

Siddartha Pamulaparty
Nov 04, 2007.