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Sree kaaLahasti maahaatmyamu contd…

by dhUrjaTi

 

Introduction to the Work

 

Dhurjati composed an exquisite poem describing the story of Sri Kalahasti. Compared to the kALahasti Satakam by dhUrjaTi, the SreekALahasti mAhAtmyamu is a much more somber book. Like the Satakamu, this work too has deep spiritual significance for the author. It combines beautiful poetry with great story telling. It narrates several episodes relating to the holy town and its Lord, Siva. dhUrjaTi dedicated the work to Siva himself. These stories, in essential form, are well known throughout the southern parts of India. Some of the stories are also found in skAnda purANam. The brilliance of dhUrjaTi lies in taking these simple stories, each exemplifying more or less blind (sometimes literally blind) faith in the divine and making them fit for a grand kAvyam stretching to four cantos in 756 poems. He is superbly imaginative (like other great poets known as aShTadiggajamulu) in adding details and providing his own spin on the descriptions (varNanam). These descriptions are mandatory in classical poetry. Most of his verses have an easy flow. At the same time they also maintain a metric tension necessary for keeping the book on par with other major prauDha kAvyAlu.

 

Scheme

The book begins with a search for kRti Bharta. Siva himself is chosen. (It may be significant to note that dhUrjaTi did not dedicate it to emperor Sree kRShNa dEvarAya.) The narrator of the story is also Siva himself disguised as a jangama (a wandering Saiva monk). Most of the narration is to the ruler of present day nArAyaNa vanam (Chittoor Dt.) This yAdava king was an ardent Siva Bhakta. The stories include, vasiShTha’s tapas, arrival of Siva in the form of dakShiNA mUrti and j~nAnaprasUnAmba, agastya and lOpAmudra’s journey down south, agastya’s discovery of the kALahasti lingam, his intense tapas to provide a running river for the kShEtram (which results in the arrival of river swarNa muKhi or suvarNa muKhari), brahma becoming SatAnanda and his subsequent penance. Moving stories about the attainment of grace by a spider (Sree/lUta), a serpent (kALa), and an elephant (hasti) follow. Then comes the famous story of a tribal hunter tinnaDu (popular movie Bhakta kannappa), and his salvation. tinnaDu became kannappa when he offered his eye (kannu) to his Lord. Next, the story of natkeera, a tamiL poet/saint is given in great detail. (Both natkeera and kannappa are part of the list of 63 great Siva Bhaktas, the nAyanArs). The story of two devout prostitute girls who were ready to face great hardships to reach kALahasti and their mOkSham is then recounted. The book ends by giving the pUrva janma vRttAntam of the characters in the book.

 

Most poets of dhUrjaTi’s time describe their family lines, their great prowess at composing poetry, their scholastic achievements, etc., at the beginning of their kAvya. If a poet has to be successful at the court, he must sell his abilities as strongly as he can, to the king as well as the general public. There is no better way to build this image than to say that (or make the patron or kRti Bharta say that) he comes from a great family and that there are no equals to him in all the 14 worlds. The only people accepted to be greater are the long dead poet saints of the distant past. However, dhUrjaTi does not resort to any such claims. There is hardly any information about himself or his family in the kAvyam. It is consistent with his sentiment that one who surrendered himself to God does not need any mortal’s grace. He need not advertise about himself to his kRti Bharta when that is none other than his God!

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Seshu Madhava Rao Adluri
First posted: Jan. 1998.
Suggestions, additions and corrections to the above will be gratefully appreciated.
Kindly contact:
adluri@engr.mun.ca

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