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Seven simple Telugu poems with deep philosophy and timeless wisdom by Yogi Vemana

Simple and catchy Telugu poems by Yogi Vemana, that hold wonderful insights on life

From Kashmir to Kanya Kumari, wisdom attained in India wasn’t only written in books. It was passed on from generation to generation, through memory. 

The saint philosopher poet Yogi Vemana

Telugu poet Yogi Vemana
A statue of Yogi Vemana

Have you heard of Vemana, or Yogi Vemana, the beloved Indian saint-poet from the 17th century? He was a simpleton as a child and it is believed that one day Vemana's teacher told him to write the name of 'Ram' on a rock, till he returned. The teacher was at an important appointment and meanwhile Vemana's chalk ran out. How would Vemana write now? He couldn't disobey his beloved Guru and so Vemana continued to write the name of 'Rama' with his finger. By the time the Guru could get away from his appointment, Vemana has rubbed his finger away! 'Oh! What have I done to you' the Guru cried in grief... but his sincere tapasya bore him fruit. It is said that after that day he turned into a poet and an enlightened being, and lived as such. He had no attachment to worldly things, he even abandoned clothes and began to live in a cave. He immersed himself in bhakti and writing. There would be few homes in Telugu speaking lands that have not heard of him or that do not hum his poems. Centuries later, this Vedic scholar is remembered even today for his writings on spirituality, wisdom and yog.

During 1820’s. A civilian officer called C P Brown was appointed to accomplish the duties for the British government from Telugu speaking region (currently Andhra Pradesh and Telangana). As per the orders, he went to the place and learnt Telugu over ten years for the ease of knowing the people and the place. 

Compiler of Telugu poems Chalres Brown
C P Brown

One day, while walking across a street, he come across a beggar singing a Telugu poem / padyam ‘పద్యం' from Vemana Satakam (collection of hundred poems by Vemana).  After listening to and understanding the poem, Mr. Brown was drawn to the philosophy in the poem. He saved the poem in writing. As he explored the place more, he discovered that there were numerous poems being carrying forward with the Indian oral tradition. They were not written anywhere. Yet, they reverberated in homes and streets as people sang them and recited them everywhere. 

Entire literatures in India had survived for generations this way. But India was not what it used to be earlier and how long would the oral traditions keep the literature alive for posterity?  Brown felt that, such a beautiful philosophy with its soothing language shall not fade with time and so decided to take the matter in his own hands, and collect them all on paper.

Telugu poetry Verses of Vemana by C B Brown
C P Brown's collection of Vemana's poems

He spent a lot of time, money and effort to get the poems printed (among a whole lot of other Telugu literature). To us, the future generations, it is a precious gift as we know how much we have lost to invasions and colonisers over centuries. And yet here we had C P Brown, an Anglo-Indian, who loved Telugu language and dedicated himself to it. It is heartening. We are indebted to him for the services to the Telugu language.

Meaningful and deep Telugu poems by written Yogi Vemana compiled in the Vamana Satakam

Telugu Poet Yogi Vemana poem

అల్పుడెపుడు బల్కు నాడంబరముగాను

సజ్జనుండు పలుకు చల్లగాను

కంచు మ్రోగునట్లు కనకంబు మ్రోగునా

విశ్వదాభిరామ వినురవేమ

Alpudepudu balku aadambaramugaanu

sajjanundu paluku challaganu

kanchu mroginatlu kanakambu mrogunaa

vishwadhabhirama vinura vema.

Bhavam (meaning): Hey lover of the universe dear Vema, will gold ever make a sound equivalent to the sound of bronze? Similarly a good man always behaves with humility and decency. Where as an inefficient man always brags. Mere sounds are never the measure of a person.

Telugu poet Yogi Vemana poem

ఆత్మశుద్ధి లేని ఆచార మదియేల

భాండ శుద్ధి లేని పాకమేల

చిత్తశుద్ధి లేని శివపూజయేలరా

విశ్వదాభిరామ వినురవేమ

Athmashuddileni aachara madhiyela

bhanda shudhi leni paakamela

chittashudhi leni shivapujayelara

vishwadhabhirama vinura vema.

Bhavam: Hey lover of the universe dear Vema, is there any use of special dishes cooked in a dirty vessel? Is there any use of practicing rituals and customs without being pure at heart? What is the use of worshipping God without purity of mind?

Telugu poem Yogi Vemana

ఇనుము విరిగెనేని ఇరుమారుముమ్మారు

కాల్చీ అతుకవచ్చు క్రమముగాను

మనసువిరిగెనేని మరియంట నేర్చునా

విశ్వదాభిరామ వినురవేమ

Inumu virigeneni irumaru mummaru

kalchi athukavachu kramamuganu

manasu virigeneni mariyanta nerchuna

vishwadhabhirama vinuravema.

Bhavam: Hey lover of the universe dear Vema, if an iron piece brakes into pieces multiple number of times, it can be joined together any number of times. But once if the heart broken, it’s not possible to bring back to its normal state.

Telugu poem Yogi Vemana

పట్టుపట్టరాదు పట్టి విడువరాదు

పట్టెనేని బిగియ పట్టవలయు

పట్టు వీడుటకన్నా పడి చచ్చుటెమేలు

విశ్వదాభి రామ వినురవేమ

paattu pattaradhu patti viduvaradhu

patteynenu bigiya pattavalayu

pattu veedutakanna padi chachutey melu

vishwadhabhirama vinura vema.

Bhavam: Hey lover of the universe dear Vema, one must not aim for something casually. After aiming, one must target the aim with utmost determination. Instead of giving up on the goal it’s better to be a deadbody.

Telugu poem by Yogi Vemana

అణువుగానిచోట నధికుల మనరాదు

కొంచెముండు టెల్ల కొదువగాదు

కొండ అద్దమందు కొంచెమై ఉండదా

విశ్వదాభిరామ వినురవేమ

Anuvuganichota nadhikulamanaradhu

konchemundu tella kodhuva gaadhu

konda adhamandhu konchemai undadha

vishwadhabhirama vinura vema.

Bhavam: Hey lover of the universe dear Vema, one must not tell about his greatness at wrong place. Look in the mirror, notice how the mountains fit a mirror. In a similar way, being humble never makes anybody less than what they truly are.

Telugu poem by Yogi Vemana

అనగ ననగ రాగ మతిశయిల్లుచు నుండు

తినగ తినగ వేము తీయనుండు

సాధనమున పనులు సమకూరు ధరలోన

విశ్వదాభిరామ వినురవేమ

anaga nanaga raga mathishayillu chundu

tinagatinagavemu teeyanundu

sadhanamun panulu samajuru dharalona

vishwadhabhirama vinura vema.

Bhavam: Hey lover of the universe dear Vema, through practicing countless number of times, one can improve their singing. After eating neem leaves every day, they will taste sweet. Similarly by practicing one can better things.

Telugu poem by Yogi Vemana

చిప్పలోన బడ్డ చినుకు ముత్యంబయ్యే

నీటబడ్డ చినుకు నీటగలిసె

ప్రాప్తి గల్గు చోట ఫలమేల దప్పురా

విశ్వదాభిరామ వినురవేమ

chippalona badda chinuku muthyambuayyey

nitabadda chinuku nitagalisey

prapthi galgu chota phalamela dhappura

vishwadhabhirama vinura vema.

Bhavam: Hey lover of the universe dear Vema, the rain drop that find the place in oyster turns out to be a pearl. The rain drop that find the place in water remains as water. Similarly, in fertile place the result will never be less than expected.

Telugu Literature

Famous Telugu saint Yogi Vemana postage stamp
Indian postage stamp Commemorating Poet saint Vemana

In Telugu literature, the collection of hundred  poems is known as satakam. The fourth line in the stanza is known as signature line of the poet. Which is commonly used by all the poets in satakam form of poetry. Here for example the signature line from vemana satakam, ‘Viswadaabhi Raama Vinura vema’ means ‘Lover of the universe, dear Vema listen’. There do exist multiple interpretations of the line. 

screenshot of Language Curry App, Telugu - start of chapter 3Know much more  interesting stuff related to Telugu and other regional languages of India in the “Language Curry” App. It’s a platform where you can learn many Indian Languages with ease without any subscription charges.

Have a look at the adjoining picture, it tells us about traditional dish of Andhra pradesh, Mamidikaya Pulihora at the start of chapter 3.

Don't delay, download the app from the store and check out the amazing content for language learning. 




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