(96) EKATMA PANCHAKAM
20th February, 1947
In my last letter I wrote to you about Telugu venba. I felt that it would have been better if Bhagavan had composed some more verses, but kept quiet for the time being, as I felt I should not ask unless a suitable opportunity presented itself. When I reached the hall in the afternoon of the 16th, Bhagavan was talking to a devotee about venba metre. He saw me and began to explain the differences between Tamil and Telugu chandas and said, “It seems once Guha Namasivaya Swamy decided to compose at the rate of one venba per day. That would be about 360 verses in a year. He composed a number of verses accordingly, some had been lost and the remaining verses were printed by his devotees. Quite a number of them are available now.” “Will it not be beneficial to the world if Bhagavan also composes similarly?” said the devotees.
“I do not know why, but my mind refuses to move in that direction. What am I to do?” replied Bhagavan.
“But they are so few! If some more are composed, and if the relative chandas is constructed, it will be a new treasure for our language!” I said.
“That is all very well, but am I a pandit? If all this is to be written, one has to study Bhagavatam, Bharatam and all that. But what am I to write about? What is there to write about?” he asked.
“Whatever Bhagavan writes will itself be a matter of interest,” I replied.
He replied, “You write so many verses. Is that not enough? If you want, get me Pedda Bala Siksha (popular children’s primer in Telugu), or Sulakshana Saram. I shall tell you the ganas, and you may compose yourself.”
I said, “I don’t want to write anything. If Bhagavan writes anything, I shall read it; otherwise not.” He laughed and kept silent.
I went out and began writing something sitting in front of the verandah. But you see Bhagavan is full of kindness.
As soon as I left the hall, it seems he composed a venba and read it out to the devotees. He saw me in the evening as he was going out, looked at me and said, “Here is another venba I have just now composed. You may see it.” Overwhelmed with joy, I looked at it and kept it. Bhagavan translated it into Tamil and told Muruganar, “Am I well read in Telugu? That is why I try to avoid writing in Telugu, but she keeps on asking. I raised several objections but she did not agree. Therefore I had to write.”
“Bhagavan’s saying is destined to come out in this manner,” said Muruganar. It was 6 p.m. I came home saying I would copy it the next day. I went to the Hall next morning at 8 o’clock. On seeing him, Bhagavan said, “Here is another composed by me last night. They make five in all. They may be called ‘Atma Panchakam’! But Sankara has already composed something under the same name. Let us therefore call them ‘Ekatma Panchakam’. I have already numbered the verses. You may verify, and copy them out.” As instructed, I copied them out. On seeing me do that, several other devotees also copied them and got them by heart.
This afternoon a lady devotee sang the Ekatma Panchakam in the Hall. When she sang the third verse, commencing ‘thanalo thanuvunda’ Bhagavan looked at me and said, “See I gave this example of the cinema when I was in Virupaksha Cave, even before cinemas became popular. There were no cinemas in Sankara’s time. Therefore he gave the example, ‘viswam darpana drisyamana nagari’. He would not have given that example if there had been cinemas in his time. We have now got in the cinema a very easy example to give.”