Bammera Potana

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Bammera Pothana (1450-1510) was a Telugu poet best known for his translation of the Bhagavatam from Sanskrit.


[edit] Biography

Pothana was born into a Niyogi Brahmin family in Bammera, Warangal, Andhra Pradesh. His father was Kesanna and his mother Lakshmamma. There is a popular myth that he was related to Srinatha, another famous Telugu poet. He was considered to be a natural scholar (sahaja panditha), needing no teacher. Pothana was known to be very polite and was an agriculturist by occupation. Though he was a great scholar, he never hesitated to work in the agricultural fields.

At an early age he wrote Bhogini Dandakam a poem wrote in praise of king Sri Singa Bhoopala’s concubine Bhogini. This was his first poetic venture which had the seeds of his great poetic talents. His second work was "Virabhadhra Vijayamu" which describes the adventures of Lord Virabhadhra, son of Lord Shiva. The main theme was the destruction of a yagna performed in absence of Lord Shiva by Daksha Prajapathi.

As a young man, he was a devotee of Lord Shiva. Later, Pothana became a devotee of Lord Rama and more interested in salvation. His conversion from Shaivism to Vaishnavism was triggered by an incident. One early morning during a lunar eclipse, on the banks of river Godavari, Pothana was meditating on Lord Shiva. At that auspicious moment, Lord Rama appeared dressed like a king and requested Pothana to translate Bhagavatam into Telugu and dedicate it to Him. This inspired him to translate Vyasa’s Sanskrit Bhagavatam into Telugu.

The king of Warangal, Sarvajana Singha Bhoopaala, wanted Pothana to dedicate ‘Andhra Maha Bhagavatamu’ to him. But, Pothana refused to obey the king’s orders and dedicated the Bhagavathamu to Lord Rama, whom he worshipped with great devotion. It is said that Pothana remarked, ‘it is better to dedicate the work to the supreme Lord Vishnu than dedicate it to the mortal kings.’ He was of opinion that poetry was a divine gift and it should be utilized for salvation by devoting it to the God.

[edit] Style

He was quite fond of using rhythm and repetition of sounds giving a majestic grace to the style of writing. He was very skilful in using alankaras (figures of speech) like similes and metaphors. Potana imparted the knowledge of the divine to the Telugu people along with lessons in ethics and politics through Andhra Maha Bhagavatamu.he lived for sixty years.

[edit] Significance

Even illiterate Telugus readily quote verses from chapters 'Gajendra Mokshamu' and 'Prahlada Charitra of his work, ‘Andhra Maha Bhagavathamu,’ the crown jewel of Telugu literature. Telugu people are greatly indebted to the most beloved poet Bammera Potana.

[edit] God's writing

ala vaikuMThapuraMbulO nagarilO nAmUla soudhaMbu dApala......

This is a verse which describes the palace of Lord Vishnu in his divine abode (VAIKUNTHA), at the time the elephant king prayed for the Lord's kindness to deliver him out of the deadly grip of crocodile in a lake.

The story goes that Pothana wrote the first line of the verse, but could not continue (because he did not know how vaikuntha looks!). So he paused the writing at that point, and went to farm (he was a cultivator by profession). When he came back in the evening, he saw the verse completed.

He enquired his daughter about who wrote the other three lines. The daughter replied - "You yourself came in the afternoon and wrote some thing!". So Pothana understood that Lord Sri Rama himself came and completed the verse.

In fact, Pothana himself ascribed in the following poem, the purpose of his writing the Bhagavatam:

  • palikeDidi bhAgavathamata
  • palikincheDivADu rAmabhadhrunData
  • balikina bhavaharamagunata
  • palikedavEronDu ghAdhapalukaganEla

Translated it means (approx. translation): "That which is spoken is the Bhagavatam and the one who enthuses this speech is Lord Rama, Himself . The result of speaking which is the ultimate freedom, the Liberation of life. So, let me sing it, since there is no other story as great as this (Bhagavatha)."

[edit] Sample verses

This verse is Prahlada's reply to his father asking him to give up glorifying the One he hated bitterly, Sri Hari.

మందార మకరంద మాధుర్యమునఁ దేలు మధుపంబు వోవునే మదనములకు నిర్మల మందాకినీ వీచికలఁ దూఁగు రాయంచ సనునె తరంగిణులకు లలిత రసాలపల్లవ ఖాది యై చొక్కు కోయిల సేరునే కుటజములకు బూర్ణేందు చంద్రికా స్ఫురిత చకోరక మరుగునే సాంద్ర నీహారములకు అంబుజోదర దివ్య పాదారవింద చింతనామృత పానవిశేష మత్త చిత్త మేరీతి నితరంబు జేరనేర్చు వినుతగుణశీల! మాటలు వేయునేల? Approximate translation: A honeybee revelling in the honey-sweetness of Hibiscus, would he seek grass flowers? A royal swan swaying in the pure breezes of the Ganga, would he go to the oceans? A nightingale relishing the juices of smooth young leaflets, will he approach rough leaves? A chakora bird blossoming in the mooonlight of a full moon, would he go to dark places with thick fog? Minds attention on the lotus-wearer's (God's) divine lotus-feet, a heightened headiness brought on by that nectar-like contemplation In what way will it learn to seek another? Listen good one, what is the point of discussing (it's obvious)?

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