One Mountain, Many Forms

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In writing the epic poem of Panditaradhya caritra, Somana had two objectives in mind. One, to prove to the elite that the deshi meter of ‘dvipada ‘ was capable of accommodating the grandest vocabulary from any language including Sanskrit. It is a testimony to his poetic skills, merit of his style and a scale of his scholarly heights. But the second objective is deeper and in a way complex. He knows that the society of his time was divided and the sociopolitical forces were further divisive. He was looking for space where the fragmented society could get integrated. He was sure that the orthodox society burdened with a caste hierarchy could no longer afford to keep people together. And he could not find a leader like a Basava in his life time. His ardent search turned into a journey and had finally taken him to Sri Parvata, present day Srisailam.

I would argue that the protagonist of Panditaradhya Caritra is not Mallikarjuna Pamdita, but the sacred mountain of Sri Parvata . He found the sacred mountain as the only solace that could bring diverse people together and lead them to a life, single minded and purpose driven. A model emulated by Annamayya, three centuries later. Somana found a a confluence of diverse languages, diverse traditions and diverse living systems on the road to the sacred mountain. A pilgrims’ progress four centuries ahead of the Pilgrim’s Progress.

You find the Tamil pilgrims, the travelers speaking Marathi and the crowds from Kannada land, all moving towards one destination. One can see the elderly devotees, the true devotees, the men with character and the men without character all along. One can find the truly detached, this-worldly, otherworldly and also a band of hypocrites, all traveling together. You can also see not only the elite but also the marginalized like the Chenchus and the Piccukuntlas. The entire canto devoted to the description of Sri Parvata reminds us of the Paradise from the Divine Comedy, in true letter and spirit.

One Mountain, Many Forms

He takes on many forms and serves the pilgrims
In many ways.
Takes them to the cool pools and
Manifests himself in sacred shrines to receive
Their worship, showers bounty like a tree
Laden with fruit and provides shade like a
Serene cloud,
Makes their path fragrant with
Flowery creepers and sways over them like
A tranquil breeze.
Provides resting ground under
A green canopy, chants the praise of the
Lord in the form of a scholarly discourse and
escorts throughout like a village guard.
Runs like a mirage to divert
Their thirst and flies like a flock of birds.
Gets honored
As a guest, pours blessings like a saint, stands
Revered as a mendicant and kindles devotion
Like a true devotee.
Renders advice like a friend and
Enlivens interest in the landscape like hutments
here and there. Cleanses their hearts through
the form of sacred spots and delivers their souls
Like the holiest of rivers.

Original from Telugu

.. యీ శ్రీపర్వతుండు
దప్పక నానావతారముల్ దాల్చి
చెలమలై వరుసకు జలములు సూపు
నిలలింగమూర్తులై చలుపు నేమములు
పండిన తరువులై ఫలములు గురియు
నిండుమేఘంబులై నీడలు సూపు
వల్లరులై పుష్పవాసనలొసగుఁ
జల్లనిగాడ్పులై శ్రమములు వాపు
నలిదారికాండ్రునై నడిపించు బథము
వెలయంగ వనములై విడుదల నిచ్చుఁ
బండితులై చెప్పుఁ బరమేశు మహిమ
గండుఁదలారులై కాఁచు మార్గములు
మహిఁబారు మృగములై మరపించు దప్పి
విహగరూపంబులై వేడ్కలు గొలుపు
నతిథి రూపంబులై యర్చనలొందు
ధృతిఁదపోమూర్తులై భక్తిఁ జూపు
నెంతయు నాప్తులై హితములు సలుపు
నంతంత బల్లెలై యాసలు సూపు
భూరితీర్థంబులై పుణ్యులఁ జేయు

నారఁగఁ బెన్నదులై ముక్తు లొసగుఁ

(పండితారాధ్య చరిత్రము, పర్వతప్రకరణము)

One Reply to “One Mountain, Many Forms”

  1. An Interesting Analysis of Yours. Somanatha opened up my eyes to the Divine Bliss showering by Sriparvata without Partiality to each and Every Human Being. I had a similar Feeling when I First Visited the Holy Place in the Winter of 1968.I found many Vibrations when I Meditated on the Vast Interior of the Temple. Similar Sentiments of Impartiality by the Paramatma in treating all living beings of the earth were expressed by Sri Annamacharya in “Tanadanana Pure Tandanana”.

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