Classical Telugu Poetry: An Anthology

By Velcheru Narayana Rao; David Shulman | Go to book overview

FOURTEEN
Dhūrjaṭi
Sixteenth century

It is difficult to disentangle Dhūrjaṭi from the literary legend of Kṛṣṇadevarāya's eight great poets, the aṣṭa—dig—gajas, with whom the king—poet is supposed to have spent most of his time in a pavilion called bhuvana—vijaya, “conquest of the world. ”1

There is clearly a powerful investment in this legend—a poet's fantasy of constant royal attention. Within the framework of this tale, Dhūrjaṭi, always named as one of the eight, undergoes a conversion or transformation from court poet to temple poet. Sickened by life at court, he is supposed to have headed for the temple of Śiva at Kāḷahasti, in the southern reaches of the Andhra land. His Kāḷahastîśvara—sátakamu poignantly embodies his introspective vision and rejection of life in the world. Along with this expressive text, however, Dhūrjaṭi composed a kāvya on Kāḷahasti—the Kāḷahasti– māhātmyamu—lyrically narrating the main purāṇic stories about this remarkable temple. We have translated a section of this text, in which the Kāḷahasti tradition appropriates and recycles a well—known Tamil story from Madurai about the great classical poet Nakkīrar and his “conversion, ” which is similar to Dhūrjaṭi's.2

Dhūrjaṭi was the son of Jakkayya Nārāyaṇa and Siṅgamma. This is the sole hard biographical fact we possess about him. For the rest, we are left to construct a biography from the highly personal tones of his śataka—assuming that these verses are indeed by a single hand, that of the author of the

____________________
1
This structure is, in fact, mentioned by Pĕddana, Manu—caritramu (Hyderbad: Andhra Pradesh Sahitya Akademi, 1966), 1.13.
2
On the early history of the story of Nakkīrar/Natkīra, see Velcheru Narayana Rao and David Shulman A Poem at the Right Moment: Remembered Verses from Premodern South India (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998), 174–80 and sources cited there.

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