The Natural HR Theory by Dr IVNS Raju

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Dear Readers,

This is the concluding part of this exclusive series on Sri Sri.

In this part, you would be reading the insightful critiques by Kondareddy Venkateswara Reddy and Dr. Pothuri Venkata Subba Rao which have been translated by Dr. Syamala Kallury with dexterity.

Publication of this series in Avakaaya.com has left us with a new set of experiences.

Few readers have asked us as to "why are you publishing English translation of Sri Sri in a Telugu website when the readers of your's have already read the original Telugu work?"

We strongly believe that it is the readership of original works that can critically review the quality and effectiveness of translations. The discussions held in Part 1 & 3 are substantiating this view point. Several good observations were made by the readers and same were acknowledged by the translator. Thus, our belief has been strengthened further that it is the native reader who can speak to the translator about the plus & minus of the translations.

Certain readers suggested that there is an urgent need for translating good literature from other languages in to Telugu. Webzines like Emaata, Vaakili etc. are putting their best efforts by publishing Telugu translations of other languages. Poets like Mukunda Rama Rao, Garikapati Pavan Kumar, Dr. Kallury Syamala and others are undertaking this stupendous job and are excelling in their endevours.

Avakaaya.com has done its bit in this regard between 2008 & 2010. Couple of enthusiasts have tried their hand in translating poems from Kannada and English. Here are the links to those translations:

 

హిమసంధ్యలో, వనాల వద్ద!నాదైన నాలోనికియాభయ్యో పడి చెప్పింది!విలువైన సమయంపొద్దుపొడుపుజోలపాట-సరోజినీ నాయుడు Cradle Songచుక్కలుఆనందాతిరేకంనాలుగు తంత్రులుకళ్ళు, విరబూసి (అనువాద కవిత)

But that effort could not be continued further. We trust that the efforts should be initiated again.

By and large, this exclusive series of translations of Sri Sri has done a lot of value addition to the internet Telugu literature repository and we thank Dr. Syamala Kallury for all the support given to us in publishing this exemplary work.

Download eBooks - Selections from Sri Sri

Best regards

Editorial Team

Avakaaya.com

 

 


 

 

Sri Sri’s Mahaprasthanam: A Dance of Destruction

By Kondreddy Venkateswara Reddy

Translated by Syamala Kallury

 

Sri Sri had ushered in new era in poetry by blowing his victory bugle after denouncing both the classical and romantic trends in poetry in 1933 itself.  He ‘rose to great heights as the flag of a tallest skyscraper called the world’. (Bhuvana bhavanapu bavutaane paiki lestaanu). He kept to the tune of the changing times and created the music of a waterfall through his Mahaprasthanam anthology. As it is impossible for one to walk back into the past this poet destroyed the old world order in poetry and moved towards the future paving a path for himself for a new order and creation of new pathways for poetics. He thought that poetry is not something that lulls the society and puts people to sleep but is something that can awaken them from a slumber. It depicts how a large section of people are exploited and were boiling over bitten by the serpents, the feudal lords. This is the unique feature of the poems in Mahaprasthanam. His was the poetry that sought to clean and purge the pollutants in the contemporary society and he did so with great élan. That was the main reason why he was regarded as the pioneer and a poet who gave a clarion call to new age in poetry.

Sri Sri’s first step towards progressive thought bypassing the traditional schools in contemporary poetry: Sri Sri was born in an orthodox brahmin family and had thoroughly studied and acquired scholarship in ancient  poetry and emerged as a prominent poet of a genre called padyam, a metered poem, well known in his times. He wrote as a romantic, pining for the passionate arms of the imaginary damsels in his initial years. There were modern poets like Viswanatha Satyanarayana, who lived in traditional thought often referred to as sanathana dharma (Eternal Dharma) and wrote excellent poetry, and poets like Krishna Sastry who eulogised romantic thought by descriptions of imaginary heroines and their clinging arms. Sri Sri walked this path of subjective poetry for some time in his initial years of writing but soon realised his was not the path that glorified either of these schools. He moved towards progressive poetry in search of a new identity for himself in poetry as well as in society.

The emergence of a new world order through the Dance of Destruction:

Sri Sri had always been an experimentalist and an anarchist. If he ever felt that his genius and scholarship were not appreciated he did not hesitate to totally sever connections with people, however intimate they were. His passion for a new world order taught him to look deep into the contemporary literary scene scrupulously. He, as a poet, rejected all traditional thought and emerged as an exploding volcano. In an effort to attract poets and literary personalities of his times he had declared, which may not be totally true, nevertheless, “Having  overcome the lexicons that were like graveyards,  breaking through the chains of grammar and securing release from the serpentine bondage of meter, I started creating poetry for a new world”.  He saw himself as a poet who reached out to the Muse that was suppressed under the iron heels of classical diction and emerged as the destroyer of poetic egos that have dominated the literary field thus far. He struggled to establish himself without hunger and without sleep, dreaming of poetry as the driving force of his life. He created in his Mahaprasthanam with an intense and a passionate command over his diction a world where a poetic thought moves and causes movement, a thought that can awaken the society from slumber. He became the voice of the muse to create the new way that he carved for himself. The Poetic Muse who was dancing to the tunes of the rich, who was being used as an instrument of oppression on the working classes and who was always wandering in the high skies was brought down to the earth by Sri Sri. He infused new life into the dying craft of poetry. He built a temple for this new muse that he had thus far adorned as a flowery arch on the gates of heavens, with his new diction and technique. He consecrated the working man as an object of worship in this new temple.

Sri Sri was initially tired and frustrated as he had to always stand behind poets like Viswanatha who excelled in the art and craft of poetry or that of Krishna Sastry whose romantic genius far exceeded any of his contemporaries. Also, he could not suppress his quest for an identity that is different from these stalwarts. He announced his decision to rebel against the traditional literature and turned his ideology into a war weapon to use it against the old world order. He went into an adventurous journey with only his frank and unusual language as an inspiration. As rightly pointed out by another revolutionary of his time, Chalam, he broke through ‘the barriers of constraining diction and the stranglehold of meter, imagery, and descriptions by breaking its backbone’. He created music with his new perspective and the one who cannot hear this music was ‘like one old in mind and spirit with rotting bones’, the later quote being a line from Sri Sri’s own poem.

He was only an admirer of Marxist thought when he wrote Mahaprasthanam.      

Sri Sri never claimed, anywhere, when he talked of Mahaprasthanam that he was writing this in the context of Marxist thought. As he was quite well versed in world literary trends it could be expected that he must have been inspired by the ideology. His initial intent must have been only to write differently from the others of his time. Addepalli also says that Sri Sri never said that either his poetry or literary criticism was ever influenced by Marxist thought. He must have been only an admirer and was not involved with the party. But his lines in the anthology reflect the Marxist principles and later became torch bearers for this thought. Gradually he was branded as a Marxist poet. In 1968, thinkers like Ra Ra  (Rachamallu Ramachandra Reddy) decided to examine his poetry only through the Marxist lens.

If, around 1934, Sri Sri was a committed communist and if his aim was to propagate the Marxist ideology he would not have requested Chalam to write the foreword for his Mahaprasthanam.  For he knew that Chalam was not at all known to have had any respect, interest or love for the poetry of his times. He was only interested in uplifting the women’s position in the contemporary society Sri Sri would not have asked him  to write the foreword and this clearly establishes that Sri Sri was not an avowed communist at this time.

His life and focus were more on the aesthetics of Poetry rather than on the communist ideology. He wrote inspiring the hot-blooded young soldiers to see the dazzling lights of the crown of fire, the shining glory of the red flag, and the ascending flames of the yagnic fire. If in the process spouses, sons, well wishers all may go; and troubles, losses, anger and curses may come, let them all come. He extols that they should not be afraid of anything. He calls himself a revolutionary song and his inspiration was the ear hangings that adorn the ears of an ascetic.  He says with supreme confidence that he was an impenetrable fort and a heaven and his path was inimitable and did not say that the path was the Marxist path. He used the illusion, mystery, and Vedanta philosophy as synonyms for fraud. He asked the indifferent people to assess the value of the sweat of farmers and factory workers. There was no trader who can evaluate the tears that stream down the face of these sad people. These ideas were no doubt very close to communist thought. That is the reason Marxists became close to Sri Sri and they admired his poetry. But Sri Sri himself did not ever place the political philosophy above his love for the aesthetics of poetry.  He was not committed to those principles and did not invite the Marxist interpretation of his poetry.     

The traces of traditional trends would not leave even after the poetry burst forth as a tornado: Though Sri Sri claimed that his poetry was not affiliated to any meter, Adepalli says, one finds a sense of rhythm that takes one to a great height and that in fact is his meter in poetry. He achieved newness through this meter. One can say that Sri Sri was the poet who formulated free verse meter. His poetry was written in what is called ‘mātra chandassu’ and keeping to a rhythm.

His poetry also abounds in sanskritised idioms and phrases. The light of the fifth day of the rising moon, (bahula panchami jyotsna), In the evening (pradoshamandu) etc. Similarly he used  numerous images of the Indian puranic literature like the metal bells of Yama’s buffalo, the canines of hell, Nandikesa (Lord Shiva’s vehicle), The Boar- the original incarnation, the scholar of Vedas etc.. A number of such phrases merge naturally with his new aesthetics and give new meanings. The mythological lore appears as new experimental expressions. In other words, the imagery of the puranas comes in a new garb, complimenting the old and the new.     

His poetry which bursts forth as the dance of a whirlwind and sends his ideas in all the four directions like the sacred horses of the holy fires and they spread like wind’s waves, and fragrances. He extensively used  highly sanskritised ideas and idioms to bring out the best of his creativity.    

Sri Sri confidently asserts that his poetry melts the high heavens, it laughs in a dance of destruction, it crosses the barriers of the forts, and it reaches the cosmic heights. The worlds with bugles, the ashes of holy vermillion, the garlands of hibiscus flowers; all these images come in highly sanskritised diction used by the poet to his advantage.

However he also says that his poetry touches the margins of affection, the depths of joy, and re-invents life by giving fresh breath to death. It places ladders to reach the heaven. It reins in time.

Sri Sri’s idea of newness lies in his belief that he should stand by the oppressed and exploited sections of society: ‘All the orphans and all the restless ones will rise blowing the bugle of revolution in a long and intense voice’and ‘his poetry would be dedicated to the welfare of the factory workers  and working class.’

Sri Sri describes the condition of the downtrodden in one of his poems thus, ‘we are all slaves, we are all the wheels turned by the buffaloes that go round extracting oil in oil mills from sesame seeds, we are all dead bodies. Fraud in front of us and fraud behind us, to our right and to our left, fraud all around!’ so saying he asks the question ‘Is ours a life?’ in a tone of contempt. They provoke the reader into thinking and awaken his conscience.

While depicting the real nature of the nations and their histories, he says, ‘the entire history of human race is of oppressing the others, like rivers of blood flowing during the battles fought, the mighty have become famous by exploiting the weak and the downtrodden’. He further asks, there is no land anywhere on the globe that has not been drenched in tears and blood. It is not an exaggeration if one says that there is no other Telugu poet in the first half of 20th century who could speak out with such vehemence and power.

Nevertheless, this poet did not just gift wrap troubles and tribulations as give to the poor, but gave them hope and faith in the future. The ones who were miserable, deprived, and bitten by the serpents of suffering were assured of the arrival of the chariot of Lord Jagannadh which will relieve them of all strife. He gives a clarion call, asserting that these wheels of the chariot were the torch bearers for a new future and thus awakens them with the bugle revolution.

All the suffering of the world was his: Chalam saysin his introduction to Mahaprasthanam that while Krishna Sastry recited his suffering to the world through his poetry Sri Sri made the suffering of the world his.  

 True, he wrote his poem Oka Raatri, One Night, in 1933. In the poem, he says that the moon of the fifth night in the rising cycle scares him. It spreads all out far and wide and pervades like a smoke across the sky. It appears as if there is a sandstorm in the desert of the sky. The air is full of clever spirits and the sea was roaring with a loud open mouth. The lone moon appears like a camel whose legs are severed.  The universe is covered in white ash – all these images speak volumes about the poet’s concern for the contemporary world situation which was full of uncertainties, sorrows, exploitation, lootings, oppression- the impact of the white race on the globe.    

There is another poem titled Baatasaari, A Traveller, in which a village boy who goes to a city looking for some means of livelihood goes to town and does not return, and ends up as a dead body and how his mother too breathes her last waiting for her son’s return, All the trials that this traveller faced in the city as recited by the poet reminded the poet of his early years in Madras.

Another poem is Bhikshuvariyasi, A Beggar Woman, he questions the society as to who is responsible for the death of an old woman who had grown so old that all her bones have become brittle and she had lost the will to live. The ones who are satisfied with small pleasures look at the situation and feel happy like dogs which have got bones to munch on and if exploiters look at this they feel like chameleons that run over flies aptly thus describing the mentality of the society.

If a man flies to the sky with his own effort, the same world which looks at him with wonder, burns with   jealousy and hatred when he collapses bleeding profusely, he feels sad at the double standards in society in the poem Auan!

In  Keka, scream, his voice reverberates with the clatter, a fiery and coarse clanging of the multiple voices he hears. He reveals the inner darkness of his heart, the dark physical hunger of his body and the darkness that surrounds him in his room. He identifies himself with the suffering of the world and his response flows out as poetry.

Mahaprasthanam as a ray of hope for the world of literature: When Chalam says for the Telugu people who ask in defiance, what is all this poetry, what is its use, how does it help the world, Sri Sri’s poetry is a fitting reply. Just as in the process of evolution even when the species change their forms, they retain some old remnants, Sri Sri’s poetry continued to strengthen itself with the classical Sanskrit diction and mythological images though he chose new paths. The manner of using these, in fact, enrich his poetry in a strange new way giving a new and modern tilt to the old images in keeping to his new outlook. He lived in utter poverty between 1930 and 1950 suffering the impact of the economic depression that gripped the world during that time. Though he did not touch upon the contemporary national issues Mahaprasthanam highlights the experiences of real life around him. He not only detested economic inequalities, but also condemned social evils. One should not make the mistake of associating with it with the modern perspective. It is a hot, blazing and boiling pond of blood. It is a fiery mountain ready to explode.  For people who can understand and apply themselves to the lives of different strata of society, it is an assurance of confidence in life; and a struggle for existence.

Today dalits, minorities, and women allege that Sri Sri’s progressive thought was not inclusive of their concerns as they were of the impression that Sri Sri was the exclusive property of the communists. But Sri Sri did have concerns of all these elements. He was a poet who taught the world that one should never look down on a puppy, a match stick, and a soap cake (kukkapilla, aggipulla, sabbubilla) as there is poetry everywhere and in everything; only, one should have the eye to see it – (the words rhyme and follow one another with an ease and spontaneity, while being immediately recognisable as every day, mundane things in telugu, actually proving his point). Could such a poet discriminate among humankind?

There is one truth that stands out and that is true for all times “the world is a maze and poetry is an unquenchable thirst.”  The world will always be a maze if one wants to find solutions to its problems , poetry should always be an unquenchable thirst. The problems cannot be solved and the thirst can never be quenched.

Yes, true! Yes, it is true! Sri Sri is a great poet and Mahaprasthanam is great work of art. Yes, what you said was true. Sri Sri was a great poet with an intense and a passionate command over his diction, poet of his era and his Mahaprasthanam was his dance of destruction.


Sri Sri’s Poesy: The Ore and The Alchemy

By Dr. Pothuri Venkata Subbarao

Professor of English,

Medha Institute of Science and Technology for women

Pedda Thanda, Khammam 507003 AP

                                                   

Or say that the end precedes the beginning

And the end and the beginning were always there

Before the beginning and after the end

And all is always now

-T.S.Eliot

 

It would be a platitude to say that Srirangam Srinivasa Rao is a genius and a multifaceted literary personality. All his poetic output, before he produced his magnum opus Maha Prasthanam, had been the result of a strong urge in him to write poetry echoing Devulapalli V Krishna Sastry[1] and Viswanatha Satyanarayana[2], insofar as poetic diction is concerned. If Platonism provides a treasure house of concepts for Devulapalli to adopt for his own ends, staunch traditionalism blended with modernism remains the hall mark of Viswanatha’s poetry. Sri Sri was well aware of his falling under the spell of these two great poets and tried to come out their grip by searching for his own voice. 

It was around 1930s that Sri Sri began making experiments with an intent to create a poetic diction of his own which demanded not only assiduous labour on the part of the poet but also in-depth scholarship in the art of writing poetry. Digesting all the techniques of the renowned poets of his age - both Indian and European - who are reputed for distinction in style, Sri Sri experimented in the poetic diction of the Telugu language by exploring the expressive possibilities of the language both semantically and syntactically; which would later be acclaimed as through and through individualistic. As he was thoroughly conversant with the then latest publications of Georgian poets like Masefield and Burns, it was but natural that he was on the side of the poor, the hungry, and the oppressed in those hungry 30s. 

If we glance at the formative influences of Sri Sri, we will recognize is the influences of a large repertoire of classical literature of yore both in native and foreign languages alike. He worked hard to attain mastery on the meter that could be subtly adapted to express his fervent revolutionary spirit. Besides the French and the Russian poets, Sri Sri was very much influenced by the British poetic generation of 1917- T.S Eliot, Ezra Pound Thomas Moore, and Williams – all born within five years of each other. What Eliot says of Ezra Pound -“he simply did the next thing”- is also true of the poetry of Sri Sri because the poet has imbibed all that is living from the poets of the past and the present. 

The Salt Water Ballads of John Edward Masefield influenced Sri Sri in his earlier days and he was particularly enthralled by Masefield’s poem, A Consecration, in which the poet brings home his ideal of writing poetry,

  

    Not of the princes and prelates

   With Periwigged charioteers…

    but – “of the halt and the blind

    in the rain, in the cold

    of these shall my songs be fashioned

    my tales ice told.

 

The influence of these lines is explicitly discernable in the oft quoted lines of the Maha Prasthanam

 

                Prabhuvekkina pallaki kadoy               Adi mosina boyeelevvaru…

 (Think not of the palanquin the king is riding but of the men who carry the palanquin)

Sri Sri says that the poems of Masefield, in general and this poem in particular, has had a lot of influence on his poetic form and content. As he was deeply absorbed in reading the English ballads – ballads of A.C Swinburne and Masefield -their influence is explicit in the poetry of Sri Sri. Particularly the influence of the ballads of Swinburne such as Triumph of Time provoked him to write a poem on Swinburne in Maha Prasthanam.  Compared to John Keats there is a force in the Ballads of Swinburne and this force has lent a kind of aureole to some of the verses of Maha Prasthanam. As a young poet Sri Sri developed a fondness for the Barrack Room Ballads of Rudyard Kipling and Kipling’s Ballads left an indelible impression on the poet’s mind. In so far as the purpose of writing poetry is concerned, Sri Sri himself had acknowledged his debt to Kipling in motivating him to champion the cause of the underdog. During this formative period of his life Sri Sri was influenced by the two great dramatists of France and America - Anatole France and Sinclair Lewis. Their influence helped him to emerge as a poet. Another great English poet whom he admired most and acknowledged was W.W Gibson. His poem I even I inspired Sri Sri to write his first poem in his mother tongue adopting matra chandas[3] for the free expression of his thought. The poem was titled in Telugu Nenu Saitham (Even I).This poem with its word melody produces a harmonious effect in the mind of the readers with the vast sonorities of vowels and consonants. 

Sri Sri’s thirst for innovation of novel techniques in poetic creation was never quenched with experiments. He also wanted to explore the possibilities of expressing his thoughts through the sonnet form in Telugu. All great English poets like Shakespeare, Milton, Keats,ylan Thomas experimented with the sonnet form. It is a lyric poem in single stanza (8+6) consisting of  fourteen Iambic pentameter linked by an intricate rhyme scheme; an octave (8 lines) rhyming a b b a a b b a and a sestet (6 lines) rhyming c d e c d e and Sri Sri made his experiments in Telugu following the English model with a change of rhyme scheme in the last two lines. He wrote only one sonnet in English. Another great American poet who influenced Sri Sri very much throughout his life was Edgar Allan Poe. Poe’s influence on the French symbolist poets such as Baudelaire, Rimbaud, Verlaine and Mallarme in general and Baudelaire in particular  is what appealed to Sri Sri and he regarded Poe’s staunch opinion that “a long poem is always a contradiction in terms” to be convincing. He believed that epics were the products of an imperfect sense of Art and their reign is no more. As a great poet Sri Sri is thoroughly conversant with the writings of Poe; it could it be surmised that like Poe, he (Sri Sri) also would have comprehended how a poem fails to satisfy the poetic sentiment if it lacks ‘momentum’ in spite of all the brilliant things wreathed by a poet. 

It was Edgar Allan Poe who made a study of the 19th century French poet Pierre Jean De Beranger and holds the opinion that his (De Beranger) poems “sparkle  and excite but, from want of continuity, failed deeply to impress.” 

One can easily agree with this view. In his book Moodu Yabhayilu (Three Fifties) Sri Sri covertly expresses his idea of an epic poem by a subtle mocking tone: he makes a tongue in cheek remark on the Ramayana Kalpavruksham of Viswanatha Satyanarayana by saying that nobody would venture to read the epic in spite of their reverence for the great epic poet. 

He was also influenced by the contemporary poets around him even in the days when his cap of misery was to the brim. He was very happy with the poetry of Mirzada Kempe, a Latvian poetess, so much so he wrote an article on her in English with the title “A Great Experience”. It would not be a repetition or reiteration to say that Sri Sri had a large repertoire of everything that is related to poetic craft which helped him fashion his unsurpassing poetic style and thus become a trend setter of the modern poetry. 

As early as in 1930s he was deeply drawn towards surrealist poetry by reading Andre Breton’s “Manifesto on Surrealism” published in 1924. To put it succinctly, the burden of the movement was a revolution against all restraints on the free functioning of the human mind. To them unhampered operation of the deep mind is the source of valid knowledge and art and they turned to automatic writing. Davi Guscoyne’s A Short Survey of Surrealism (1935) and the poetry of Dylan Thomas, LouisArgon and others influenced the great poet Sri Sri so much, that he wrote a Matala Moota, Adhivastavikula Pravesham ( A Bundle of Words: An Entry of the Surrealists)…etc The aim of such writings was to explore the state of mind between sleep and waking and to present natural or artificially induced hallucinations. Sri Sri Swarga Bhairavam (Dog of Heaven) is one of the best rendition of Francis Thomson’s Hound of Heaven. He had extensively studied the existentialist philosophy of Jean Paul Sartre and Albert Camus and it helped him look at life from a different perspective; perhaps he would have understood the triumph of life over time. 

As a lyric writer Sri Sri achieved an unreserved rapport with cinema audience with his songs and he had given depth and enrichment by using this platform  but without losing the popular appeal. Like W.H Auden and Stephen Spender he wrote songs without losing the flavor of literature with a spell of music in their composition. Since Sri Sri  had a firmer grip  on Marxist ideology and more ability to put this into a new kind of verse, his syntax always has a low of fervent communism. His songs are also no exception from this rule. His style even when taking a highly personal stand and tone can express abstract and public truths inspiring the readers to revolt against the existing morals which are largely bourgeois in nature. 

To emerge as a great poet, according to the Indian aestheticians and rhetoricians, one needs to have three distinct qualities – pratibha (merit) vyutpatti (etymological derivation) and abhyasa (practice) of which pratibha is primarily the innate potential which is like an Ore that helps to produce an urn (artistic creation), with the secondary aids of vyutpatti and abhyasaand Sri Sri has in him these three primary requisites to the brim and so the alchemy of his unsurpassing genius turned everything into pure gold.

 


[1] Devulapalli Venkata Krishna Sastry: A contemporary of Sri Sri who wrote in the romantic idealism mould in the order of Shelley and Keats.

[2] Viswanatha Satyanarayana, Another contemporary who won Gnanapeeth award for literature, known for his traditional mode of writing poetry.

[3] “Matra chandas is a meter in which it is not the number of syllables that determine the arrangement, but the sum of the syllabic quantities per verse. In total 16 quantities must occur and it does not matter how they are divided up”( From Sound and Communication: An aesthetic cultural history of Sanskrit Hinduism by Annette Wilke and Olive Moebes, p1044)

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