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Manku Thimmana Kagga

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Manku Thimmana Kagga (also Mankutimmana Kagga) is one of the famous and popular major literary work in Kannada, composed by Dr. D. V. Gundappa known by the name DVG, more than 50 years back. It is widely regarded as a masterpiece among the Kannada speaking population. The title of this work can be translated as "Song of Mankutimma". Kagga is a beautiful and profond collection of 945 poems (Each poem is a 4 liner). Some of the poems are in old Kannda style (halegannada). Kagga's poems are profound, yet poetical. Most of the songs can be sung.

Sources for studying Kagga

(1) Kaggakkondu Kaipidi: By D.R. Venkataraman; This is a great book for studying and understanding the deeper meaning of Kagga. It is a pleasue to read this book. It is well written, from a disciple of Dr. DVG (2) Thus sang Mankutimma: By A. Narasimha Bhatt This is an excellent English translation. It helps a lot in uderstanding the meaning of some of the difficult poems written in old Kannada style. (3)Mankutimmana Kagga, vandu vivechane: By Swami Brahmananda Swami Brhmananda and Swami Chidananda have talked extensively on Kagga. These talks are available on tape recordongs from Chinmaya Mission. These talks help us to understand how the philosophy of Kagga is well gronded and based on the principles of Vedanata philosophy.

Kagga explores deeper questions of life, contemplates on the meaning of ultimate truth (reality) and advises us to lead a balanced life in this complex ever changing world. Thus Kagga advises us to follow the middle path extending one hand towards the ultimate truth and the other hand to the phenomnal world. The message of many of the songs from Kagga is samatwa.

Kagga is so poular in Kannada literature that most of the Kannada speaking folks are familiar with at least a few of the poems from this great work even if they have not read it. Poems like

Hullagu Bettadadi, manege malligeyagu Yatrikaru navyu divvya ksetravee loka Baduku jataka bandi vidhiyadara saaheba Hosa chiguru hale beru, koodiralu mara sobagu Sharanovogu jeevana rahasyadali satwadali

are but few of the poems quite well known to the people familiar with Kannda literature.

One of the popular poem from this work "Hullagu bettadadi"translated below, conveys the spirit of Kagga.

Be a(gentle) blade of grass at the foot of the mountain; and jasmine flower at home Be (strong) like a rock when the fate pours (torrential) rain of difficulties on you Be sweet like sugar and jaggery to the poor and weak Be one with all, Mankutimma.

This short beautiful poem holds the key for leading a balanced living. It advises us to be humble and gentle yet strong. The songg says be humble like a blade of grass at the foot of the montain and spread your fragrance like a gentle jasmine flower. The metaphor of gentle blade of grass near the foot of the mountain is very profound. When the rain pours over the mountains, when the mighty winds blow, the tall trees on the mountains may fall down, but the gentle grass blade will bend and survive. The tall trees are "too proud" to bend and surrender the the winds. The humble blade of grass will bend and surrender to the mighty wind. Thus this song tells us one of the secret of life. The secret in life lies in learning how to survive by understanding the humbleness of gentle blade of grass. This poem says do not always stand like a proud tall tree, but bend like a gentle blade of grass when the winds blow. But when the fate brings its own share of difficulties, be ready to face them like a rock. Become a solid rock and face all the difficulties in life. Be gentle and send your fragrance in all directions like jasmine flower, but also learn to face the difficulties like a rock. Be strong but yet be compassionate to the poor, weak and down trodden. Do all you can to help the poor and the needy. And in the last line this poem tells us to lead a harmonius life by becoming one with all the people.

In these short four lines, this poem teaches us the secret of how to lead a balanced harmonius life, emphasizing gentleness, humbleness, compassion on the one hand and strength on the other hand. The poem explains in simple poetical images one of the message of Bhagavad Gita, samatwam, balance in life (SAMATWAM YOGA UCCHATE).


Manku Thimmana Kagga explores the complexity of life, the various aspects of life - in a simple set of striking words.

An Instance (roughly translated to English):

Life is a Horse driven cart, Fate its driver
You're the horse, Passengers - as allotted by God
Sometimes rides a bride, sometimes a corpse
When stumbled, there's always the earth - says Manku Thimma

Another excerpt (Translation) :

Be like the tiny grass that grows
In the crevices of a giant mountain's feet,
Be like the fragrant jasmine flower
Which fills up the air with perfume sweet,
Stand like a rock if destiny cruel
Showered you with hardships, big and small,
Be sweet as rock candy to people in distress,
O naive one, just be one among all.

Wonderful interpretation of Mamkutimmana Kagga by Swamy Brahmananda Saraswaty (Chinamay Mission) along with original text can be accessed from (Kannada archive secction)

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