(95) TELUGU VENBA
15th February, 1947
The magazine Thyagi published last month a review on the recently printed Tamil puranam called Tiruchuli. In the review they included three verses taken out from the book called, Thiruchuli Venba Andadhi, for purpose of comparison.
Encouraged by the Sarvadhikari, I wanted to read the review, and therefore took the magazine from Bhagavan about ten days ago.
The venba is poetry with double meanings. Since it is in praise of Bhuminatha (i.e. Siva) it is pleasant to hear it sung. I was seated in the hall, staring at the magazine. Bhagavan felt that I would not be able to understand it, and so gave me the gist of the three verses, as follows: “Bhuminatha is the name of the God in Thiruchuli temple, and Sahaya Valli the name of the Goddess; this local purana is included in Skanda Purana under the name of Tirisulapura Mahatmyam.
“‘O Bhuminatha! All the Gods in heaven praised you as a hero unaided, on the assumption that you achieved victory by your own powers, unaided by any one in the fight against Tripurasuras. But you are Ardhanareeswara, half-man and half-woman; so, what would you have achieved in the fight against Tripurasuras, if you had not been aided by the Goddess Sahaya Valli? The left side of your body is hers. Could you have stretched your bow without her aid?’ That is the meaning.
“‘You are immobile as you are in the form of a Mountain; without the aid of the Goddess Sakti (energy), what could you achieve? Therefore it is not true to say that you are a hero, unaided. You cannot achieve anything without the aid of our Sahaya Valli. That is the other meaning.
There are many other varieties of special meanings included in those writings,” said Bhagavan, in an ecstasy of devotion.
It appears that the book Venba Andadhi was received from the editors of the magazine on the next day. When I went to the Ashram in the afternoon at 2-30, Bhagavan told me that the book had been received.
As I took it up to see, Bhagavan told me laughingly, “Nayana started to compose venba in Sanskrit, but the prasa (metre) did not agree, and he left off as he found the metre to be more difficult than arya vritta. He himself said that it is Sukla Chandas. Lakshmana Sarma at first composed his verses ‘Unnathi Nalubadhi’ in Sanskrit in venba metre but the prasa and ganas were not right. I corrected only the mangala sloka.
Narasinga Rao composed it in Telugu but that too did not come out well.” “That is perhaps because there is no suitable metre in Telugu,” I suggested. “Yes! It is so! It is rather difficult.
I could have composed it, but somehow I did not do so.” I asked Bhagavan, rather regretfully, “Has Bhagavan stopped altogether composing in Telugu?” He replied, “You yourself can do so, if I tell you the ganas. Why should I?” “But I do not know even the ordinary chandas. How can I know this specialised variety? Even Nayana could not compose, you said.
If so who else can do it? Bhagavan himself must write.
Bhagavan’s compositions which are in the form of sutras are very pleasant, aren’t they? You must please favour us (with your composition),” I requested him earnestly. He did not utter a word, but remained silent. I felt dejected and went home with the book.
I could not attend the hall for three days. When I reached there on the fourth day, Bhagavan gave me bits of paper and said, “The other day we were talking about ‘venba’ in Telugu. The next day I composed these three verses in Telugu and then translated them into Tamil. See! They should be sung in Sankarabharana raga slowly, very slowly.” “You should give us some more verses on the same lines!” I requested him. He replied, “Enough! There is no suitable chandas in Telugu. People would laugh at it! There is not even a suitable topic to write about! They are all ordinary words.” “Bhagavan’s voice does not require any topic in particular. Whatever comes out of his mouth is a topic, and that is the Veda. If there is no suitable metre in Telugu, why does Bhagavan not create one?” I said.
Muruganar supported me, and said, “If Bhagavan composes now and then like this, it will become a volume in due course. If the Telugu language can get a new metre, is it not a great gain for it?” Bhagavan did not reply. I copied out the three venbas for my record.