An enchanting garden full of flowering plants and trees.. There is a mansion within it. A room is there at a far nook of it. The doors of the room are opened out.gently. .By a fifteen year old, a kid. A lass of royal lineage, by looks. She climbs down the stairs, feet hesitant and trembling.
Oh! She comes this way. What business does she have at this river ?
She appears perfectly immaculate, a maiden. But, no!
Is that an infant, in her tender little rosy pink palms ?
What kinship does he likely have to her? He looks a perfect tiny replica of the girl.
He, surely must be her child, no doubt about that .
Is she happy ? No, doesn’t seem so. Is she weeping, then.?
Those tears that are streaming out of her eyes, – are they for joy, or are they brimming out from some sorrow? But, sure, they are raining out of her eyes, on to the baby’s lovable cheeks which are shining like mirrors.
Oh, I know, at last . Now, that a waft of wind has disturbed her sheeny veil a bit aside.
Yeah, we now have a glimpse of this kid’s familiar countenance.
She is the daughter of Kuntibhoja. ,She is the tender, mild and graceful, Kunthi Kumati, none other.
She seems to be mumbling something to herself.
” Why did that sage grant me those charmed words? Okay, he granted them to me, why did I have to chant them to invoke the God of Sun, to my abode? Agreed, I called out to him, but did he have to manifest before me, just like that? Okay, he came. But oughtn’t he to have considered a bit that I was just a kid, a virgin, Why did he have to take me into his arms as his own? But even so, did he have to grant me as a boon, a son in a jiffy, then and there? Kunthi, surely, this is The End, the very finis, to all your glory and joy.”
” I can not bear to drag on this dreary existence, shedding tears of misery,.no, not for long.
Here, I find this kind mother, Ganga, consort of Lord Siva the sacred river, the cleanser of all that is evil or vice,
I will enter her cozy womb, taking this offspring of my womb along with me.”
Having made up her mind thus, she hugs her baby tightly to her bosom and starts walking slowly into the river.. Just then…..
Swaying along on the lilting waters of the river, a small casket comes floating towards her. The girl’s eyes light up faintly with hope. She takes it as the will of the Great Lord. She turns her back on suicide.She begins to line up the casket, with heaps of soft flowers and tender leaves carefully packed. Arranges them neatly and tests with her palm whether the bed is soft and cozy.
On this bed, half wet with her tears, the hapless mother lays her dear child.
“I am the darling daughter of the rich and glorious emperor Kuntibhoja,
Yet, I am a sinful, wretched, accursed waif, not in a position, here after, to feed even a morsel of food to this wisp, of a little kid, of mine.”
“Alas! My dear child!”
” I’m laying you down in this box and casting you adrift, amidst this mighty river, dear kid, dear to me as my dear dad. I severe my kinship with you, for ever. God knows, what fortune holds in store for us both. I have done this despicable thing. How I wish I have never been born, my wicked existence obliterated. Can I hope to get another dazzling gem like you ? Never.”
” Alas, my kid, nay, you’re verily, my dear dad.”
” Can I hope to behold this cute face of you, radiant like a full moon,
again, any time in future ? Isn’t it too much for me to expect such a good fortune, for these eyes clouded thick by misfortune? How can I have a even a faint glimmer hope of such good fortune, unless some kind-hearted mother rescues and revives you feeds you and thus bestows on you the gift of life. Far cry, my son! ”
” Dear mamma, Ganga, beloved of Lord Siva!”
” I leave this kid of mine, he shines forth like a tender morning Sun, securely into your womb, oh, dear mamma Ganga, beloved of Lord Siva.
Please do place him in the loving hands of some dear mother somewhere. Please heed to my request, will you? I supplicate to you..”
As she is overwhelmed by longing, she lifts the baby into her arms again and again, she hugs him to her bosom again and yet again, mumbling sweet nothings to him, and even as affection sweeps over her, the mother, keeps the baby in the bassinet and goes on tapping him gently and softly, to lull him to sleep.
The mother’s bosom heaves up and down, poor girl.
She places a lotus leaf over her golden kid, like a parasol to protect him from the sun,, and gently kisses him lovingly a last time , lifting the leaf a bit, and wails pitifully in a voice overcome and hoarse, with grief, ” My dear kid, my dear dad, he is leaving me, he’s going away from me for ever.”. As longing, flutters and flickers within her bosom wanly, she closes her eyes and casts the cradle off into the stream.
with trembling hands,
The crib floats away over the swaying waters of the river.
As the casket journeys thus away, ever far away, riding on the waves,
there stands, on the bank, like a life-less statue, devoid of movement, thought,
or hope with still eyes, wide open, Kunthi, stricken.
How do you like this poignant ballad ?. This is as attempt of me at translation of the poignant, legendary lyric, ‘Kunthee Vilapamu’, penned by Karunasri, (Jandhyala PapayyaSastry) over six decades ago and rendered as a soulful, mellifluous gut–wrenching narration, by Ghantasala.
I still vividly remember the time when, as a six or seven year old , I heard the song sung sadly but sweetly by my pre-teen elder brother, Bobby, surrounded by over a dozen or more women and girls of widely varying ages, and quite a few men and urchins too, from the neighbourhood, listen to him intently, wiping their streaming eyes and noses with the free ends of their sarees or hankies,, and myself bewildered, shedding tears for the hapless teen mother.
Believe me, Bobby used to sing the song as sweetly and as poignantly, not leaving a gasp, a nuance or an inflection. He doesn’t choose to sing much these days, however, but when he concedes, he takes pleasure in singing the eternally green songs of Ghantasala, like this.
And let me admit it. I am not ashamed., — as I struggled to translate the lyric into English, I had to wipe, every now and then, with a thick towel, the tiny rivulets that streamed out of my eyes, to avoid them drenching my iPad.
Here is a Youtube clip of Ghantasala rendering Kunthi Vilapam
You can find an eulogy of Sri Jandhala Papayya Sastry, better known as Karunasri, by his son Ravindranath Jandhyala. At the following URL
You can find a copy of theTelugu lyric in Roman script at this link
Pa: An anti-climax. When I think of Kunthi Devi, I am reminded o a cartoon by Bapu. A thin acetic standing in hip-deep water, is offerrring his customary early marning salutaions to the Sun God looking towards the Sun, and takes the opportunity to offer the God a little bit of gossip he had heard whivh he feels could be of interest to Sun.He says, “Look, my friend. Have you heard this tidbit. Kunti, I gather is getting married.”, and the God covers his mouth with his palm, in a gesture of outrage or dismay, at the changing times.