25 అక్టో, 2011

Dr. Puttaparthi: A Synthesis of Ages J. HANUMATH SASTRI

Dr. Puttaparthi: A Synthesis of Ages


The common original from which all the arts draw is life; all that constitutes the inward and essential activity of the Soul (Butcher’s commentary).

Sriman Puttaparthi Narayanacharyulu, popularly known as “Puttaparthi”, was one of the most popular and beloved of writers of Andhra Pradesh. His capacity for experiencing and his power for communicating were indistinguishable. His power of eloquence and grandeur of recitation had won him high esteem both in the circles of the learned scholars and the younger generation. He was a phenomenon on the contemporary Telugu scene.

Sri Putaparthi was born on October 3, 1914 at Penugonda which was once the seat of the later, Vijayanagar kings. Sri Puttaparthi was a descendant of Tirumala Tatacharyulu, the family priest of Sri Krishnadevaraya of Vijayanagar. His father, Sri Puttaparthi Srinivasacharyulu, was a great exponent of the epics and classics and was a scholar of eminence in Sanskrit and Telugu. His mother, Smt. Kondamma, was a staunch devotee of Srinivasa and was a scholar in Sanskrit and Telugu. The boy Puttaparthi inherited the traditional scholarship of his father and the love for music from his step-mother.

Even as a mere lad of fourteen, poetry flowed from his lips in praise of his home-town Penugonda. An amusing literary irony was that the very collection of his boyhood poems known as “Penugonda Lakshmi” happened to be later prescribed as a text-book when Sri Narayanacharya himself took his Vidwan examination in Telugu.

While he was in the High School, he was attracted by Mrs. V. J. Pitt, wife of the Sub-Collector at Penugonda. His association with Mrs. Pitt who was a scholar in English inspired him to study the classics of English and he got by heart the works of Shakespeare and Milton. Milton, among the English poets, was much admired and appreciated by the Acharya. He had an amazing power of memory and could fluently recite the Sanskrit Kavyas verbatim. While studying for the Vidwan examination at the Oriental College, Tirupati, he developed his faculties in music, dance and drama. His unquenchable thirst for learning many languages made him a polyglot of fourteen languages. He studied Greek and Latin under the guidance of Sri Aurobindo at Pondicherry, whose Ashram gave shelter to the young poet. He roamed about the length and breadth of India in search of Truth. He learnt Russian and a little French. In spite of all these faculties, he still felt like Milton “All is, if I have grace to use it so, As even in my great Task-Master’s eye.”

During his ’Thirties, he came under the influence of Samarth Ramadas and other great saints of Maharashtra and started an Ashram known as Aravindashram on the banks of river Kundu at Chiyyapadu near Proddatur and led the life of an ascetic for some years. During that period he composed 7000 songs in praise of Lord Vittal and set 400 of them to music. He undertook a tour of Northern India and for sometime he remained at Rishikesh, the abode of Swami Sivananda. The Swamiji was much impressed with the scholarship and talents of Sri Puttaparthi and blessed him with the title “Saraswati­putra”.

He used to collect large audience for his recitation of Tulsi’s “Ramacharitamanas” and “Valmiki Ramayana.”

Sri Puttaparthi authored more than a hundred original works and translations for study in the degree and post-graduate classes of Madras, Madurai, Sri Venkateswara, Andhra and Mysore Universities. He was a great critic and a dispassionate thinker. His depth of knowledge was perceptible at every point. In his introduction to Puttaparthi’s “Prabandha Nayikalu” Sri Rallapalli Anantakrishna Sarma says, “His voice is firm with independent thinking, forcible ideas, unsubmissive opinions. It has all the attributes of an experienced.” He responds to the situation with all his faculties alive and active. He hardly approved anything inappropriate. Though a lover of “Sringaara” he hit back when it went beyond the limits of decency and modesty.

Puttaparthi made a deep study of the works of Bhattumurti and Srinatha. His lectures on “Vasucharitramu” reveal his great understanding of the poets mind and heart. He had always been a great believer in God. His devotion to great saints and poets like Tulsidas, the Tamil Alwars, Namdev, Kabir and Tyagaraja made him forget himself while speaking on “Bhagavatam” and the great poet Potana. He had brought out the greatness of Tenali Ramakrishna Kavi in his “Rama­krishnuni Rachana Vaikhari”. He was an authority on the works of the great poets of the court of Srikrishnadevaraya. His “Vijayanagara Saanghika Charitra” clearly shows his abilities of research and gift of narration in a graceful and charming manner. Before we try to understand a poem by knowing the meaning of every word, the music of the ideas must get into our minds, when the poem is read aloud. That is what happens in the case of his “Sivataandavam”. You read it aloud to any man, who knows little Telugu, but still he will listen to it, and not only that he will unconsciously experience the idea.

Puttaparthi’s magnum opus “Sivataandavam” is a song, the like of which was never sung in the tongue of musical Telugu. It is a song that presents before every mind the great cosmic dance of Lord Siva and in this Kriti the poet and the musician, the dancer and the devotee in the person of Sri Narayanacharya, mingles exquisitely to produce a masterpiece. Of “Sivataandavam” said Sivasankaraswami, the founder of Sahiti Samiti and a renowned poet of Andhra, “Here is the brightest jewel in the necklace of Andhra Saraswati. The imagery is extraordinary, the meaning deep as ocean and the idea noblest. In the modern Telugu literature this is a matchless lyric.” Dr. Viswanatha Satyanarayana praised this as the lyric par excellence in modern Telugu literature. Whenever Sri Puttaparthi addressed a gathering, the singing of his “Sivataandavam” had become a byword, and to see and to listen to him was an experience worth cherishing indeed.

He was a rebel among the orthodox-thinking poets and sophisticated among the modern poets. The multitudinous impressions gathered from his vivid, vital and discerning study of the works of poets of different languages made him a unique poet. “Literature is not merely a use of language, although it is inseparable from language. It, uses language for the expression of thoughts and feelings which are rooted in a particular society at a particular stage in its history.” He grasped the timeless through a temporal medium, attained universal knowledge through concrete moments of experience. The impact of contemporary society was got lost upon him. His famous work “Meghadutam” is based on the modern tale of the common man’s revolt against the social evils. “Agniveena” is a collection of verses by the poet and his wife, Smt. Kanakamma, who was well-versed in Telugu and Sanskrit.

Sri Puttaparthi’s popular work “Janapriya Ramayanam” is hailed by the people of Andhra. Now and then the extracts from that great work are broadcast by the All India Radio. His voluminous “Pandari Bhagavatam” contains nearly 24,000 couplets and this was serialised by the authorities of Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam, in their monthly journal. His composi­tions in Sanskrit, especially “Sivakarnamritam” and “Tyagaraya Suprabhatam” are appreciated for their charm of rhyme and rhythm. He was a prolific prose writer and in several respects an original critic.

Sri Narayanacharya had no formal English education. A remarkable collection of his English verses titled “Leaves in the Wind” was hailed by the celebrated Harindranath Chattopadhyaya. Sri Harin stated, “The volume of verses reveals the soul of the author as being one which responds to beauty. This collection gives us an insight into his soul. It is a book of sensitive poetry.”

When I see the limpid smile of a baby in a cradle
I would be reminded of God.
When I see the cold corpse on a bier
I would be reminded of God.
But these men alive
They force me to rebel
Against the very existence of God.
(From “The Leaves from the Wind”)

His play “The Hero” is an example for his grand style. Sri Puttaparthi started his career as a teacher of Sanskrit at Proddatur. For sometime he worked as a Telugu Pandit in the Municipal High School at Proddatur. He stepped into Govern­ment College at Anantapur as a Pandit and quit the job after an year, to take up the post of a Pandit in Sri Ramakrishna High School at Cuddapah.

The University of Kerala invited him to take up the work of the compilation of the Malayalam Lexicon. While working at Trivandrum, he translated Viswanatha Satyanarayana’s Telugu novel “Ekaveera” and a few of the late Dr. T. Gopichand’s stories into Malayalam and brought out a Telugu set of Malayalam plays. He worked for two years in the linguistic library attached to the Central Sahitya Akademi. Without any thought for the morrow he resigned his job at Delhi as he did not like the red-tapism and the officialdom. He came back from Delhi to take his job as a school teacher at Cuddapah again.

He translated the poems of Kabir into Telugu at the request of the Sahitya Akademi. His translations of Dr. Kosambi’s “Bhagavan Buddha” from Marathi and “Saraswati Samahara” of Beechi from Kannada exhibit his command over languages. As a linguist he mentioned of the fundamental unity of all Indian languages and the vital integrating force of Indian culture. He represented the Telugus in many a seminar organised by the All India Writers’ Conference. He received numerous titles and honours. During 1968, he received the national award as eminent teacher by the President of the Government of India. He was honoured with “Padmasri’ in 1972. Sri Venkateswara University conferred on him D. Litt. in 1975. He won the Central Sahitya Akademi Award for his “Janapriya Ramayana.” Sri Krishnadevaraya University, honoured him with Doctor of Literature (Honoriscausa) in 1987. He was the recipient of the Bharatiya Bhasha Samsthan Award of Calcutta in 1988. He was Professor Emeritus of All India Radio. He received in 1989 the Gupta Foundation Award of Eluru. The T. T. Devasthanams honoured him during the Annamacharya Jayanti Celebrations with a gold medal in 1990.

Dr. Puttaparthi passed away on September 1, 1990 at Cuddapah.

Dr. Puttaparthi was essentially a man of independent views and outspoken in his expression. This brought him some enemies in the literary field. He was sincere and true to his convictions. He travelled all over India and has innumerable friends in many States of our country.

Dr. Puttaparthi was a golden synthesis between the epic age and the modern age.

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