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Vemana demystified

Cover page of Vemana Velugulu

Cover page of Vemana Velugulu  

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Author of Vemana Velugulu Sahitya Akademi awardee, N.Gopi is a former Head, Department of Telugu, Osmania University and former Vice-Chancellor, Potti Sreeramulu Telugu University. Though basically a creative poet with over 30 titles to his credit till date, he is also a distinguished researcher. His doctoral thesis ‘Prajakavi Vemana’ (People's poet Vemana) stands reckoned as an authority on the subject, for its holistic approch and comprehensive treatment. He is fondly called ‘Vemana Gopi’ by the literary fraternity, for his sustained research spanning over three decades, resulting in the publication of standard works bearing on Vemana.

The present book is a collection of short essays in the form of commentary on selected verses of Vemana (also spelt Vemanna). The author has chosen 428 verses after taking care to ensure their authenticity, since there are thousands of variations attributed to Vemana. Another factor guiding the process of selection is to see that the verses cover major propositions and paradigms propounded by Vemana. The book is aptly titled Vemanna Velugulu, signifying illuminating thoughts. The verses are composed in ' Ataveladi' metre with uniform refrain (Makutam) ‘Viswadabhirama Vinura Vema'. Its import is obscure. Some contend that it means- ‘Listen O! Vema, dear to the Lord of all”. In fact, the sense of each verse is complete even without the refrain. The first two lines convey the idea and the third one gives an analogy.

Vemana was essentially a reformist — philosopher poet, always on the move. He is called a 'Yogi'. He disliked evils and superstitions of all forms in the society and derided them in his poems, while suggesting remedies. His verses are loaded with morals, aphorisms, maxims, dicta, satires, adages and precepts expressed in simple, chaste, and crisp language embellished with similes and metaphors. We come across code language in some poems dealing with alchemy and other uncommon topics.

C.P. Brown rendered yeoman service to the Telugu literature by collecting and collating several poems of Vemana and translating then into English for the first time. Gopi admirably unfolds all these traits in his comments. With his profound knowledge of Vemana, he renders the commentary on each poem highly informative and enlightening. Gopi often delves deep into true purport conceptualised by Vemana. Here are few instances in this regard (with Brown's English version of the lines): Commenting on the poem Atma suddhi leni achaaramadiyela (Observance of ritual devoid of purity of heart)', the author shows how Vemana lays special emphasis on the purity of body, mind and heart. In the poem Aapagaali venta adavula ventanu (To what end is this toil of pilgrimages to the confluence of rivers), Dr.Gopi explains that Vemana discourages the fad for pilgrimages. The author while citing Aapadandu Choodu maaraya bandhula (In adversity observe well the behaviour of your relations), the author proves the keen sense of Vemana on the attitude of people. In ‘Kadaka nakhilamunaku nadi naalamandunna (That light like the morning star that dwells in the heart of every man is our refuge’), Dr N. Gopi elucidates how Vemana demonstrates his superior knowledge of ‘kundalini’.

This book is a valuable treasure for lovers of poetry, particularly admirers of Vemana.

VEMANA VELUGULU

Commentary by Dr. N. Gopi

For Copies: N. Aruna

13-1-158, Srinivasapuram

Ramanthapur, Hyderabad - 500 013

Price: Rs. 250.

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Printable version | Dec 14, 2019 5:51:11 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/books/vemana-demystified/article3657419.ece

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