(A Retired Professor of Chemistry, Banaras Hindu University,Varanasi and North-Eastern Hill University, Shillong and a Former UGC-Visiting Professor, Acharya Nagarjuna University, Guntur)
February 24, 2017
Head, Noida Centre, Chinmaya Mission, New Delhi and
Director, All India Chinmaya Youth Kendra, NoidaForeword
Life on earth is sustained by many essentials. The most important among them, to live with joy and enthusiasm, is love-divine. Although Sri Bhagavata Purana is the quintessence of Karma, Bhakti and Jnana, it primarily elicits love-divine which is transcendental in its experience. Blessed are those who drank the nectar of love! Blessed are the Gopikas who could taste it and got completely merged with Sri Krishna Chaitanyam!
There are many translations of Vyasa Bhagavata Purana into several Indian languages. Its translation into Telugu by Sri Bammera Potana of fourteenth century stands on a high pedestal both in its language and sweetness of Bhava.Its verses are sublime in thought, sweet to chant and easy to memorise. They bring out a vivid picture of stories and expressions of feelings of characters, especially the Leelas of Bhagawan Sri Krishna even to ordinary readers who wish to read them as stories.
Telugu literature with all its lofty thoughts and rich translations is being slowly forgotten by the masses in the din and roar of modern life and its various compulsions. The fact that Puranas, epics and Upanishads, among others, build the character of our nation is not remembered and replaced with a modern craze for standard of living leading to dangerous tendencies.Such a trend causes all kinds of unhealthy comparisons and hatred among people resulting in destruction. These great texts that build character among human beings are going out of reach. Efforts must be made to bring a fresh breeze of life through a revival of a desire for higher knowledge.
It is with this sincere and dedicated thought that Dasama Skandha of Potana`s Bhagavata Purana has been brilliantly translated by Sri T. S. B. Narasaraju into English for the benefit of many residing abroad who lost touch with their mother-tongue, Telugu. Sri Raju`s heart throbbed with enthusiasm to bring Potana`s Bhagavata Purana to children of Telugu resulting in the form of this book.The author introduced the present work very well by giving necessary background in the form of a brief biographical account of Potana, style of his literary prowess, purpose behind the present translation and the sources of inspiration motivating the completion of the present work. In the beginning of the work itself the author brought out the difference between Puranas and Itihasas. This sets the tone of the text and surges the reader ahead with ease in mind and clarity in intellect. His translation is lucid and deep in its flavour. Without losing the essence of the original he brought out the translation in an exemplary manner using simple and effective language. The work is inspiring and holds the reader`s mind with inquisitiveness to read further. It is lucid in style and flows with beauty of expression. The content is absorbing.
The work begins with an invocation seeking the blessings of all those inspiring Sri Raju to grasp the core essence of SrimadBhagavata Purana. In his Introduction Sri Raju wonderfully described how Potana got motivated by Lord Sri Ramachandra to translate Bhagavata Puranainto Telugu from Sanskrit. It was, however, dedicated to Sri Krishna, a Purna Avatara and a Supreme Lord manifesting himself with all his powers unconcealed unlike other incarnations of Lord Vishnu.
It is not an easy task to bring out expressions from Potana`s verses into English. Sri Raju achieved this because of his devotion to the Lord, sincere self-application and taking up the work as a Tapas. I am sure that this work reaches the hands of many inspiring them to read, understand and cultivate the great ideals of Rishis of yore getting motivated to live as beacons of light to many around their lives.
May Lord Sri Krishna bless one and all!
Preliminary Aspects (8)
(i) Potana`s Prayers (8)
(ii) Puranas and Itihasas (9)
(iii) Bhagavata Purana (10)
(iv) Dasavataras and Importance of Krishnavatara (11)
(v) Potana`s Biography (11)
(vi) Dedication of Potana`s Bhagavata Purana to Almighty (12)
(vii) Literary Aspects of Potana`s Bhagavata Purana (13)
Dasama Skandha – Part I(15)
1. Introduction (15)
2. Parikshit`s Questions to Suka (16)
3. Brahma and Maheswara Praising Vishnu as Infant in Devaki`s Womb (23)
28. Krishna Swallowing Forest-Fire to Save Gogopakas (83)
29. A Description of Varsha Ritu ( Rainy Season) (84)
30. A Description of Sarad Ritu (Autumn )(85)
31. A Description of Hemanta Ritu (Early Winter) (89)
32. Stealing of Clothes of Gopikas (90)
33. Wives of Munis Offering Food to Krishna (93)
34. A Discussion of Nanda and Others with Krishna about Performing a
Ritual to Indra (95)
35. Krishna Lifting Govardhanagiri (99)
Bhagavata Purana is one among eighteen Puranas written by sage Vyasa in Sanskrit. Puranas are accounts of births and deeds of Hindu gods.The literal definition of a Purana is that which remains new perennially. Bhagavata Purana emphasizes the path of devotion to the lord by describing his sterling qualities and incarnations. It was first taught by Vyasato his son, Suka. Being requested by Parikshit tormented by an impending death by the bite of a serpent, Suka recited Bhagavata Purana enabling Parikshit to attain salvation.
Being the most prominent among the Puranas, Bhagavata Purana underwent translations into several other languages. Its translation into Telugu by Potana is one such. It is believed that Potana was born and spent his life in a village called Bammera located in the present Telangana State during the fifteenth century. He wrote the work there motivated by the appearance and command of lord Rama of whom he was an ardent devotee.
Potana’sBhagavata Purana continues to remain close to the hearts of Telugu-speaking people since the concept of Mathura Bhakti, one of several recommended methods of devotion to the lord, is competently illustrated by him in the work through simple and sweet vocabulary. His work has been embedded with a rhythmic and a delightful combination of vocabulary to make the readers recite its verses over and over again in a devotional ecstasy. Potana`sBhagavata Purana continues to influence a large section of Telugu population to imbibe a spiritual thinking, a devotional involvement and a principled living.
It is believed that Telugu has been in use ever since the commencement of the Christian era. However, prominent literary works in Telugu emerged only from the middle of eleventh century C. E. The earliest significant work was a translation of Mahabharata from Sanskrit, like other works which followed. Consequently, this period of Telugu literature is known as Anuvada Yuga, an era of translations.
The mode of translation followed can be divided into three types: (i) Swatantra Anuvada or Kathanuvada, (ii) Bhava-anuvada and (iii) Yatha-tadha-anuvada.The first mode of translation was adopted by the famous Kavitraya, the three famous Telugu literary personalities, Nannaya,Tikkana and Yerrapragada in the translation of Mahabharata. Here the translator enjoys the liberty of additions and deletions of the original work adhering at the same time to the story of the original. In the second type followed by Srinatha, another towering Telugu literary personality of the distant past, in the translation of Nyshadha,written in Sanskrit by Harsha, only the essence of the original is reproduced.The third type, followed principally for the translation of dramas, is a true reproduction of the original including the usage of the same vocabulary, being a literal counterpart of the one used in the original. Potana followed a judicious combination of types (i) and (ii) being motivated by the Kavitraya and Srinatha. Being a strong devotee of the lord he elaborated extensively the devotional sequences departing from the original. Potana, in addition to his devotion to the lord, was a great scholar and a poet of exllence. His Bhagavata Purana contained stanzas of all categories of Telugu poetry. It is mentioned by Potana in his Bhagavata Purana that he had a transcendental experience of the appearance of lord Rama and his consort Sita commanding him to translate Vyasa’s Bhagavata Purana into Telugu to free himself from the mundane terrestrial bonds to get salvation. That experience seemed to have transformed the natural poetic ability of Potana into an ecstatic state of mind which resulted in his version of Bhagavata Purana which makes a studious and devoted reader of the work wonder whether at all a human mind can attain such levels of excellence once again.
Potana`s literary prowess is believed to be a divine gift. He says that some among the likely readers of his work have a bias for Telugu while others have a liking for Sanskrit. He prefers to adopt a judicious combination of the two languages in his Bhagavata Purana, a luxury which he could afford because of his proficiency in both the languages. According to Potana`s philosophy activities devoid of devotion to god are totally futile.
The Dasama Skandha,Tenth Canto of Bhagavata Purana, is different from others, being a complete and a competent account of the different facets of Krishna Avatara, an incarnation of lord Krishna. He is considered to be the primordial incarnation of lord Vishnu, who appeared in the form of other Avataras. Bhagavata Purana is considered to be an embodiment of lord Vishnu himself with its twelve cantos as the different organs of the lord.The significance of Dasama Skandha is evident from the fact that it is considered to be the face of the lord and is therefore distinct from the other cantos. It is the biggest among the cantos of Bhagavata Purana spreading over three thousand verses and pieces of prose.
The writer of the present translation of Dasama Skandha of Potana`s Bhagavata Purana into English has no pretensions about his competence to undertake the work since he spent a major part of his life of about eight decades in studying, teaching and guiding research in Chemistry at a couple of Central Universities, namely, Banaras Hindu University,Varanasi and North-Eastern Hill University, Shilling.A tenure of about four decades, his entire professional career, was consequently spent away from Andhra Pradesh as a Pravasa Andhra. He could thus realize the disadvantage inflicted by him on his son and daughter, as well as by his intimate Telugu colleagues on their children, by alienating them from an exposure to even rudimentary aspects of Telugu literature for no fault of the youngsters. The same sentiment is applicable to a big chunk of contemporary Telugu-speaking people scattered all over the globe consequent upon professional compulsions.
Being motivated probably by an over-ambitious feeling that he is capable of writing a comprehensible English, the author ventured to do Yadha-tadha anuvadainto English of Dasama Skandha of Potana`sBhagavata Purana which has been very close to his heart right from his days of higher secondary education in Veeresalingam High School, Rajahmahendravaram, a place of Adi KaviNannaya. His audacity to attempt this work was to a large extent motivated by the fact that selected portions of Dasama Skandha of Potana`sBhagavata Purana were taught to him by an illustrious Telugu literary personality of the recent past, namely the late Sri Madhunapantula Satyanarayana Sastri, the then member of the teaching staff of the high school in which the author studied, to whom the author wants to express his homage and gratitude. The present attempt is primarily intended to expose the Pravasa Andhra adolescents, not knowing written Telugu, who may read this work, to the nuances of Potana`sBhagavata Purana, an opportunity denied to them by their parents, for which the youngsters are not to be blamed.
The author is not apologetic about his truncated level of comprehension of Bhagavata Purana since Potana himself says in his work that a complete understanding of the work is beyond the capability of any one. The greatness of this Purana is such that even a negligible level of understanding benefits the one who makes an attempt. In order to avoid inconvenience in typing, no transliteration is followed in the present work since the clientele is supposed to be familiar with pronunciation of the Sanskrit words of the work given in italics.The present translation has been divided into three parts to avoid unwieldiness. Part I consists of events ranging from Krishnavatara to lifting of Goverdhanagiri while Part II includes events ranging from Rasakridato Rukmini Kalyana. The remaining events of Dasama Skandha ranging from Narakasuravadha to Subhadra Parinaya come under Part III of the present work.
Miscellaneous short-comings of the author in understanding some of the usages of Potana are adequately compensated by referring to a few illustrious relevant publications of TTD Religious Publication Series, Tirupati, Potti Sriramulu Telugu Viswavidyalayam, Hyderabad, and of Geeta Press, Gorakhpur. In addition, an exposure to the spiritual discourses by illustrious personalities namely, Sri Swamy Chinmayananda, Sri Swamy Ranganathananda, Sri Jagadguru Kripaluji Maharaj, Sri Ganapat Sachchidananda Swamy, Sri Sukhbodhananda Swamy, Sri Sundarachaitnyananda Swamy, Sri Chinna Jeeyar Swamy, Sri Siddheswaraananda Bharathi Swamy and Sri Ravi Shankar and also of Sri Chaganti Koteswara Rao and Sri Samavedam Shanmukha Sarma, among others, transmitted through different TV channels of India, is of extensive guidance to the author. The author desires to place on record his indebtedness and gratefulness to these organisations and personalities for rendering commendable service to the spiritually oriented sections of our community.
(102, Vighneswara Residency, Behind New Ramalayam,
New Nallakunta, Hyderabad – 500044, Telangana State)
A Literal Translation of Dasama Skandha of Potana`s Bhagavata Purana into English
(i) Potana`s Prayers SriKrishna, the lord who is a saviour of mankind, skilled in showing grace to his devotees, a destroyer of demons, a creator of several universes by a mere twinkling of his eyes in a playful way and a son of king Nanda and Yasoda is being worshipped to get salvation.
I salute to lord Vighneswara, a recipient of maternal love of Himagirinandini, a cleanser of the sins of Kaliyuga, a source of pleasure to his devotees, a destroyer of impediments of those worshipping him, a centre of joy through his sweet talk to those praying to him and one who relishes Modakas being seated on a Mooshika Vahana.
I pray by prostrating with devotion to lord Siva, the destroyer of pride of Manmadha. He holds a spear in hand, wears a garland of skulls and a crescent moon on head, makes the lotus-like face of Parvati blossom like the sun making the lotuses blossom and resides in the hearts of great ascetics like Narada. Engrossed in a playful dance, he is kind to his devotees like an ocean of grace.
I serve with attention and devotion lord Brahma, a skillful creator of the universe, a donor of happiness to goddess Saraswati, a codifier of the Vedas, a leader to rescue the Devatas, a conqueror of sins, a saviour of devotees and a well-wisher of ascetics.
Touching the floor with my forehead, I salute with devotion to goddess Saraswati having beautiful black locks of hair and carrying a garland of Rudrakshas, a parrot, a lotus and a book in her hands. Having won the heart of lord Brahma, Oh! goddess Saraswati! You are a mother full of condescension. I venture to write Bhagavata Purana in spite of the fact that I do not have the proficiency of any one among Valmiki, Kumara Swamy, Vyasa and Kalidasa, among others. Please grant me adequate competence to fulfill my objective.
I pray to goddess Durga Bhavani to grant me the fortune of a poetic ability of distinction. She is the mother of all mothers being the primordial mother of the three famous mothers, goddesses Lakshmi. Parvati and Saraswati. She is a destroyer of the demons and is the greatest among the mothers. The Devatas have implicit faith in her and hence she stays in the minds of their mothers. Such a goddess Durga is my mother.
May goddess Lakshmi grant us perennial fortunes! She is the empress of lord Sri Hari, an abode of fortunes, a treasure of wealth and prosperity and a sister of the moon god Chandra. Tender as a flower and comparable to a bunch of lotuses she is the play-mate of goddesses Vani and Sarvani and is being worshipped in all the three Lokas. She is a destroyer of poverty through her effulgent looks.
If lord Siva is not worshipped by one with folded hands, lord Hari`s glory is not sung in full throat till it is choked, kindness towards others and righteous living are not cultivated by one, giving such a human birth is a curse to the mother.
(ii) Puranas and Itihasas
APurana is defined as one among a collection of Sanskrit writings not included in the Vedas . Puranas give an account of births and deeds of Hindu gods as well as of creation and destruction of universe. The literal meaning of a Purana is that which remains perennially new in spite of its ancient origin. Its primary objective is to teach methods of righteous living through a medium of stories. An Itihasa, on the other hand, is an account of historical events which literally happened.
Mahabharata and Ramayana are two famous Itihasas, the latter also being considered to be a Kavya.They are rated to be next only to the Vedas in importance, the Puranas collectively are valued as the fifth Veda. Recent findings established the Puranas, also like Itihasas,to be indispensable sources for establishing authentic Indian history. Puranas are important store-houses to unravel ancient Indian political, religious, social, spiritual and cultural aspects.
In Sanskrit there are eighteen principal Puranas known as Mahapuranas and another eighteen subsidiary Puranas known as Upapuranas. The Mahapuranas are classified into three principal categories based respectively on Siva, Vishnu and Sakti. These originated independently from different pilgrim centers,being places usually heavily crowded and hence amenable for wide publicity.
Vedic literature is difficult to read and understand, a full life-span being inadequate for the purpose for mundane spiritual aspirants. The Puranas provided a suitable milieu as alternatives and hence became popular. It is believed that all the Mahapuranas are written by Vyasa in an easily comprehensible Sanskrit. They function as sources of Dharma and promote principled living ensuring human enlightenment.
The following lines enable one to remember the names of all the eighteen Mahapuranas :-