By Velcheru Narayana & Shulman, David Rao
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Extra resources for Classical Telugu Poetry: An Anthology
Viha¯ya bhaimim apadarpaya¯ kaya¯ na darpanah. s´va¯sa-malı¯masah. ” A rush to the mirror. Despair. The image clouded by a sigh. So it goes, with one exception, for every woman in the world. The Sanskrit is so densely compacted that the initial effort merely deciphers it, restoring some kind of linear syntax. 70) ¯ 48. 31. 01A-C2162-INT 9/19/02 1:32 PM Page 31 introduction 31 They want him. So they draw his picture on their bedroom walls. Then they stare at it with longing—against the rules for a virgin.
For a Telugu audience, there is something irreversible in Tikkana’s reworking of the epic. While Tikkana adheres closely to the verbal text of the Sanskrit Maha¯bha¯rata, he has in effect re-created the text in a Telugu mode, alive with Telugu-speaking heroes. Once one has seen the Maha¯bha¯rata through Tikkana’s lens, which emphasizes and selects elements of the original, it is almost impossible not to experience these elements even in Sanskrit—as when a hitherto unnoticed pattern is pointed out in a design and then can no longer be ignored.
These are not verses written on palm leaves, printed on pages, read silently in libraries. They exist in the living space between the poet and his listener, who hears and feels every syllable in the body. By the same token, Tikkana begins a narrative style in which the speaker within the text is entirely identiﬁed with the character. It is Draupadi who speaks the above verse, not the poet. She speaks in accordance with welldeﬁned, individualized, subjective patterns that are wholly hers, and no one else’s.