‘Blind Mammon ‘:A Kannada Poem of Bendre

Posted on ನವೆಂಬರ್ 13, 2011. Filed under: ಕನ್ನಡ ಸಾಹಿತ್ಯ, Kannada Literature | ಟ್ಯಾಗ್ ಗಳು:, , , |

D.R.BENDRE ( Dattatreya Ramachandra Bendre ) (1896-1986) is always remembered as  the indigenous and popular major modern poet of Kannada Literature.One of his poems ,’Kurudu Kaanchaana’ (Blind Mammon ) composed more than seventy years back ,is still relevant in the present context of ‘Globalisation’ wherein economic power controls the society through its agencies of ‘Authority’.’Business’ and ‘Insitutionalised Religion’. In this poem the ‘money power ‘is symbolised by ‘blind mammon ‘and at the end the collapse of ‘big money’ is ironically depicted.We experience the crumbling of economic powers in nations after nations regularly ,but we should also know how the poor people suffer in the mad race of economic giants.

Bendre’s poem is quoted here in English translation.


Blind Mammon kept dancing dancing

Trampling upon those that knelt at his feet.

Round his feet tinkled

Anklets invisible

of soap-white bones

of women dead

in child-labor.

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.

In temples

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.


Translated from Kannada into English by Hemant Kulkarni in ‘A STRING OF PEARLS’. ( Chief Editor:G.S.Shivarudrappa ; Editors: H.S.Shivaprakash and K.S.Radhakrishna. Published by Karnataka Sahitya Academy ,Bangalore,Karnataka,India,1990.)


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2 Responses to “‘Blind Mammon ‘:A Kannada Poem of Bendre”

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Dear Sir, Thanks much for uploading this poem. Last we had two day seminar on Bendre at Delhi Karnataka Sangha. Dr. Kalgudi, HS Raghavendra Rao,, HS Venkateshmurthy, OL Nagabhushana Swamy, TS Satyanath and many other eminent scholars spoke on Bendre.. During the concluding ceremony Prof. OLN told that it is not possible to translate Bendre because of his ‘Desi” style. I do not think that is true! If Rabindranath Tagore was able to translate, I think Bendre also a possible. We need good translator, that’s all. or somebody must try hard ! I am optimistic.
Thanks again for your blog. ,

Dear Purushotham,
One should come out of linguistic indigenous autonomy when we comment on translation of a poem from one language to another.We ,Kannada people ,think that our folk language can not be translated.There are many languages still only in oral form ,and some of the literature of such folk-languages were translated into English.Ideas ,perspective,images in a language are more important than just language-specific vocabularies .
Translation of Kannada literature is the need of the hour ,if we wish to take Kannada beyond our homes.
Thanks for your comments.

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