God on the Hill: Temple Poems from Tirupati

God on the Hill: Temple Poems from Tirupati

Product ID: 19185

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Author: Velcheru Narayana Rao
David Shulman/
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Year: 2006
Language: English
Pages: 142
ISBN/UPC (if available): 0195677099


The devotional poems of Annamayya, who lived in the fifteenth century, are perhaps the most accessible and universal achievement of classical Telugu literature, one of the major literatures of pre-modern India. Annamayya effectively created and popularized a new genre, the short padam song, which spread throughout the Telugu and Tamil regions and would become an important vehicle for the composition of Carnatic music-the classical music of south India.

In this book, Narayana Rao and Shulman offer translations of nearly 100 of Annamayya’s poems, which were inscribed on copper plates and stored in a special vault inside the temple of Tirupati. All of them are addressed to Lord Venkatesvara at Tirupati-Annamayya’s personal deity who is sometimes referred to as god on the hill or lord of the seven hills. The poems are couched in a simple and accessible language invented by Annamayya for this purpose. They were meant to be sung in the ragas noted on the copper plates.

The poems are traditionally divided into two major categories: the erotic and the metaphysical. Erotic padams explore with the nuances of the god’s love life, and the metaphysical display the poet’s sense of himself as an agonized, introspective human being positioned in relation to the god he worships. The two categories taken together articulate a wide range of human experience in passionate, highly original, and often playful modes.

Narayana Rao and shulman’s elegant and lyrical modern translations of these beautiful and moving verses are wonderfully readable as poetry in their own right, and will be of great interest to scholars of south Indian history and culture.


Note on Selection and Translation

The Poem


Index of First Lines