Andhra Mahabharatamu Part 3 : How The Epic Reached Completion

Last of my three post series on Andhra Mahabharatamu on https://pittagoda.wordpress.com/

Pittagoda

This is the last post in my three-piece series about Andhra Mahabharatamu and the three poets who contributed to this epic project that spanned almost to 3 centuries. The first two posts were on the contributions of Adikavi Nannayya and Tikkanna Somayaji.

With Tikkanna Somayaji’s marathon contribution, the Andhreekarana of Mahabharata was almost complete, except for the second half of the Aranya Parva left incomplete by Adi Kavi Nannayya.  Some scholars opine that a superstition was the reason that Tikkanna stayed away from this part. Others opine that the difference between the styles of both, made him put off writing the remnant chapter. For all we know, it might be the lack of inspiration! Knowing the reformer and the political mind Tikkanna is, it is highly unlikely that he would have given in to a superstition and left out the small part. About fifty years after Tikkanna, the remaining half…

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Andhra Mahabharatamu Part 2: How It Was Resumed After 200 Years

The second post of my three post series about Andhra Mahabharatamu on https://pittagoda.wordpress.com/ . Plan to do the concluding post in the next week

Pittagoda

This is in continuation to my last post on Andhra Mahabharatamu. This post will dwell on Kavibrahma Tikkanna Somayaji, who continued the Andhreekarana of Mahabharata, which was left incomplete with the death of Adikavi Nannayya.

Tikkanna Somayaji

Tikkana Picture source: Internet

Tikkanna Somayaji lived in the thirteenth century CE during the Kakatiya period. The socio-political conditions in which Nannayya and Tikkanna lived were totally different. Nannayya’s aim was to give an intellectual response, rooted in Vedic philosophy, to the Jain supremacist arguments put up by earlier poets.  However, Tikkana’s inspiration sprung from the divisions in society arising due to extremist elements of different faiths.

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Andhra Mahabharatamu Part 1: How It Laid The Foundation For Telugu Literature

My first post on a three part series of how Andhra Mahabharatamu came into existence. This also marks my debut on this wonderful Blog Portal https://pittagoda.wordpress.com/

Pittagoda

(Read Part 2 of this series here.)

Whenever the Vedic legacy faces a crisis, the fifth Veda, which is the Mahabharata, takes a new shape to redefine Dharma.

This is a loose translation of a statement made in the preface to the Andhra Mahabharatamu edition by Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD). The conditions that led to the composition of Andhra Mahabharatamu validate the quote. The Telugu version of the epic Mahabharata has a unique distinction of being composed by not one, but three poets belonging to three different generations. It took close to 300 years for this book to reach completion. These three poets are collectively called as Kavitrayam (“Poet Trinity”) among the Telugu literary sphere. The scope of this post is to observe the conditions that inspired each of the poets to take up this work.

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How united are we?

Had blogged this almost two years before. Might be right to call it my first formal blog post, thanks to the encouragement of Ratnakar Sadasyula (@Scorpiusmaximus on Twitter), the founder of https://mirrortoindia.wordpress.com/ and the author of “Inglorious Kweezerds” and “History under your feet”. Adding this to my collection today on my views on Caste system.

Politically Incorrect

I hear a lot of bigwigs in the mainstream media projecting a certain leader as ‘divisive’ and hence not suitable to lead this country. No prizes for guessing who the ‘divisive’ leader is. But what sets me thinking is about how united we are in the first place as the citizens of this country. Even a superfluous study of the political scenario in different states would tell us how castes and religious communities are treated as vote banks. Yes, there is no dearth of divisive leaders for we as voters have time and again proved that our unity is can easily be broken with the feudal caste card.

Caste has remained one of the the left wing’s favourite punch bags to bash Hinduism. Given their credibility, I would certainly not buy their rhetoric but this element of social classification is certainly worth a thought.

The first basis of caste had…

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Of Caste and Outcaste – Attempt to diagnose the roots of oppression

I am thankful to Rohini Bakshi didi for encouraging me to express my thoughts on caste boldly. This was published on her Learn Sanskrit blog. Rohini Bakshi (@RohiniBakshi on twitter)  is a Sanskrit teacher based in London and the founder of #SanskritAppreciationHour, a regular twitter chat led by her and other Sanskrit scholars that explores grammatical aspects of Sanskrit literature and delightful stories.

“We got rid of the caste system, but not caste-ism.” This was an anguished admission of a dear friend of mine whose views generally clash with mine. Yes, in today’s world of hurried and forced labels, one can call him a ‘liberal’ and me, a ‘conservative’. The context of the conversation was based on the electoral dynamics where certain castes end up being the vote banks. I often wondered if I was among the finite minority that cringed every time electoral results are analyzed on TV screens with caste dynamics over riding the real issues. (May be, one could get philosophical and argue about what is real and what is not!)

My liberal friend and I share a view in common, that we would like to see these lines of caste disappear in our respective ideal worlds. Yes, discrimination is a disease, a disease which requires the medicine of social reformation.  But here I come to the point where I would differ from my friends on the other side of the imaginary line of liberalism. The point is about the diagnosis of the disease. Much of the literature on the social dynamics lays blame on the Hindu fourfold Varna system.  I find the famous line of purusha sukta being quoted with a lot of zeal to prove that discrimination existed right in Vedic texts.

The ones that lay the blame do conveniently forget the openness of the interpretation that the Vedic texts have. My spiritual guru, Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba had advocated many times that service to the lowest strata of the society is the real ‘pada puja’ made to the universal Lord.

Interpretations and politics apart, I think that the much blamed chaturvarna system died a long while ago. I call it a dead system as the social dynamics of the Varna system had long turned porous and post the dark ages and before the invasions from the middle east, we do have many instances of new dynasties being founded independent of the ‘four-fold’ sanction. The Mauryas, the Guptas, the Shatavahanas, the Kakatiyas and many such empires made a mark in the history defying the much blamed sanction. May be there was no strict sanction and power dynamics redefined the sanction? I would leave it to the historians and period scholars to determine it. The founding of a new empire was often based on pulling down another empire where mostly the King had turned oppressive and unpopular. Empires used to reach the peaks of glory when they balanced the expansion of land with administrative reforms that left the citizens happy. They often reached their peril due to oppressive rule that galvanized a revolution or due to strategic mistakes which gave their rivals an upper hand.

Oppression in such cases in my opinion shifted to power dynamics. Those who wielded power (excluding the heroic kings and reformers who we all remember with reverence) oppressed those who were ideologically opposed to them or presented a threat. That is the reason why I feel blaming the purusha sukta for oppression serves no real purpose and is rather a lazy diagnosis of a serious social problem. The ones doing so probably are not accountable to give a solution so can command the luxury of such lazy diagnosis. But it is important for the ones looking for real solutions to get to the real roots of the problem. When I hear of inhuman practices that prevail among India’s lesser accessible areas, my belief is further strengthened. Though not proud of my knowledge of scriptures, I am yet to come across any such inhuman doctrines which forbid the ‘lower’ class from using the common wells in the village and advocate violent things.

Oppression is always the language of power maniacs and not of the system writers. As repetitive as I might sound with this sentence, I would want the readers to realize this and more. If one throws the blame of oppression on Hinduism, one has to realize that the defying discrimination also belongs to Hinduism more than the imported idealist theories. I refer to the Bhakti movement and the scores of reforms that were achieved by the likes of Mahatma Basaveshwar, Madhvacharya, the Nayanmars of Tamilnadu and the scores of composers who have denounced all forms of birth based discrimination. My personal favourite is the one in Telugu, “Brahmamokkate” by Sri Tallapaka Annamacharya. Those interested can find the complete lyric and meaning here (http://www.karnatik.com/c1107.shtml). There are more compositions of his decrying discrimination and oppression.

One needs to observe that Bhakti movement scored above the recent movements against caste in one thing – restoring the dignity and in preaching universalism that brought the people of various strata together. Sadly the modern movements though rooted in progressive ideals have done little more than casting the oppressed classes into political toys through reverse discrimination. This is the reason why we see clans and communities aspiring for ‘backward’ tag for reservations and other short term benefits. Sadly, this is the greatest harm that the social engineers of the last century have done to our system. I can only hope that the next wave of reformers would take inspiration from those movements which have advocated the oneness and inherent human merit across the divisions rather than those which have capitalized on mutual hatred and reverse oppression.

Rearming Hinduism – Speak for Sathya to dispel Maya

Book Review

Politically Incorrect

It is a well known fact that Hinduism in academia has long suffered misrepresentation. Most of the books written come either from a closed guild of western scholars. They also come from some ‘Hindus’ (or at least appearing so by their names) who have for reasons known to them alone chose to decry Hinduism. Reading the content often made me wonder about the long chasm between what Hinduism truly is and how it is seen or made to be seen.

Rearming Hinduism by Prof Vamsee Juluri had done a great job of highlighting that chasm and going into the reasons behind. The tone of the author resonated what I feel in my heart with greater clarity and apt expressions. The flow of the message, the structure, the anecdotes, references, inherent emotions and everything together can make the reader completely unconscious of when she/he is turning a page.

Rearming Hinduism

The author Prof…

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Creators of Telugu Epic literature- Kummara Molla

My personal connect with Kavayatri Mollamamba started with a ekapatrabhinaya competition in school where I played the role of this immortal poetess. Reading her poems give me the same goosebumps as I get when I read Pothanamatya’s Bhagawatam.

History Under Your Feet

Ramayana has always occupied a special place in the literary sphere of India. Translations and reconstructions happened over millennia with each version throwing a light on contemporary issues from the perspective of the epic.

When one remembers the Telugu versions of Ramayana, two of them one by Gona Budharaja (Reddy) and the one by Atukuri Mollamamba stand out. Mollamamba reminds us of the reach of literature in her era (Vijayanagara period). Another Telugu poetess to receive equivalent acclaim by Western historians is Muddu Palani (author of Radhika Santvanam) who was in the Court of Tanjavur King, Raghunatha Nayaka.

Life and Times

Mollamamba or Molla was the daughter of Kesana Setti who was a potter by profession. The name indicates that they belonged to the Vysya community. Earlier historians placed her as a contemporary of Tikkana Somayaji during the times of Kakatiya empire. But, Kandukuri Veeresalingam Pantulu in his ‘Andhra Kavula…

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