Transformation of Symbols in today's poetry!

Rao Veluri (rveluri@smtpgate.anl.gov)
Thu, 24 Oct 96 18:06:32 CST


     
     Transformation of Epic Symbols in Modern Poetry 
     
     Dear Friends:
     
     I have posted some time ago two poems by dalit writers.
     One by Salandra and the other, I think by Satish Chander. It is
     about time to resume posting feminist and dalit poetry!
     
     Here is a poem, titled paMcama vEdaM, actually the anchor poem
     of the collection "paMcama vEdaM" by Satish Chander.The collection
     was published in February 1995. Satish Chander, before becoming 
     the mouth piece of dalit movement through his poetry, wrote 
     quite a bit of 'ordinary' poetry. He is one of the leaders of 
     prajaa raciyatala samaakhya.    
     
     His poem, paMcama vEdaM must be read in juxataposition to nannya's
     piece from the mahaa bhaarata about Ekalavya. 
     
     nannya tells the entire story of Ekalavya in eleven poems and five 
     small prose pieces. For most of us, Ekalavya's story was taught as an 
     example of unflinching obedience to the teacher. Never the rationale 
     behind the treatment meted out to Ekalavya by drONa was questioned. He 
     remained a symbol of perfect obedience. Such obedience could only 
     match with the factual account of the thirteen year old boy Giacomo 
     Jocante, son of Louis Casbianca in the battle of Nile in 1798.
     
     
     The same Ekalavya is our present hero. Only the symbol got tranformed. 
     Picking symbols from the epics,-- some very revered and some not so 
     revered --, questioning the rationale and transforming them to 
     represent a different yet more powerful symbol in the present day 
     poetry has been successfully done only by two poets I know. One is 
     Jayaprabha and the other is Satish Chander. 
     
     First, from nannya's aadi parvaM, paMcama aSvaasaM (accidental,but
     how aptly befitting!), I would paraphrase very briefly. 
     
     Ekalavya was the son of hiraNyadhanva, an 'erukala' king. He heard of 
     drONa and comes to him to learn archery. drONa refuses to be his 
     teacher because Ekalavya is 'nishaada putra.' Ekalavya goes away and 
     makes a clay 'sculpture' of drONa. It appears that drONa permitted it.
     (vaaDunu drONu nauj~na vaDasi....etc., is the vacanaM) He obediently 
     prays this effigy and becomes an expert archer. One must remember 
     though, that karNa (soota putruMdaina raadhEyuDunu dhanur vidyaa
     kauSalaMbuna arjununu tODa maccariMcucu ... etc.) was with the kaurava 
     and pandava gang with drONa as their teacher.
     
     One day, a dog belonging to one of the soldiers of the kaurava-pandava 
     retinue escapes, reaches, Ekalavya, and he manages to send it back 
     with seven arrows at once on its face. They find out about Ekalavya,
     who tells them that his guru is no other than drONa. arjuna gets 
     jealous and finds drONa alone, and tells him about Ekalavya. 
     
     They both go to Ekalavya, who prostrates at the feet of drONa and 
     tells him that by 'praying your effigy' I learnt archery. drONa asks 
     for his tuition fees (he never taught him anything, though), which 
     happens to be the right thumb of Ekalavya! Ekalavya obeys!!
     
     Here is the clincher!!
     
     ka. nemmini nee dakshiNa ha
         stammuna penu vrElu dunimi dakshiNa immi
         sTammidi naa kanavuDu vina
         yammuna vaaDicce daani naacaaryunakun
     
     tE: dakshiNaa gusthamicci daana jEsi
         baaNa saMdhaana laaghava bhaMgamayina
         neruku viluvidya kalimiki heenuDayye
         paarthunaku manOrujayunu baase naMta
     
     droNa did not even think about the kid Ekalavya, his parents,
     how the kid can later manage without the right thumb! None
     what so ever! This has to be reiterated to get a better feel
     of the following poem, 'paMcama vEdaM by satish chander. The
     poem has five stanzas. I am going to post the first and the 
     third one only. The rest of the stanzas, in my opinion,
     dilute the strength of the message!
     
                        paMcama vEdaM 
     
                             by 
                        
     
                        satish chander
     
     
        noorELLakee padihEDu maarkulE vEsi
        jeevitaM lO tappiMcina gurudEvulaku
        cEtulu jODiMci vraayunadi.
     
        'neeku caccinaa arthaM kaaduraa' - ani
        meeru tiTTukoMToo ceppina vELLa meeda lekka,
        naaku caccaakanE artha mayyiMdi.
     
        nEnennisaarlu lekka peTTukunnaa
        naacEtiki naalugu vELLE vuMDEvi.
     
        naannaki kooDaa ayidOvElu lEkanE
        meeru guMDu sunnalu cuTTina prOgresu reporTu
        meeda
        yeppuDoo vEli mudra veyya lEdu.
     
        pucca puvvu laaMTi vennela rOjuna kooDaa
        aa vElu lEkanE -
        amma gOru muddalu tinipiMca lEdu.
     
        nEnu tella mukhaM vEsinappuDellaa
        meeradEdO amruta bhaasha lO tiTTEvaaru.
        naakannaM tappa amrutaM sayiMcadu.
     
        nijaM ceppaMDi
        paMcamu DaMTE ayidO vElu lEnivaaDanEnaa 
        arthaM?
     
        maa muttata EkalavyuDu ceppaDu.
        
                        ***
     
        maa klaasu lO paMDavulnee, kauravulnee
        aDiginaTTu ceppaMDi
     
        kottagaa kaastu sartifikEtu teccukoni 
        klaasu lO cErina karNuDiki
        naa saanubhootini teliya jEyaMDi.
     
        pratibhaavaMtulu vaaLLu
        mee SlOkaalaku cappaTlu koTTEvaaru.
        naaku maatraM avi tiTlulaa anipiMcEvi.
        nijaM ceppaddoo
        manu dharmaalu, vaatsaayana kaama sootraalla vinipiMcEvi.
        
        dEvuDi naalugu Sareera marmaaloo
        aSleela bhaava citraallaa kanipiMcEvi.
        naa janma rahasyaM mee SaastraallO raayanaMduku
        nEneppuDoo krutaj~nuNNE.
        
        nannEvagiMcu kOvadaaniki mee nighaMTuvullO
        saapa naarthaalu doraka nappudellaa
        naa talli maaTE mee nOTlO naanu tuMDEdi
        pOneeleMDi, dooshaNa lOnainaa naa tallikE 
        nEnu puTTaanani kharaaru cESaaru.
     
        mummaTikee meM talliki puTTina biddalamE.
        ammE maaku daivaM
        goppiLLu veli vEsina kuMtemma nayinaa
        maa iLLakostE goMtemmanu cEsi kolcu kuMTaaM
     
        EkalavyuDu dEvuLLaku kaakuMDaa
        tallikE puTTaaDu.
     _______________________
     
     I am sure you get what I meant by the transformation
     of the old symbols!
     
     Enjoy it.
     
     
     Regards.
     
     
     -- Venkateswara Rao Veluri