Gossiping on a rainy day

h6

Amuktamalyada, the mature and the most well-knit poem (proudha prabamdham) of Srikrishnadevaraya is a skillful blend of imagination and acute realism. The structure of the poem is an epitome of Vijayanagara architecture. It is massive and fortified with gigantic blocks of verses stuffed with ornamentation. The stories in the poem lead the reader into long corridors for the imagination to roam around. It has all the critical components of a royal fort- the court hall, the granary, the weaponry, the sacred spaces and the sprawling gardens. It is a garland woven with tales of love, social and political obligations, the yearning of the this-worldly and angst of the other-worldly. Adhering to the medieval aesthetics, the poem contains elaborate and intricate descriptions of the seasons. All the four seasons were there: the spring, the summer, the rains and the autumn. But it is the description of the rainy season that makes the poet and the poem stand unique. The scenes of village and town life were described with an acute detail. That an Emperor could paint the life of his ordinary subjects with a such a naturalism is something that makes successive generations of readers to wonder at.

This particular poem describes an ordinary moment. The scene is common even now. When it suddenly rains people on the roads quickly gather under a shelter and in their few moments of waiting, they lapse into a gossip. The gossip runs only till the rain stops. That the gossip is political is what makes the poem look modern and contemporary. The poet also suggests that those few moments of chatting would form the public opinion later. Krishnadevaraya had to battle continuously with the Gajapathis of Orissa and the Sultans of the Deccan. The subject of the gossip was the relative strengths of those three rulers. The Gajapathi was known for his strong elephantry. The sultans were building up a strong cavalry with the help of the Portuguese. Krishnadevaraya could defeat both of them with his strong infantry. There is a subtle suggestion in his coining of the word ‘nrpati’, which can be read in either way: a king with a brave infantry or a king that has won the hearts of his people.

Gossiping on a rainy day

Driven by the sudden pours
the passersby quickly join a shelter,
A gossip begins, turns serious, unfolds
into an argument over,
who is stronger, whether the king
having mighty elephants or
the one known for his cavalry or the
emperor that rules the people-
They quarrel for a while with relative
strengths and numbers.
Suddenly the rain stops, the clouds
scatter, and the sky shines,
The travelers jump at once in all
directions on their daily errands.

Original from Telugu

రయమున వృష్టికై యొదిఁగి రచ్చలపై, విధియింతు రుగ్రతన్
హయపతిమీఁద, దంతిపతినాతనిపై నృపతిం గజాదిని
ర్ణయముల మొత్తులాడుదురు, మ్రబ్బొక యింతయు విప్ప విచ్చు మొ
గ్గయి మరి పాసిపోదురు సమస్త దిశాగతులైన యధ్వగుల్ (4:131)

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