- Poet, Playwright, Composer, Artist
Bharatiya Jnanpith presents the Jnanpith Award for the year 1988 to Dr. C. Narayana Reddy for his outstanding contribution to Indian literature during the period 1968-82.
Dr. Narayana Reddy is an established writer in modern Telugu literature with a multi-faceted personality as a poet, a critic, a lyricist, a play-wright, an educationist and an orator. Gifted with a reverberating voice and a captivating command over the music of language, Dr. Reddy combines' in him the genius of a creator and the charm of a communicator.
Starting his poetic career with a slender volume of lyrics Navvani Puvvu (The Bashful Flower) in 1953, the poet in Narayana Reddy soon blossomed into the tender smiles of the middle class in his Madhyataragati Mandahasam (1968) witnessing on one hand the cycle of seasons in his Ritu Chakram (1964) and the wild laughter of the leaping flames surrounding man in his Mantalu Manavudu (1970) on the other and finally emerged with a universal vision of Man in his epic poem Viswambhara (1980). In Viswambhara his magnum opus, he not only evolved a new form of epic in free verse but also projected Man in his tri-Iateral journey over the ages trying to attain artistic excellence, scientific advancement and spiritual realisation. There is a fine blend of lyrical romanticism, optimistic humanism, progressive idealism and healthy realism in all his writings.
Besides being a recipient of several honours and awards including the Sahitya Akademi Award, Soviet Land Nehru Award, Kumaran Asan Award of Kerala and Bhilwara Award of Bharatiya Bhasha Parishad, Calcutta, Dr. Reddy was honoured with Padma Shri in 1977.
Bharatiya Jnanpith wishes the young poet Narayana Reddy a long life.
P.V. Narasimha Rao
Shriyans Prasad Jain
A Literary Profile of Jnanpith Laureate
Dr. C. Narayana Reddy
Dr. C. Narayana Reddy, the recipient of the prestigious Jnanpith Award for the year 1988 is the most distinguished Telugu poet of his generation. His name is a byword in every Telugu home for lyrical excellence and verbal-melody in poetry and song. He is popularly known as CINARE the abbreviated form of his full name Dr. C. Narayana Reddy.
A poet of over six decades of standing, Dr. Reddy has to his credit more than 80 publications which include poems, songs, lyrical dramas, ballets, essays, travelogues, ghazals-original and in translation-and literary criticism. His works have been regarded as trend-setters. He is at home both in poetry and in literary criticism. His research work on Modern Telugu Poetry assessing the influence of tradition and experiment on it became a classic since its publication in 1967. He has nearly 3,500 film songs to his credit and many of his poems recited by him are available on L.P. records and cassettes.
As a Professor of Telugu at the Osmania University, Hyderabad, Dr. Narayana Reddy has achieved unparalleled success as a teacher in the classroom, and as a public speaker on the platform in interpreting literature in general and poetry in particular with incisive insight and profound sensibility. His poetry-reading sessions always draw large and appreciative crowds from the ranks of the sophisticated critics, the erudite scholars and the ordinary lovers of poetry.
Dr. Narayana Reddy has held important positions both in the academic and the administrative fields. He was the Chairman of the Andhra Pradesh Official Language Commission, the Vice-Chancellor of the Andhra Pradesh Open University the Vice-Chancellor of the Telugu University. Advospr tp Government of A.P. for Culture and Language and Chairman, Andhra Pradesh State Cultural Council, at present, he is the President of Andhra Saraswatha Parishath, a prestigious literary organization established in 1943. When he was selected for the coveted Jnanpith Award, he had already been the recipient of many awards which include-both the State and Central Sahitya Akademi Awards, Soviet Land Nehru Award, Kumaran Asan Award (Kerala), Bhilwara Award of Bharatiya Bhasha Parishad (Calcutta), Mohini Das Award and Raja-Lakshmi Award (Madras). He was also honoured with Padma Shri, Padmabhushan, Kalaaprapurna and D. Litt. Scholarship and success, achievements, awards, adulations and honours sit lightly on him, and do not disturb either his equanimity or his genial personality. He is widely travelled in India and abroad.
Dr. Reddy comes from a family of agriculturists belonging to Hanumajipeta a remote village in the Karimnagar district of Andhra Pradesh. His parents were Shri Malla Reddy and Shrimati Buchchamma. He had his early education through Urdu medium as his village was then in the erstwhile Nizam’s State. This early education gave him a grip over the language and a love for its literature. He was deeply influenced in his formative years by folk songs, Harikathas and Veedhi-Bhagavathams common to a rural background. Their influence is perceptible in the choice of his metres and his handling of them. He is a lover of music and has a fine melodious voice which he used to full advantage in his poetry recitations.
Though it is impossible to bring in all his works under any one set of labels, it is possible to speak of them as belonging to different phases of his development as a poet. They are the Romantic, the Progressive, the Humanistic and the Progressive-Humanistic phases though they are not watertight compartments. Through all these phases runs as an undercurrent the poet's deep and sustained faith in the inherent goodness of man arid his ultimate victory over evil whether social, economic or political. His commitment to peace and progress has continued over the years from the very beginning of his poetic career, which started in his teens. To him life is neither a riddle to be solved at any cost and by any means nor an idyll to be enjoyed with hedonistic pleasure, but a testing ground for hard work and achievement for the good of mankind. He is idealistic enough to dream but practical to the extent of trying to translate those ideals into realities as best as he can.
The poetry of his youth is full of romantic enthusiasm, not only because he was young but also because Romantic poetry was the dominant trend in Telugu poetry at that time. Still he never lost touch with reality. Some of his early collections of poems like Jalapatham (Waterfall, 1953), Narayana Reddy Geyalu (1955) and Divvela Muvvalu (Anklet-Bells of Lights, 1959) amply demonstrate this. They also demonstrate his already acquired mastery over language and imagery and his love of nature and beauty. His Naagaarjuna Saagaram (19550 is a master piece known for its thematic glory, lyrical excellence and stylistic magnificence.
The best representative of the romantic phase of Dr. Reddy’s poetry is Karpoora Vasantha Raayalu which was published in 1957 when the poet was barely 26 years old. This poem has firmly established him as a front rank poet who could rub shoulders on equal terms with all the senior poets living at that time. Karpoora Vasantha Rayalu is a long poem depicting the love between a medieval Reddy King, Kumara Giri, himself a scholar and a poet, a patron and connoisseur of the arts, and his court dancer Lakuma, an embodiment of grace and beauty. The king had a penchant for celebrating the Spring festival on a lavish scale and earned the sobriquet of Vasantha Raaya, and hence the title of the poem. For sheer elegance of lyrical expression, mellifluous language, arresting imagery, haunting melody and tilting rhythm, it has few equals in contemporary Telugu Poetry. Another good example of his imaginative writing belonging to this phase is Rutuchakram (1964) a long poem which won for the poet the State Sahitya Akademi Award.
Mantalu Manavudu (The Flames and the Man, 1970) heralds a new phase in the evolution of the poet. As the best example of his realistic and progressive phase of writing, this volume of free verse earned for the poet the Central Sahitya Akademi Award. The predicament of man in the present society torn between extreme postures pains the poet. He comes across people who are at the helm of affairs exhibiting an insatiable, obscene thirst for power that they exercise without scruples. The struggle of man against this stifling environment is well brought out in this volume of free verse. However, the poet expresses his faith in the ultimate victory of man over the mindless calamities brought about by the vagaries of nature, and over the heartless, long-existing evils of society. He is confident that the former would be conquered with the aid of science and technology and the latter through social change.
Some of the titles which followed in the wake of the above are Mukha Mukhi (Face to Face 1971), Manishi Chilaka (The Man and the Parrot, 1972), Udayam Naa Hridayam (The Dawn is My Heart, 1973), Maarpu Naa Theerpu (Change is My Judgement, 1974) and Inti Peru Chaitanyam (My Surname is Consciousness, 1976). In all these collections of poems, the poet identifies himself with the dispossessed and the alienated. This is reflected in his sensitive portrayal of the plight of man besieged, as it were by sinister and inhuman forces in the present world. He deplores the lack of the 'milk of human kindness.' At times the poet is very pungent in his remarks, and shows his impatience at the slow pace with which social and economic changes are taking place. However, Dr. Reddy is first and foremost a poet and submits his politics to the laws of poetry. His purpose is to support the evolution of a just society through his poetry. As he himself observes, his poetry is one of righteous anger. This is the secret of his long-lasting success as a poet.
The most noteworthy work of the humanistic phase is Bhoomika, a long poem published in 1977. It depicts picturesquely the progress made by man ever since his creation.
This story of man is symbolic in its approach and optimistic in its outlook. Here we find a happy reconciliation between the empirical and the spiritual and between the intellectual and the emotional. This is made possible because happily the poet's intuitive vision is steeped in his innate wisdom, and his conscious effort is based on his sound knowledge of men and matters. The evolution of poetry through the ages from the days of the Vedas to the present is graphically described in an imaginative and evocative style. As the name itself suggests, Bhoomika serves as an introduction to the next poem Vishwambhara.
Vishwambhara published in 1980 is the magnum opus of Dr. C. Narayana Reddy. In the Foreword to the English rendering by Amarendra of Vishwambhara Dr. Shiv K. Kumar the well known poet, Professor and literary critic in English writes that the poem, a contemporary epic,
‘seems to invite comparison with Milton's Paradise Lost and Dante's La Divina, Commedia because it is also concerned, with such fundamental problems as free will, evil and redemption’.
The Prologue to this modern epic outlines the content of this unique work thus -
‘Man is the protagonist of this poem. This vast expansive Earth provides the stage and setting. This theme is man’s story which dispenses with names and dates.
Nature offers the backdrop for the story.
Powers of the mind motivate man to play several roles.
Man dons various garbs-Alexander Christ, Ashoka, Socrates, the Buddha, Lincoln, Lenin, Marx and Gandhi.’
This story of the poem unfolds itself in a highly symbolic language through the eternal journey of man from the day of his creation to the present day. As the present day goes on till eternity, there would always be movement and there would be no static moment at any time. The one dominant feature of this journey is man’s quest for the understanding of the meaning of life and the nature of the Universe. This is carried out by man at three levels- the artistic, the scientific and the spiritual.
For the poet man is not a sinner but an individual created in God’s own image. The symbols used by the poet throughout this long poem are universal. The language of the poem is deceptively simple though capable of providing the required semantic depth in keeping with the dignity of the theme of the poem. With his rare poetic insight stand sensibility Dr. Reddy has succeeded in delving deep into the mysteries of life, displaying a rare sense of balance. When he describes the fundamental relationship between good and evil, sorrow and joy, pleasure and pain he is well-composed and is a picture of tranquility, mellowness and peace-qualities of great poet at his best.
The poet lays great emphasis on the creative role of the individual in doing good to society even in unfriendly and oppressive environment. There is no fall for man. Individuals may appear to fall at times. Man always raises himself like a Phoenix from his own ashes. There is no room for despondency or despair, says the poet, as long as man has not forgotten that he is Man. Vishwambhara brings out in bold relief the poet’s undying faith in the destiny of Man and his ultimate victory.
Dr. C. Narayana Reddy is a worthy successor among the Telugu poets to the late Vishwanatha Satyanarayana, the first Telugu Poet to receive the Jnanpith Award for the year 1970. Dr. Reddy has many more years of writing career before him and he is conscious of it as he himself says: “I still have to compete with the younger poets both in spirit and in composition”.
True to his connection, Dr. Narayana Reddy in his 83rd book Alalethe Adugulu (Billowing Steps-2013) asserts in a poem. “When one sets to raise up/ vibrations of the mind/ get transmitted to the steps/ and the billowing steps / concurrently record/ their experiences”. These lines explain the Mrincit of his odyssey as a poet.
A list of his works upto 2014 is appended.
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