Women Of Words 05 - Muddupalini Poem by Unnikrishnan Sivasankara Menon

Women Of Words 05 - Muddupalini

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Was a Devadasi
And consort of
King Pratap Singh
Of Thanjavur.

She was well versed
In Telugu and Sanskrit literature,
was an accomplished dancer,
A composer and choreographer
And above all, a talented poet.

She is remembered now
Not for her prowess in dance,
But for her literary works,
Specifically, her epic poem
‘Radhika Swanthanam'.

During her magnificent times,
The poem was celebrated
For its creativity and genius,
But censored in the twentieth century
As erotic for its sexual frankness.

Her translations of The Ashtapadi
The eponymous work of Jayadeva
And the Thiruppavai by Andal
Into Telugu are recognised
As epical even today.

She has written about herself thus:
"Which other woman of my kind has
felicitated scholars with such gifts and money?
To which other women of my kind have
epics been dedicated?
Which other woman of my kind has
won such acclaim in each of the arts?
You are incomparable,
Muthupalzhani, among your kind."

Muddupalini (also spelt as Muthupalzhani) is supposed to have lived between 1739-1790 in Thanjavur. Her best-known work is Rādhikā-sāntvanam ('Appeasing Radha') , an erotic narrative poem that deals with the marital relationship of the deity Krishna, his female friend Radha and new wife Ila, and the appeasement of the jealousy of Radha. Much later it was added that she received the concept of this poem when Krishna visited her in a dream and suggested that she write about the subject. The poem became the subject of a censorship controversy in the early 20th century, because of its sexual frankness, and especially, because it portrayed its women characters as taking the initiative in sex. Muthupalzhani's other well-known work is Ashtapadi, a Telugu translation of Jayadeva's eponymous work. She also translated the Thiruppavai by Andal, and experimented with a form called saptapadalu, seven-lined songs, none of which survive.
Dr. M. Asim Nehal 05 April 2022

Informative poetry. Nicely written.

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Rose Marie Juan-austin 04 April 2022

I hope I will be able to read some of her poems. Very interesting.

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I have shared a few lines from her poem on your page. Try reading

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Rose Marie Juan-austin 04 April 2022

A beautiful tribute to a one of a kind and talented woman. Very informative and well presented.

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Muddupalini had managed to live much ahead of her times. She had an immense gift of manifold talents and had the financial and social independence to pursue her interests. Those were the golden ages

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I had posted some additional information here, which have not appeared yet. I fail to understand what is going on on PoemHunter!

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Muddupalini had Telugu as her mother tongue. She had mastered Sanskrit and Tamil too apart from Telugu. And was well-versed in the literature of all the three languages.

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Unnikrishnan Sivasankara Menon

Unnikrishnan Sivasankara Menon

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