Author Topic: Kuyil Pattu - Mahakavi Subramanya Bharati  (Read 7847 times)


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Kuyil Pattu - Mahakavi Subramanya Bharati
« on: September 08, 2013, 11:23:15 AM »

(By Indira Parthasarathy - in today's Hindu)

Kuyil Pattu (Cuckoo's Song) starts with a cuckoo with a golden voice that professes its love to a poet and, later, to a monkey
and a bull.  The frustrated man is about to kill it for its infidelity when the bird tells him that the present is a continuation of what
had happened in the previous birth, the cuckoo was a beautiful maiden belonging to a hunting tribe, the monkey was her uncle's
son, the bull was a rich hunter to whom she was betrothed by coercion, and the poet, to whom the cuckoo initially announces its
love, was a Chera prince, whom she really loved.  The bird tells the poet that what he saw earlier, -- the cuckoo professing its
love for the monkey and the bull -- were illusions created by them to confuse him.  The cuckoo says that it came to know of all
these things from a saint.  The climax comes when the poet kisses the cuckoo and lo.... It is no longer a bird but a beautiful girl!
The anti-climax soon follows, when the poet realizes that the whole thing was only a dream!  The satirical tone of the poem
subtly makes fun of our ancient story tellers. 

Once a saint was cursed to be a pig.  He felt humiliated.  So he asked his son to kill him soon after the transformation.  The moment
his father became a pig, his obedient son approached him to put an end to his 'cursed state.'  But his father had second thoughts.
He told his son 'Let me experience being a pig.  You may come after a few months to kill me.'

When the son came after six months, to carry out his father's order, he saint-turned pig told him that he really enjoyed being a pig
and that he was reveling in the company of other boisterous pigs.  'If you feel ashamed, you may kill yourself,' he added.

This is a story of one of the  Upanishads which Mahakavi Subramania Bharati narrates in a poem addressed to the goddess of
poetry.  He likens himself to the saint in the story.  He says,'When I was a young poet, I was committed to the Muse totally.
But circumstances have led me to renounce my absolute dedication to the pure poetry.'

What does Bharati mean by 'pure poetry'?  Apparently, Bharati had two voices in him and one was his private voice, rhapsodic,
lyrical, and spontaneous and the other his public voice that led him to identify himself with the political and social causes of his
slumbering nation.

In a poem addressed to Parasakti he says, 'When I pray to you with the burning fire of intense love and appeal to you, to bless
me with the words of power that will usher in a new era of social progress, you tell me with a mysterious smile on your face
that a poem well written is by itself the message and it should have no other thematic burden.'

What is Parasakti?  Bharati describes it variously as 'the sparkling soul of the Dark Night', 'wisdom in stone', 'when time has a
stop, the Eternity if the Moment' and 'pure ecstasy well expressed'. When he is in this mood, his voice is free flowing, not given
to any homiletic pressure.  This is his private voice, which has been unfortunately least studied, by most of the Bharati scholars.

Kuyil Pattu remarkably illustrates his private voice.  It deals with neither a political nor a social issue.  The poem reads as though
it wrote itself.  It is in direct conversation with the reader, emanating as it does from the inner voice of the poet.  Bharati calls it
'a dream' and mischievously adds, which reads like a challenge, 'if the learned Tamizh scholars are able to find a philosophical
meaning for this poem let them tell me.'

And 'the learned scholars of Tamizh did not disappoint him!  One tried to find the 'Paramatma and Jivatma relationship syndrome'
and another called it 'the poet's spiritual  journey from the known to the unknown.;  More such stuff and nonsense followed, while
interpreting this poem.

What, then, does the poem tell us?  It reads like a fairy tale not committed to logic or reason.  It is a fantasy, a dream a la Coleridge's
Kubla Khan.  The dream constructs a story and there is a story within that story.  The whole thing is an illusion and there are
illusions within that illusion. It is like a wheel within a wheel and one is at a loss to know which is an illusion and which is reality.
The reality comes at the end, as the poet wakes up to find himself, 'living in his old house, surrounded his ancient mat, writing pen,
and scattered manuscripts and magazines.'

The recurring theme of love is expressed in his exquisite poetry in a universal language, unburdened by he thematic or critical
conventions.  It is pure poem of sheer aesthetic charm that does not assume the moral responsibility of offering any message
to the reader.

The medium is the message.


Arunachala Siva.                                       


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Re: Kuyil Pattu - Mahakavi Subramanya Bharati
« Reply #1 on: September 08, 2013, 11:32:15 AM »
An excerpt from Kuyil Pattu:

The cuckoo sings its love 
for the monkey;
'Oh ! My divine Monkey lover !
Can any woman resist your love?
Man thinks he is the Lord
of the Earth !
May be, he is for such
mundane matters
As institutionalizing things !
But look !  Your incomparable
hairy chest
And gentle speech,
And your bewitching hunch
that adds a gait
To your walk and stature
Of no less charm
Can man be equal to  you?
True, he competes with you
Covers his body with umpteen
To match your silken charm
from head to foot,
Apes his face with chin with
hairy growth
In poor imitation calling it
beard and moustache !
Leaps and jumps as you do
But, he does not in a drunken state,
But, yet, tell me
Where will he go for a
god given tail?


Arunachala Siva.         


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Re: Kuyil Pattu - Mahakavi Subramanya Bharati
« Reply #2 on: September 08, 2013, 12:06:29 PM »
Nice writeup on The Kuyil song of the Mahakavi.He ends this wonderful poem with these lines:

சோலை, குயில், காதல், சொன்னகதை யத்தனையும்,
மாலை யழகின் மயக்கத்தால் உள்ளத்தே
தோன்றியதோர் கற்பனையின் சூழ்ச்சியென்றே கண்டு கொண்டேன்.
ஆன்ற தமிழ்ப் புலவீர், கற்பனையே யானாலும்,
வேதாந்த மாக விரித்துப் பொருளுரைக்க
யாதானுஞ் சற்றே இடமிருந்தாற் கூறீரோ?

All the Love stories that the Orchard Koel narrated-
I have understood as  a plot of Imagination
That appeared in the mind enchanted by
The Beauty of the Evening.
Oh!Ye Tamizh poets,although (it is )imagination only
To dissert and elaborate this as Vedantic Truth-
Even if a little scope exists,Won't you elaborate? :)

Truly a wonderful poem this.Thanks very much.


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Re: Kuyil Pattu - Mahakavi Subramanya Bharati
« Reply #3 on: September 08, 2013, 02:05:32 PM »
Dear Ravi,

Thanks and thanks for your completing the song in Tamizh and English translation thereof.  Everyday, I read in the Hindu
the notes on Religion, which is a synopsis of previous day's talks by some Savite or Sri Vaishnavite scholars.  But never did
I feel like copying them into a post in the Forum.  However, the short essay on Bharati in today's Hindu, which I read in the
morning disturbed me quite.  I felt like posting it in the Forum.

Arunachala Siva.