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A war between poets on rhyming


There was a war like situation in the Malayalam literary world on dwitheeyAkshra prAsam in poetry. It was about using the same letter in the second place on all the four lines of a stanza, for better rhyming.

Keralavarma Valiyakoyil thampuran (1845- 1914), a great scholar and elucidated writer in Sanskrit, Malayalam and English and a poet of repute from a royal family, ably supported by Ulloor S Parameswara Iyer, another great scholar and poet and many others were unambiguous in their conviction that dwitheeyAkshra prAsam was a must for Manipravalam compositions, which was the prevailing format of poetry then. In the Manipravalam style Samskritham and Malayalam were artistically combined just as diamond and pearl are used in making jewels. Keralavarma Thampuran ‘s Mayoora sandesam, acclaimed as his best poetic work following the footsteps of Kalidasa’s Meghsandesam earned him the title of Keralakalidasan. The dwitheeyAkshra prAsam was religiously and beautifully used in that unique composition.

One verse from memory:
പാലിക്കാനായ് ഭുവനമഖിലം ഭൂതലേ ജാതനായ –
ക്കാലിക്കൂട്ടം കലിതകുതുകം കാത്ത കണ്ണന്നു ഭക്ത്യാ
പീലിക്കൊലോന്നടിമാലരിൽ നീ കാഴ്ചയായ് വച്ചിടെണം
മൌലിക്കെട്ടിൽ തിരുകും അതിനെ തീർചയായ് ഭക്തദാസൻ.

General meaning- Kannan, Sreekrishna, was born to govern the universe. പാലിക്കാനായ്..He herded and protected the cattle ക്കാലിക്കൂട്ടം with joy- കലിതകുതുകം.
You should (reverently) place a feather at his lotus feet. പീലിക്കൊലോന്നടിമാലരിൽ.

On his മൌലിക്കെട്ടിൽ tuft of hairs, crown, He will certainly place it.

Kalidasa’s marooned Yaksha used the services of a cloud to send message to his wife, whereas Keralavarma Thampuran sent a peacock to his wife, from whom he was separated following a diktat from the Raja of Thiruvananthapuram, as his messenger.

While explaining the routes the peacock would be following, the poet mentions about a Sreekrishna temple on its path and requests the bird to place a feather at the feet of the Lord, which He would accept gladly and place on his crown.

Please note the letter ‘li’ is used in the second place on all the four lines, forming ‘dwitheeyAkshra prAsam.

Keralavarma’s nephew Raja Raja Varma, also a scholar and a great grammarian in the Malayalam literature lead the team of poets who were not insistent on prAsam, rhyming letters and the war went on for long.

The happy product of the literary fight was, there was a big harvest of poems with or without prAsam.

Mahakavi Ulloor S. Parameswara Iyer’s Umakeralam was the richest crop of the above war. Strictly following the stipulations for a Mahakavyam, Ulloor successfully incorporated the dwitheeyAkshra prAsam in every stanza of that great epic.

One stanza from memory, from a chapter on Uma Amma Rani’s moaning when her children were treacherously kidnapped and murdered by the enemies of the Palace.

അടിക്കടിക്കടിയനിൽ ആധിവീചിവന്നു
അടിക്കുമാരരുളും അജന്ടെ ശാസനം
അടിക്കുതൊട്ടു ഒഴിയണം ആയതിന്നുനിന്
അടിക്കു താണു ജഗദംഭ കൂപ്പുവൻ

(Ordered by Destiny, often the waves of sorrows are engulfing me.
Amba, Devine Mother, uproot all my worries, I fall at your feet)

The letter ‘di’ is used on all the four lines in the second place.
Perhaps unintentionally, the first word too rhymes. Not only that the word, ‘adi’ is used in different contexts, in different places.

‘Adi’ means stick, beating, foot etc.

and above all, there is a super effect of the clever usage of the word, ‘adi’ repeatedly – it gives a verbal effect of the beatings received from the Destiny, by the mother who lost her lovely kids.

The poet would have had in mind, only prAsam, will composing that stanza, but when it took shape, it blossomed fully projecting the emotions of a bereaved mother.

That is called Devi Kataksham, Devine blessings and grace .

Poets just start writing ; words follow.

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