Two Poems of Siddalingaiah:A Kannada Poet who lead thousands of hidden rivers

Posted on ಜನವರಿ 30, 2012. Filed under: Dalth poetry, Kannada Literature, Revolution, Siddalingiah | ಟ್ಯಾಗ್ ಗಳು:, , , , |

SIDDALINGIAH / SIDDALINGAYYA / ಸಿದ್ದಲಿಂಗಯ್ಯ ( in Kannada language ) , ( 1954 ), Professor of Kannada in Bangalore University ,Karnataka,India , is a major poet in Kannada literature , who pioneered the Dalith voice in 1975.’Dalith’ is a cultural term denoting the oppressed class which was  treated as untouchable by the so called  upper castes in India.The administrative term used now  for such a class in India is ‘Scheduled caste ‘. Mahatma Gandhi  coined  the term ‘Harijan’.In Kannada language, many synonyms are used for various sub sects of this class ,like, Holeya .Madiga and so.The trend setting work on Dalith literature in Kannada is ‘Holemaadigana Haadu’ ( 1975 ) ,a collection of poems by Siddalingiah .He uses the native term ‘Holemaadiga’ to give the indigenous Dalith identity for this exploited class.

The influence of the poems of Siddalingiah paved the  main path for Dalith movement in Karnataka and also  revolutionary organisations to consolidate.He worked on ‘Village Goddesses ‘ for his doctoral dissertation.His autobiography ‘OoruKeri’ is translated into English and also many of his poems are translated to various Indian and other languages.

I have been  teaching the poem ‘Thousands of Rivers’ of Siddalingiah in my classes of Kannada literature here in the Department of Indology ,University of Wurzburg since last two years.My German students have shown much  interest in understanding modern India through such  hidden,vibrant  and much different voices .

Here are the  English translations of two  Kannada poems of Dr.Siddalingiah.


Editors:H.S.Shivaprakash and K.S.Radhakrishna

Publisher: Karnataka Sahitya Academy ,Bangalore ,Karnataka,India .1990

Translators : Poem ‘ My people ‘ by K.NARASIMHA MURTHY

Poem ‘Thousands of Rivers’ by P.RAMA MURTHY


Who die of starvation ,who are kicked till they faint,

Who cringe before others ,reaching out to hands and feet

Who keep their hands folded,devotees of those above them ,

These,these are my people.

Who plough ,sow and harvest ,sweating in the sun

Who take rest sighing heavily with fatigue

Who go about empty-handed ,getting little to eat or wear,

These,these are my people.

Who carry dressed stone,raised roofs,build bungalows,

And get crushed for their pains under the debris

Who, fallen by the wayside,voiceless ,weep within themselves,

These ,these are my people.

Who ,treated to fiery speeches ,are scorched and burnt to ashes,

Who, for those who feast on sweets with God’s name on their lips,

Stitch sandals and shoes ,these victims of usurers ,

These ,these are my people.

Who excavate gold but go without food,

Who weave fine fabrics, but go themselves bare ,

Who do what they are told,who subsist on mere air,

These ,these are my people.



But yesterday ,

they came like a mountain ,

my people.

They arrived in hordes

my men,


Black faces bearded with silver

burning eyes red with rage

burst through the blankets of sleep

breaking the barriers of day

breaching the bounds of night.

Earth heaved in the mountains of my men

and quaked to their dance of rage

and those who crawled in lines of ants

rose in paws of jungle beasts

and those who crept like reptiles

rose in cobra hoods.

They rose , my men, in mountains

shouting the red song

Down ,down inequality

Down Caste Hierarchy

Down the bug that fattens on money .

Ah, they flooded and flowed in rivers,

my people ,yesterday!

The town and village they inundated

they plunged to depths of unknown roots

they floated to heights of unseen stars.

See how by the bushes and under the trees

in the streets and in the alleys

they gather in hordes,

my people,

flushing down the ranks of Headman’s power

and the files of Money-lenders away.

These shout a shriek of defiance

those  are struck dumb,

these thunder from angry throats

those  fall silent.

Ah, the winds of Revolution,

my people,

have seized the throats of those cut-throats.

See how in  the whirlwind

twist the police batons

and knives of secret agents .

See how the twigs and dry leaves

spin the debris of Vedas,

of Puranas and Shastras .

See how the dirt of ammunition

and hardware of gunmen

whirl in the whirlwind

of Revolution!

Ah, my people

how they flooded in thousands of rivers

to swell the Revolutionary Sea.

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2 Responses to “Two Poems of Siddalingaiah:A Kannada Poet who lead thousands of hidden rivers”

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Thank you for such useful information…

wow what an imagination i love it for kannadigas and karnataka

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