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Nandi Timmana

Mar 7, 2022

Theft of a Tree

Translated by Harshita Mruthinti Kamath

Harvard University Press 2022

Legend has it that the sixteenth-century Telugu poet Nandi Timmana composed Theft of a Tree, or Pārijātāpaharaṇamu, which he based on a popular millennium-old tale, to help the wife of Krishnadevaraya, king of the south Indian Vijayanagara Empire, win back her husband's affections.

Theft of a Tree recounts how Krishna stole the pārijāta, a wish-granting tree, from the garden of Indra, king of the gods. Krishna does so to please his favorite wife, Satyabhama, who is upset when he gifts his chief queen a single divine flower. After battling Indra, Krishna plants the tree for Satyabhama--but she must perform a rite temporarily relinquishing it and her husband to enjoy endless happiness. The poem's narrative unity, which was unprecedented in the literary tradition, prefigures the modern Telugu novel.

Theft of a Tree is presented here in the Telugu script alongside the first English translation.

Ujaan Ghosh is a graduate student at the Department of Art History at University of Wisconsin, Madison

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Ujaan Ghosh

Ujaan Ghosh is a graduate student at the Department of Art History at University of Wisconsin, Madison

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