[2/4] Poetry, imagery, collagerie and menagerie: some rational approximations to ....

Hari Krishna Tadepalli (harit@co.intel.com)
Wed, 30 Oct 96 15:59:42 PST

Contextually, the masterpiece begins as an epistle from a descendent of 
Ekalavya written to one of his erstwhile school teachers. In the process,
the teacher is attributed with some qualities: 

	1. He doctors poor grades for him and thereby 
	   deprives him of a good personal future.

	2. He teaches Slokas to his students. 

	3. He is also identified as the "owner-author" of certain 
	   sciences ("SAstrAlu") and the owner of a dictionary.

	4. He also uses foul language on this student.

By all means, the character of this teacher is reprehensible. But who
is this student again: a certain descendent of Ekalavya who suffers the 
same plight as Ekalavya did. What is the master conveying here : does he 
imply that the entire community of teachers possess the above character ?
Have we not come to point of civilization where in people who adopt such
practices are openly reprehended ? What new value is the master trying 
to espouse here? Or is he simply doing the case study of a specific 
descendent of Ekalavya (in which case, the mapping function needs to 
be revised).

Let me now attempt a pratipadArtham of the masterpiece:

	  "noorELLakee padihEDu maarkulE vEsi
	   jeevitaM lO tappiMcina gurudEvulaku
	   cEtulu jODiMci vraayunadi."

So this student writes an epistle to his erstwhile school teacher with
a reprehensible character.

	"'neeku caccinaa arthaM kaaduraa' - ani
         meeru tiTTukoMToo ceppina vELLa meeda lekka,
         naaku caccaakanE artha mayyiMdi."

Here the imagery is rolled into motion. Granted the viciousness of the 
teacher, he has no better fate other than being rebuked. At this point,
the student is declared deceased. An illeterate of abstract poetry like
me can live with an interpolation like : "the student has committed 
suicide as he was failed unjustly in the exam".

     	"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."

Here the master begins the vELLa tamAshA - applying the mapping 
function, we are required to interpret here that his heriditary social 
deprivation is the apparent explanation for his unjust failure in the
examination. No problems, since the teacher has already been well 
characterized to this effect; the next few lines describe this deprivation
in greater detail: his father could not put a thumb impression because
he lacked one. It is here that I am boggled. What is this supposed to 
signify in terms of our sociological mapping ? The father's deprivation has
fobidden him from attesting the progress report of his son ? (The other
interpretation to that the father can not impress his thumb on the card does not
sound sane here). May be yes, since he would have been an illiterate, 
he could not have interpreted the progress report. But certainly, talking
to someone who can interpret it for him (including the son himself) is 
never ruled out. The three lines about his mother not being able to 
feed him well because of the deprivation is the part that made the 
the most sense to me in this masterpiece. There is a minor transition
from the student's childhood to infancy here, but that is not important.

        "nEnu tella mukhaM vEsinappuDellaa
         meeradEdO amruta bhaasha lO tiTTEvaaru.
         naakannaM tappa amrutaM sayiMcadu."

Again, these lines are a statement about the character of the teacher. In 
this sudden reentry into the class room, the teacher rebukes the student
again for his incapacity to comprehend the problem. What is the "amruta
bhaAsha" here? Is it Sanskrit as the phrase is used in the conventional 
sense or is it foul language as implied elsewhere in the poem? Since the 
teacher resorts to foul language only when he runs out of words in his
dictionary, we are close to the intent in interpreting this as Sanskrit.
This does not come as a surprise, given the teacher's depravity, he employs
all the verbal arsenal in his possession to rebuke this specific student.
The next sentence is again a stunner. Did the teacher serve the amrUtam 
or any of its similies thereof to the student in the classroom? This
sudden transition does not make it clear. In light of our original thesis,
we can only interpret this as the student's longing for food, given his
deprivation.  But the connection with amRtam is perplexing.

       	"nijaM ceppaMDi
         paMcamu DaMTE ayidO vElu lEnivaaDanEnaa

	 maa muttata EkalavyuDu ceppaDu."

We now revert to the case of the missing finger. Here the masterpiece is 
completely truthful to the sociological mapping; That the missing
finger ("the essential digit") signifies social deprivation.

- T. Hari Krishna