The literature of a living and progressive nation shows a healthy change when it comes into contact with the literature of another nation. It is only the unthinking that apotheosize what is their own and condemn whatever belongs to others. Modern Telugu literature has been adopting new methods of expression and discovering new channels of activity under the influence English thought and literary criticism. This is a happy sign foretelling new era of unrealised possibility and undreamt of achievement, in the near future.
The allegorical poem of Mr. Narayanamurti is original in its central conception and ideas. The life-history of a drop of water, its mysterious birth and experiences, earthly and heavenly, is in itself a colourful theme allowing scope for many a purple passage of description. The inferior artist would have remained contented with giving that life-story in graceful and charming language. But, Mr. Narayana murti is a poet, in the true sense of the term, a man who sees the inwardness of things hence; hence, he so treats the subject that it at once becomes brimful of suggestion, throwing light on many intricate problems of the human soul. The drop of water lives much the same life as the human being, - born in mystery, undergoing experiences that tend to depress and elevate the spirit cherishing high hopes and great ideals and suffering keen disappointments, finally through peace and quietude, attains a status of permanent beauty and dignity. It requires, in the first instance, great imaginative power to see 'the permanent analogy of things', as Shelley puts it, to pursue the inherent comparison between these two apparently so dissimilar objects, a man and a drop of water. Secondly, it requires an equally powerful understanding to unravel, with the help of that analogy, some of the mysteries connected with human life. That is what Mr. Narayanamurti has done here. The poem is no doubt allegorical, but the allegory is not sustained and leaves ample scope for the intrepretative capacity of the reader to understand, in his own way, the inner significance of the minor experiences of the drop of water. The fundamentals are however indicated clearly enough. They are the mysterious origin of the drop of water and man, the sorrows and delights of the two on earth and in heaven, their reincarnations and finally their attainments of an immortal majesty through surrender to the forces of life, and conquest through surrender. The drop becomes a pearl and man a free soul enwrapped in a light not of this world. The conclusion arrived at by the poet seems to point, not to the Advaitic conception of the absorption of the individual in the universal, but to the view that man shedding all that is mortal in him. So far about the framework of the poem and its philosophical implications.
A worthy poem is almost endless in its suggestiveness; its depths of meaning are well-nigh inexhaustible; its graces baffle any attempt at analysis. The best tribute that criticism could pay the noble composition of a poet would be the silence of admiration. Since, however, the convention of a 'Foreword' requires a specific examination of some at least of the merits of the poem, I would venture on the task.
Take the following verse:
భువి జచ్చున్ దివి జొచ్చు ; నచ్చటను జావుంగాంచి చొచ్చున్ భువిన్
భువి చావున్ దివిచావు నాగ నిటుచావుల్ రెండు భూతాళికిన్ ;
భువి చావు స్సుఖసుప్తివోలె బడయంబో నౌను గా కన్నటా
దివి చావుల్ నను జావనీకుము కపర్దిస్వామి ! మృత్యుంజయా !
The plain idea here is that man suffers death twice, once on earth and once in heaven; the early death may very well be received with gladness, like deep sleep. But death in heaven is quite different, more serious in its consequence. The poet seems to indicate however that he is referring not merely to the death which is the termination of life, but to the close of a particular kind of experience.
In this sense, while on earth one may die these two deaths a number of times when one's senses are closed to all that is earthly, one enters a state similar to happy sleep (సుఖసుప్తి) and wakes up on the side of divine experience. But even that divine mood is terminable. Hence the prayer :
"...దివి చావున్ నను జావనీకుము కపర్ది స్వామి, మృత్యుంజయా !"
Take another :
అయ్యయ్యో ! యొడలెల్ల జల్లుమనునేలా ? యిప్డు నాకేమి రా
నయ్యెన్ ? దిమ్మిరివొవునట్లుయగు నా యంగంబు ; లాత్మన్, భయం
బయ్యెన్ ; రాగల ముప్పు చొప్పెరుగ రాదయ్యెన్; భయంబేలా? నా
కీ య్యబ్ధిన్ బడుకంటె గొప్పదగు ము ప్పేమున్న దూహించినన్.
The remarkable point here is the presence of fear in the individual's mind precedent to the greatest event in his life, namely the attainment of liberation. It is however a curious fact that mystics very often speak of this fear as a fore-runner of the final burst of illumination. While it is true that there can no other condition worse than that of being caught in the unsteady currents of life, cool reflection is impossible in that marvellous hour. All the senses and faculties of man are ready to be drowned in the flood of the Divine. And the mortal in man coils back in fear at the ensuing destruction of itself.
There is an abundance of figures of similitude and almost all of them are appropriate and strikingly original.
One verse by way of Illustration :
పరమేశ్వరాభావ దురితభావమ్ము వి
ధాన నాస్తికతా ప్రధానమగుచు
సంతత క్లిష్ట దుష్టప్రబంధంబట్ల
గోచరాఖిల వస్తుగుణము నగుచు
కపటమిత్రుని మైత్రికరణి క్షణక్షణ
జాయమాన ధీయా ఆశయమునగును
అతి దరిద్రు మహాసనాగారమునుబోలె
నిర్ధన మనోరథములీల వ్యర్థ మగుచు
నక్షరాసేతు హృదయమ ట్లంధమగుచు
ద్యాగరహితు రాజ్యమువోలె ద్యాజ్యమగుచు
దమముగ్రమ్మిన జగ మధమముగ దోచె.
The diction is throughout highly poetic wrought with gleaming imagery. It is difficult to choose from so much that is excellent. Any one stanza taken at random would serve the purpose of illustration.
ఆరాత్రన్ నిజనిర్తృనక్త్రగత ఘర్మాంకూర ముక్తాఫలా
కారస్ఫూర్తుల కానలిష్మిత దశాత్కంజాస్యలై, తచ్ఛ్రమం
బారన్ వీచిరి తాళస్వంతముల శుద్ధాంతంబులందున్న కా
తా రత్నంబులు రత్నకంకణఘణ్త్కారంబు లేపారంగన్.
Maxims pregnant with practical wisdom are sown throughout the composition.
1. ఉత్తములు నిజాశితాళి మహితస్థితి కెంతయు సంతసింత్రు మ
ధ్యములు తటస్థులౌదు రనయమ్మధముల్ చలమూనువా రిలన్
2. * * * సమస్త మీశ్వరవిలాసంబంచు నిష్ఖేద లీ
లాలోలాత్మకులై విపజ్జలధి నుల్లంఘింత్రు ధీరోత్తముల్.
3. * * * * * యమా
యకులం ద్రొక్కి, తదున్నతుల్ గొని యశంబార్జించు మిధ్యాప్రయో
జకులంగాక యథార్థధీమణుల మెంచ్చంబోదు లోకంబిసీ !
The poem is replete with untranslatable delicacies of touch and expression. The happiest ideas are hit of by a dexterous play upon words which could be the result only of an extensive culture.
It is very pleasant to expatiate on the beauties of a beloved thing, but one should call a halt, even after some time, just for the reason that the occupation is so very pleasing to oneself.
M. SRIRAMA MURTI, M.A.,
Lecturer in English,
Maharajah's College, Vizianagaram.