Friday, May 28, 2010

"Pandit Narayana Das, 'You are a University'!"

"Mr. Narayana Das, I am merely a vice-chancellor but you are a university!"

Sir C. R. Reddy, Eminent Litterateur and first Vice Chancellor,
Andhra University

"…an exquisite poet, a versatile genius conversant with English, a profound scholar in Telugu and Sanskrit and an accomplished musician of the most enchanting type. While this pride of Vizianagaram was unfolding the story with his inimitable skill, the audience was beside itself with joy. Not only was he applauded time and again, but at the close, there was a spontaneous outburst from every one present exclaiming that it was a rare and excellent treat. Of the gifted expounder, it may well be and truly said that he is entitled to be spoken of in glowing terms by the best of Pundits, by the most skilful songsters, by the most ardent lovers of music and by the most reputed of elocutionists. The rhythmic cadences of his harmonious voice, the melodious intonations of his musical flight and the snatches of vivid and picturesque representations of nature, conjured up his lively and constructive faculty of imagination and his powerful command of language appealed to the listeners’ spiritual sensibilities.”                           

The Hindu, June 30, 1894

“…a careful perusal of the book fills us with admiration at the astounding scholarship of the learned Pandit.

“…Pandit Narayana Das, who frankly expresses the opinion that Fitzgerald’s work is not a literal translation, has gone back to the original Persian in order that the letter and the spirit of Omar Khaiyam may not be missed.

We are certainly unaware of any recent instance in India where so much learning has been brought to bear on what is no less certainly a labour of love, for it is evident that there are few persons familiar with the Sanskrit language who are anxious to have a rendering of the Persian original.

“Pandit Narayandas’s erudition is enhanced by the fact that even in using his own mother tongue, he has selected what is called Atchha-Telugu, a language that only a handful can understand. The work therefore is not intended for the masses, and the learned author expects no profits out of his scholarship.”

-The Hyderabad Bulletin January 16, 1937

"Narayana Das was like a gold standard that balanced literature and music"
Sri Sri

“Besides his mastery of music, what appealed to me most was his brilliant exposition of ideas expressed by great masters of poetry like Shakespeare. His translations of English and Persian poetry were based on a born poet’s instinctive understanding of the ideas of a fellow poet. The whole performance was indeed a feast of reason and flow of soul.”

Mahadeva Iyer, ICS, in Swarajya, February 2, 1933.

“…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.

…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.”

Ronanki Appala Swamy, Literary Critic.

To the soulfully alive anvartha Servitor of God

Thine was the Life of poesy
Thine was the Light of beauty
Thine was the Love of divine art …

"'Poets nascitur, non fit.' Horace’s dictum finds ample evidence in the life and work of Narayana Das.

"A legendary figure in his own lifetime, the father of Harikatha, the only scholar who translated Sanskrit poems into Telugu without using a Sanskrit word, the only musician who wrote treatises on Rig Veda and Advaita Vedanta, the only minstrel who sang with equal grace classical Hindustani as well as Karnataka music, the only linguist who equally well understood two classical languages (Sanskrit and Persian), the only poet who wrote with equal ease in both Sanskrit and Telugu, Narayana Das was the one and only Andhra in the last hundred years to whom that indiscriminately employed and hackneyed phrase "Versatile genius" can be justifiably applied.

"He sang as it pleased him and it was Music; he wrote as he liked, and it was Literature, he acted his “stories of God” (Harikathas) on the stage and it was Dance-drama; he spoke as it naturally came to him, and it was Wit; he composed his lines spontaneously and orally, without paper or preparation, on the spur of the moment and at the very instant, and it was Poetry; and he led his earthly existence as his instincts guided him, and it was Everlasting Life."

R.M.Challa, Columnist and Literary Critic

"Sangeetha Sahitya Sarvabhouma", "Laya Brahma", "Panchamukhi Parameswara", Pandit Srimadajjada Adibhatla Narayana Das (1864-1945), was poet, musician, dancer, linguist, litterateur and philosopher. He had mastery over several Indian and classical languages like Telugu, Sanskrit, Tamil, Hindi, Bengali, Urdu, English, Arabic and Persian.

Pandit Adibhatla Narayana Das used to prefix his name with “Ajjada” (a tiny village in the Vizianagaram district of Andhra Pradesh) as he wished to share his name and fame with his birthplace.

He has written over a fifty books in Telugu, Sanskrit and Atcha-Telugu (Desyandhramu or Telugu unmixed of Sanskrit). His works included original story-poems (Kavyas and Prabndhas), Harikathas, prose works, treatises in Vedic studies and philosophy, musical works and children’s literature.

His 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 different Talas (or rhythmic cycles), beat with two arms, two shoulders and head. Five different musicians used to keep time with him when he performed “Panchamukhi”.

Fusing the sister realms of poetry, music and dance he created a new art form which he called the Hari KathaHari Katha has a divine mythological core with poetry and music as the medium. Dance & histrionics form the visual expression. The exponent of Hari Kadha should be able to compose and recite poems extempore (Aasukavitvam) the objective being to entertain and educate both the layman and the erudite scholar. Hence he came to be known as the “Hari-Katha-Pitamaha”. Having invented the vehicle, Pandit Narayana Das wrote twenty-one Hari Kadhas, seventeen in Telugu, three in Sanskrit and one in Atcha-Telugu.  

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