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Sree kALahasteeSwara Satakamu

By dhUrjaTi


nArAyaNa Satakamu
(Full text)

kRShNa Satakamu
(Intro' & Samples)

sumatee Satakamu
(Full text)

kALahasteeSvara Satakamu
(Intro' & Samples)

dASarathee Satakamu
(Intro' & Samples)

Andhra nAyaka Satakamu
(Intro' & Samples)

narasimha Satakamu
(Intro' & Samples)

BhartRhari neeti Satakamu
(Intro' & Samples)

BhAskara Satakamu
(Intro' & Samples)

rAmalingESa Satakamu
(Intro' & Samples)




The Sataka has been a very popular literary genre in telugu over the centuries. Perhaps the most famous Saiva Satakam is that of dhUrjaTi.



SreekALahasteeSwara Satakamu is a book of about one hundred and eight poems (some critical editions were reportedly 129 poems long) each with a closing refrain "SreekALahasteeSwarA!" and are addressed to the presiding deity Siva of the holy town of SreekALahasti. All the poems are written in classical meters of SArdUlam (UUU||U|U|||UUU|UU|U, yati @ 13) or mattEBham (||UU||U|U|||UUU|UU|U, yati @ 14).


The poems reflect dhUrjaTi’s views on many secular, political and philosophical issues of his day. dhUrjaTi not only brought out sweetness, but also breathed fire through the poems. They contain a scathing criticism of society, the ruling class, his own preoccupation with the opposite sex, his many other weaknesses, the ways of his fellow men, and some times the ways of the divine itself. In all these poems, lurking just below the surface and superbly conveyed, is a deep yearning to be at peace with himself and a longing for the realization of divine presence. The poems also reveal a probing, questioning, lamenting and wondering mind trying to make sense of itself and the society around it.


From the themes presented in the Satakamu, we can conjecture that dhUrjaTi lived towards the end of kRShNa dEvarAya’s reign. It was likely that he was well received at the imperial court during his youth. Here, he enjoyed a life of luxury and pleasure. He was intimately familiar with courtisans, court officials, religious teachers and scholars. After the death of kRShNa dEvarAya, the empire slowly disintegrated over the next hundred years. It was possible that the predominantly viSiShThAdvaita (SaThakOpayati) vaiShNava preferences of latter-day emperors of vijayanagara meant that the earlier secular ideals and remarkable religious tolerance came under some strain at least temporarily. In the changed ruling set up, dhUrjaTi, an ardent Saiva, could have been subjected to nirAdaraNa. As far as dhUrjaTi was concerned, such a loss of official support exposed the fickle minds of the ruling elite. It might have compounded the sense of revulsion already present in dhUrjaTi towards worldly things and affairs. It may even be that he suffered some kind of insult as a result of the ever-present court intrigues.


It may be noted that this is the traditional interpretation of dhUrjaTi’s evolution through life. However, it must also be contrasted with the fact that dhUrjaTi’s grandson vEnkaTarAya (alias kumAra dhUrjaTi) wrote kRShNa dEvarAya vijayam. In addition to being a beautiful kAvyam, this book gives valuable historical information about the reign of emperor kRShNa dEvarAya. If dhUrjaTi were in serious trouble with the authority, it would not have been possible for his grandson to compose a book on the life of his grandfather’s patron. What ever be the real story of his life, out of the troubled soul of dhUrjaTi, there emerged a superb addition to world literature. It continues to touch a nerve, educate and entertain lovers of poetry. The poems are full of richly elevated thought, poetic beauty and embellishment, as well as sensitivity for the suffering of human soul that is often lacking in many ancient writers.


Sample Translations

The Satakam received national and international attention when it was translated in to English by Dr. Velcheru Narayana Rao and Hank Heiftz. [Heifetz, H., and Narayana Rao, V., 1987. "For the Lord of the Animals-Poems from the Telugu: The Kalahastisvara Satakamu of Dhurjati," University of California Press, Berkeley]. Prof. Narayana Rao is from the University of Wisconsin and is a highly accomplished researcher on Telugu poetry among other things. Heiftz is a poet. He collaborated with Prof. George Hart in translating Tamil texts, and also translated Kalidasa's Kumarasambhava by himself. Their translation of Dhurjati's poems had rave reviews from many sources for the great skill shown in translation as well as due to the discovery of a hitherto unknown (to non-telugu scholars) medieval poet. The book was much appreciated for the poetic mAdhuryam shown by dhUrjaTi nearly five centuries ago. More than that, it surprised and enthralled many for the philosophical depth, stinging self-criticism, and stark political realism that is rarely matched even today. A few samples are given below (it was difficult to resist the temptation to "type in" most of the translated Satakam. We have to look at copyrights of course. The book might be available through inter library loan):

What is it that sickens you ?
What does being sickened mean
when man’s whole mind is sick ?
What do you smear on yourself ?
what does the smearing mean
since the whole body
is smeared with pride ?
What is it that you clothe ?
What does clothing mean
when you are always clothed in ignorance ?
What is it that you do ?
What does doing something mean ?
None of it means anything,
O God of Kalahasti.

The water is the mood of emotion.
My flowers are arrangements of words.
My music is the resonance of lovely sounds.
The fine clothes are the figures of speech.
The lights are the radiance of the verses.
My offerings is the sweet flowing of the poem.
And so I worship you
in the way I know how,
O God of Kalahasti,
performing a magnificent service
bright with devotion.

How can you be praised in elaborate language,
similes, conceits, overtones, secondary meanings,
or textures of sound? They cannot contain
your form. Enough of them!
More than enough. Can poetry hold out
before the face of truth ?
Ah, but we poets,
O God of Kalahasti,
why don’t we feel any shame ?

I know I shouldn’t curse Brahma
but why did he create learned men ?
Well, if he did it because of his own great mind,
why did that slave give them hunger ?
And if hunger had to exist,
O God of Kalahasti!
why did he fashion evil men
and make them kings ?

Damn learned men ramble on
with the words they’ve studied
for playing all the games they can,
but when I step out, I lose my way
in a frightening jungle of doubt
where lust and anger stalk me like tribesmen
and fiercely attack, so that my mind reels.
Please hear what I say, O God
of Kalahasti.

We all take pleasure in seeing
and smelling and hearing and tasting
and the touch of skin pressing against skin.
Why have you made us with these senses
if our using them is a sin ?
What do you gain, O God of Kalahasti,
by playing this game of illusions
for your own amusement
to while away the time ?

The awareness of wealth
is its soil,
the passion for life
the water which feeds it.
Aggression is the opening bud
and lies are the leaves.
Terrible acts are the flowers
and its fruit are those faults
born of lust.
This is the bitter tree
that rises out of the mind,
O God of Kalahasti.

While they make a show of being people
who have sworn they would
never write hymns of praise,
if they think of caring for their wives and children,
they decide the filthy kings
are worthy and go off to serve them.
O God of Kalahasti, how is this right?
I can't imagine myself singing
any man's life.

Why is it some people think of killing other
people and taking over their thrones?
Won't they die themselves, won't their wealth
leave them? Will they live eternally
with their wives and their friends and their sons?
Isn't death, O God of Kalahasti,
O isn't it coming
some day?


Sample Poems

A few sample poems are given below in RIT/RTS format. For poems in Telugu Lipi font click here.


Sree kALahasteeSwara Satakamu



E vEdaMbu@m baThiMce lUta, BhujaMgamE SAstramulcUce@m, dA
nE vidyABhyasanaM bonarce@m gari, ceMcE maMtra mUhiMce, bO
dhA virBhAva nidAnamul caduvulayyA? kAvu ! mee pAda saM
sEvAsaktiye kAka jaMtu tatikin^ Sree kALa hasteeSwarA !
| SA |


oka pU@mTiMcuka kUDu takkuvagunE nOrvaMga@mlE@m, DeMDa kO
paka neeDa n&vedakun^, caliM jaDisi kuMpaTlettikO@mjUcu, vA
naku niMDliMDlunu dU~ru nee tanuvu, deenan&vaccu sauKhyaMbu rO
si kaDAsiMparugAka martyulakaTA Sree kALahasteeSwarA!
| ma |


aMtA mithya talaMci cUcina, naruDaTlau TeriMgin^, sadA
kAMta, lputrulu, narthamun^, tanuvu nikkaMbaMcu mOhArNava
BhrAMti@m jeMdi cariMcu@m gAni; paramArthaMbaina nee yaMdu@m dA
jiMtAkaMtayu@m jiMta nilpaDu@m gadA Sree kALa hasteeSwarA !
| SA |


kAyalgAce vadhUnaKhAgramulacE@m gAyaMbu, vakShOjamul
rAyan rApaDe rom&mu, man&matha vihAra klESa viBhrAMticE@m
brAyaMbAyenu, baTTa kaTTe@m dala, ceppan rO@mta saMsAra mE@m
jEyaMjAla viraktu@m jEya@mgadavE Sree kALahasteeSwarA!
| SA |


kAladvAra kavATa baMdhanamu, duShkAla prayANa kriyA
leelA jAlaka citragupta muKha valmeekOgra jihvAdBhuta
vyALa vyALa virOdhi, mRtyu muKha daMShTrAhArya vajraMbu, di
kcElAlaMkRta needu nAma marayan^ Sree kALahasteeSwarA!
| SA |


jalakaMbul rasamu, laprasUnamulu vAcAbaMdhamu, lvAdyamu
lala Sabdadhvanu, laMcitAMbara malaMkAraMbu, deeptal me~ruM
gulu, naivEdyamu mAdhureemahimagA@m goltun&ninuM BhaktiraM
jila divyArcana gUrci nErcina kriyan^ Sree kALahasteeSwarA!
| ma |


tanuveMdAka dharitri nuMDu nanu naMdAka nmahArOga dee
pana du@hKhAdula@m boMdakuMDa nanukaMpAdRShTi veekshiMci, yA
venuka n&nee pada padmamulgolucucu n&viSva prapaMcaMbu@m bA
sina cittaMbuna nuMDa@mjEyagadavE Sree kALa hasteeSwarA !
| ma |


taragal, pippala patramul, meruguTaddaMbul, maruddeepamul,
karikarNAMtamu, leMDamAvula tatul, KhadyOta keeTa praBhal,
suraveethee liKhitAksharaMbu, lasuvul, jyOtsnA paya@hpiMDamul
siru, laMdEla madAMdhulauduru janul, Sree kALahasteeSwarA!
| ma |


nin&nun^ nam&mina reeti nam&manorulan^, neekan&na nAken&na lE
ran&naldam&mulu, tallidaMDrulu, guruM, DApatsahAyuMDu nA
yan&nA ! yen&naDu nan&nu saMsmRti viShAdAMbOdhi dATiMci ya
cChin&nAnaMda suKhAbdhi@m dElcedo kadE Sree kALa hasteeSwarA !
| SA |


neekun mAMsamu vAMChayEni ka~ravA nee cEta lEDuMDa@mgA,
jOkainaTTi kuThAramuMDa, nanalajyOtuMDa, neeruMDa@mgA,
bAkaMboppa GhaTiMci, cEti punukan BhakShiMpa kA bOyacE@m
jEkoM TeMgili mAMsa miTlu dagunA Sree kALahasteeSwarA!
| SA |


padunAlgEle mahAyugaMbuloka BhUpAluMDu, celliMce na
yyudayAstAcala saMdhi nAj~na noka@mDAyuShmaMtu@mDai, veeriya
BhyudayaM bevvaru ceppa@mgA vinaro, yalpulmattulai yEla ca
ccedarO rAjulamaMcu nakkaTakaTA Sree kALahasteeSwarA!
| ma |


puDami n&nin&noka bilva pattramuna nE@m bUjiMci puNyaMbunuM
baDayan^; nEraka pekku daivaMbulakuM bappul, prasAdaMbuluM,
guDumul, dOselu, sAre sattu, laTukul, guggiLLunuM beTTucuM
jeDi yeMduM go~ragAka pOdu rakaTA Sree kALahasteeSwarA!
| ma |


munu nE@m buTTina puTTulen&ni galavO ? mOhaMbucE naMdu@m jE
sina karmaMbula prOvulen&ni galavO ? ciMtiMcinaMgAna nee
jananaMbEyani yun&na vADa, nidiyE cAliMpavE nin&nu@m go
lcina puNyaMbunakuM gRpAratuDavai Sree kALa hasteeSwarA !
| ma |


saMtOShiMciti@m jAlu@m jAlu ratirAjadvAra sauKhyaMbulan^
SAMtiMboMditi@m jAlu@m jAlu bahurAjadvAra sauKhyaMbulan^
SAMtiMboMdeda@m jUpu brahmapadarAjadvAra sauKhyaMbu ni
SciMtan SAMtu@mDa naudu nee karuNacE Sree kALahasteeSwarA!
| SA |


tappoppulu dayatO teliyajEyagalarani prArthistU
-e. SEShu mAdhava rAvu #(Seshu Madhava Rao Adluri, e-mail: adluri@engr.mun.ca).#



More poems will be posted when I can get the full printed text……

Seshu Madhava Rao Adluri
First posted: Feb. 1998.
Suggestions, additions and corrections to the above will be gratefully appreciated.
Kindly contact:

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