Bendre ,the Kannada Poet of Reason and Vision

Posted on ಜನವರಿ 31, 2012. Filed under: Da.Raa.Bendre, Kannada Literature | ಟ್ಯಾಗ್ ಗಳು:, , , , |

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

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 .



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.


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6 Responses to “Bendre ,the Kannada Poet of Reason and Vision”

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ನಮಸ್ಕಾರ. ಸಪ್ತಸಾಗರದಾಚೆಯೆಲ್ಲೋ ಇರುವ ತಾವು ಕನ್ನಡ ನಾಡು ನುಡಿ ಸಂಸ್ಕೃತಿಯ ಬಗ್ಗೆ, ಇಲ್ಲಿನ ಆಗುಹೋಗುಗಳ ಬಗ್ಗೆ ನಿರಂತರವಾಗಿ ಬರೆಯುತ್ತಿರುವುದು, ಆ ಮೂಲಕ ಜರ್ಮನ್ ನೆಲದಲ್ಲಿ ಕನ್ನಡ ಕಂಪನ್ನು ಹರಿಸುತ್ತಿರುವುದು ನಿಜಕ್ಕೂ ಸಂತಸದ ಸಂಗತಿ. ಕನ್ನಡದಲ್ಲಿ ನಿರ್ವಿವಾದವಾಗಿ ಯಾರನ್ನಾದರೂ ಎಲ್ಲರೂ ‘ಕವಿ’ ಎಂದು ಒಪ್ಪಿಕೊಳ್ಳುವ ವ್ಯಕ್ತಿಯೆಂದರೆ ಅದು ಅಂಬಿಕಾತನಯ ದತ್ತರು ಮಾತ್ರ. ತಾವು ಅವರ ‘ಮೇಫದೂತ’ದ ಅನುವಾದದ ಬಗ್ಗೆಯೂ ಬರೆಯಬೇಕೆಂಬುದು ನನ್ನ ಮನವಿ.

ಒಂದು ಸಣ್ಣ ತಿದ್ದುಪಡಿ: ತಾವು ಕಣ್ತಪ್ಪಿನಿಂದಾಗಿ “Bendre composed poems for about sixty years ( 1818 to 1881)” ಎಂದು
ಬರೆದಿದ್ದೀರಿ ಅನ್ನಿಸುತ್ತೆ. ಅದು ಬಹುಶಹ 1918-1981 ಎಂದಿರಬೇಕು.



ಶಶಿಕುಮಾರ್ ,ತುಂಬಾ ಥ್ಯಾಂಕ್ಸ್.ನೀವು ಸೂಚಿಸಿದ ಅಕ್ಷರ ತಪ್ಪನ್ನು ,-ಇಸವಿಗಳು -ಈಗ ಸರಿ ಮಾಡಿದೆ.
ಕನ್ನಡ ಕಾವ್ಯಗಳ ಕೆಲವು ಅನುವಾದಗಳನ್ನು ಈ ಬಾರಿ ಕರ್ನಾಟಕಕ್ಕೆ ಬಂದಾಗ ಸಂಗ್ರಹಿಸುತ್ತೇನೆ.ನಿಮ್ಮ ಸಹಕಾರ ಬೇಕು. ಮಾರ್ಚ್ ನಲ್ಲಿ ಕರ್ನಾಟಕದಲ್ಲಿ ಇರುತ್ತೇನೆ.ಆಗ ಭೇಟಿ ಆಗೋಣ .

It is a nice post. I have always been a huge fan of bendre and this poem of his has a very special place in my heart. Thanks for the translation. Meanwhile if I may post a question, is it possible to find the e version of collection of his kannada poems. I would be very thankful for any suggestion in this direction 🙂

Dear Vinay,Thanks for your reading and comment on this post.As I know, the e-version of the poems of Bendre is not available.But I will check with my friends in Karnataka.Kannada poets/writers are not much known outside Karnataka and India ,unfortunately for the lack of translations and now ,for not using their literary works in e-media.

Thank you for the info sir. I am quite keen on the poetry, espescially from the giants like Kuvempu and Bendre. It always is a nice opportunity to have an intellectual discussion on works of these people. Happy to have stumbled upon this blog. Thank you 🙂

Dear Vinay,thank you for your interest.I appreciate your concern.

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