Saturday, 9 June 2012

Dasavidha Raga Navati Kusuma Manjari


Dasavidha raga navati kusuma manjari is a musical work in which Pandit Adibhatla Narayana Das exhibited his monumental skill in literary craftsmanship and musical composition.  It is a raga malika comprising ninety ragas in ten categories and nine ragas in each category. The ten categories are: (1) Sarva-sampurna ragas (2) Shadava-oudava ragas (3) Oudava-shadava ragas (4) Sampurna-oudava ragas (5) Oudava-sampurna ragas (6) Suddha-shadava ragas (7) Sampurna-shadava ragas (8) Shadava-sampurna ragas (9) Suddha-oudava ragas & (10) Vakra ragas. As the ninety ragas are woven as flowers in a garland, it is named dasavidha raga navati kusuma manjari.

The raga malika is a prayer to goddess Kanyakumari and is in two parts, the first half in Samskrit and the second in Telugu. The names of the ragas are used as a part of the prayer in each line of the first part. Thus the composer dictated the ragas in which each line should be sung. The same ragas are repeated in the inverse order in the second half. The raga malika can be sung in all talas evolving from the five jatis of eka-tala.

Another important feature of this raga malika is this: while a vocalist sings it, and five musicians keep time each with a different eka-tala, by the time the raga-malika is completely sung all the eka-talas could be concluded and not in between.

If a musician can accomplish singing the raga malika to five different talas it would be a great achievement. Pandit Narayana Das used to perform such a feat which he called Panchamukhi, after the five facets of Paramasiva. The five facets of Paramasiva are Sadyojatha, Vamadeva, Eesana, Tatpurusha and Aghora. The performance of Panchamukhi earned Pandit Narayana Das the title of Panchamuki-Parameswara. The five talas he used to perform were trisragati with the right hand; chaturasragati with the left hand; khanda with the right shoulder; misra with the left shoulder and sankeerna with the head. He also performed Shanmukhi (i.e singing to six talas) in which, he performed all the five talas mentioned above while singing the kriti to a different tala. The performance of five and six talas earned him the title, Layabrahma.

Mahamahopadhyaya’, ‘SangeethasekharaNookala Chinasatyanarayana has this to say of the Sangeetha Prabandham: A student of this prabandham who begins his musical education with the first line becomes a vidwan by the time he accomplishes singing the 180th line or aavartham. If a music vidwan practises this Prabandham daily, there would be nothing beyond his capability with regard to performance of music or tala.” 

Friday, 18 May 2012

"Translation of Khayyam's works released" - The Hindu


The report which appeared in The Hindu, Vijayawada on May 6, 2012
The report which appeared in Eenadu, Vijayawada on May 6, 2012

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Adibhatla's Rubaiyat of Omar Khaiyam published by Sahitya Akademi


The Kendriya Sahitya Akademi recently re-published Pandit Srimadajjada Adibhatla Narayana Das' Rubaiyat of Omar Khaiyam, first published in 1932, under its 'Rare Books Series' programme. The book was released at a function organised by the Sahitya Akademi and Vijayawada Book Festival Society at Vijayawada on May 5, 2012. (See the English and Telugu invitations below.) The event was prominently reported by The Hindu, The Hans India and Eenadu among other newspapers. For details of  Pandit Srimadajjada Adibhatla Narayana DasRubaiyat of Omar Khaiyam see these reviewsA Monument Of Scholarship and Body's Soul & Earth Is Heaven


Seen in the picture are from left to right: R. C. Mahesh, Regional Secretary, Sahitya Akademi; Upadhyayula Narayana Das, great-grandson of Pandit Narayana Das; Jayasri Mohanraj, translator and Professor, English & Foreign Languages Universtiy, Hyderbadad; Turlapati Kutumba Rao, writer and journalist, P. Satyavathi, writer and U. A. Narasimha Murthy, literary critic and writer.






Monday, 9 January 2012

The Versatile Genius


If intimacy with Islamic scholars stimulated him to learn Arabic and Persian, kinship with Hindustani classical singers made him cultivate their style. The cultivation of the Hindustani style added a rare and unique hybrid timbre to his music not usually found in the rendering of Carnatic singers and won him many accolades including those from the Maharajah of Mysore and Rabindranath Tagore. This is because it was unusual for Carnatic singers to be able to sing Hindustani and vice versa. The hybrid style he developed left an indelible stamp on the progress of Carnatic music. It was adopted by later musicians including some of the greats of Carnatic music, marking it as the sui generis of Vizianagaram music. Eventually when Narayana Das became the first principal of Sri Vijayarama Gana Pathasala (the first music college in South India) it became part of the curriculum. The Maharajah of Vizianagaram established the Music College in 1919 to honour the Pandit and enable enthusiasts to learn music from him. The college produced many great musicians. Pandit Narayana Das inducted violin maestro Dwaram Venkata Swamy Naidu as a lecturer in the college. Dwaram succeeded Pandit Narayana Das as principal after the latter relinquished office in 1936.”

The following article on Pandit Srimadajjada Adibhatla Narayana Das appeared in The Hans India of January 8, 2012. The original may be seen here: The versatile genius
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Sir Cattamanchi Ramalinga Reddy, eminent litterateur, educationist and founder Vice Chancellor of Andhra University described Srimadajjada Adibhatla Narayana Das (1864-1945) as a ‘
university’. Sir Ramalinga Reddy was not exaggerating, for Narayana Dasu was a linguist with proficiency in as many as eight languages, poet, philosopher, writer, composer, dancer, actor and the creator of the unique art form, Hari Katha. 

It is well nigh impossible to find a parallel for him in the history of Indian literature. Adibhatla Narayana Das was the only scholar who had mastery over four classical languages (Sanskrit, Telugu, Arabic and Persian) and translated from Persian and English into Sanskrit and Telugu; the only litterateur who wrote a comparative treatise on the works of Kalidas and Shakespeare; the only writer-composer who translated into Telugu and set to music Rig-Vedic hymns and the only writer-composer who composed a geeta-malika comprising 90 Carnatic ragas. As a writer-composer who composed music in all the 72 Carnatic ragas, he was next only to Thyagaraja. 

His literary output was voluminous. He wrote over 50 books in Telugu, Sanskrit and Atcha-Telugu (Desyandhramu or Telugu unmixed of Sanskrit). His works included original story-poems (Kavyas and Prabandhas), Harikathas, prose works, musical works, dramas, translations, treatises in philosophy and Vedic studies and children’s literature. For want of space, only a few of his works are introduced here:

Navarasatarangini (1922): A study that compares, contrasts and critiques the treatment of the nine rasas or moods in the plays of Shakespeare and Kalidas. A voluminous work, with a lengthy preface, it vetted the entire of body of dramatic literature of the two writers.

Rubaiyat of Omar Khaiyam (1932): Narayana Das felt that Edward Fitzgerald’s English renderings of Omar Khaiyam’s Rubaiyat were not literal and did not do justice to the spirit of the Persian poet’s philosophy. In order to demonstrate his thesis, Narayana Das translated both the original Persian and the English renderings into Sanskrit and Atcha-Telugu. “Hyderabad Bulletin*, a prominent newspaper of the time felt the book merited a review - Here are some excerpts from the editorial entitled, “A Monument of Scholarship”: “[...] a careful perusal of the book fills us with admiration at the astounding scholarship of the learned Pandit […] In these degenerate days when scholarship has fallen on evil times, it is incredible to learn that a Hindu, with Telugu as his mother tongue, should have been so filled with admiration for a Persian poet that, after he had passed his sixtieth year, he took the trouble to master so alien a language, and translate the masterpiece not only into Telugu but into another classical language, Sanskrit.

Jagajjyothi (1942-43): It was his magnum opus in which he analysed, discussed and critiqued ancient Vedic lore and tried to apply his theories to everyday life. It contains the quintessence of Narayana Das’ philosophy and outlook towards life. In this he was at once heretical and traditional, rational and religious. He distilled all that is good in all Indian philosophies and brought about a synthesis and propounded a new philosophy of humanism. 

Dasavidharaganavati Kusumamanjari(1938): An outstanding musical work of unparalleled erudition, it is a Devi stotram comprising 90 Carnatic ragas. The first half is in Sanskrit and  the second half in Telugu. 

Vizianagarm of the late nineteenth century was a haven of literary and artistic talent and was - to borrow a phrase from renaissance literature - in a state of intellectual ferment. Narayana Das’ innate artistry blossomed and flourished. Narayana Das used  to absorb knowledge the way sponge absorbs water. If intimacy with Islamic scholars stimulated him to learn Arabic and Persian, kinship with Hindustani classical singers made him cultivate their style.

The cultivation of the Hindustani style added a rare and unique hybrid timbre to his music not usually found in the rendering of  Carnatic singers and won him many accolades including those from the Maharajah of Mysore and Rabindranath Tagore. This is because it was unusual for Carnatic singers to be able to sing Hindustani and vice versa. The hybrid style he developed left an indelible stamp on the progress of Carnatic music. It was adopted by later musicians, including some of the greats of Carnatic music. Eventually when Narayana Das became the first principal of Sri Vijayarama Gana Pathasala (the first music college in South India) it became part of the curriculum. The Maharajah of Vizianagaram established the Music College in 1919 to honour the Pandit and enable enthusiasts to learn music from him. The college produced many great musicians. Pandit Narayana Das inducted violin maestro Dwaram Venkata  Swamy Naidu as a lecturer in the college. Dwaram succeeded Pandit Narayana Das as principal after the latter relinquished office in 1936.

Pandit Narayana Das’ literary and musical accomplishments left him peerless in his time. The literary and musical elite of his time joined to honour him with the title of “Sangitha Sahitya Sarvabhauma.” The musical maestros of his time honoured him with titles like “Laya Brahma” and “Panchamukhi Parameswara” for his ability to sing to five talas, beat with two arms, two feet and head. Five musicians used to keep time with him when he performed “Panchamukhi.” The versatile genius breathed his last on January 2, 1945. 
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*To read the editorial review of Pandit Narayana Das' Rubaiyat of Omar Khaiayam by Hyderabad Bulletin please see: A MONUMENT OF SCHOLARSHIP


Friday, 6 January 2012

Jagajjyoti


V. V. Subrahmanya Sastry, who was a mathematician by training and statistician by profession, worked in the health department of the government of AP. Hailing from an orthodox family of Vedic scholars, he was well versed in the Shastras and Upanishadic philosophy. This is his critique of Pandit Narayana Das’ Jagajjyoti.

Jagajjyoti

V.V. Subrahmanya Sastry

The unforgettable personality of Adibhatla Narayana Das, popularly known as the ‘Harikatha-pithmaha’, had innumerable facets all beaming with outstanding brilliance. Even during his lifetime several people including scholars of every grade and every field of specialization looked upon him as a savant of rare genius. Some of his admirers were even regarding him as an ‘Avatar’ or ‘Leela Vibhuti’ of God Almighty. What was the secret of his eminence?

Narayana Das was in fact a giant among men in many respects. By virtues of hard work, dedication to the cause of revival of spiritual and religious enlightenment in the minds of people of his time, he attained a unique status as an exponent of renaissance. The secret of his eminence seems to lie firstly in the versatility and the depth of insight he exhibited in diverse fields of art, literature and philosophy, and secondly in the extraordinary and flawless wisdom with which his discourses, writings and deeds were always replete.

Though every piece of composition that emanated from this great thinker bore the stamp of his inner quest and wisdom, it appears to me that his unfinished book “Jagajjyoti” contains the special message, which he yearned to broadcast for posterity. This work is now available in print in two volumes each consisting of four chapters. Here and there in this treatise one comes across instances of repetition of some pet theories and opinions of the author; but by and large all the one hundred and twenty four topics covered in the book had been expertly handled. Even the repetition of certain phrases and some ideas from topic to topic served only to emphasize the unity of understanding, rather than sound in any way jarring or biased. Evidently the author, being essentially a songster, had dexterously used the unique art of repeating set patterns of expressions as an effective tool for impressing the reader with the doctrine he sought to preach.

It is not however a new-fangled creed of a sectarian system that Narayana Das had endeavoured to preach in this book. He was of course voicing his own inmost vision; say the most valued realization he experienced in his life’s course. But through voracious reading, overfull grasp, critical faculty and creative imagination, he was able to assimilate the true spirit of the very classics in every branch of the hoary Vedic culture. Again being a gifted scholar, teacher, actor, poet and also as a mature citizen, professional artist and social reformer and saint, he could communicate the fruits of his wisdom and rich experience in this book in a telling way. His message is something like ‘Old wine in new bottles’, valuable in itself and also attractively presented. As the title of his book suggests, it is a source of illumination to the world as natural and potent as the effulgence of the Sun-god.

By way of illustrating the method adopted by the author in weaving out an endless dissertation of this type, I detail below the contents of a few topics. To start with, under the first topic, in Chapter I of Volume I, the author propounds the view that what prevails in the world process in reality is only ‘Daivam’ (the Divine Will) and that ‘Pourusham’ (the individual human will) is but the conditioned effort of a finitised consciousness aimed at a limited accomplishment. This serves firstly as a prayer to the sublime Reality that is beyond the apparent phenomena of the world and yet forms the substratum of all this. This is quite in accordance with the tenets of ‘Advaita’ (monism). Secondly it also presents in brief the essence of his thesis that the only Reality that counts, manifesting itself in the form of the Devine Will and the revelation of the 18 ‘vidyas’ (branches of learning), helps those good-natured individuals who exert themselves genuinely for the welfare of the public at large. Thus in a way it turns out to be a benediction also to the suffering and groping humanity.

Under the second topic in Chapter I of Vol. I, which is by far the smallest in size, the author describes one of the finest and most uncontroversial modes of interpreting the concept of classifying Time into different ages named 'Treta', ‘Krita’, ‘Dwapara’, and ‘Kali’. The time that is spent by an individual in mental awareness and verbal praise of Godhead is ‘Kali’; the time spent in adoring God in word, mind and deed with complete surrender is ‘Dwapara’; the time spent in universal love saturated and supported by right knowledge discriminating what is substantial from what is illusory is ‘Treta’; and the time spent in realization of the absolute Truth devoid of the functioning of the gross mind is ‘Krita’. Thus the classification of Time into Yugas like ‘Krita’ is to be understood basically with reference to the stages of evolution of human individual. While being of primary interest to the microcosm, it may be of course capable of extending to the macrocosm also. Thus, the popular conception of Time as being subdivided into the historic periods such as ‘Krita Yuga’, ‘Treta Yuga’ etc., with gradually diminishing degrees of righteousness and realization, gains its validity. In this connection, the reader will also note that the author is prone to adopt in this book a thoroughly independent and original outlook on life deriving of course due inspiration from authority of some scriptures in doing so.

In the third topic he deals with ‘Time and Action’. The concept of time as also that of other elementary substances like Earth etc. is relative to the functioning of the Mind, while Mind itself is a member of the nine-fold group of elementary substances, according to the school of ‘Nyaya Darsana’. The notion of Activity in turn arises with reference to the elementary substances including Time and Mind, while activity greatly influences the basic matrix ofMind. This sounds somewhat like an extension of the ‘Theory of Relativity’, which reveals the author’s power of synthesizing the orthodox and the ultra-modern viewpoints together.

In the subsequent topic he describes the characteristic features of the three different states of consciousness, namely, wakefulness, dream and deep sleep. Here he points to the identity of deep sleep to ‘Akasha Tatva’.

In the next topic, the ‘Upanishadic’ Theory of Cosmology pertaining to the order of creation is indicated. The later topics deal with discussions on Natureand SoulSoul Force, the extent of validity of distinctions of class and creed ‘Varna’ and ‘Ashrama’ (caste and stages of life) and so forth.

It is not intended to give in this article an exhaustive discussion on all or any of the topics. In fact one will have only to read each one of the topics in full and in the original for oneself, in order to appreciate the tenor in which it is constructed, and sense the real import sought to be conveyed therein. A brief indication of the subjects touched in the rest of the book is however attempted in what follows.

In Chapter 2 of Volume I, more light is thrown on the roles of individual exertion and Divine Will, and on the empirical nature of the caste system etc., and then on the methods of interpreting the Vedas, the Smrithis and other religious literature.

Coming to the question as to how one should interpret the ancient sayings of wisdom, Narayana Das approaches the problem with extraordinary powers of comprehension, extremely modern scientific techniques of analysis, a careful identification of all possible alternates and piercing vision culminating in proper decision-making. His method may be illustrated by the way he tackled the well known Mantra, “Chatvari Sringah…”. He has elaborated five alternative interpretations for this Mantra, each one being based on a different branch of learning viz., Science of sound, that of Ritual, that of Music, that of Life and that of Economics. At the end, the reader is left wondering how inscrutable the real or inner meaning of the Vedic hymns usually is and how futile it may be for an ordinary student to attempt an analysis of such texts particularly in the context of possible interpretations for favouring an action which is in conflict with normal code of humanistic conduct. Having dazzled the reader’s vision in this fashion the author finally concludes to the effect that from a comprehensive study of the ancient lore, one observes the necessity to reconcile the teachings of 'Smritis’ (Sastras) with those of ‘Srutis’ (Vedas), and in this effort one has inevitably to conceded that the inner meaning of all the hymns must revolve round the pre-eminence of ‘Parabrahma’: the absolute Truth which is non-different from pure Consciousness and universal Love. All this eventually leads to lend only a very limited and circumscribed sanction for the cult of animal sacrifice (Pasumedha) in the system of ‘Srauta Yajnas’ (that mode of ritualistic worship which is specially enjoined by Vedas) and the corresponding deceptions of the form of Yajna Purusha (Sacrificial fire God).

In Chapter 3, some further criticism regarding the ostensible complexity of ‘Srauta Yajna Kanda’ is presented, followed by an appreciation of the benevolent guidance afforded by Jagadguru Sankaracharya in his great commentary ‘Sareeraka Meemansa Bhashya’.
In Chapter 4, the merits of Upanishadic Cult, Bhagavatha Cult, Nadabrahma Upasana, etc., have been elaborated.

In the remaining Chapters 5 to 8, the foregoing subjects have been reviewed and amplified sometimes in a different strain and with greater emphasis than before on the need for a deep study for the utilitarian branches of learning such as the science of aesthetics (Adharva Veda) and medical science (Ayurveda) etc.

Incidentally the author indicates his devotional fervour towards the chief Deities (Devata) like ‘Bala Tripura Sundari Amba’, ‘Narayana’, ‘Sree Rama’, ‘Sri Krishna’; ‘Sada Siva’ and so forth, revealing that his Jnana is not divorced from his Bhakti.

Narayana Das is in perfect unison with the Upanishadic seers and other prophets articularly ‘Kapila’, ‘Goutama Buddha’, ‘Vyasa’ and ‘Sankara Bhagavatpada’. His head is full of Advaita Vijnana and his heart is steeped in ‘Bhagavata Dharma’. His appeal to fellow-men chiefly for promoting the pursuit of “Humanism” - humanism based on faith in God, spirit of detachment and enlightenment of real values. He denounces in strong words, all superstitious adoption of ritualism particularly that which involves the sacrificing of animals. He is against subjugation and persecution of any section of mankind by another. He deprecates the practice of half-baked spiritual austerities and would not approve of irrational adoption of ‘Mantras’ and ‘Tantras’ by persons lacking a thorough insight into the subtleties and implications of the ancient formulary. His contempt for the pedantic grammarians, imposing astrologers, stonehearted ritualists, and unruly infidels now abundant in the community knows no bounds. What he confidently preaches as a safe course for the common man is just a good neighbourly, open-minded, and well-balanced living refined with up to date and sophisticated mode of self-expression.

On the other hand, he has a more stringent recipe to suggest for another type of seekers namely the more eligible souls of advanced stature. And that is the pursuit of absolute bliss promised for an adept that established himself in the uninhibited, fearless and boundless state of 'Jeevanmukti’. Here the characteristics of a ‘Jeevanmukta’ are identified as being a self-actualising divine consciousness and an enlivening universal love for all the creatures. Thus the chief watchwords of Narayana Das may be taken to be the two maxims: “Sarve Janah Sukhino Bhavantu” and “Amrutamabhayamatma” as is borne out by his own statement in the summarizing section under the caption “Manavonnati” occurring at page 23 of Volume 1., Chapter 2 of ‘Jagajjyoti’.

This is but natural to a personage endowed with Divine Treasure (‘Daivisampath’). Though Narayana Das initially displayed a ‘Gandharva’ outlook, in that he liked music, dancing, stories (Harikatha) and aesthetic perfection, he gradually evolved the ‘Brahma’ outlook, highly intellectual and moral, capable of scientific, philosophical and religious, self-disciplined and impartial to all beings. His progress towards the goal of eternal values was so steady, sure and rapid that the very remembrance of his life and work continues to enchant and ennoble the society from which he emerged.

Reproduced from the "Harikathapitamaha Srimadajjada Adibhatla Narayana Dasa Satajayantutsava Sanchika" (1967), the souvenir published by the Samskruthi Samithi, Chirala to commemorate the great man's birth centenary.

Sunday, 1 January 2012

The Man And The Encyclopaedic Range Of His Interests


R. Appalaswamy was a lecturer in English at the Maharajah’s College, Vizianagaram. Regarded as a maverick philosopher and reputed to be a scholar in several Indian and European languages including, Greek, Latin, Sanskrit and Telugu, he was a literary critic and writer.

The Man And The Encyclopaedic Range Of His Interests

R. Appalaswamy

In my boyhood days, already during my middle school years, Narayana Das had established himself as the inventor of a new species of serious entertainment called ‘Harikatha’, which combines poetry, music and dance for the production of intensity which is the very soul of art in all its magical manifestations. He was a name to conjure with throughout the length and breadth of Telugu land and it was not unoften that I saw the stalwart’s portrait in printed pamphlets of his Harikathas in the hands of village readers. I had not the good fortune, however, of having witnessed a Harikatha performance by him until I came to Vizianagaram for my college studies when he was already past the prime of his life and was working as principal of the Music College under the Maharaja’s management. It was during the late twenties of the century that I first saw him and he was then already a sexagenarian but still possessed a physical beauty and an abundance of vigour, which drew forth the admiration of both old and young of either sex. I remember having been present at two Harikathas in those days and his megaphone bass voice which needed no mike for an audience of several thousand still rings in my ears over a stretch of thirty long vicissitudinous years. He had a very well preserved body, which was a miracle in itself. He had stones to his ears that lighted up his face, a fine turned moustache that enhanced his lion-like elegance and a pair of eyes that had at once the depth of waters stilled at even and the quicksilver sparkle of stars of the first magnitude that seemed to engage all celestial bodies in a cosmic dance and made the beholder gape in all the wonder of the Yeatsian exclamation-interrogation:

O body swayed to music, O brightening glance!

How can we know the dancer from the dance? He was frequently to be met with in those days of an evening along the main road with half a dozen disciples in his company with his arms thrown over his walking stick laid across the back of his neck behind his capacious shoulders, all absorbed in a peripatetic lesson in music and a difficult dance step. At a certain point in his low-toned discourse he would go into a spin and, as he pirouetted like a teenage girl, his voice would go mounting up and execute a spellbinding Raga that transfixed the passers by in a tableau of exceeding self-transcendence. There were then no radio receiving sets and no cacophonous amplification of cinema music that wears out our nerves in these days of universal electrification. With his uncompromising red canvas shoes, with his dhoti front tucked over one leg and his gold anklet of victory glinting challenge on the other, he was a tower of strength for purposes of offence and of defence for the Telugu-speaking people in sister realms of poetry and music.

Narayana Das had a force of personality, which marked him out as an institution among his people during his lifetime. He was a man of intensive scholarship both in Telugu and Sanskrit, and his knowledge of Persian, Hindi and English was of quite a high order. While he could write Sanskrit fluently both in prose and in verse, he deprecated over-Sanskritization of the mother tongue and demonstrated how accessible and expressive Telugu could be in an allegorical poem like ‘Batasari’ (or the Traveller) which is an original poem and not a translation of Goldsmith’s Traveller. It was for this very reason that he refused to accept any Sanskrit title and compelled a certain organisation that honoured him to call him “Ata patala meti”. He disagreed with music critics who still hold that the ‘marg’ tradition in music as represented by Thyagaraja is superior to the ‘Desi’ or folk tradition. According to Narayana Das the ‘marg’ tradition is somewhat different from that of Thyagaraja and was in use for chanting Vedic Hymns in times gone by. He was strongly of the conviction that the true musician should purify and refine the musical sensibility of his time and achieve correspondence with the dormant psychic strivings of his generation. He put the theory into practice and clicked admirably with his public, which was ready to respond to his suggestions. And he was thoroughly versed in Natyasastra both in theory and in practice. His skill in ‘Tala’ or rhythm was unrivalled and he was the only man in his own day who could execute the ‘Shanmukha’ or sextuple ‘Tala’ with his hands and his arms against the sides and his right foot beating five orders of sounds to synchronise with a prescribed tag sung in Sanskrit.

The output of Narayana Das as a writer, to say the least, was considerable. In his twentone Harikathas, seventeen in Telugu, three in Sanskrit and one in Atcha-Telugu, he treats Puranic themes in an original and personal way and his interpretation comes home to the business and bosoms of all conditions of the population. He won renown for his Sanskrit Harikathas in Bengal and Uttar Pradesh through Hindi as his medium. He received the praises of the great Tagore himself who was in the habit of corresponding with him in matters relating to music. Seven Sathakams in Telugu and two in Sanskrit of especial fluency, all deserve a high place in modern literature.

He tried his hand at Drama too and his plays ‘Sarangadhara’ and Dambhapura Prabasanam have to be popularised by being given due publicity. ‘Batasari’ his Telugu kavyam, has become a classic and his kavyam in Sanskrit entitled ‘Tarakam’ has elicited unstinted praise from Professor Geldner of Marburg University who has expressed his homage in Sanskrit verse of remarkable purity.

Narayana Das had a versatile genius and his translations should be closely examined in juxtaposition with their originals in order to be struck with their unique beauty and their closeness to the text that is sought to be rendered into Telugu. He composed music for his Telugu renderings of some famous passages from the Rigveda, which he held, was sung to tunes very much like his own in ancient times. Who can deny that his translation of Omar Khaiyam ("Rubaiyat of Omar Khaiyam") into Sanskrit and pure Telugu side by side is a ‘tour de force’? What concision and what trenchancy meet the reader in every verse and how favourably does a Persian-knowing reader react when he compares Dasu’s renderings with those of Fitzgerald. ‘Navarasatarangini’ brings into juxtaposition all most all famous passages from Shakespeare and Kalidas and the translations are a perennial source of delight to the discerning reader considering their closeness to texts and their limpidity. It may be noted in passing that, in his introduction to this compilation, the translator makes no bones, according to his lights, about placing the English poet higher than the Indian though this opinion might clash with that of the majority of his countrymen. It is a pity that the Telugu public has not seen fit to bring out a de Luxe edition of Aesops Fables by Narayana Das - which he entitled Nuru gnati - for the delectation of children. He also translated the Bhagavadgita (Velpu mata), Lalita Sahasranamam (Talli vinki) and Vishnusahasranamam (Vennuni veyiperla vinakari) into pure Telugu for the average reader. He has compiled a compendium of Ayurveda (Manki minku) for the general use. He set great store by the Dictionary of pure Telugu (Seema palku vahi) which he laboriously compiled as he believed in reviving the old vocabulary which possesses such expressive magic.

‘Melubanti’, a travelogue preserves the most delightful of his memories, and the Sanskrit work, Sarvapuranasaram reveals the range of his encyclopaedic attainments. Jagajjyoti and Purushardha sadhanam, above all, crystallize his deep understanding of scripture and his outspoken views on the corruption that has overtaken our religious and social institutions. Narayana Das had no hypocrisy in him and he condemned hypocrisy wherever he found it with all the emphasis at his command. He had no patience with barriers of caste and of creed, and he is all out for social justice both in Jagajjyoti and Purushardhasadhanam. Readers of his autobiography which was serially published in Bharati though it has not yet been brought out in book form cannot have failed to come to the conclusion that concealment is not in the man’s nature and that the man stands revealed in all his massive grandeur and draws forth our love and affection for his qualities as well as the defects of those qualities.

We in Telugu land have every reason to be proud of leaders of humanism like Veeresalingam, Gurajada and Narayana Das whose centenaries have been celebrated in succession. It is a matter for humiliation for the Telugu speaking people, or that at any rate, is the strong feeling of the writer of this essay that we have not been able to move the centre to issue postage stamps in their honour in connection with their centenary celebrations. We need have no doubt at all that Narayana Das will be remembered for all time as one of the luminaries of Indian art and literature.

Reproduced from the "Harikathapitamaha Srimadajjada Adibhatla Narayana Dasa Satajayantutsava Sanchika" (1967), the souvenir published by the Samskruthi Samithi, Chirala to commemorate the great man's birth centenary.