Bendre ,the Kannada Poet of Reason and Vision
BENDRE ,the popular short name of DATTATREYA RAMACHANDRA BENDRE ( ದತ್ತಾತ್ರೇಯ ರಾಮಚಂದ್ರ ಬೇಂದ್ರೆ ) , a visionary poet of Kannada literature was born on this day ,31st January .( 31 January 1896-21 October 1981 ).He was known as Da.Raa.Bendre ( ದ. ರಾ.ಬೇಂದ್ರೆ ) and also by his pen name ‘AMBIKATANAYADATTA ‘ ( ಅಂಬಿಕಾತನಯದತ್ತ ).He was conferred with the honor of ‘JnanaPitha award ‘ ,the prestigious national literary award of India.
Born ,educated and lived in Dharwad ,a town in the northern Karnataka region ,Bendre composed poems for about sixty years ( 1918 to 1981 ) without pause , in an indigenous oral language of Dharawad dialect of Kannada with strong resonance of melopoeia and wide range of metaphors. He combined the worldly with beyond -worldly , nature with metaphysics ,human love with eternal love .Bendre ,belonging to the so called romantic and renaissance school of thought, transcended all the bound categories of epistemology in his poems .He was a revolutionist who criticized the money power and exploitation by institutions like religion and he created objective correlative to the sufferings of poor people in his poem ‘Kurudu Kaanchaanaa ‘ ( Blind Mammon ) . This poem is quoted here in English translation.In one of his earlier poems , ‘ Belagu’ ( Dawn ) ,Bendre depicts the pictures of minute happenings of dawn and relates them into stages of saga of life.This poem is also quoted here in English translation.
I was teaching the poem of Bendre ,’Kurudu Kaanchaana’ with Kannada original (ಕುರುಡು ಕಾಂಚಾಣಾ) and English translation ( Bilnd Mammon ) in my classes here in the Department of Indology, University of Wurzburg , in the last two years.I used to ask my German students first to read the poem in Kannada ( they have studied Kannada language in the previous four semesters and could read ,write and understand Kannada well ) and then I explain them the poem with grammatical notes and meanings of the words and also the metaphorical connotations .English translation of this poem is used to compliment the understanding.An additional material I used in the class was the audio of the singing of this poem by C.Ashwath and Yashavath Halabandi.It was very effective with my students, with its unique melody and the folk tune .( This audio is available in internet ).
‘Blind Mammon’ the English translation of ‘Kurudu Kaanchaana ‘ ( ಕುರುಡು ಕಾಂಚಾಣಾ) by Hemant Kulakarni.
Source book: ‘String of Pearls’
Editors: H.S.Shivaprakash and K.S.Radhakrishna
Publisher: Karnataka Sahitya Academy,Bangalore,Karnataka,India.1990.
‘Dawn ‘ ,the English translation of ‘Belagu’ ( ಬೆಳಗು ) , by G.S.Amur
Source book: ‘Dattatreya Ramachandra Bendre ‘
Publisher : Sahitya Academy,New Delhi,1994.
Blind Mammon kept dancing dancing
Trampling upon those that knelt at his feet.
Round his feet tinkled
of soap-white bones
of women dead
From his neck ,dangled
down to his navel
an icy chaplet of cowries
of tender baby-eyes.
In his hands a torch kept burning
Like the fire that rages beneath the sea
the fire of starving bellies
of famished folk.
Dead-drunk on human tears
the rugged lout
was singing ,
screaming ,’glory ,glory’.
His forehead was smeared
with holy ash
burnt from skins
of hard labor.
bells were ringing wild .
In harlot’s halls
dancing went on reckless and loud.
And to his rhythm
gold coins kept
tinkling in the market-place.
Without rhythm or time-beat
dancing his monkey-dance
Mammon fell flat on his back.
Bear him away
on your shoulders .
The Eastern house shone with pearl-water
Gilded smoothly all over;
Flooding through the open doors
Light drenched the entire earth.
Liquid diamond rushed through the fountain
Rushed of its own accord;
Sweet-scented buds opened up
Opened of their own accord.
On the leaves, inside the flowers ,appeared
Drops of amrita (nectar ) ,amrita (nectar ) drops .
Who brought them here from the sky
Who put them here, now?
They placed the petal brush
In the hands of the cool breeze
And smeared with scented pollen
The bees are let loose in the sky.
From the throats of trees and bushes
Rose the songs of birds
And the wild earth was transformed
Into the land of Gandharvas.
The eye saw ,the tongue tasted ,
This my body experienced touch,
The ear heard ,the nose smelt ,
My mind ,temple of God ,forgot itself in joy.
Immeasurable in space , beyond the grasp of the mind ,
The colour ,unseen , is hidden from the eye,
Only the ‘rasa’ of peace bodies forth in love,
This, my brother, is no more dawn.