I (ನಾನು)

It seems fitting to start this blog with Bendre’s own estimation of himself as the poetic-power Ambikātanayadatta – the son of five mothers (ಐದು ಐದೆಯರು).

Here is a video of Bendre reciting this poem. Incidentally, this is perhaps the only video recording available of Bendre reading out his poetry.

I am the indivisible pollinic-glory born of the cosmic-mother’s lotus-womb;
I am the upright idol fashioned from a fistful of the earth-mother’s clay;
I am the scintillating light of the million deepāwaḷis of mother-Bhārati;
I am the outspreading wind fed on the fragrance of Kannada’s mother-lotus;
I am the animate compassion drunk on the milk and blood of mine own mother;
these five mothers make up the vital airs of this breathing frame;
the Nārayaṇa of the lotus-heart has himself turned into the mortal Datta;
As Ambikātanaya he mirrors here in Kannada the universe’s inner voice.
(Translated by Madhav Ajjampur)

Poem Details: From the collection “ಗಂಗಾವತರಣ,” first published in 1951.


Here is my recitation of the translation.

© Madhav Ajjampur

Author: MKA

I'm Madhav, from Bangalore. I write my own poetry in English and translate Da Ra Bendre's poetry from Kannada into English. (You can read my poetry at mkajjampur.com). I also translate sundry other Kannada writings into English. My favourite poets include Yeats, Tagore, Bendre, Dylan Thomas, Emily Dickinson, and Gerard Manley Hopkins. If you'd like to get in touch, do write to me at mk.ajjampur@gmail.com. I'd be very happy to hear from you!

6 thoughts on “I (ನಾನು)”

  1. This is fantastic Madhava!
    Having read through your article for Shathamaana and listened to the video rendering of Bendre himself, I was able to get the full effect of your transcreation. The rythm of your rendering and the clarity of meaning that your words are conveying, I was able to get an essence of the spirit of the man behind this.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. dear vyaasa,

      what a wonderful ರಸಿಕ response. i am very grateful to you for taking the read the transcreation in the context of the article and bendre’s own recitation of it. there aren’t too many people who’ve done that…and if there are, nobody’s been generous enough to write to me and tell me they enjoyed it. so – thanks, ಕಣಾ. 🙂

      by the way, i think you mean “ruthumana” rather than “shathamaana”! 😀

      but tell me – did you actually read the KANNADA article?


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