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 found within 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 mothers five make up the vital airs of this breathing frame;
The Nārayaṇa of the lotus-heart has turned into the mortal Datta;
As Ambikātanaya he mirrors here in Kannada the universe’s inner voice.
(Translated by Madhav K. Ajjampur)
Poem Details: From the collection “ಗಂಗಾವತರಣ,” first published in 1951.
Here is my recitation of the translation.