Amuktamalyada – Translated by Srinivas Reddy
King Krishnadeva Raya is one of the most fascinating characters of Indian history. Of course, the more I read about him the more I know that he was not someone who turned everything he touched into gold. He had his share of misfortunes. Also he was not the goody-goody character that comics and hagiographies made him out to be. There were, as in all of us, shades of good and evil in him, with the former being dominant. But there is no denying that he was a magnificent ruler, a great leader, an inspiring personality, a patron of the arts, probably a skilful lover, a physical fitness fanatic and above all, a scholar.
The many works that bear his name vouchsafe the last to him. Of these, the best known is Amuktamalyada – Giver of the Worn Garland, which is Krishnadeva’s version of the life of Sri Goda or Andal as we know of her in Tamil country. In keeping with the tradition of the prabandhas of his time, the ruler takes up the then less-known story of Andal, which in his time was largely restricted to the Tamil-speaking regions and makes into a magnum opus.
It is my everlasting regret that I cannot read Telugu, though I do understand it to an extent. And so, my reading of this great work is restricted to an English translation. But what a translation! Srinivas Reddy, a professional sitarist and a scholar, has for the benefit of people like me, brought a fantastic book. It is a slightly abridged work when compared to the original, but it gives enough to understand what the emperor intended to convey. Going through it, I find there is a fascinating descriptions of Srivilliputhur, Madurai and Srirangam and I wonder if these are actually descriptions of Vijayanagar, which was at its zenith under Krishnadeva. Is the Pandyan ruler’s honouring of Periyazhwar actually a reflection of the way Krishnadeva honoured his ashtadiggajas? Is the way he describes the reaction of defeated scholars the way say Tenali Ramakrishna responded when he saw Alasani Peddanna being praised? Did the courtesans of Sule Bazaar in Vijayanagar look, behave, play games and entice customers the way the king describes the Devadasis in Madurai, Srirangam and Srivilliputhur? Let us not forget that Krishnadeva had a favoured courtesan, the winsome Chinna, whom he married. There is plenty of eroticism as well, much of it perhaps Krishnadeva’s own experiences! The best of these is Vishnu’s reaction when Goda’s hand accidentally brushes his neck during the wedding.
Oh, and by the way, there is a lot food as well.
For those who cannot read the original, this is a wonderful translation. And there are copious notes, explanations and a scholarly introduction.
Giver of the Worn Garland, Krishnadevaraya’s Amuktamalyada
Translated by Srinivas Reddy
This article is part of a series I do on books that I like. The earlier instalments can be read here
Read Goda’s Garland of Devotion (a better translation of the phrase than “worn garland” imho) by Prema Nandakumar. It is an introduction to Amukta Malyada.
We may assume that it is sheer modesty that prompts Mr Sriram to disclaim his fair acquintance with Telugu Language.He might be referring to the script, but not to the language proper. We infer to his more than causual knowledge of Telugu from many pieces of clarificationhe has proferred on classical kritis, not only of Tyagayya, but also on those of the successors to his leagacy, right to Myose Vasudevachari. And I do remember [ but now has failed to trace] the moving tract Mr Sriram offered us , sketching the erudtion and travails of the Maras born antiquarian, Telugu poet and researcher , Late Manavalli Ramkrishnayya.
I should choose here to be adaciuos to add a few random words. Treaties on telugu prosody, such as Kavijansrayamu cite poems from Amuktamalyada, referring the creation as that of Peddana.It is yet to authenticate to be the work done entrely by Peddana.The probabily is that Krishna Raya could have taken / accpeted active contribution from Peddana, who was a professiaonl poet.
The Raya sponsored eight poets[ not necessarily all being of Telugu Language}, but his venaration in matters of custom and reitual was more to TirumalaTatacharyulu, a Srivishnava ritualist of Thenkalai sect, than it was to any poet. Priyalwar may be equated with Tatacharylu.
Garlapatii Ramalingaya is believed to have convertd to Vashnavism and changed his name to tenali rama krishna kavi. He probabaly cannot placed in the court of Krishna Raya , even at the tail end of the emperors tenure.The eisoded attributed to tenali Rama may not but be in the gambit of folklore. Inicdentally, Viruri Vedadri , whom the poet dedicated his mgnum opus to, belongs to post Tallikota years. So are the other recipients of his works such as Ghatikachala mahatmyam andUdbhataradhya Charitram.Same is the case with his bete-noire, Bhattu Murthy, The probabailty is that these two poets , hailing from two conatagious villages of Velanadu competed for state patronage. By the time the seat of the empire had been shifted to Penugondafrom Hampi.
Accounts from literary works are prone to subscring to hyperbole, more so in cases where a patron of the work is referred to .Butthe entire estamation as to the multi faceted talents of KrishnaRaya needt not be brished aside. The connoisure as he was, the omnipotent miltary genius he was , he found time to learn classical music in the esatblishe cirriculum of orthodox methodology. Epigraphical references suggest taht one Bhandaru Lakshmi narayana was endowed with landed grant fo rthe services rendered by him in offering tutorils in playing the instrumnet , vena to the emperor.Is this the same Lolla Lakshmi narayana, the music theoritician attributetd the treatise Sangeetha Suryodayam?
Looking out for Tamil edition or translation of the same. Available?
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