One of the most interesting and beautiful poems in our textbooks was an extract from Kavirajamarga (ಕವಿರಾಜಮಾರ್ಗ) written by the famous emperor Nrupathunga, also called Amoghavarsha (800-874 CE). Nrupathunga, was a Rashtrakoota emperor and one of the greatest emperors of India. His reign of 64 years is one of the longest monarchical reign on record. Historians have compared him to legendary emperor Ashoka for his love of peace and religious temperament. He moved his capital from Mayurkhandi in Bidar district to Manykheta in Gulbarga district. The poem gives a spectacular and vivid description of Karnataka of yesteryears (for the first time) that extended from the River Kaveri to River Godavari.I have furnished below the first part of the poem from my memory:
ಕಾವೇರಿಯಿಂದ ಗೊದಾವರಿವರೆಗಮಿರ್ದಾ ವಸುಧಾತಳವಳಯ
ಭಾವಿಸೆ ಕರ್ಣಾಟ ಜನಪದವದನಾವನೊಲಿದು ಬಣ್ಣಿಸುವನು
ಭೂರಮೆಯುಟ್ಟಿಲ್ಲ ದಿಟ್ಟದುಕೂಲದ ಸೀರೆಗಳಂತೆ ಕಂಗೊಲಿಪ
ಭೂರಿನದಿಗಳಾ ಕರ್ಣಾಟ ಭೂಮಿಯೋಳೋರಂತೆ ಪರಿದೆಸೆದಿಹುದು
ಶರಧಿಯನೊಲಿದಮರದಪ್ಪಲಾ ತೊರೆವನ್ಗಲಿರದೆ ನೀಡಿದಾ ಕೈಗಳೆನಲು
ಕರಮೆಸೆದಿರ್ಪುವು ಪರಿಕಾಲ್ಗಾಳಾನಾಡ ಸಿರಿಯನದೇನ ಬಣ್ಣಿಪೆನು
ನಂದನದಂತೆ ನೋಳ್ಪರಾ ಕಣ್ಗಳಿಗಾನಂದವನಿರದೆ ಪುಟ್ಟಿಸುವ
ಕುಂದದ ಫಲತತಿಯಿಂದ ಮೆರೆವ ವನವೃಂದದಿಂದೆಸುವಾದಾ ಭೂಮಿ
ನಾರಿ ಕೇಳಾಮ್ರ ಪನಸ ಕದಳಿ ಕರ್ಜೂರ ಚಂಪಕ ಚಂದನಾದಿಗಳಿಂದ
ಆರಾಮದಿಂದ ರಂಜಿಸುತಿಹುದು ಕಣ್ಗೆ ಪಾರಣೆಯನು ಪಾಂಥಜನದ
ದೇವನದೀ ಮಾತ್ರುರ್ವಕೋ ರ್ವರೆಯಿಂದದು ದೇವಲೋಕವನೇಳಿಸುತ
ಭೂವನಿತೆಯ ಧಾನ್ಯ ದಕ್ಷಯ ನಿಧಿಯಂ ತಾವಗಮೆಸೆದಿರುತಿಹುದು
Another interesting poem was Hadibadeya Dharma (ಹದಿಬದೆಯ ಧರ್ಮ) written by Sanchiya Honnamma (ಸಂಚಿಯ ಹೊನ್ನಮ್ಮ) . She was one of the just a handful of women poets mentioned in the traditional histories of Kannada literature. She was said be a part of the royal court of Chikkadevaraya (1673-1704), the king of Mysore. I am reproducing below the first two stanzas of the poem from my memory:
ಪೆಣ್ ಲ್ಲವೇ ನಮ್ಮನೆಲ್ಲ ಹಡೆದ ತಾಯಿ
ಪೆಣ್ ಲ್ಲವೇ ನಮ್ಮನೆಲ್ಲ ಪೊರೆದವಳು
ಪೆ ಣ್ಣು ಪೆಣ್ಣೆ ನ್ದೇತಕೆ ಬೀಳುಗಳೆವರು
ಕಣ್ಣು ಕಾಣದ ಗಾವಿಲರು
ಕುವರನಾದೊಡೆ ಬಂದ ಗುಣ ವೇನದರಿಂದೆ?
ಇವರೀರ್ವ ರವರೇಳ್ಗೆ ಪಡೆದರೆ
ಪವಡಿಹುದು ಇಹಪರ ಸೌಕ್ಯ
The other important poems from my memory include those from the legendary Kannada poets Panje Mangesha Rao, Rashtrakavi M. Govinda Pai and Kuvempu.
ಎಲ್ಲಿ ಭೂರಮೆ ದೇವ ಸನ್ನಿಧಿ ಬಯಸಿ ಬಿಮ್ಮನೆ ಬಂದಳೋ
ಎಲ್ಲಿ ಮೋಹನ ಗಿರಿಯ ಬೆಡಗಿನ ರೂಪಿನಿಂದಲೇ ನಿಂದಳೋ
ಅಲ್ಲೆ ಆಕಡೆ ನೋಡೆಲಾ ಅಲ್ಲೇ ಕೊಡವರ ನಾಡೆಲಾ
ಅಲ್ಲೇ ಕೊಡವರ ಬೀಡೆಲಾ
------ಪಂಜೆ ಮಂಗೇಶ್ ರಾವ್
ಬರುತಿದೆ ಅಹಹಾ ದೂರದಿ ಬರುತಿದೆ
ಬುಸುಗುಟ್ಟುವ ಪಾತಾಳದ ಹಾವೋ
ಹಸಿವಿನ ಭೂತದ ಕೂಗುವ ವೋವೋ
ಹೊಸತಿದು ಕಾಲನ ಕೋಣನ ವೋವೋ
---- ಪಂಜೆ ಮಂಗೇಶ್ ರಾವ್
ತಾಯೆ ಬಾರ ಮೊಗವ ತೋರ
ಹರಸು ತಾಯೆ ಸುತರ ಕಾಯೆ
-------- --ಎಂ ಗೋವಿಂದ ಪೈ
ಕುಮಾರ ವ್ಯಾಸನು ಹಾಡಿದನೆಂದರೆ
ಭಾರತ ಕಣ್ಣಲಿ ಕುಣಿಯುವುದು
ಮೈಯಲಿ ಮಿಂಚಿನ ಹೊಳೆ ತುಳುಕಾಡುವುದು
ಆ ಕುರುಭೂಮಿಯು ತೋರುವುದು
ಅಡಿಯ ಗೆಜ್ಜೆ ನಡುಗೆ ಹೆಜ್ಜೆ
ಇಡುತ ಸುಗ್ಗಿ ಬರುತಿದೆ
ಸಗ್ಗ ಸೊಗವ ತರುತಿದೆ
The following two beautiful poems were written by the great writers DVG and Kuvempu. Both the poems carried important messages for our future. But unfortunately for us our school teachers could make little sense out of these poems! They merely asked us to byheart them and reproduce! Of course we did it faithfully. So much so that I can reproduce both of them in full after all these years. We could realise the meaning of the two poems only at a later stage of our life.
ವನಸುಮ ದೊಳೆನ್ನ ಜೀವನವು
ವಿಕಸಿಸುವಂತೆ ಮನವ ನನುಗೊಳಿಸು
ಗುರುವೇ ಹೇ ದೇವ
ನಿಜಸೌರಭವ ಸೂಸಿ ನಲವಿಂ
ತಾನೆಲೆಯ ಪಿಂತಿರ್ದು ದೀನತೆಯ ತೋರಿ
ಅಭಿಮಾನವನು ತೊರೆದು ಕೃತ ಕೃತ್ಯತೆಯ ಪಡೆವಂತೆ
------ಡಿ ವಿ ಗುಂಡಪ್ಪ (ಡಿ ವಿ ಜಿ)
ಜೀವ ರಥೋತ್ಸವವಿದನಣಕಿಸದಿರು ಎಲೆ ಸನ್ಯಾಸಿ
ತೇರನು ಎಳೆಯುವಾ ಸನ್ಯಾಸಿ
ಓಡುವೆ ಎಲ್ಲಿಗೆ ಸನ್ಯಾಸಿ ?
ಆಗುವೆಯಾ ನೀ ಶೂನ್ಯ ನಿವಾಸಿ ?
ಸಾರಥಿ ಬಲ್ಲನು ಸತ್ಪತವಾ
ಕುಳಿತಿಹನಾತನೆ ನಡೆಸಲು ರಥವ
The Story of Kanti and Hampa.(ಕಂತಿ ಮತ್ತು ಹಂಪ )
Among the handful of women Kannada poets referred to by me earlier, was one woman called Kanti whose Story was most interesting. Our Kannada textbook for eighth Standard carried the story of Kanti and Hampa. This pair of male and female poets was part of the court of Hoysala King Veera Ballala at Dwarasamudra (the present day Halebeedu) in the 13th century. Unfortunately there appears to be no record of any of the poems written by Kanti. But the riddles of Kanti—Hampa as described in the story show the poetic skills of Kanti. I have tried my best to recreate the story from my available memory here below:
The original name of Hampa was Nagachandra and he was a renowned poet and teacher in the court of Veera Ballala. Nagachandra was also known as Abhinava Pampa who composed Ramachandra Charitha Purana.
Nagachandra had a good number of students studying in his Gurukula. He found some of his students not coming up to his expected standards. In order to improve their performance Nagachandra prepared a special concoction called Jyotishmathi Taila. He would offer a drop of the Taila daily to the below par students. The Taila was so powerful that the students would show improvement in their performance immediately.
It appears Kanti was a servant maid in the Gurukula set up. Being an intelligent and gifted girl, she used to overhear the teachings of the Guru. She picked up his teachings fairly well and requested him to take her as one of his students. But Nagachandra was unimpressed and had his reservations about her capacity to learn.
Kanti had closely observed the effects of the Jyotishmathi Taila on the students. She was also aware that the Guru was offering only a drop of the Taila to the students to improve their performance. Kanti thought that she should also have a taste of the powerful concoction. The Guru had kept the Taila in a vessel in the Pooja room. One day in the absence of the Guru, she stole the vessel and went out.
Kanti just tasted a drop of the Taila and was about to restore it back at the Pooja room. Suddenly she developed a wonderful idea. She wanted to be the brightest among the students of Nagachandra! She consumed the entire quantity of the Jyotishmathi Taila from the vessel!
The strong concoction led to an extreme burning sensation in the throat and stomach of the innocent girl. So much so she jumped into a deserted well unable to bear it anymore. Fortunately for her the well did not have much water to drown her. And Lo! The Jyotishmathi Taila created its full effect on the girl on the spot. The people who came to rescue her found her composing and singing wonderful poems standing in the well! The news reached Nagachandra. He came running and was surprised by the eloquence with which Kanti was composing the poems one after another!
Needless to say Nagachandra adopted Kanti as his student immediately thereafter. Powered by the Jyotishmathi Taila, Kanti picked up all the nuances of composing the poems from her Guru. So much so she started criticizing and finding faults in the works of her Guru!
A stage was reached when Nagachandra wanted to know whether Kanti really appreciated his poetry or not! One day he spread a rumour that he was dead! On hearing the death of her beloved Guru, Kanti came running. She found her Guru lying on the bed and took it as his dead body. Unable to bear the loss, she started letting out her feelings on his poetry. She composed a poem on the spot about the loss suffered by the community on account of the death of one of the greatest poets! Impressed by her appreciation, the Guru got up from his ‘death bed’ fully satisfied!
Let me come to the riddles given to Kanti by Nagachandra to test her poetic abilities. The challenge was to compose a full stanza to the question/puzzle posed by the Guru, which used to be the last line of the stanza. Interestingly the line would also appear to be quite unrealistic and illogical.
Once Nagachandra posed the following line to Kanti:
ಸತ್ತವಳೆದ್ದು ತವರೂರಿಗೆ ಪೋಗುತಿರ್ದಳ್! (Dead woman got up and went to parents’ home!)
It appeared as an improbable quote. But Kanti made it probable by completing the stanza as:
ಅತ್ತೆಯ ಕಾಟವು ಅಧಿಕಂ ಮತ್ತಿನ ಸವತಿಯರ ಕಾಟವು
ನಾದಿನಿ ಬೈವಳು ಪೆತ್ತ ಮಕ್ಕಳ್ ಅಳಲ್ಕೆ
ಬೇಸತ್ತವಳೆದ್ದು ತವಾರೂರಿಗೆ ಪೋಗುತಿರ್ದಳ್
Another posture from Nagachandra:
ಇಲಿಯಂ ಮುರಿಮುರಿದು ತಿನ್ನುತಿರ್ಪರ್ ! (People were eating rats by making them into pieces!)
Kanti completed the stanza as:
ಸರಸಿಜಾಕ್ಷಿಯರ ಹಸ್ತದೊಳ್ ತಿಲ ತೈಲದಿ ಮಾಳ್ಪ
ಚೆಕ್ಕಿಲಿಯಂ ಮುರಿಮುರಿದು ತಿನ್ನುತಿರ್ಪರ್
ದನಮಂ ಕಡಿಕಡಿದು ಬಸದಿ ಗೆಳೆಯುತಿರ್ದರ್! (People were killing cows and pulling them into Jain temples!)
ಸಚ್ಚಂದನಮಂ (sandal wood) ಕಡಿಕಡಿದು ಬಸದಿ ಗೆಳೆಯುತಿರ್ದರ್
ಇಸಮಂ ಸವಿಸವಿದು ತಿನ್ನುತಿರ್ಪರ್ ! (Eating and enjoying poison!)
ಪಾಯಿಸಮಂ ಸವಿಸವಿದು ತಿನ್ನುತಿರ್ಪರ್
ಗಜಮಂ ಕಟ್ಟಿ ಒಯ್ಯುತಿರ್ದರ್ ! (Carrying a packed elephant!)
ಕಾಗಜಮಂ ಕಟ್ಟಿ ಒಯ್ಯುತಿರ್ದರ್
As stated by me earlier, it is very unfortunate that we do not have any records of the poems written by the gifted poetess Kanti. But her story linked to the famous poet Nagachandra (who wrote Ramachandra Charitha Purana) is proof enough to show the poetic skills of the gifted Kanti. The Kanti-Hampa riddles continue to be the inspiration for the budding Kannada poets to this day.
A V Krishnamurthy
14th July 2013