వేమన పద్యములు (సి.పి.బ్రౌన్)/PREFACE
WHEN commencing the study of a language, we are naturally led to enquire for works popular among the natives themselves, but composed in a style easy enough to be comprehended without difficulty by a foreigner. Such an enquiry in the year 1824 regarding Telugu made me acquainted with the verses collected in the present volume. Several manuscripts of VEMA, or VEMANA, (for both names are used) were put into my hands, which I perused and translated in such hours of leisure as my public employments allowed. They proved to be full of errors of every kind, in orthography, metre, and meaning ; no two copies followed the same arrangement, and they varied in extent from two to eight hundred epigrams. After collecting such copies as were to be found at Masulipatam where I was then stationed, I gradually procured others from Vizagapatam, Nellore, Guntoor, Cuddapah, and Madras. I then caused an index to be drawn up, wherein nine columns exhibited the places at which the verses appeared in as many manuscripts, which I thus was enabled to collate. The number of stanzas I found amounted to about 2,500 ; a comparison, however, showed that the total was little more than 2000.
It next became necessary to reduce the verses to some regular arrangement. Each transcriber had evidently selected such as he preferred, and no order was any where preserved. I at length formed the whole into five tolerably consistent divisions; religious, moral, satirical, mystic, and miscellaneous. The two last of these form more than half the work, but are omitted in the present volume because devoid of interest and utility. The student will perhaps find the second and third chapters easier than the first, which may, therefore, be read afterwards.
A system of obscure and unprofitable doctrines regarding mysticism in much studied among the Telugus ; in such reveries VEMANA has indulged at great length, and there his meaning is often doubtful. Of such verses I have retained only a few of the easiest. Among the satirical epigrams I have omitted several wherein railing was substituted for just remarks; and should perhaps have excluded yet more, but that I observed these to be remarkably popular among the Telugus.
A few others are left out as more properly belonging to the collections known by the names of Bha'scaha and Sumati: while some were rejected as being riddles attributed not to Vemana but an epigrammatist named Tiromale'sa.
A miscellaneous collection of unconnected verses, like the present, is generally denominated a satacam, which answers to the Garlands or Centuries composed by English poets in old days; being a series of verses which are similar in metre, subject, and chorus. These are generally numbered in separate hundreds, but it appeared unnecessary to retain either that arrangement, or that title, in the present volume, which more nearly resembles the Anthologies collected in Greek and Latin literature.
It is not easy to ascertain any thing regarding the history of Vemana, which is the personal name of the author, and sometimes occurs, though rarely, among the Telugus of the present day. His family name he never discloses, and I hence imagine him to have been a Zangam: the sect of Sudras known by this name are seceders from the common religion ; they Worship Siva alone, and, on embracing the Zangam sect, they give up their family appellation, and are then usually called by the name of the sect alone. Their creed also corresponds with that taught by Vemana, and this is the only one not satirized by him.
Of his birth-place and circumstances very slight traditions have been preserved. He was by birth a capu or farmer. Some assert that he belonged to the family of Ana Vema Reddi, a chief in the candanul (or Curnool) country ; and the brother of the poet is said to have commanded the fort of Gandicota. Some believe him to have been a native of Crishtipad in Candanul; others, of Inaconda in Guntoor : and I have also heard it said, that he was born at Chitwel in the Cuddapa district; but I have had opportunities of enquiring at all these places, and have after all gained no information whatever. Yet his dialect in a few passages renders it probable that Vemana was a native of the south-western parts of Telingana, where these towns are situated : and it is believed that he lived about the beginning of the seventeenth century of our era.
This author is in Telugu literature what Lucian is in Greek - a familiar writer, useful to a beginner, though neither poetical nor classical. Very different indeed from the numerous refined compositions that adorn the language, yet far more profitable to those who do not as yet attempt higher branches of reading. The terse and condensed style used in the proverbs and maxims of all languages, cannot be expected to exemplify every form of the verb or every intricacy of syntax. For these the reader must resort to compositions more polished and more diversified.
Most of the verses in this author are, like the first twenty, composed in the Ataveladi metre, and have one uniform chorus;
Viswad abhi rama vinara Vema,
the first syllable of which, (వి.) placed at the end of such verses, denotes the repetition. For " Viswad abhi" some copies have "viswat abhi" and others "viswat obhi." The import of the chorus is obscure, but the sense of each verse is complete without it. Some believe that the "Vema" so addressed, was the elder brother of the moralist.
The notes and the indexes will, I hope, furnish every information required by the reader.
I. 20 line 3, నెట్టివారికై'న పుట్టవో యాశలు?
II. 101 line 1, యుబుసు పోవకనై'న.
Most of the manuscripts of this author commence with one of the following verses, which belong rather to the mystic chapter.
క. శివ కవులకు నవ కవులకు,
శివ భక్తికి తత్వ మునకు, చింతామణికిన్,
శివ లోక ప్రమథులకును,
శివునకు గురువునకు శరణు సేయర వేమా.
తే. శ్రీకరంబుగ వేమన జెప్పి నట్టి
పద్యముల నెవ్వడే నియు పఠన సేయు
న'ట్టి పురుషుడు, మన మునని' ట్టిద' నుచు
జెప్పరా న ట్టి వస్తువు జేరు వేమ.
To the auspicious Bards, to the Nine Poets, to the Siva creeed, to his Essence, to the boon - granting gem, to those who attend in thi presense of Siva, to the God himself, and to thy teacher - pray for aid, O Vema ǃ
Whoever shall study the verses composed by the propitious Vemana, that man shall attain to That Object which is in its nature indescribable.